Disclaimer: Concepts and source material for this sermon has been gleaned from many different sources. I have attempted to acknowledgethese sources whenever possible.
IT’S TIME TO CHOOSE
I KINGS 18:17-21
Introduction: IKings 18 gives us the familiar account of the Prophet Elijah as he stands alone against 850 false religious leaders. Elijah challenges the people to decide who is going to be the god of their lives. In dramatic fashion, he demonstrates the reality that the Lord is the only true God. He has the false prophets build an altar and call upon their gods to answer their prayer by consuming a sacrifice lain upon that altar with fire. All day they prayed and prayed but nothing happened. Then Elijah builds an altar to the Lord and has it drenched with four barrels of water. He prays a simple prayer containing only 63 words, and the fire of God comes down consuming the sacrifice and the altar. This morning I want to look the situation of Israel, the challenge of Elijah, and the people’s response.
I. Hopping between two opinions
A. 1Kings 18:21 "And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, ’How long do you halt between two opinions?"
B. Israel, from the time that God called it to be His chosen people, was to be a peculiar nation that influenced the culture and the world around it towards God.
C. When they came into the land of Promise, they were not to take on the customs and culture of the surrounding nations. God warned them that they were not to follow the false gods worshipped by heir neighbors.
D. Influenced by the nations around them (rather than influencing them), Israel had a long history of vacillating between worshipping the true God and worshipping the harsh false gods, Baal, Molech, and Asheroth.
E. They wanted both; to have their cake and eat it too. They wanted God their to help them when they were in need but wanted to enjoy the temporal pleasures and possessions promised by the demanding and demeaning pagan gods.
F. How long will you "leap upon two branches," like a bird that leaps or hops from one branch to another, and never settles long.
G. James 1:8 "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
H. Along with much of the bad thinking that has come down to us from the last four hundred years, comes the iidea of Split Living. These are those people who, "live compartmentalized lives; worship God, go to church, and do their "religious" bit on Sundays. Then they switch that off and pursue their professions, weekday work, weekend hobbies, and all their relationships (as though these were matters entirely separate from their Christian commitment). They do not even try to see their lives as a whole in terms of God and His Word. Instead, they slip into their religious compartment on Sundays and their secular compartment of the other days of the week and allow no communication between the two" (J.I. Packer in Your Father Loves You. Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 16).
I. Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
J. 1Peter 2:9 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."
II. Challenged to choose
A. If the LORD is God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.
B. Israel had seen the hand of God working within their national history. They had seen the Exodus, the parting of the Red Sea, the fall of Jericho, the miraculous deliverance by the judges from oppression by the Philistines and Midianites. Therefore, the challenge is laid out to Israel. There is but one God, one infinite, immense, and incomprehensible being; one that is omnipotent, all sufficient, loving, good, and perfect; there cannot be more, and therefore but one to be followed, served, and worshipped.
C. It is the same choice given by Joshua and Moses.
D. Joshua 24:15 "Choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
E. Deuteronomy 30:19 "I call Heaven and earth to record today against you. I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life, so that both you and your seed may live."
F. Our destiny is not determined for us, but it is determined by us. Man’s free will is part of God’s sovereign will. We have freedom to take which course we choose, but not freedom to determine the end of that choice. God makes clear what he desires, we must choose, and the result of the choice is not the inevitableness of law, but the inevitableness of God." -Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
G. "Whoever is on God’s side is on the winning side and cannot lose; whoever is on the other side is on the losing side and cannot win. Here there is no chance, no gamble. There is freedom to choose which side we shall be on but no freedom to negotiate the results of the choice once it is made. By the mercy of God we may repent a wrong choice and alter the consequences by making a new and right choice. Beyond that we cannot go." - A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)
III. Silence says a lot
A. “And the people answered him not a word.”
B. Sometimes silence speaks volumes, and it’s deafening,.
C. Some said nothing, out of FEAR
· There were 450 Prophets of Baal, the Prophets of Asheroth, King Ahab and his wife Jezebel against Elijah alone.
· Proverbs 29:25a "The fear of man brings a snare."
D. Some said nothing, out of COMPROMISE
· Some said, "I do not want to create trouble; I just want to get along, after all roads lead to Rome." NO, THEY DO NOT.
· John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, ’I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
E. Some said nothing, out of IGNORANCE
· Some were raised in the families that either always had a mixed worship or did not worship at all leaving them ignorant to the truth.
· Tonight Show host Jay Leno recently demonstrated this idea. Leno frequently does "man-on-the street" interviews, and one night he collared some young people to ask them questions about the Bible. "Can you name one of the Ten Commandments?" he asked two college-age women. One replied, "Freedom of speech?" Mr. Leno said to the other, "Complete this sentence: Let he who is without sin..." Her response was, "have a good time?" Mr. Leno then turned to a young man and asked, "Who, according to the Bible, was eaten by a whale?" The confident answer was, "Pinocchio."
F. Some said nothing out of DEFIANCE
· "How dare you challenge me or tell me what to do. My belief is a personal matter."
· Zechariah 7:12 "Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words, which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts."
G. Some said nothing out of CONVICTION
· "A well-known professional golfer was playing in a tournament with President Gerald Ford, fellow pro Jack Nicklaus, and Billy Graham. After the round was over, one of the other pros on the tour asked, ’Hey, what was it like playing with the President and Billy Graham?’ The pro said with disgust, ’I don’t need Billy Graham stuffing religion down my throat!’ With that he headed for the practice tee. His friend followed, and after the golfer had pounded out his fury on a bucket of golf balls, he asked, ’Was Billy a little rough on you out there?’ The pro sighed and said with embarrassment, ’No, he didn’t even mention religion.’ Astonishingly, Billy Graham had said nothing about God, Jesus, or religion, yet the pro stomped away after the game accusing Billy of trying to ram religion down his throat" (R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God).
H. When you have to make a choice and do not make it, that is in itself a choice.
CONCLUSION: This morning you are being called on to make a choice. If you have never responded to God’s invitation to receive Christ, you need to choose whether you will accept His love and offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ; or whether you will refuse it. Understand, it is never too early to decide for Christ, but the time will come when it will be too late. Christian, you are called upon today to choose whether you will make Christ supreme in your life and influence the world around you or whether you will allow the world to change you. It is time to choose!