Serve God Not Syncretism

1 Kings 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

When the Church was first formed the Devil attacked it with martyrdom. Christian after Christian was led to the Coliseum to die gruesome deaths. But a strange thing happened. As Christians met their deaths with bravery and faith the watching crowds began to believe in this Jesus Christ that they died for. The martyrdoms had the opposite effect – they drew people to Christ. So the devil went back to his old tactics, tactics he had used even in the Old Testament days of Israel.

He went back to SYNCRETISM.
It is the blending of different faiths.
The merging of different truths.

By around 300 AD the visible Church had become bound to the Roman Empire and Christianity was considered the state religion. Rather than exist to glorify God and magnify Christ the visible Church began to worship humans and pray to “saints”. The bones of dead people were cherished. The preachers dressed up in special garb and mimicked many of the Old Testament shadow rituals. God had a remnant that still worshiped Him, and many of those were martyred at the hands of the so called visible Church.

This was not the first time the devil used Syncretism.
He used it on Israel in the Old Testament.

Syncretism is subtle. It sneaks in. It begins by glorifying man rather than God. And it spreads like cancer throughout society. When God’s Church begins to absorb worldliness the nation itself becomes endangered.William Penn, the first great hero of American liberty, and founder of Pennsylvania, said “Men must be governed by God or ruled by tyrants”.

We must choose Who we will glorify, Who we will obey. Elijah called Israel to make a choice.

Proverbs 14:34 (KJV) Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

Righteousnessaloneexalts a nation, a people, a family, a person. When a person stands right with God though trials may come, in the end all things will be right. When a person stands wrong with God nothing they do will ever turn out right. The Ten Commandments are not the Ten Suggestions. God calls us to stand with Him if we expect to be empowered.

To Do Nothing Is To Compromise

When Elijah asked the people to make a choice I want you to notice their response:

And the people answered him not a word.

This is the problem of every age. People know right from wrong, but rather than speak up they say nothing. “I don’t want to get involved”.When Elijah was led of God to go and see the evil King Ahab he met Obadiah, the governor of Ahab’s house. Obadiah was like the Butler in Charge. And Obadiah was a righteous person. The Bible tells us that:

1 Kings 18:3-4 (KJV) … Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly: 4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.

That was a wonderful thing to do. Obadiah secretly served the Lord. But he did not do so openly. When Elijah comes to see Ahab he tells Obadiah“Go and tell Ahab I am here”.Obadiah’s responsewas:

1 Kings 18:12-14 (KJV) And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. 13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD’S prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me.

Obadiah served the Lord – but only in his comfort zone. He was willing to sneak about and hide the prophets of God from death. But he was not willing to openly do anything to support Elijah or the Word of God. He allowed FEAR to drive him. We manufactured darkness in his mind.

What if I go and Elijah is not here when Ahab comes?
What if Ahab is in a bad mood?
What if – What if – What if!

We let doubts and fears stand between us and God and we lose the blessedness of life. The Bible says:

1 John 4:18-19 (KJV) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us.

Faith – genuine faith – is to step outside of your comfort zone in your love for Christ. To trust God no matter what may come. Fear should not dictate our lives, but love of God.

Elijah refused to let Obadiah off the hook. Elijah told Obadiah …

1 Kings 18:15-16 (KJV) … As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day. 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

Elijah spoke up, and this made Obadiah look up.
If we would each look up and speak up, the courage of Christ
Would rub off on others as well.
Cowardice is
contagious, but so is Courage!

Was Elijah a superman among Christians?I hear people speak of Billy Graham as if he were a god among men. Don’t get me wrong – I loved Billy Graham. But Billy Graham was a man just like we are men. Billy Graham was a sinner – not a Protestant Pope as some have arrogantly tried to preach. Billy was a simple man who chose to serve the Lord without apology. God blessed his efforts, and used him as God will use any of us who live the same way. The Bible says of Elijah:

James 5:17-18 (KJV) {Elijah} was a man subject to like passions as we are, and HE PRAYED EARNESTLYthat it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Elijah was serious about God. Though a man of like passions– with all the failures we all have – he trusted in an extraordinary God.

Elijah was a world changer because he chose to follow God and God alone. He didn’t have a divided heart!

James 1:6-8 (KJV)… ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man [is] unstable in all his ways.

Elijah was not double minded – he was focused on God. It was this man who came before a fallen nation. The Bible says that Elijah came unto all the people and said ….

1 Kings 18:21 … How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. …

Each person is asked to make a choice. “If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him”.Do not ride the fence. Now is the time to take sides. Now, not tomorrow. There is no middle ground. The Lord Jesus demands all or nothing. Jesus Christ said:

Matthew 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

It Is Not Faith When It’s Comfortable

Faith is never comfortable.
Faith is not an armchair.
Faith is not a full bank account.
Faith is not good health.
How does the Bible define Faith?

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things HOPED FOR, the evidence of things NOT SEEN.

The New American Standard Version translates this text as:

Now faith is the assurance of things HOPED for,
the conviction of THINGS NOT SEEN.

Faith is to look up and trust the God you know when you’re walking into the unknown. Faith is to believe the promises of God toward you though outwardly it looks as if God is no where to be seen. Faith trusts God. Faith believes Christ. Faith says, as tried and troubled Job said:

Job 13:15-16 (KJV) Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. 16 He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

Oh how God despises the hypocrite! As Elijah went before Ahab he had no idea if he would live or die, but he did not fear Ahab. We read:

1 Kings 18:17-18 (KJV)… when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, [Art] thou he that troubleth Israel?18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.

Elijah did not mince words, but stood in the presence of Ahab armed with the Word of God. When Ahab tried to blame the nation’s woes on him Elijah said, “I’m not the one troubling this nation. It is you, for YOU are not following God’s Word. Not only this, YOU are following Baal, the false god of the Canaanites”.

Listen to me, Beloved. God not only wants you to get off the fence, but He demands you get out of your comfort zone and do what He said do.

The proof of faith is in the COMMITMENT not in the CREED.Jesus said “Follow ME”. We are to follow Him! “If the Lord be God, FOLLOW Him. If Baal, THEN FOLLOW him“.

Elijah told Ahab to gather Israel Israel on Mount Carmel. There was going to be a showdown.

1 Kings 18:19-20 (KJV) Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. 20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.

There are 450 prophets of Baal there – but there are also 400 prophets of the groves. I’ve preached this text many times but have never noticed the “prophets of the groves”. These were the devotees of the female goddess Astarte. The 400 “prophets of the groves”are never challenged by Elijah, only the 450prophets of Baal. Some commentaries suggest that the prophets of the grove never came to the meeting, but I find it hard to believe that these people who ate at Jezebel’s tablewould refuse the command of the King. What I suspect is the “prophets of the groves”were much like the people themselves. They followed a religion of convenience and comfort. They were wishy washy in their faith, whatever it might have been. The prophets of Baal however were committed to what they believed, and were therefore worthy opponents of Elijah.

That’s just my opinion, and I may be wrong – but it seems right to my spirit.

Faith Is Not Afraid To Call On God

Elijah stood before the assembled people and showed us what faith is. He said:

1 Kings 18:23-24 (KJV)… give us two bulls; and let {the 450 priests of Baal}choose one bull for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bull, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: 24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

Elijah let the 450 priests of Baal go first. They killed their animal, and laid the pieces on the altar. They danced around that altar, singing and pleading to an idol that is nothing. An idol is but …

Psalms 115:4-7 (KJV)… the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.

An idol is a thing of the imagination and no god.
A lifeless lucky rabbit’s footthat was not even lucky when it was on the rabbit.

The Priests of Baal screamed and hollered and cut themselves with knives, slinging blood and doing no good at all. Why would their antics make any difference? An idol is nothing – a foolishness – an invention of man’s imagination. Elijah got into the game and began to cry out:

1 Kings 18:27 (KJV)… mock(ing)them, {saying}Cry aloud: for he [is] a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, [or] peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

Elijah mocked them all day long until they were hoarse and exhausted, and lying all about the sacrifice. Idolatry and the worship of gods is the religion of fools. The Bible says that the unbeliever becomes

Romans 1:21-25 … vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. {22} Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, {23} And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. {24} Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: {25} Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

They change the truth of God into a lie, an idol, a thing of imagination. Elijah believed in God. The Bible tells us that:

1 Kings 18:30-35 (KJV)… Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD [that was] broken down. 31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: 32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid [him] on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour [it] on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. 34 And he said, Do [it] the second time. And they did [it] the second time. And he said, Do [it] the third time. And they did [it] the third time. 35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.

Elijah did three things beforehe ever went to God in prayer, and wants us to do the same things.

Elijah glorified God.The Scripture says that Elijah “repaired the altar of the LORD [that was] broken down”. Elijah did not make his own altar, but honored God by repairing His altar.

Elijah recognized God as the Nation’s Founder. It is He that made us and not we ourselves. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. God founded Israel, so Elijah had the bull laid out on the altar and twelve barrels of waterpoured over it. Each barrel represented a tribe of Israel.

Elijah obeyed God’s Word. We read:

1 Kings 18:36(KJV)And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou [art] God in Israel, and [that] I [am] thy servant, and [that] I HAVE DONE ALL THESE THINGS AT THY WORD.

It was only AFTER Elijah glorified the Lord and obeyed His Word that we read:

1 Kings 18:38 THEN the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

We want God to actthough we do nothing. God says, “Act, and I will act. Obey, and I will bless. Do what I have saidand I will provide!”

Jesus Christ said:

Matthew 9:29 (KJV)… According to your faith be it unto you.

Only when we’re led by God will we lead the world. People in America today are open to genuine spirituality, and are open to the Great Commission of Christ. We need in America today committed men and women who will stand up for what they believe. We need people who – if saved – will live like they are saved. We need Christians who are not ashamed to stand with Christ and say with Him:

John 14:6(KJV)… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

You cannot be saved sitting on the fence. Choose! Choose God and choose blessing. Choose Christ and receive salvation. Choose Baal and go to hell! The choice is yours!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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