By Mannix Porterfield
For the Daily Telegraph
On the ride home from a Sunday service, a 3-year-old grandchild of Rick Metrick fell into a sudden slumber, then grew a little testy moments later, when he was roused from his sleep upon arrival.
“Pappaw,” the child protested, “you’re not supposed to wake someone up who is asleep.”
That was physical repose.
There is also a spiritual sleep, and that is the one that bothers Metrick, in his endeavor to awaken what he sees as an indifferent church, blessed with an abundance of material wealth, but dangerously out of touch with the spirit of God and biblical prophecy as the end of grace draws near.
Metrick has a new book on the market, “God’s Wake-Up Call,” and says all those who ignore its warnings are doomed to a dying world, fraught with almost unimaginable disaster and suffering, based on the teachings of Revelation.
“The picture of Revelation can be described in one word — blood,” says the pastor of Jones Memorial Baptist Church in Beckley.
Mass violence, famine, pestilence, a frantic struggle for survival that hurls brother against brother — a breakdown on a global scale, unrivaled in human history. This is the horrific scenario painted in the Bible’s final book.
“It’s going to be the first time in 2,000 years that there’s not one Christian on this earth,” Metrick said.
“Not one believer on the face of the earth. This earth will be without a testimony for Christ. It will be so bad God will send angels to testify.”
And two figures from the Old Testament era who never tasted death will be sent to the planet as witnesses, only to meet the same fate as many prophets of old — murdered at the hands of those stung by their message.
“It will be a time when those demonic powers that are currently chained in hell itself and the Euphrates River and other places are going to be released,” Metrick said.
“It is going to be a time when hell is turned against earth, and heaven is turned against earth.”
Once the Rapture occurs, or the calling up of God’s faithful to safety in heaven, the seven-year tribulation will start to unfold, but not necessarily immediately, Metrick says, pointing to a brief lull between Jesus Christ’s ascension and the start of the church as possibly symbolic of a brief delay.
At the outset, as the world celebrates a temporary lull in armed conflict, and begins to relax, assuming all is well, in the midst of such complacency comes swift destruction, he says.
“This is not a book of condemnation,” he insisted. “This is a book of rescue.”
And, unlike similarly themed books, this one isn’t weighed in the horrors of the tribulation, or the escape valve known as the Rapture, but is an attempt to shake the indifferent and casual out of spiritual neutrality, at a time when the basic tenets are compromised, he said.
“This book focuses on what Scripture has to say about the nature of the church prior to the end of the church age,” he said.
Metrick relies on the teaching of Revelation, chapters 3 and 4, to cover the seven churches and their traits, writing that the church today is the Laodicean, a lukewarm one that Christ finds so distasteful he would vomit it out.
Rich and weighted down in worldly goods, the modern church has become one of apathy and mediocrity with no fervor for the original gospel, he says.
Jesus once wondered, looking to His return, if He would find faith on the earth.
Blessings can indeed surface as material abundance, but those in turn can evolve into curses, if God is cast aside, the pastor said.
“It is our wealth that has pulled us away from God and caused us to become indulgent in our churches,” Metrick said.
“Churches now with their wealth do become a center of entertainment, a club-like environment. They have turned their pastors into CEOs. They have indulged in the elaborate all because of riches and are increased with goods. We have more stuff than we know what to do with.”
As a boy, he remembers 3-by-3-foot closets. Today, they are large enough to serve as bedrooms.
In trying times, such as the 9/11 attack, or a violent swing in nature that exposes vulnerability, Americans turn to God for solace, he pointed out.
“For a moment, we hear God’s wake-up call,” Metrick said.
“But as soon as things settle down, we go back to the status quo, where we were before. The church is no longer the church.”
That the church has lost the punch of that old time religion is evident, he said.
“You can see what’s going on in this nation of ours,” he said.
“It takes spiritual perception to see that homosexuality is still a sin and does not have a place in the church of God. We should love the homosexual like we should love any other person who is a sinner, whether it’s a gossiper or anything else. But when we start ordaining those who are living a lifestyle that is opposed to God, our eyes are not opened.
“When churches become more of a club than a sanctuary, when churches are more entertaining than ministering, when churches are more interested in bringing in money than saving souls, there is something wrong. So, the answer is three-fold for the church: accept Christ as savior, live like a Christian and let the spirit of God let you see this world the way that God sees it.”
Metrick’s resume is an expansive one.
The Beckley native earned a degree in 1980 from Appalachian Bible College and taught school three years in Maryland. He was a minister of music and football coach, then pastored Walnut Hills Baptist Church a like number of years in Huntington. He pastored a church in Maryland for a decade and a half, then was an associate pastor three years at First Baptist in Beckley, followed by a year as interim pastor at Daniels Missionary, before landing at Jones Memorial.
Perhaps his life call was the result of a prayerful grandmother, who often asked that Metrick be devoted to the ministry.
“She died on her knees praying,” he said.
“A few years later, when in junior high, I began feeling a desire to do something with my life that was meaningful. I felt that I wanted to do something to serve God. There was a confirmation of blessing on that as I got older. In high school, I had this passion in my heart that God had put his hand on me to be a minister and I followed through that.”
His first book was titled “The Yawning Church” and he also founded the “Just Honor God Foundation.” His newest book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Christian bookstores.
Eventually, as evil engulfs the entire globe, Metrick says, the Antichrist and his forces will launch an all-out assault on Israel, paling the anti-Semitic “Final Solution” of Adolf Hitler.
“For the Antichrist to have the kind of power and influence he will have from day one in the tribulation, he will have to be a political leader during the church age,” Metrick said.
“A well-known and well-accepted political leader. However, the chances are, with the exception of maybe a few who have God-given perception and discernment, most people will not recognize him as Antichrist, because he will come across as friend, not foe.”
Indeed, the author says, he will appear as a friend to all, one who has mastered the art of straddling all fences.
“The Antichrist very well could be alive right now,” he said.
“The picture is set up. A person would have to be truly spiritually blind to not see that the puzzle pieces are coming together very quickly at this time. And because of that, because of these perilous times that have come to pass, as the Scripture says, we are in the 11th hour. I don’t know if it’s 11:01 or 11:59, but midnight is about to strike.”