James Merritt - COVID-19 Q and A
— Well, welcome to Cross Pointe Church online and lemme just say, you are in for a treat today. We have Dr. Merritt here and we have him in the hot seat, and we've got some provocative questions from you about coronavirus and our faith. So this is gonna be a really inspiring moment for us, this morning. Let's just jump in. First question is a great question, this is from Rachel and Rhonda, and their question, "Is the virus a direct result of anyone's sin? A result of the fall of man"?
— Well, I wanna thank Rachel and Rhonda, first of all, it's a great question and the first thing I would say, right off the bat, it's kind of a no and a yes answer. I would never say it's a direct result of anyone's individual sin. I think that that would be certainly a mistake. As a matter of fact, Jesus kinda dealt with a question like that, in the Gospel of Luke. There was evidently a catastrophe where a tower fell on some people and killed them. And there was another incident where some other people were killed. So they came to Jesus and they said, "Okay, was it because of something these people did, or were these people worse than other people? Because they got killed by the tower, but these people didn't". Jesus gave a great response, He said in Luke 13, verses three and five, "I tell you no. But unless you repent, you too will all perish". So, on the one hand, though I would never say yeah, this is a direct result of your sin or my sin, or the nation's sin, though it could be, I don't speak for God. What I would say though, every disaster, all disease, all death is a direct result of the fall of man. Sin is the ultimate cause of every evil and every bad thing that happens to us. And it's why we live in such a fallen world. So, on the one hand, no, I would say no to the first part of the question. But I would absolutely say yes to the second part. I tell you, it's very dangerous to say to someone, normally, well, if you hadn't been living like this, this wouldn't have happened or that wouldn't happened, it's all your fault. I love the story I heard years ago about a pastor. It was back when people rode trains and the pastor was living in Oklahoma, his mom lived in Florida. So he took a train to see his mom for a few days. Well, when he came back, there was one of his church members that met him at the train station. And so he said, "What are you doing here"? He said, "Is something wrong"? He said, "Well, I just wanted you to know," he said, "we had a tornado come through town and it blew my house down". Well, the pastor thought, "This is a great example, a great time for me to kinda teach this guy," and he hadn't been faithful in church. And so he said, "Well, you know, I'm just gonna be honest with you, you know, you haven't been coming to church lately, I know you've been doing some things that you shouldn't be doing, so I'm not really surprised that the tornado blew your house down". And he said, "Well, pastor, I just have to tell you, it blew your house down too". So, you know, you ought to be careful of those kinda things. But yes, in effect this is a result of the fall, it is a result of sin.
— Got you, so lemme just be clear, so what you're saying, let's, for illustration purposes, let's say that you have corona, and I don't have corona. Number one, I'd probably back up a little bit, but you would say that you're no more sinful than I am, because you have the virus and I don't.
— Yeah, and I would not say, I would never point to someone and say, "Well, you know, you got the coronavirus because you used to smoke. You got the coronavirus because you kinda let yourself go and you're not as physically healthy as I am". So this is kind of God's way of, you know, of letting you suffer the consequences of your sin. I would never say that. Now, are there consequences to sin? Absolutely. And does God allow us to suffer those consequences? Yes, but we're not God, and I can't put myself in the place of God and say, "Yup, this," in other words, I can't say cause and effect. That's not my place.
— Gotcha, and I think that's a great lead in to the next question and this is a kind of a follow up, "Is corona God's way of judging and punishing the world? After all, didn't God use plagues and sickness in the Old Testament"?
— Well, first of all, the answer to the second part to the question was yes, God did use plagues, obviously, and sickness in the Old Testament. However, when you go back, God primarily used that on the nation of Israel when they rebelled against Him and I just remind us that we're not Israel. The United States is not Israel, even Israel is not technically Israel in some senses, ethnically it is, but certainly spiritually it's not where the nation of Israel was at one time. So, you know, the answer is yeah, God did use plagues and sickness. And a matter of fact, when you read the Book of the Revelation, God is going to use plagues and sickness in the future as He does bring judgment to this world. But this is what I would say, Chad, I think sometimes we get too caught up in the origin of something, rather than the result. I don't know exactly how this virus fits into God's plan, I know it does, but I'm a lot more concerned with the result. And this is what I do know, I do know that God wants to use a calamity and a disease and terrible things like this to get our focus back on Him, to realize we need this God, we need the God that created us, we need the God that loves us. And that's been my biggest prayer is that we will not waste this calamity that's come upon us. If we're Christians it will draw us closer to God, and hopefully for many people out there this will be the trigger that a lot of your relatives and friends have been waiting on to bring you to come to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
— Yeah, I think that's so important. Maybe the better question for us is are we looking to God when bad things happen? And I'm glad you mentioned the Book of Revelation, because I know there's been a lot of articles already written about end times, as it relates to coronavirus. Is the coronavirus connected, is the coronavirus connected with God bringing forth the end times?
— I'm so glad for that question, and this is a object lesson I wanna give to all of our people. I have a saying, I always hesitate to speculate. I just don't get into the speculation business, I'm not the Lord, I don't know when He's going to come. I know He's going to come physically and visibly, but I tell a lot of people, you know, I'm not on the program committee, I'm on the welcoming committee. So He can come whenever He wants to come. That said, obviously, again, it is very plain in Scripture that as we get closer to the end of times, you're gonna see earthquakes, you're gonna see famines, you're gonna see disease and pestilence, you know, like this. So, you know, on the one hand, no, I can't say for sure that this is, you know, a definitely connected with God bringing forth the end times. I would remind us, though, of one thing, what we're seeing is a reminder that even the world, this physical world, Chad, was affected by the fall of the human race. It wasn't just Adam and Eve that messed us up, they messed everything up. It was because of the fall that you have thorns on rose bushes. It was because of the fall that you have yellow jackets and gators, I just had to get that in there. So, it was because of the fall that we have those things. And, in fact, Paul talks about it in Romans chapter eight, verses 19 through 23, it's a great passage. He said this world is groaning. This world is under tremendous pain and it has a desire to go back to the way that it was. The one thing we know about the Garden of Eden, it was pristine perfect. Whatever else was true, it was pristine perfect and one day, I believe, we're gonna live on the same world again, the new heaven, the new earth and it will be the way that God intended for it to be.
— Yeah, I think it will be presumptuous to say, either way. You know, obviously Jesus, in Luke 21 said there would be pestilence, which is devastating pandemics. I know one of the questions that I've been getting, as a pastor, I've seen online, all over, is this question, many of us are staying inside, fearful, and fearful of contracting the virus, does that mean we have a weak faith or are we negating our trust in God? Aaron asked that question.
— Yeah, Aaron, great question, and so lemme help all of us here, 'cause I'm in the same boat you're in. In fact, I'm in a deeper in the boat than some of you are, because of where I am in my age and stage of life. There's a difference between fear and caution. What I would call sanctified common sense. So, you know, yes, we ought to wash our hands, we ought to keep our distance, we ought to observe good rules of, you know, of health and hygiene, not because we're afraid. It's just, first of all we're told to do it from medicinal experts, it's common sense to do it. Number two, we have a responsibility to do everything we can, not just to keep from getting it, but to keep from giving it. So, as I say again, we're not to tempt God, but we are, you know, or to test God, but we ought to trust God. But having said that, this is a big question we need to ask ourselves, what are we really afraid of? And, again, I'm not trying to be fatalistic on the one hand, on the other hand, what is the worst thing that could happen to me, Chad? Let's say I get the virus, and I don't make it, you say, "Well, the worst thing that could happen, doc, is you die". Well, Chad, I'm not afraid to die. Death has been conquered. That goes all the way back to last Easter weekend, I know where I'm going. I can honestly say, I'm not trying to be, you know, in a bravado sense saying I'm the cool dude here, but I'm not afraid of death because I know to be absent from the body is to present with the Lord. Well, if we're not afraid of dying, why should we be afraid of a virus? So, on the one hand, yes, God gave us this body and God has commanded us to take care of it, so we should do everything we can. By the way, if there's no virus, we should still do everything we can to take care of our body. But even in this instance, yes, you take care of your body, you practice good hygiene, you do all the, take all the precautions that you could, not out of fear, not out of fear, but out of a legitimate common sense concern that we wanna stay healthy, so we also don't get other people sick.
— Yeah, I think we all deal with that tension, right, I mean.
— You know, I think, Biblically, we're supposed to love our neighbor. And that means that we should socially distance ourselves to keep them from getting sick, from getting sick ourselves. But also, we're supposed to take care of the sick, and so, there's a tension there that we all have to manage. We have to face that reality.
— I have to tell you this, Chad, I had a great time. I went into a pharmacy the other day, my brother's, my deaf brother has COPD and he's not in good health, and I really have to look after him. So I'm kinda doing all these things for him. I've never been able to do this, I've wanted to do it, so I went to his drugstore to pick up some medicine, there were two ladies sitting out there in a mask. And I walked in, and as soon as I walked in, I said, this is a stick up. I've always wanted to do that. Well, they were laughing, they said, "We needed some humor". And we do need a little bit of humor in this time. But my point is, I was wearing a mask. If I go to the, I wear a mask, I'm careful. I come out of the door, as soon as, I'm washing my hands. I'm not afraid, I'm not quaking in my boots, but I do it out of sanctified common sense.
— One of the ways we've been socially distancing is online church. And this is probably one of the most provocative questions among pastors, and Margaret asked this question, she says, "Why is meeting in person, at the church," she's talking about a building, "why is meeting in person at the church important? I love online church, can't we continue this after the virus is over"?
— Well, Margaret, six weeks ago I would have hugged your neck but I can't do that right now, I may not be able to do it again for a long time, and I'm, just to kinda prime the pump, I'm actually, Chad, gonna be preaching an entire message on this, when I find out we're ready to come back to church, I'm gonna be preaching an entire message on that. But, more to the question she asked, which is a great question, why is meeting in the church important? So, great question, and I'm just gonna kinda give you a quick summary. Well, in fact, there's only, I can give you one reason and that really ought to, you know, answer the question. The Scripture commands it. This is not something, this is not an idea that we came up with, it's not an idea that Baptists or Episcopalians or Catholics or Presbyterians came up with, this is a command. Go back to the Bible, the early believers in the Old Testament felt like it was important that they go to the synagogue and the temple. God thought it was important, 'cause He told them to build one. The New Testament church felt it was important that on the first day of the week, they gathered together to worship. Well, if the Old Testament saint thought it was a big deal, and the New Testament saint thought it was a big deal, why don't we think it's a big deal? For example, and Paul expressed, not Paul, the author of Hebrews expressly says this in Hebrews, he says, "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds," now listen to this, "not giving up meeting together, some are in the habit of doing". Guess what, 2,000 years ago, yeah, people were still sleeping in. They were still watching ESPN, they were still watching, you know, "Good Morning America" whatever it is they do when, you know, they were still doing those kinda things. But encouraging one another all the more as you see the day approaching.
— Lemme interject, just for a moment...
— Because I think this is an important question related to, you know, watching church online, are you saying that meeting together is not the same as watching online, is that what you're saying?
— Well, I don't even have to say it, it's pretty obvious. I mean, I'll, you know, in fact, lemme just say this, I'm glad you phrased the question that way, I don't understand, I'm just being honest, with you, folks, I'm not trying to fuss, I'm just being honest, I don't understand why people are perfectly satisfied with doing church online, but they won't apply that to any other area of their life. So, I give you an example, how many of you do Christmas with your family online? How many of you, when you got married to your spouse, said goodbye after the wedding and said, "Hey, we're gonna do our marriage online".? How many of your grandchildren, all you ever wanna do is interact with your grandchildren online? I don't understand why we don't apply that to any other area of our life. No, I wanna be with my grandkids, I wanna be with my spouse, I wanna be with my parents, I wanna be with my friends. But when it comes to Sunday, no, I think I'll just hang out here. And oh, by the way, lemme just, while we're in this neighborhood, lemme just go ahead and say, and I gonna say this again down the road, you're not gonna do heaven online. If you don't wanna be with God's people one day a week, one hour a week, maybe, in this building, you don't wanna do that, why do you wanna go to heaven and spend eternity? Because lemme tell you, Chad, in heaven, you're not getting away from me. You don't get to go into a room and hide or stay in bed, eat your chips and drink your Coke and watch Jesus online. That's not the way heaven is gonna work, okay? And I can promise every believer, if you really think you can get away with it, if you really think you know, hey, I don't really care what God says, I don't really care what Jesus thinks, I really believe this, when you get to heaven, I think God's gonna ask you, "Wait a minute, you didn't wanna be with all these people one hour a week, why are you showing up here"? So I cannot emphasize enough, and, by the way, she asked the question, can't we just watch online? Yeah, you can, that's not the question, should you? And I'm gonna say this as strongly as I can, it is a mark of your love for Jesus. And your love for His house and your love for His people and your spiritual maturity, it is a mark of all of those things whether you wanna sit home and watch it online, versus be here and fellowship with God. Lemme tell you one other thing, the author of Hebrews said we ought to do that, why, to encourage one another. So lemme just say this very bluntly and plainly, this is very selfish, when you don't show up, it discourages me. There's not, I've never been encouraged and you'll learn this when you go pastor your own church one day, Chad, you never get encouraged by an empty chair. I've never seen an empty chair yet. Matter of fact, you say, well, would you rather me come and sit and sleep through your message? I really had, because you know what, I'll yell loud enough, I'll wake you up. But I can't wake you up if you're home, okay? So yes, there are very great reasons why, hopefully when this is over, matter of fact, this is what I'm praying for, I hope there's a thirst and a fire and a hunger, where people say, "Man, I cannot wait to get back to God's house".
— Yeah, definitely, that's my prayer. I think we know where you stand on that issue. But what about the person who says, if you're for people showing up at church, then why does your church offer online streaming services?
— Excellent question, two reasons, number one, somebody's gonna reach them if we don't. I get that. They're gonna be, no matter what I say, their first experience with church today, normally, 25 years ago, you wanna experience church, you went and visited the church. Now people say, "You know what, I think I'll pop it online". So we realize, hey, there are people out there, we're gonna cast as many hooks in the sea as we can. However, the other reason is, is our prayer is, is that even what you see on the screen will so move you and so motivate you that you wanna be there. And I'm not making, being funny when I say this, I'll give you a real-life illustration. I grew up a Georgia Bulldog fan, grew up watching them all my life. I had never been to a Georgia football game till I moved back here to pastor a church in this county. I had never been to a Georgia football game. One of the reasons why I was so excited about moving back to Atlanta, 'cause, I said, I'm gonna go to a game. You know what moved me to go to a game? 'Cause I watched Herschel Walker on TV, 'cause I listed to Larry Munson, you know, on the radio, and I said, "Man, if it's that good here, how good is it there"? That's why every Saturday, six or seven Saturdays a year, I love watching it on TV, but there's nothing like being there.
— Yeah, that's good, definitely there is something experiential about being with the body, corporately. Well Thomas asked the question that we've all seen on the news lately, the issue between church and state. He says, "Does the government have the power to shut down businesses and close churches? Do we have to submit to those authorities, or this when we should be standing up and trusting God and meeting in churches"?
— That's a hot question, it's super hot. And we've never been in this situation before, and so, I wanna be very sensitive both to our governmental leaders and our civic authorities and I also wanna be sensitive to this whole concept of what our nation is built on, which is religious liberty and religious freedom. So, Thomas, it's a great question, it may be a little deeper than Thomas thought, because, Chad, it's actually both a constitutional and a Biblical question at the same time. So, you know, obviously, constitutionally, our government has not only a right, they have a responsibility to look out for the welfare of the citizenry of this nation. So, obviously, a case can be made and is being made that, yes, if it is in the best interest of the country, if it is in the national welfare of our citizenry, they do have the right and the responsibility to shut down businesses, to regulate where and how we meet, you know, from a secular viewpoint, as long as it's serving the health and the welfare of our country, and is in our national interest. However, they do not have the right, in my opinion, to unilaterally just close down churches or disallow any form of worship and Bible study whatsoever. For example, just this week, there's a couple of states, they were giving people tickets, because they were having drive-in church. I have no doubt that there's gonna be, that's a lawsuit begging to happen, it is absolutely unconstitutional. I don't think they did have the right to do that, but having said that, lemme speak not to the government and to the civic authorities, lemme talk to the church. I believe that three things we should remember, as believers. Number one, we ought to be the best citizens of America. We ought not to be good citizens, we ought to be the best citizens. So, unless we're asked to do something that is either unbiblical or it is ungodly or it is unethical or it is immoral, we ought to do it. So we ought to be, first of all, the best citizens, okay? So we should abide by the law. Number two, we ought to be good neighbors, not just good neighbors, the best neighbors. We ought to keep the golden rule, we ought to do for others what we want them to do for us, if, you know, if we're in the same situation. So, did I wanna wear a mask to the grocery store the other day? No, I didn't really want to, it's a hassle to me, I don't like it, I feel strange, I feel weird and I'm keeping my social, but I said, "You know what? I'd want other people not knowing if they have it or not, not knowing where they've been or, you know, who they've talked to, I would want them to do the same thing for me". So we ought to be good neighbors, so we practice social distancing. We, you know, we don't congregate in groups more than 10, we keep that six feet distance and so forth. And then, most of all, we ought to be good Christians. Paul said in Romans chapter 13, and it may hurt to hear this, he said behind every government authority, ultimately, is the authority of God. And he goes on to say this, therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment, you don't do it just 'cause you're afraid they might arrest you, but as a matter of conscience. Well, what did he mean by that? What he meant was one day we will give an account to God as to what kind of a citizen were you, what kind of a neighbor were you? What kind of a Christian were you? So, yes, we should obey the government, as long as, again, it doesn't violate Scripture or conscience, as long as we understand we're not doing it because we're afraid of the government or because we're afraid they might punishment, punish us. It's the opposite, we do it because, God, this government ultimately is Yours, You're the one that puts down one and sets up another. If this is what the government says we're gonna do, that's what we're going to do.
— Well, certainly, churches aren't immune or exempt from the coronavirus. We've seen breakouts in choirs and funerals and weddings and other religious services. Does that mean that God has abandoned us in this season? Does He even care what's going on in the world? And if so, prove it.
— I love the way that question was phrased, I don't know who turned it in, but I love that last part, if so, prove it. This gives me a chance, it's an interesting question, and I'll tell you why, and this gives me a chance to say something. I don't know that I've ever said in a message before, Chad, it's very interesting to me that, and we all tend to do it, we only bring up these questions about God when things are going bad. You know, when, we don't think about it much when things are going good. And a great example of that is Job. If you don't remember or you don't know who Job was, Job was a character in the Old Testament, there's a Book in the Bible about him. It's not Job, by the way, it's Job. But there's a book in the Bible and what it's simply about, it's about a man that loved God, he was righteous, he was dotting the I's crossing the T's, going to church, paying his tithes, all that. And the devil comes to God and says, "Hey, yeah, he serves You, he loves You 'cause things are going good. Lemme jerk the rug out from under him and let's see how that works out for him". And God says, "Okay, you can't kill him, but you can do that". And, I mean, Job had to undergo some horrific things, so bad, things got so bad his own wife said this to him, now listen to this, his own wife said to him, she said, "Why don't you just curse God and die"?
— Now think about that, you know, she hadn't said curse God ever, ever, ever before, but now things are going bad, so what do people normally do if things go bad? Stick their face, fist in His face and they curse God. They get mad at God, they get upset at God. But then Job made a great response, "Shall we accept good from God and not trouble"? And here's what gets me, boy, when things start going south, we curse God, we get mad at God, what are You doing? Wake up, do Your job. But, you know, when things are going good, do you know what we do? We put God on the shelf. We don't thank God, we don't bless God, we don't serve God, we don't worship God, we don't, we're not grateful to God, realizing that everything that's good comes from above. It's only when things are bad. So, the question, does He even care? I just go back, Exhibit A, last weekend, last Friday, a week ago, Good Friday. God proved, once and for all, He cares. He proved once and for all that He loves us because He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for this whole world. Not because we deserved it, but in spite of the fact that we didn't. God could've kept Jesus home, could've judged every one of us, and nobody would have had any complaint or anything to say, because we deserve the worst God had to offer, but you know what God said? "I love you so much, I'm gonna give you another choice, you can have my grace and my mercy and my love, and that's why I'm sending Jesus". That's why Peter, himself, who by the way was crucified upside down later in his life, Peter could say, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you". Prove it, don't have to prove it. The cross is the final answer to that question.
— So what about the person, though, they know the Scripture, they know the platitudes, they understand it, but talk to the person behind the lens who just lost their job? Well, what about the person who says, "I lost my job, my savings are gone, there's no end in sight, why should I continue to worship God"?
— And why should I try? You know, I read that question and I said, "Boy, Lord, I wanna be careful". And so I don't know who turned that question in, but I know a lot of you are asking it and more of you are going to be asking it, as these days gone on until we kinda recover. So, lemme just say this, and this is not, it's gonna shock you, but hang with me. I'm not gonna ask you to keep trying, I'm gonna ask you to keep trusting. You know, only one time in the Bible does God ever say try anything. You know what He says? Try me, just put me on the spot. And He's talking about tithing, we're not gonna talk about that now, but it's the only time, you know what God tells us? He didn't tell us to try, He tells us to trust. You know how you get saved? You don't get saved by trying, Chad, you get saved by trusting. Do you know how you walk with the Lord? You don't try to walk with the Lord, you walk with the Lord by faith, we walk by faith and not by sight. So my answer to you would be, okay, quit trying and start trusting. Now I'm gonna be addressing this in the next couple of messages, by the way, this is a paid advertisement, you need to be tuning in over the next couple of weeks, but lemme just remind all of us of this, here's what we're all going through right now, all of us, this is a test of our trust. God is testing our faith right now. God is not interested, if you're just gonna trust God when the X-ray is negative, if you're just gonna trust God when the portfolio is growing, if you're just gonna trust God when you get a raise, if you're gonna just trust God when you get the promotion, God says, "That's cheap". But God doesn't lie, He's made a promise. He said, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ". So, here would be the question I would ask all of you folks out there, and I'm not minimizing your suffering, here's the question, would you rather keep everything and not have God, or would you rather lose everything but have God?
— Well, Francis wants to know for my friends and family who are non-believers, how do I share hope when they feel so hopeless? How can I share that God is present and working with my friends who are not believers, when so many people have lost their jobs and their hope?
— You know, thank you for the, so much for the question, Francis, but lemme tell you this, I think it actually gives us an unbelievable opportunity to share with them. There's a difference between being helpless and hopeless. And if I were talking to an unbeliever, I would say, "You know, we're both helpless in this situation, we can't turn on the economy, I can't get your job back, you can't get my job back, we're kinda helpless, but lemme just tell you this, there's only one way we're hopeless. If there is no God, we're hopeless. If this all up to fate and chance, we're sunk, because there's nothing we can do and no one that can bail us out. However, I want you to consider during this difficult time there is a God. As a matter of fact, has it occurred to you that maybe God's allowed this to happen to you to focus your attention on Him? 'Cause I wanna share with you that our only hope is that there is a God who's in control of this world. There is a God who loves us, that God's even in control of this virus. There's a God that wants to meet our needs and will supply our needs and will always do what is best for us". That's why we said last week at Easter, the risen Lord is our only hope. So, Francis, there's not a better time you'll ever get to share the greatest message of hope people will ever hear, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
— Yeah, I believe the Scripture that you preached last week, 1 Peter 1:3 is worth repeating, praise be to God and Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, in His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
— Amen, absolutely.
— From the dead. That is our only hope. Well, I know a lot of us, we followed you online, on social media, we've seen how you've taken an advantage of this coronavirus as an opportunity in your neighborhood. So Sydney wants to know this, what are some practical ways to minister during coronavirus season? How can we serve the homeless and needy without breaking rules?
— Well, unless you live in the Mojave Desert by yourself, there's a lot of ways to do it. Most of us live in neighborhoods. So far, I've not seen any law that says we can't go to a neighbor, we can't, first of all, we can pray, we can pray for our neighbors. Number two, we can communicate. You're exactly right, I'm determined, I'm not gonna waste this time in my life, time is short, I'm, you know, I'm moving on down the runway, I don't have as much runway down as I used to have, time's more precious to me than it's ever been, I'm not gonna waste this virus, I'm not gonna waste this crisis. So, number one, I pray. Number two, Chad, I'm writing notes almost every day, I'm writing thank you notes, I'm writing notes of encouragement. I'm texting people, I'm emailing people. I'm praying for my one. Easter, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, before Easter, two or three weeks ago, I had one of my ones, I sent him a text, I called him, followed up with an email, Easter Sunday morning reminded him of the service, asked him, 'cause he was here, physically, last year. Invited to be a part of it. You know, I've already said that we, yesterday, my granddaughter came over, my little eight-year old granddaughter, we were taking loaves to, we were taking a loaf of banana bread, we were taking a little letter from me and Theresa with our personal information, how to contact us, let people know we're serving, we wanna serve them and pray for them, in a best news card. We're doing it to everyone in our neighborhood. So, for our granddaughter came over yesterday, Theresa fixed four banana nut bread loaves, we went to four different neighbors. Some I had not met, we went up to their homes, knocked on their door, we stepped back. Four neighbors came. Every one of them, before I said, "Hey, Dr. Merritt". I didn't know they knew me. "Hey, Dr. Merritt, how are you"? I said, "Hey, you know, me and Theresa we live right down the street from you, this is a loaf of banana nut bread, just wanna, and our personal information to let you know you can contact us to let us know how we can serve you and pray for you, and the best news you'll ever hear in your life". And so, Chad, what I've been able to see, is you can make lemonade out of lemons if you'll do it and be intentional. And there's so many ways that you can do that.
— Yeah, we talk about ways all the time on our Zoom calls, and our staff meetings and, in fact, we put together a document that everybody can look at online. You can go to livehopegivehope.org. That's livehopegivehope.org and there are lots of ways that you can serve your family, your friends, and your neighbors. Now, last question, now I think, probably, the most important question, what would you say to the person who says this, "Doc, I'm with you. I believe you're right, God's trying to get my attention, He's working all this for my good, what is the one lesson, what is the one message that God wants the world to hear through coronavirus"?
— Yeah, that's a great question. You know, if, Chad, if I could speak to the whole world, if I had my shot, and I can only say one thing, this, exactly, would be the thing that I would say, I would say that the four greatest words that will ever come out of a human being's mouth are these four words, Jesus Christ is Lord. If I can only say one thing, I would say this to the world, one of two things have to be true. Out of 30 billion people who have lived on this earth, 30 billion, 30 billion, let that sink in, only one claimed to be God incarnate. Only one claimed to have lived the perfect life, only one claimed to have died, not for Himself, but for us, died for our sins. And only one claimed to come back from the grave. Now, Chad, if everything I just said is a fairytale, it's just once upon a time and didn't really happen, I got nothing to say, my clip's empty. But if what I just said is true, that's the ballgame, that's the game-changer. And if I can only say one thing to the world, it would be this, if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. There are only two people walking the face of the earth, Chad, only two, only two kinds, saved people and lost people. People who are in Jesus, people who are outside of Jesus. And I also just wanna encourage you right now, you, right now, just listening to me, you could just, right now, even as you're sitting in that living room, you could say something like this, I get it, I realize my greatest need is not to get rid of the virus, my greatest need is to get rid of sin. Because you know what, Chad, there is a virus that's flowing through the veins of the human race, and have been since the beginning of time. It's called sin. And that virus is gonna kill everybody. It will kill you physically, but if you don't get saved from your sin, it will kill you spiritually. And the only remedy for that sin is the faith in Jesus that we could give and the grace that He gives us. So, if you, right now, would just say what I said as a nine-year old boy, Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner, I'm lost, and I need a Savior. I believe You died for my sins, I believe God raised You from the dead, I believe You're alive right now. This moment, I confess You as my Lord. This moment, I trust You as my Savior. I give You my life. If you did that or if you're doing that right now, lemme tell you what's happening, whether you feel it or not, God just saved you. How do I know? 'Cause God didn't break His word, God gave His word, if you confess with your mouth He's Lord, believe in your heart that He raised you from the, raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved.
— I tell you what, I don't know about you but I really enjoyed our time together, Dr. Merritt. Thank you so much for being here, being willing to answer these questions.
— Did a great job. Thanks for letting us, thanks for letting us come into your home, hope it was a blessing to you.
— We want you to know that we love you, and we know that God is gonna work all this together for our good and His glory. And we have an incredible message next week. We wanna see you back here, same time, same place. You guys have a great week.