10:30 am Sunday Worship
6400 W 20th St, Greeley, CO

Christ, the Coronavirus, and the Cross

Selected Scripture

I want you to take some time after that really beautiful time of, of hearing that story read again.  That passion narrative and it’s, it’s good to return to it not only in our Bible reading at different times in the year, but especially at this time.  To reflect and meditate as we’ve done in the reading of Scripture and in the singing that we’ve done together.  Well, I, I keep saying “together.”  We’re not together. We’re all, divided up into our individual homes.  But I trust you’ve been doing that together with the fe, folks that you’re gathered with. 

We, we want to take our reflection and meditation this evening one step further.  As we talk about the meaning of all that we read for each one of us.  There’s perhaps no better time to consider the meaning of the crucifixion and its application to ourselves and to our time than right now.  The opening text that was read this evening was about the betrayal and the arrest of Jesus.  And that text ended with these words, “And they all left him and fled.”  They all left him and fled.  And Christ was alone.   

Earlier that night they ate a final Passover meal together and Jesus spoke words that really set the pattern for the Christian church ever since.  And for our communion observance as a church.  It says earlier in the text before the first one that was read tonight, Mark 14:22 to 24.  It says there that “Jesus took bread and after blessing it, broke it and gave it to them and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’  He took a cup, and when he’d given thanks he gave it them, and they all drank of it.  He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’” 

Normally at a Good Friday Service, we would commemorate that final Passover and that first communion with our own celebration and kind of the Lord’s Supper.  There would be a table down here in front of me.  And the elements, the bread, the cup, in front of us, ready, waiting for us to partake.  Men waiting in the front row ready to serve.  Not tonight.  Not tonight. 

Tonight I’m looking at, at an empty auditorium.  Plenty of seats available.  No one here.  There have been no preparations for the Lord’s Supper because our church, like so many other churches around the country and around the world, our church has been scattered, separated from one another, isolated into each one’s individual home.  It’s really a haunting echo, isn’t it, of that first night of communion?  Because Mark continues that narrative by telling us that after they eat that meal together, and after Jesus and the disciples had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives together. 

And Jesus said to them in Mark 14:27, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’”  Strange ring of familiarity, isn’t there, in what we’re experiencing this weekend?  Separated from one another.  Scattered.  Prevented from fellowshipping with Christ here at the communion table.   

Tonight, I think it’s very appropriate that we think very carefully about what this means.  What is Christ doing with the Corona virus?  And how is he pointing everyone, not just us, but everyone around the world, how is he pointing us all to the cross?  What is Christ doing with the Corona virus?  How is he pointing everyone to the cross?  And when I say “everyone,” I mean everyone, both believers and unbelievers.   

Because all of us are experiencing this thing together.  Some of the families in our own church have been affected either being infected themselves by Corona virus, or watching loved ones suffer its effects.  One of our members lives close to an assisted living facility where 19 of their residents have died.  Fifteen of them confirmed as Corona virus cases and they’re waiting for confirmation on the other four.  But the expect to get that from the autopsies.  Another 15 residents in that same assisted living facility have the disease and they are under quarantine.  One of them is critically facing this Corona virus challenge.  He’s in the hospital ICU.   

Other members in our church have loved ones who are suffering through health challenges.  Some very severe.  And this Corona virus challenge and the strain and the isolation put on the hospitals has meant added suffering, added sorrow, added challenge, added isolation.  Whether we’re suffering directly from Corona virus or not, whether we’re suffering from the disease itself or the effects of the disease, we are all experiencing the indirect effects, the reaction to this scourge, this pestilence or plague.   

Whether you think the reaction is warranted or not, whether you think it’s too severe, not severe enough, whether you think it’s just right, we will all feel the impact of this challenge in our time for a long time to come.  The economy, the culture at large, the social impact, the mental, psychological impact, if you want to call it that.  Rich and poor alike, white collar, blue collar, educated elite or simple commoner, God has truly designed a trial for the world to feel and experience together, and yet not together, but to experience apart. 

And that is something that I want you to stop and consider for a moment.  Namely, that God has designed this trial for this world at this time.  Jesus Christ, as God’s anointed Messiah, the ruler of the world, he sits above the earth, bodily he is at the Father’s right hand even now.  He rules and reigns from on high and Christ has sovereignly chosen this particular chastening switch.  He uses this time on this occasion to send to us a season of trial and to test the people of the earth.  To test the people of the earth. 

All through Scripture you can see that the deistic view of God, that he’s like a divine watchmaker that wound up the world and then walked away and let it run on its own with its own devices.  There’s some theistic evolutionist that think that very thing that God basically set the world in motion through evolution and then walked away.  And all natural processes are taking their natural course.  It’s not true.  It’s not what the Bible describes. 

The Bible describes a God who is both transcendent, high and lofty and on his throne, never changing, always consistent, faithful, perfect, eternal, infinite.  At the same time, that God is imminent, he is near.  And that God visits every single land with its own particular trial, judgments, challenges, graces.  Our God is a God who is both far and near.  He is transcendent and he is imminent.   

And our God rules and reigns not just over his chosen people Israel from back in the Old Testament, but every single nation on the earth at that time and every time since.  God has direct involvement in every nation on the earth and every single human being.  But don’t think of him as remote and uninvolved.  Don’t think of him as watching as something he didn’t plan take effect. 

Also, I want to caution you not to recoil from the fact that Christ is sovereign over the Corona virus.  I don’t want you to back away from the thought that Christ sovereignly directs the spread of the Corona virus, its effects, all the reactions to this disease.  Don’t draw back from the truth that he planned it, that he ordained it, that he has executed this trial according to his perfect will and for all of his purposes. 

Because, beloved, if you think that somebody else or just the virus itself with its own thinking is in control and Christ is not control, you’re severely mistaken.  There is no hope if Christ is not sovereign over this virus.  Beloved, there is no other Savior.  There is none.  So don’t withdraw from the truth of his sovereignty.  If you pull away from the sovereignty of God that he’s in control, that he planned this, that he’s in charge, that he controls every single instance of spread, if you pull away from that, you’ll wander into a hopeless abyss. 

The fact that we have a God who is sovereign and in control, though it’s difficult to bear, though the affliction is troubling, you need to embrace that.  Because that God is our Savior.  And if we embrace the fact that he is sovereign over the Corona virus, sovereign over this time, sovereign over the reactions, counterreactions, and all the rest, if we embrace that fact then we need to step back and think and learn from what he wants to teach to all of us.  

He (God) is transcendent and he is imminent

Travis Allen

So we’re gonna talk about Christ, the Corona virus and the cross.  That’s what we’re going to talk about tonight.  We’re gonna ask a key question:  What is Christ doing with this Corona virus?  And then we’re going to address that question, what is Christ doing with the Corona virus, we’re gonna address that question in three ways.  Here’s the first.  What is Christ doing with the Corona virus in the world?  When I say “in the world,” I mean the unbelieving world.   

What is Christ doing with the Corona virus in the unbelieving world?  What’s the answer?  Here’s a point you can jot down in your notes if you’re taking notes.  Number one, Christ is judging the transgressing world.  Christ is judging the transgressing world.  We sometimes watch children at play.  I don’t know about you.  I love to watch children playing.  I think the older I get, the more I count that to be precious.   

And as children go out to discover the world that they live in, especially the young ones, they, they wander around and fields or in forests or whatever and they happen upon an anthill.  An anthill that’s fairly perfectly formed.  You know, it’s got the mound.  And there’s thousands upon thousands of little red ants hurrying there inside and out.  Here and there, all over this anthill. 

And most children seem to find themselves at that moment of discovering this anthill, observing it for a moment, they’re overcome with an irresistible temptation.  An impulse to pick up a stick and to poke it into that little anthill and to disturb and disrupt the ants from their routines.  They teem, seem to take a little bit of pleasure in that, don’t they?  When a little girl holds the stick, there seems to be a little bit of compassion that restrains her hand from moving it around too vigorously, but a boy, he’s gonna stir it up with great aggressions.   

As the child sits back to watch what happens next, he sees those ants scurrying around and they’re trying to recover from the great stick.  They are immediately scurrying around, hustling and bustling about their little disrupted dirt pile.  And they’re trying to put their world back together.  Those little ants just get busy, don’t they?  They just scurry about to put the world back together, to return to normal.   

That is exactly what’s happened in our country and around the world, too.  God has taken this great stick called the Corona virus and he has stirred up all of our little kingdoms.  And he’s disrupted our peace.   He’s disrupted our routines.  He’s put an end to our normal.  We’re trying our best to blunt the effect of the great stick, to flatten the curve of the great stick, mitigate the disruption, treat the afflicted.   

And we’re watching our medically trained ants all scurrying around hard at work doing this.  We commend them.  We love them.  We’re so grateful for the medical personnel, the front, front line workers, nurses, hospital staff, doctors.  They’re, they’re this generation’s heroes, aren’t they? 

We’ll also making plans right now to repair our little kingdoms and get our lives back to normal.  And there are ants that we have in our times specializing in government and economics and social rebuilding.  And they’re hard at work too.  And trying to do all that.  And they’re trying to make sure we have good plans for the future.  And they’re having to do it in a changing world, having a great deal of uncertainty.  No firm numbers or numbers that continue to be changing all the time. 

At the end of the day, who is it that stops to think about the hand that is holding the great stick?  God asked rhetorically through Amos the prophet, Amos 3:6, “Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has done it?”  Said something similar through the prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 45:7, God takes full responsibility, he says, “I formed light and create darkness; I make well-being and I create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” 

Listen, don’t back off, try to get God off the hook for things like this.  God takes full responsibility as the primary mover, primary cause.  Same thing in the prophet Jeremiah, Lamentations 3:38, “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?”  I realize that there are certain prejudices and biases in the unbelieving world view.  Prejudices biases against God, against supernatural thing, and they predispose unbelievers to scorn everything that I just said.   

It’s not my word.  It’s what the Scripture teaches.  They scorn the Word of God.  They have no regard for it.  They just call this utter nonsense, and they make fun of what I just said, what I just read from Scripture.  They make fun of it as some superstitious mumbo jumbo.  Mad ravings of a premodern world.  Well they didn’t know better.  Well they didn’t know things like gene studies.  And they didn’t understand anything like viruses and bacteria.  They don’t understand how things like that spread and they make fun of it.  This angry Old Testament deity.   

Well the Apostle Paul warned against that attitude in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, that God will recompense the ungodly, and that’s what that attitude is, to scorn scripture.  That is an ungodly attitude.  God will recompense the ungodly with affliction.  It says in 2 Thessalonians 1:7 and following, “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who did not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” 

Christ himself is coming back to earth, folks.  The Scripture is very clear about that in both testaments, Old and New Testaments.  In fact, if you think this is just about the Old Testament angry God, think again.  In Revelation 19, we read about Christ the sovereign King.  It says this in Revelation 19, “Then I saw heaven opened, behold, a white horse! And the one sitting on that white horse is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.   

“He’s clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. […] From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron.  He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” 

Very Old Testament sounding, isn’t it?  “Tread the fury of the wrath of God in the winepress.”  When grapes are tread upon, it has a blood red appearance.  You think the Corona virus is bad, you think the social economic political fallout from the response to this pandemic is bad, my friend, consider the Word of God.  Judgment is coming.  Judgment is coming.  And it’s not just a judgment upon the earth.   

It’s not just physical.  It’s not just temporal.  That is coming.  But that is a prelude to a spiritual judgment, an eternal judgment for all those who despise Christ, despise God, turn away from his salvation, turn away from the Christ.  They will suffer the judgment of eternal hell.  What we’re experiencing now?  Just a short preview.  Just a light momentary affliction to prepare our minds for the coming wrath.   

My unbelieving friend, I’m speaking directly to you.  Don’t be like the little ant.  Don’t be like a dumb animal.  Don’t be like an ant that pays no attention to this stick or the hand holding the stick.  In my little silly illustration, it was a child holding that stick.  In truth, the one who holds the great Corona virus stick is the hand of the living God and he is no child.  He is no one to be trifled with.  He is no one to dismiss or disregard.   

That God is infinite and eternal.  He is holy and he is mighty.  He is perfect and his judgments are true.  And when he plans, he will execute and he will execute all of his fury on all the ungodly deeds of the ungodly, who despise and scorn him.  My friend do not be like a little ant.  Don’t be like a dumb animal by refusing to reflect on the meaning of the Corona virus.   

You, my friend, are created in the image of God.  And being created in his image, you have by his hand the gift of reason.  The gift to reflect, to think, to the ability to recognize beauty and goodness and all of his common grace, his kindness to you.  You have the necessary sense that he has given you in your heart, in your conscience of morality.   

You understand coming from that morality a sense of righteousness, of good and evil, right, and wrong.  You have a sense of morality and from that al, morality, a sense of ethics.  How you ought to relate to your fellow human beings.  You have the ability to understand matters of both right and wrong, good and evil.  You make moral judgments.  In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, when he formed and filled the earth, the crowning jewel of his creation is mankind. 

By creating us in his image as male and female, God endowed us with honor.  He elevated us above the rest of his creatures in order that we would care for all the creatures of the world.  In order that we would exercise care and dominion of all the earth.  Friends, God gave us these gifts and abilities that we might not act like the rest of the creatures that we exercise dominion over, but that we would rise above them as human beings created in God’s image and exercise our reason.  That we might think that we might reason and find out the meaning of things.  

So what does Christ want the world to think about now that he has sent the Corona virus?  What does he want to think, us to think about with all this fallout, all these repercussions, all these consequences?  Let me suggest a few thoughts for your reflection.  My family and I have been working our way through Deuteronomy and Romans at various times and we’re just reminding ourselves of themes that we don’t want to forget.  Themes about the righteousness and justice of God.  Themes about his mercy and his grace.   

In fact, you might want to turn there to Romans chapter 1 because in Romans, the, Romans is well-known as really the Gospel that’s expanded and filled out. God has given us a great gift in Paul’s letter to the Romans.  This is expanded book on the Gospel itself, especially those first 11 chapters to talk about all of God’s thinking and how the, how the Gospel is unpacked from start to finish. 

And in Romans, as Paul traces the revelation of God’s perfect righteousness in the Gospel, he starts in the very first chapter, chapter 1, and verse 18 with the revelation of the righteousness of God in this.  The righteousness of God revealed in the wrath of God.  Romans 1:18.  So what is God so angry about?  How have we provoked this deity, the only true and living God, how have we provoked him to wrath?  Why is the world guilty?  Why is the world under God’s condemnation?  Why is the world fearing his wrath? 

Well it starts with idolatry.  God takes that very seriously.  There is only one true living God and anybody who turns away from him to worship anything else is an idolator.  And idolatry is really exchanging the truth of God for any lie.  Worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator.  So all of this wrath of God being revealed, it starts with our false worship.  It starts with our unbelief, turning away from him, turning away from his goodness and his grace, elevating man over God. 

Celebrating the pride of human achievement and thinking, autonomous human reason.  Coming from an unbelieving God-rejecting set of premises.  We’ve watched our own country, along with the rest of the world, the western world, the developed world.  But really, it’s really spread all over as, that the same modern, modernistic culture has kind of covered the entire earth, being transferred not only by, by technology that allows us to travel from one place to another, but technology like we’re using tonight to be able to livestream.  Communication technology to transfer images and video and words from place to place until we’re all participating in the same culture.   

We’re taking part in the same sins.  We’re taking part in the same thinking.  And so we’re all together in this world, we’re this, world community.  We’re taking pride in our own learning.  We’re, we’re thinking so much of our own discovery, our own science.  Come to trust in the god of progress.  Progress is gonna fix it all.  Tomorrow there will be a solution.  We’ll find an answer to this and a cure for that.  We just keep chasing one mirage after another.  And we’re congratulating ourselves that we have evolved beyond the need for a God, for any divine crutch. 

So the world, the unbelieving world refuses to honor God as God.  They refuse to give thanks and God is angry over that.  He’s angry because he is the source of all their ability to develop, to grow, to build technology, to discover things, to think their way, to reason their way to anything, to find cures for anything.  They don’t see the divine hand that blesses.  They don’t honor him as God, and they don’t give thanks.   

And therefore, Romans 1:24, look at it there. “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.”  Listen, our, our land has become saturated in sexual immorality, fornication, adultery and, now in the digital age, pornographers spread that garbage all over the place.  They turn men and women alike and they get into our homes, into our boys and girls and they train us to be a nation and world of leering, sexually depraved Peeping Toms watching each other commit lude and vile acts with one another.  It’s degrading.  It is dishonoring.  It is destructive and God hates it. 

From all of that sexual immorality, there are consequences to that.  None of this is, oh, just a sin that I commit, and it doesn’t hurt anybody else.  Divorce comes out of this.  Because when love and covenant is broken, when love is offended and spurned and scorned, people are hurt.  People, do, covenants are broken.  No-fault divorce means adulteries are multiplied exponentially.  Children grown up without one or both of their parents.  They’re passed around from relative to relative.  These poor grandparents having to take care of generations below them after they’ve raised their own children.  Then they’re handed over another set of children.  But they no energy, no time, no ability.   

So cruelty abound in this cold heartless age.  Most graphically, most vividly, most violently in this social scrouge called abortion, which is really just a vile euphemism for such a crime.  Let’s call this sin for what it is, shall we?  The crime is the murder of innocent children.  While they are still in the womb, while they’re utterly helpless, when they are supposed to be nurtured in the warmth and the safety and the sanctity of their mother’s protective womb, they are ripped apart.  They are torn asunder, poisoned, torn limb from limb.   

“Trust in the god of progress.”

Travis Allen

And to the tune of more than a million babies every single year.  It’s been going on for decades in our own country.  Not to mention the rest of the world.  Who knows that the real number is?  Beloved, not even, not even the pagans in the Old Testament days, not even the pagans, who were living in the land of Canaan and sacrificing their own children to the evil god Molech could have developed the kind of sophistication that we have in murdering the innocent.   

Our own flesh and blood in shedding innocent blood, our lands our covered, drenched in blood.  And still, God is patient.  Why is he patient?  What is he waiting for?  Tell you what he’s waiting for.  He’s waiting for us to see this degradation.  He’s waiting for the unbelieving in our land to wake up to the defilement.  And to see the depths to which they have fallen.  And recognize the horror and to repent of their sins.   

But they don’t, do they?  In Romans 1:26, “For this reason,” look at it there.  “For this reason God gave up to dishonorable passions.  For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise also gave up natural relationship with, with women.  They’re consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” 

Homosexuality has become the sin de rigueur.  It’s a kind of immorality that’s now considered fashionable and cool and trendy.  “But let’s not get too fashionable with homosexuality, they say, “lest it lose it risqué transgressive appeal.”  Because, after all, that is what makes all sexual immorality and now homosexual immorality and every other perversion so appealing is its transgressive element.  That sense of guilt and violating the conscience that heightens the experience.   

So bored with normal transgressions, they’re inflamed with lust for further and deeper and even more defiling transgression.  But rather than waking up as they receive in themselves the due penalty for their error, rather than turning to God to confess their sins and to repent, to follow him in faith and obedience, the transgressors seem to have won the day in our time, haven’t they?  They’ve taken the power in society and culture.   

All the children of the sixties and the seventies are now in positions of, of influence in our universities and colleges and they’re creating greater transgressors than themselves.  Their ruling on high in our government, in our, in Washington, the state governments as well.  They put pressure on judges and lawmakers, presidents, governors to celebrate this perversion.  No one can rest, it seems, until tolerance is replaced with outright celebration, rejoicing, giving hearty approval to those who practice sin and iniquity and transgression. 

And the more it goes, the more we rip ourselves apart.  And so Romans 1:28, “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”  Are we not seeing that?  A debased mind is so evident.  It’s so self-evident, the face of it in the ludicrous insane causes that many people seem to be so eager to champion in these dark and evil days.  Everything from Critical Theory, Social Justice, transgenderism, denying the reality of something as basic as this fact that there are two sexes: male and female.  That’s it!  Obvious! 

But they, the moral revolutionaries, are trying to change the language.  They’re forcing everyone to use words that reinforce moral norms in defiance of God’s love.  They’re even trying to change laws and customs, allowing the state the step in between the parent and the child.  Giving children the right to sue their own parents.   

I don’t know if you’ve heard the story in Canada.  The state stepping in to take away the parental rights of a father who doesn’t want his child to transition from one gender, the gender, I believe it’s a girl in this case, she was born with.  And transition to a, a, a boy.  Taking hormones and going through irreversible destructive surgery.  The father’s loving concern to, he’s not even opposed in principle.  He’s just saying, “Let’s wait until she’s a little older.”   But he’s now, all of his loving concern is being interpreted as hatred.  He’s being branded a criminal, doing violence by restraining his child’s folly.   

What’s the point of this moral revolution?  What’s the point?  What are they after?  It’s to force everyone to accommodate and celebrate their debased worthless useless minds.  This is the modern version of Babylon’s idolatry, that when you hear the sound of the horn and the pipe and the lyre, the horn, the bagpipe, the harp, every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image.  And the golden image in this case is a phallic symbol.  Get with the program.  Do not stand.  Do not impede.  Do not stand in the way. 

Listen, folks, and especially you, my unbelieving friend, listen.  God has taken this Corona virus stick and he has intentionally disrupted your world.  It’s intentional.  He’s taken away your peace.  He’s added anxiety to your life.  He’s brought disorientation and discombobulation into your mind.  He’s put an end to your normal.  You want to get back to normal?  You want to get back to normal life and normal living?   

Because normal in what I’ve just described means getting back to your fornication and your adultery and your pornography and your divorce and your abortion, your abusing and being abused, and your sorrow and sorrowing.  You want that?  You want to get back to your homosexual behavior and celebrate your perversion, continue to defy the living God?  Please, please, don’t long to get back to normal.   

Instead, my unbelieving friend, wake up from your sin-induced coma.  Repent of your sins and put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross 2000 years ago to bear the sins of everyone who would re, repent and believe.  Don’t, don’t wait another day.  Don’t wait another day.  Time is running out,  judgment is coming.  And the Corona virus, you need to understand, is only a brief and very weak preview. 

Isaiah said to his own generation, and as he said to them, I say to you, Isaiah 4, 1 and 4 to 6.  “Ah, sinful nation, people laid dow, laden down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly!  They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.  Why will you still be struck down?  Why will you continue to rebel?  The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.  From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they’re not pressed out, they’re not bound up, they’re not softened with oil.” 

My friend, it’s got even worse in our land.  It’s starting to fester and it’s starting to stink.  If you can’t see your condition, it is because you are still languishing under God’s blinding judgment.  He’s handed you over.  And you’re being handed over.  So I just appeal to you, and I plead with you, call out for mercy before it’s too late.   

I wonder, though, if my unbelieving friends out there will call out for mercy during this time.  God sent us 9-11 back in 2001.  September 11th, 2001 terrorists, we’d say crazy terrorists, but they actually weren’t insane.  They were actually thinking.  They’re starting from a, a false unbelieving premise and they reason their way forth to flying planes into building.  There was reason that effected their thinking.  They were not idiots; they were actually thinking and reasoning their way to fly planes into the World Trade Center, into the Pentagon. 

God sent us a warning in terrorism.  And you know what we did in 9-11, we jumped to the challenge.  And it was wonderful to behold.  The nation seemed to unite.  Churches were flooded.  They were filled with people.  And we went to war.  We went to war on two fronts.  We went to Afghanistan.  We went to Iraq.  And we beat down, beat back the terrorists.  I mean whatever success you think that did or didn’t have, it sent us into wars for a decade and more. 

And so what do we think after 9-11?  We got bin Laden.  We’ve beat down, taken away all of ISIS’ caliphate, their land.  They’re on the run.  The Taliban is cowering.  I know they’re regrouping.  I know ISIS is regrouping, Al Qaeda regrouping.  I know all that, but they’ve beaten ‘em down and so we puff out our chest and we say, “We got ‘em  We’ve conquered.  We’ve overcome.” 

What happened in 2008?  2008 God sent an ec, economic crisis.  We went through a significant downturn; some would call it a recession.  I think it stopped short of any kind of depression. But we went through some significant loss.  Many people losing a lot of money, a lot of retirement savings and all the rest.  It hurt a lot of people, closed a lot of businesses.  People lost their homes.  Things were difficult.   

What happened?  Economy rebounded, right?  For a short brief moment in 9-11, right after 9-11, even after the economic crisis, people went back to church.  People got serious for a moment.  But as we overcame, as we fixed this, as we beat this, as we overcame the challenge, we went right back to normal.  And we actually took normal sin and made it even abnormal and called the abnormal normal.  It was after all that that Obergefell and Hodges made gay marriage the law of the land.   

What do we think’s gonna happen after this?  2020, Covid-19.  My unbelieving friend, will you now listen?  Will you now pay attention?  Will you now hear what the living God is trying to say to you?  I want to add to this call for repentance, to all the unbelieving world, I want to add to that call, a call to the professing church.  Because I want you to understand, unbelieving friend, when I look closer to home in my own camp in what’s, what you would think is Christendom and walled and appears to be Christianity.  You know and I know things aren’t much better.   

You can even rest in the fact that you have not committed the sin that you condemn the rest of the world, is the sin of hypocrisy.  You’re not committing that sin.  We asked first what is Christ doing with the Corona virus in the world?  Now, second, we need to ask an even more uncomfortable question:  what is Christ doing with the Corona virus in the visible but professing church?  Answer: Christ is exposing the professing church.   

I want to be crystal clear with what I’m saying here.  Christ is exposing the professing church by which, by that I mean, he is showing many of the visible professing churches and many of the visible professing believers to be frauds, having no part in him.  And I understand and I do recognize, and I want to say this right from the front lest I forget to say it later that in the visible professing church, as weak as they are, as drifting as they are, in some of those communions, I acknowledge there are true believers.  If there is the means to find a true Gospel through the Scriptures in a trinitarian religion, even Roman Catholicism or some other form of Arminian theology church, I understand that there are true believers in those.   

But I want to say this very clearly, if you’re a believer and you’re in one of those churches and communions, you need to come out.  You need to come out of what is weak and what is really false.  I want you to listen to this.  You can turn there if you’d like to. Isaiah chapter 1.  Isaiah chapter 1 and verse 10 and following.   This is what the Word of the Lord is through the prophet Isaiah to the false professors, false believers in that time.   

Isaiah 1:10 and following, “Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom!  Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!”  Sodom and Gomorrah, wasn’t that a bunch of reveling partiers and homosexual offenders and unrighteous and uncaring and unloving people?  What, what, wasn’t the city full of that? Why is he calling the people of Israel, the people Judah, why is he calling them “rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah”?  Because their sins are the same. 

And so he says in verse 11, “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?  Says the Lord; I’ve had enough of burnt offerings of rams, the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of boats.  When you come to appear before me, who’s require of you this trampling of my courts?  Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me.  New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.”  Don’t hold the two in the same, don’t hold the two together and come before me, he says. 

Verse 14, “Your new moons, your appointed feasts my soul hates; they’ve become a burden to me; I’m weary of bearing them.  When you spread out your hands [that is for prayer], I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers; I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.  Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” 

Who is the Lord speaking to in that passage?  All those who claim that he is their God.  all those who profess that Yahweh is their God, but they don’t walk in obedience to him.  They are lying hypocrites.  They are false religionists.  They say they are Christians, but they practice another religion entirely.  And God is saying to them, “You do not represent me.  Stop taking my name upon your lips and coming to me with your sacrifices.  Don’t take my name in vain anymore.” 

Who are they in our own day?  Well, sadly the world is full of ‘em.  False teachers abound.  They have multiplied exponentially.  They’ve been filling the airwaves and the internet with their poisonous teaching, and it effects so many of the poor and the needy with the virus of their own filthy greed.   

I was talking with our friend, Justin Peters, yesterday.  And he was telling me how he was using the down time.  He’s using is well, you’ll know.  I, you would trust.  But he’s taking time obviously because his travel schedule, speaking schedule has been severely shortened this year.  But he’s taking the time to write a book right now.  He is, you could be praying for that.  Right now he’s also preparing a very long video.  He said it’s already looking about two hours long.  And he’s going to use this video to confront many of these false teachers of our own time in our own camp as they parade their shame.   

You may have heard of Kenneth Copeland’s silly rant.  It’s all over the internet, YouTube and all that.  He said, he looked at the camera and he said, “I execute judgment on you, Covid-19.”  He sounded so arrogant, to brash.  He, then he, then he blew germs all over the camera lens, which was not only insensitive, but really, really disgusting.  And he said, “I blow the wind of God on you.”  I can tell you that was not the wind of God. 

He said, “You’re destroyed forever, and you’ll never be back.”  He’s speaking to the Corona virus like it’s a demon, like he has power to cast out the virus.  And that’s all he’s got.  False words and bad breath. Because Copeland and all of his ilk, they certainly are not gonna walk through all the hospitals in New York and New Jersey and California and Washington and all the assisted living facilities.  They are not gonna walk through and deliver all the Covid-19 patients with their miraculous healing power.  Because they don’t have any. 

It’s a farse and it’s been a farse all along.  Why is anybody listening to any of them anymore?  Hasn’t this proven once and for all that there is nothing to them?  Right now, as I speak tonight, Joel Osteen, he’s performing at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.  He’s got guest artist Matt Redman and Phil Wickham there with him.  Sunday he’s bringing Mariah Carey and Tyler Perry up on stage.  Plenty of religious attain, entertainment coming this weekend from that place. 

And yet, all of his “best life now” garbage has absolutely nothing to say to minster to suffering and afflicted people.  It has no Gospel in it.  And therefore, there is no salvation.  There’s no hope.  There’s no faith.  There’s no, there’s no love coming from that man no matter what his smile seems to say.  Perhaps worse in my mind, though, those people to me, anyway, to many of you, are apparent.   

Worse in my mind are all the false shepherds out there who are speaking to all the false converts, those who have swallowed up a false sub-Christian gospel, who think they’re Christians, but they’re not and they’re.  These pastors are misrepresenting God, and they are undermining the faith of so many by mishandling the Word of God and by sowing doubt. I heard one man say, he’s known as a pastor.  One man say in our city, he was speaking to his church of thousands through video, through this livestream like we’re doing.  

And he was speaking as this Corona virus pandemic began.  And he was teaching his own congregation that they should embrace the errors and the contradictions in Scriptures.  And then to love the Bible anyway.  This man belched forth his own foul smelling doubts, walking text by text, citing these as problem passages in the Bible.  Ones that he thinks embarrass Christians.  They certainly embarrass him.  He’s trying to accommodate the world’s unbelief.  Because he’s ashamed of the Gospel.  He’s ashamed of the Word of God and he’s trying to avoid ridicule by sounding cool and sophisticated.  And in so doing, he has embraced irrationality and he’s leading many, many others to do the very same thing. 

Folks, you need to understand that judgment is coming upon men just like that.  Judgment is coming.  Along with all the charlatans and hucksters and megachurch celebrities who are driven by greed and care nothing for the sheep.  The only thing the sheep are good for is for their fleece, for their wool.  They want to fleece the flock, put the money in their pockets and go live large.  They refuse to rightly divide the Word of truth lest that rightly divided Word of truth turn and cut them. 

“Folks, you need to understand that judgment is coming upon men just like that.”

Travis Allen

Jude says of them that “These are hidden reefs in your love feasts as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves.  They’re waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late on, autumn, twice dead, uprooted.  They’re wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame.  They’re wandering stars [that is you can never pin them down], for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.”  

Judgment is coming, folks.  And I say on this visible false professing church, I say to let it come.   May God use this Corona virus to shut the doors of false churches.  We’ve had enough of that.  Enough of people being led astray.  Any true believers, like I said earlier, any true believers, those of you who may be tied into those false churches in some way.  Maybe you’re staying put because of comfort.  Because you really like the kids’ program.  Maybe it’s because they’ve got great worship bands or probably this, it’s because of family ties, because of relationship.   

Whatever it is, listen my believing brother, listen my believing sister, get out of that false church.  Come out from under that weak, insipid drivel that they call teaching and preaching.  At the very best, you’re getting a diet of sugar and mush.  Much of it, though, is mixed with worldly poison and the longer you stay there, the more intolerant you will become to the true truth of Scripture.  

As Paul says, and here he’s quoting the words of the living God, “Go out from their midst and be separate from them, says the Lord, touch no unclean thing.  Then I will welcome you.  I’ll be a father to you and you’ll be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”  Listen, do you fear the Lord, or do you fear your family?  Turn away from your family and get with the Lord and his people.   

Judgment is coming.  Folks, this is the Word of the God to the transgressing world and the professing church.  The false forms of visible religion that pawned themselves off as Christianity.  Listen, repent, turn to Christ and find forgiveness of your sins.   

Listen to the offer from the Lord himself.  Isaiah 1:18,  “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord.”  Isn’t that beautiful, that appeal?  Come now, let us reason.  I mean is there, is there any greater distance between God the transcendent sovereign one and us little ants?  He says,  “Come now.  I put a mind of reason in you.  I’ve created you in my image.  Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” 

How can God say that and still maintain his position as a just judge? Isn’t he angry over every single infraction in his law?  Yes, he is.  Is it not the judge of all the earth that will do always what is right?  So how can God be just if he justifies those who are ungodly?  Doesn’t that seem like a perversion of justice if he justifies those who are guilty of sin?  How can he forgive sins?   

Transgressing world, my unbelieving friend, the visible professing church, you have been blinded by false religion for so long.  Listen to me.  The reason God can forgive sin and still remain just and holy, the reason that he can justify you, calling you, declaring you righteous even when you’re not is because God sent his one and only Son Jesus Christ to die for sins.  So that everyone who believes will not perish but have everlasting life. 

You know that verse.  It’s John 3:16.  But let me read you the Old Testament.  Isaiah says in that precious 53rd chapter that this Christ was despised and rejected by men.  And make no mistake, he’s being despised and rejected even to this day.  “He’s a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  He is as of one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he has borne our griefs, he’s carried our sorrows and yet we esteemed stritten, stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.   

“He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; and upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we’ve turned—every one—to his own way; the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  How can God be just and the justifier of the one who puts faith in Jesus Christ?  Because every sing, if you believe if you repent, turn from your sins, put your faith in Jesus Christ, trust and obey him.   

He’s taken all of your sin; every thought, word, and deed that is sinful against his law.  Every sin of commission, every sin of omission.  He’s taken everything past, present, and future of yours.  If you’ll believe, if you’ll repent, if you’ll put faith and trust in Christ, he’s taken that sin and he’s placed it on his Son and he’s punished him instead of you.  He was stricken, smitten, and forsaken for your sake.   

And then he’s taken that perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, that perfect life he lived in obedience to every single jot and tittle of God’s Word.  Walking even to the obedience of the mind and the heart and the two commandments that sum up all the rest, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.  And Jesus fulfilled that perfectly.  And he did it to please his Father because he loves his Father.  And he did it to love you.   

Will you repent?  Will you believe?  Will you trust in the sacrifice for sins?  Will you trust in the perfect righteousness of Christ that can be granted to you by faith?  That’s how God can be just, punishing every single sin, and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ, showing him grace and mercy.  So come to Christ, transgressing world.  Come to Christ, you who profess faith in God, but you actually live by taking his name in vain.  Escape the wrath to come by turning to him in faith and repentance and you will find rest for your souls, even amid this silly little scourge called the Corona virus.  The preview of a wrath to come.  

Well, I want to speak thirdly and finally, I wanna speak to the true church.  I want to speak to you Grace church.  We want to speak to any of you who are true believers and true churches.  How is Christ using the Corona virus for us in the true and confessing church? Answer: Christ is purifying the confessing church.  He’s purifying us.  He’s bringing us through a period of difficulty, of chastisement, of discipline that we might grow stronger through all of this. 

I wonder, folks, if Christ has separated us and forbidden us to meet together at this time and taken away the gift of the fellowship ordinance like I mentioned earlier, the communion table.  I wonder if he’s not chastising us just a bit.  Just giving us a bit of loving discipline.  So many that I’ve talked, so many of you that I’ve talked with since this whole thing started, you’re rightly expressing a longing, a desire to be back in fellowship together.  You want to be in church with each other.  We want to be under the teaching of the Word, the singing of the songs and all the rest.  And I get that.   

I wonder, though, if perhaps we need to wait just a little bit longer.  And see the incredible gift that we have been given and this gift that’s been removed from us for a time.  And it’s this gift, it’s the gift of Christ and the church.  It’s the gift of the body of Christ.  It’s the gift of being under the leadership of the church.  It’s the gift of submission to one another in the fear of Christ.   

It’s the privilege of meeting regularly for teaching and singing, of edifying one another, of provoking one another.  That word “provoking one another to love and good works,” it’s not just a gentle nudge or encouragement, it’s taking a sharp stick and sticking you in, into each other’s sides.  To get us moving again.  I wonder if we need to wait just a little bit longer so that we can love discipline in the church.   

Even more than that, I wonder how many of us here, here in the true church, any true church, have really taken the gift of the Lord’s table for granted, as well.  In 1 Corinthians 11, that’s a text that we turn to often when we’re celebrating communion to warn people not to take communion in an unworthy manner.  You know that in that 11th chapter of Corinthians, 1 Corinthians, the Lord punished some of those Corinthian believers for doing just that.  For taking, coming to the Lord’s table in an unworthy manner. 

He took away some of those believers in the Corinthian church, he took away their opportunity to approach his table by inflicting upon them an illness on some.  And on some others, he even removed them from the fellowship through death.  Folks, that’s the practical reality of what has happened to all of us during this time, isn’t it? 

Our Lord never stops building his church.  But it does seem that every now and again, while he holds a trial, a trowel in one hand for mortar and brick, in the other hand he’s picked up a switch.  He’s administering a chastisement to the backsides of all of us.  We know that when God plagued Egypt, executed judgment on its false gods, on all of its pomposity, its pride, its superpower status, all the rest, there were certain plagues that did not touch God’s people who were living in Goshen.  That’s where the Israelites lived.   

He could do the same thing now, could he not?  He could spare all true churches, spare them from any of the effects of this Corona virus.  He has the power to design a judgment that inflicts suffering on the transgressing world and the false process, professing church.  And then to spare all true churches of his.  He could spare us if he wanted to.  But here we are.   

We’re enduring the same trials and afflictions along with everybody else.  Very few of us have suffered to the point of shedding blood.  We need to admit this could be a lot, lot worse, couldn’t it?  We’ve been spared the plagues of Egypt under the blood of the Passover Lamb.  We trust in the Lamb of God, who was appointed to take away our sin.   

And so this is but a mere momentary light affliction, not full on persecution, not bloodletting, not imprisonment, not the loss of property.  So we need to stop and reflect as well, don’t we?  We need to consider what Christ wants us to learn here, to think about and to confess any sin that we have and repent of it all.  There are some among us, as with all true churches, who are tares among the wheat in a true church.  Well, listen, you’ve had your warnings.   

But there are others.  Maybe weak Christians, maybe mediocre Christians.  Others who love this present world too much, who love to drift in and out of the fellowship, who stay on the, the fringes of the church.  There are some who are too devoted to their businesses, to climbing the ladders of the world, to making money, to seeking the approval of others, to finding fame and everything else out there.  There are others who love this world with its distractions and its entertainments, its travel opportunities, its pleasures. 

So beloved Christian, examine your heart.  Examine your own heart.  See if there be in you any love for the old idols, any love for the false gods of this age.  Throw them all away.  Be, ‘member Israel, they came across the Jordan with Joshua.  He entered into Jericho great defeat of Jericho, success, victory.  They went to Ai and what happened?  One man and his family took one forbidden thing, hid it and they tried to go forward pretending righteousness. 

Don’t be that Achan in the camp.  Don’t be that one among your brothers and sisters in the church who’s gonna hide the silver mantle underneath your tent.  Throw all your false gods away.  Examine, take the light of Scripture and examine every corner and crevice of your heart.  And kill it all.  Return to the fountain of living waters to find your soul’s thirst quenched.  Eat daily of that manna, feeding daily on the Word of God.  Attend to the regular means of grace. 

But I just want to call all of us Christians to examine our hearts, to see as, as David called upon the Lord.  “Examine me and see if there be any wicked way in me; lead me in the way everlasting.”  Let there not be any sins within us, any love for those old idols like Rachel, who hid the, the gods of her family underneath her saddle and kept them because she wanted to carry that new religion into, into the new promised land.   

Let there not be in your heart any love for the old idols.  Any of the false religion, any of the gods of this age.  There so enticing, so powerful, so attractive.  And they come into your home through this.  Throw them all away.  I mean, keep your iPhone, but don’t, throw all the false gods away.  Return to the fountain of living waters and drink deeply of him and quench your thirsty soul.   

Eat the bread the, that he has given from heaven.  Christ in the Word.  Eat daily from him.  Attend to the regular means of grace, the church, week by week and every time you can during the week.  Come to this fellowship ordinance, like the Lord’s table.  The Lord’s table that we can’t participate in right now.  Don’t despise the Lord’s table.  Don’t despise the need to meet. Rather, rejoice in it.  Celebrate in the regular means of grace.  

Celebrate in holiness and in purity and with a cheerful and grateful heart.  Never grumble and complain against the Lord’s gifts.  So beloved, as Christ swings the stick of the Corona virus, don’t ever turn away from his loving lashes.  Rather, cling to the rod of chastisement itself, kissing the nail-pierced hand of the Savior who wields the rod.   

For as God’s children by faith, we don’t look just to the rod.  We look to what it produces, the peaceful fruit of righteousness in our lives.  We look to the face of a loving Father who looks down at us and loves us and disciplines us for our good. We climb into his lap for fellowship.  Beloved, let me tell you, too, during this time, don’t be anxious, do not worry, do not fret.  That is another form of sin.   

Just keep trusting in him, keep obeying and keep praying things like the Lord’s Prayer.  Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come; your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever, amen.  Pray that often.  Pray it daily.