He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. -- Luke 3: 7-8 (ESV)
This may seem unlikely due to the nature of running a discernment ministry but I like to believe the best in everyone. It is a fine line to walk every day to not become jaded when you review so many sermons that mangle God's Word and you see so many hucksters making merchandise of the sheep. I try to start any place of review with the assumption of innocence or ignorance. Last year when Victoria Osteen said that we worship God for ourselves and not for Him, I waited a week before writing anything because I wanted to give her time to correct herself. That would not change the nature of the falseness of her and her husband's ministry but it would clarify that one episode at least. It was only when she doubled down on her nonsense that I wrote about how absurdly narcissistic it was. Likewise there are many who label Brian Houston as a preacher of Chrislam because he once said in a sermon that we all serve the same God. I defend him on this point because he came out less than a week later and said he misspoke. Anyone can make a mistake beloved. It doesn't change the fact that he is one of the biggest heretics on the planet but he is not a proponent of Chrislam and to say so is unfair.
The key verses today tell an interesting tale. As John the Baptist was operating his ministry before Jesus came on the scene, crowds started showing up to be baptized but John doubted their sincerity. It is easy sometimes to cry repent but not actually change anything or see one's own hypocrisy. John leveled a simple charge at them. You say you genuinely want to repent? Then bear fruit in keeping with that repentance. Repentance is not a bunch of words beloved. It means something has changed. So we come to the curious case of Mr. Bert Farias. Mr. Farias fancies himself a "Christian revivalist." He has a regular column on Charisma News. The first link above is to an article he wrote last week entitled, "Tell My Church and the Nation to Repent -- They Are Not Sincere." To be honest, there is quite a lot correct in this article. He incorrectly attributes the curses found in Deuteronomy 28 to the church today. Just like the blessings do not apply, neither do the curses but I can overlook this for the point he was trying to make. He gets too incorrectly political and seems to indicate the same heresies that America worshippers usually do. That if the nation would just behave better than maybe God would somehow spare us judgment. The things of God are of course foolishness to them so this notion is simply unsupported biblically. This is why we are far better served preaching the Gospel, which is the only thing that has the power of God unto the salvation of man, rather than preaching politics. It is when he turns the light into the church that he starts to preach the truth. In fact, here are some of his major points on that front, all of which I would agree with:
"The call of the hour is for repentance. Sincere repentance. Not lip service. Not self-justification. Not procrastination. But a whole-hearted, renouncing of your evil ways, and a permanent forsaking of sin and self.
Meanwhile in houses of worship there is no real worship. People stand in congregations, move their lips and sing their praises, but their hearts are far from God. "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. In vain do they worship Me ..." (Matt. 15:8-9). Actors and pretenders they are, with no sincerity. This lack of sincerity marks the church culture today. Much of what we do is just for show. There is always an insincere agenda behind it. Bottoms in the seats, bucks in the offering and buildings that must be paid. Another program, another project, another event, but there is no sincerity in many people. It is the spot and the blemish in our feasts and festivals. How many more tragedies and casualties must take place before our attention is arrested and our insincerity brought to light? How many of those who were killed in Las Vegas were right with God? How many were ready to meet their Maker? How many were even conscious of Him? My guess is not very many. It is heartbreaking. The way to death and destruction is always far wider than the way to life that is always narrow.
The dictionary defines "insincerity" as not expressing genuine feelings; false, fake, hollow, artificial, feigned, pretended, put-on, inauthentic. Are you getting the picture? This is such an accurate description of our culture. The church is full of false converts and pretenders. They live double lives. Hypocrisy is their most glaring feature. They are living only for themselves. They do what they want and when they want. There is no fear of God in their hearts.
The judgments of God are real. Heaven and hell are real. Most people live without that sense of reality. Their eyes are dim, and they cannot see. Their ears are dull, and they cannot hear. Their hearts are layered with their own lusts and vain imaginations. Their minds are full of contradictory thoughts and destructive reasonings. Their mouths are full of excuses and self-justification. They are nowhere near ready for the judgment. They are not prepared to die and face God. They are nowhere near ready for the coming of the Lord. What will happen to them if they don't change? They will die and go to hell. Does that concern you at all?" -- Bert Farias
Bert Farias is spot on here. It is long past time for the church to seriously repent, give up their purpose driven lusts and return to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Return to being that shining city on a hill. We need to draw near to God with our hearts and abandon this new age faux worship that only exalts man and not God. We need to renounce the seeker friendly industrial complex and scale back our business plans to find His plan again. The church today is filled with unrepentant goats that are being taught how to behave like sheep. On the last day however God will know the difference and they will say, Lord Lord. There is a decidedly obvious lack of the fear of God in the church today. How else do you explain churches that do ACDC, Miley Cyrus, The Backstreet Boys and club techno dance music during worship? How else do you explain sermons that never once mention sin and repentance or are selling empty miracles or carnal greed? How else do you explain a church that has so easily compromised nearly every teaching of Christ to embrace a political Savior of the opposite character? The judgments of God are very real. Mr. Farias is 100% correct on these matters. He also said the following:
I've given my life to the Lord and to His work, but I constantly search my heart nearly every day. I don't want to be insincere. I hate that in myself. I don't want to be wrong anywhere in my life. I want to dwell in the holy fear of the Lord. I want to love and revere Him always. Because I understand the nature of deception, I guard my heart with all diligence. I ask myself over and over again, "Am I sincere? Are my motives pure? Will they stand God's own inspection?"
"The opposite of "insincere" is genuine, honest, open, real, truthful, upright and trustworthy. These should be qualities found in every believer, but pride blinds us. And that is the root where the axe needs to be laid. Pride. Self-admiration, self-glorification, egotism and self-love are some of its definitions. It is the opposite of humility. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6b). That is our greatest need right now in the church and the nation. Humility and repentance.
Let it start with you and me." -- Bert Farias
I want to believe Mr. Farias here, I really do. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that he believes that humility and repentance are the keys and pride needs to be conquered in the life of a believer. The problem I am having is the second link above, which Mr. Farias wrote days before, entitled, "What's Really Going on Behind the NFL National Anthem Protests." This article contained absolutely no humility whatsoever. It was rude, arrogant, and represented personal opinion as truth throughout. Sine Mr. Farias worships this country; one might imagine that he has taken the side of the president on this matter. Without getting into a civics lesson, he is entitled to his beliefs just like the people he disagrees with are entitled to theirs. But how we disagree is often more important. Mr. Farias, the new champion of humility, called those who disagree with him useful idiots, degenerates, anti-American, arrogant, entitled, slaves, traitors, as well as accused them of biting the hand that feeds them and wished they would go live in Ethiopia so they could olive off of bread morsels. All of this, for choosing to kneel for the National Anthem.
I want to believe that Bert Farias is being sincere here when he says that he wants this wave of repentance to start with him. There are two glaring things that would go a long way to showing his sincerity. First of all, he needs to pull the offensive, arrogant, diatribe he posted last week attacking people for having the temerity to disagree with him and he needs to apologize for it. That would signal a mature approach to evaluating oneself in light of Scripture and repenting when necessary. Secondly however, he needs to leave Charisma News. I understand that it is a platform but we cannot sell ourselves to works of the enemy and Charisma is a virtual cesspool of false teachings and prophecies. From the sneaky squid spirit Jennifer Leclaire to the NAR gatekeeper Dr. Michael Brown, Charisma News has long since proven that it no longer represents Jesus Christ. Every false teacher and prophet under the sun graces its pages and it is the chief proponent of worshipping America as an idol. There are precious few nuggets of truth left on this site and who we associate with is who we stand with. If Bert Farias is serious and sincere about repentance starting with him then these two steps would certainly demonstrate that. The jaded cynic in me doubts this will happen but perhaps I at least need to have the same hope that John the Baptist had.
You want to avoid the coming wrath? Go and bear fruit with the repentance you are preaching.
Reverend Anthony Wade -