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One God or Many, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 14, 2024 9:00 am

One God or Many, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 14, 2024 9:00 am

False gods aren’t always little golden statues. They can be anything, even good things like family, health, and financial security. Pastor J.D. explains how we turn good things into idols, and how to spot false gods that are growing up in our hearts.

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Today on Summit Life, we're recognizing false gods. Here's how you know the true God from a false one, according to Elijah.

Number one, whereas false gods require strenuous efforts, the true God is known by grace through faith. You see, other gods say slash for me, dance for me. There's only one God who was slashed for you. Every other God makes your blood run. Only this God bleeds for you. Welcome to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Okay, let's be real. Anything can turn into a false god. Even good things, right?

Our family, our health, our financial security, or lack thereof. False gods aren't always little golden statues. They are things that we place our trust in above the one true God.

Today, Pastor J.D. explains how we turn good things into idols and how to spot false gods that are growing up in our hearts. This is the ultimate battle of your life, which God is God. 1 Kings chapter 18, verse 17. That's what Ahab should have recognized. Verse 19.

Two different opinions. If the Lord is God, follow him. But if Baal is God, then follow him.

Here's what I would tell you. If money is your God, serve it. With all your heart. You got a cheat to get it? Cheat.

Because money is the ultimate good. But if Christ, if Christ is the one true God, serve him. With all your heart. So Elijah throws that big old question out there. And how does everybody respond?

Did not answer him a word. So Elijah says, all right, well, let's take two bulls. You take one, put it on an altar over there.

I'm going to take one, put it on an altar over here. Verse 24. Then you call upon the name of your God, and I'll call upon the name of the Lord.

And I'll tell you what. The God who answers by fire, he is God. And the people answered, it is well spoken.

In other words, good idea. Verse 25. Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, choose for yourselves one bull, you prepare first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your God, but don't put any fire to it. And of course, all these prophets of Baal are thinking, you idiot.

First of all, there's 850 of us and one of you. Second of all, our God is the God of lightning. Verse 26. They limped.

There's that word again, by the way. They limped around the altar that they had made. Now, this is my favorite part. Verse 27.

And at noon, Elijah mocked them, saying, cry loud, louder, because he's a God. Either he is musing, which means daydreaming, steering aimlessly into space. Maybe he is musing or maybe he's on a journey.

You should yell louder, or this is the best one. Maybe he is relieving himself. Some of your NIV translations of the Bible try to clean that up and they just say busy, but the literal Hebrew there is a euphemism meaning on the john. Hey, maybe your God's taking the dump. Maybe he's got the fan on. He's got the fan on and he can't hear you, so why don't you yell louder?

Or maybe he is asleep and must be awakened. This is what we call righteous smack talking. Righteous smack talk. Holy sarcasm, Batman.

All right? And let me just point out, not all sarcasm is wrong. Some things need to be mocked. Verse 28. And they cried aloud and they cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out upon them.

And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation. But there was no voice. No one answered.

No one paid attention. God's require endlessly strenuous dancing to please them. If you obey well enough, they'll accept you. So their message to you is dance harder.

Better get on it. So like Allah, for example, of Islam is like you better keep the commandments better. You better keep these five pillars better. You better dance harder if you want me to accept you. The Buddhist version of God says you better act right because if not, you're going to come back to something you don't want to be. I will crush you if you don't dance well enough.

Secular false gods like population. If you dance hard enough, you'll get me and then you'll be happy. But if you don't dance hard enough, you're not going to get me and you're going to be miserable. So you dance like a slave to get into the right school. You dance to get into the right job so that you can have the right kind of money. If beauty is your God, then use Zumba so hard.

Right? Because you got to be beautiful because if you're not beautiful and you're not in shape, they don't like you. If popularity is your God, then you are continually dancing for your circle of friends. However you want to do it. You're like, like me. Hey, like me. Every day I put on the clothes.

They're real tight. Like you want me to wear them? You like me now? You like me now? Hey, hey, I'm using these words. I'm saying these things. Do you like me now? It's just endlessly. It's like your life is one long audition for American Idol where you're always trying to please some Simon Cowell who's going to say, you don't stink.

You're good. Endlessly dancing. That always characterizes worship of false gods. Here's the second thing. False gods push you toward destruction.

False gods push you toward destruction. They're like, more. Work harder. Do better.

Hey, you're not getting my attention. Slash yourself. For some, this literally becomes slashing. They don't get the attention of the friends they crave, so they cut themselves. For others, the slashing is more metaphorical. They slash their bodies through crash diets or become anorexics so they can get that perfect figure that they feel like they need in order to feel like they have worth.

They slash their families by overworking to make that extra money so that all their financial dreams can come true. They slash their souls by compromising their integrity to get everyone's attention or so that they can succeed. You want to know how you can know if there's false idols in your life? Look for the weary dancing and then look for the slashing.

Wherever there is weary dancing and wherever there is slashing, that's where you can know that there are idols. Verse 30. Here's Elijah who's been sitting back on his lawn chair for about five hours watching all this go down. He's got his robe on. He's got his shades on. He's a Hebrew prophet, so he's got this long dynasty beard, right? And he is smack talking.

This is like the perfect picture of Uncle Cy on Duck Dynasty, correct? He's just lounging around making fun of these prophets of Baal. So he kind of clambers up.

He slowly gets up. He walks over to verse 33 and he says, Do what you do when you're trying to start a fire in case you don't know that. All right, verse 34. And then he said, Do it a second time. So they did it. They said, Do it a third time.

And they did it a third time. And the water was so much that it ran around the altar and filled the little trench around the altar with water. And then at the time of the offering of the oblation, which by the way means the normal time for the offering, nothing special about this, Elijah the prophet came near and said, Verse 38. Then the fire of the Lord fell and it consumed the burnt offering.

And the wood and the stones and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench. God's just showing off, wouldn't he? If you like that, he's just showing off. He's like, I'll give you a little extra something here. Verse 39.

You're paying attention? Eliejah, Eliejah. They're chanting his name, but it's not his name. They're chanting the word.

How cool of a name is that for a Hebrew prophet? That when people chant your name, they're actually worshiping God. So then Elijah goes over and he gets into a kneeling position.

You can see this in the last part of the chapter. And he begins to pray. And after he prays for a few minutes, he tells a servant, a friend, he says, Go over and check off the side of the mountain and look toward the ocean and tell me if you see anything. The guy goes check, says, I don't see anything. Says, Do it again. They do it seven times. On the seventh time, the guy comes back and says, I don't see a cloud rising out of the ocean about the size of a man's fist. And as they watch it, it says it gets deeper and it gets darker and it gets heavier so that by the time it gets to the shoreline of where Israel is, it is a huge black cloud that begins to pour down torrential rains upon the land for the first time in three and a half years. Here's what you take away from that story.

If you're not taking notes, start taking them right now. Here they are. Here's how you know the true God from a false one according to Elijah. Number one, whereas false gods require strenuous efforts, the true God is known by grace through faith. Whereas false gods require endless dancing, the true God is known simply by grace through faith.

They danced all day to get Baal's attention to no avail. And Elijah simply got down on his knees and prayed in faith. You see, every other religion in the world, hear this, every other religion in the world concocted in the mind of man, operates by one principle and that is if you obey well enough, you will be accepted. And the gospel flips that on its head. The gospel says no, you don't obey and then become accepted. You are accepted by an act of God's grace, therefore you obey. Do not say all religions teach the same thing because this is fundamentally different. Every religion in the world says if you obey, you will be accepted. And the gospel says no, you are accepted, therefore you will obey because your obedience becomes a loving response to the God who accepted you as a gift of his grace, not because you danced well enough.

Jesus paid the penalty and you accept it as a gift and then you dance in response. Each day's devotional corresponds to our current teaching series here on the program as well. So you can stay plugged into the themes and ideas we explore here each day, even if you have to miss a program.

And best of all, it's completely free. So to sign up, simply visit jdgrier.com slash resources and enter your email address. We'll take care of the rest. Thank you for your support that makes this resource and the rest of Summit Life possible. It's because of friends like you that we are able to proclaim the gospel each day to a dying world. Now let's get back to today's teaching with Pastor J.D.

Greer here on Summit Life. Number two, whereas false gods mutilate you, the true God mutilated himself for you. They cut themselves to get mail's attention. Jesus was cut for us. You know, there's a very illuminating reference to this in Luke chapter 9.

You don't need to turn there. But the disciples and Jesus have just gone through Samaria where Jesus was rejected because Samaria had their own God and so they reject Jesus. And so the disciples, remembering this story, say, hey, Jesus, you want us to call down fire from heaven like Elijah did and toast these people to show them who the real God is?

Right? They're thinking back about this story. Jesus's response essentially is this.

He's like, nope, you don't really get it, do you? In this story of Elijah calling down the fire from heaven, Jesus says, I'm not Elijah calling down fire on my enemies. In that story, I'm the sacrifice who's going to take the fire of God's justice into himself.

I'll take the fire of God's justice so that the fire of my love can be ignited in the hearts of my people. You see, other gods say, slash for me, dance for me. There's only one God who was slashed for you. Every other God makes your blood run. Only this God bleeds for you.

Number three. Whereas false gods are ultimately powerless, the true God answers by a miracle. Now, I know what you might be thinking. Oh, this would be awesome if we could do this today. I'm in an argument with a guy at work, and I'm like, let's come outside, and let's build two little piles of sticks, and we'll see which one burst into flames.

That'd be awesome. If God would just come up and do something impossible, maybe dry up a lake or split an ocean, make NC State win a national basketball championship, something that's just utterly impossible, then we'd know there's a God. Listen, the greatest miracle was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, something that no other God and no other religion has ever been able to touch.

Think about it. Remember the excessive conditions that Elijah created that made the fire improbable? Three times he had water cover the altar. Then he made a little trench around the altar and filled it with water so that it was just completely... I mean, this is not just like you needed spontaneous combustion.

You need spontaneous combustion in a big way. And then how did God answer? He answered just as excessively. He burned it all up, not just the offering but the wood and the stones. He turned those into lava and the dust. Jesus was not just killed. His body was mutilated. He didn't just get poisoned and die. His body was mutilated. And then after he died on the cross, they stuck a spear into his heart after he was dead and pierced his heart so that water and blood flowed out. And then they put him in a tomb and put a big old several-ton rock in front of that tomb and put a Roman garrison of 12 soldiers out in front of that rock. Now, I know there are not degrees of deadness, but that's really dead.

Right? Your body gets mutilated. Then you die. Then they mutilate it again. And then they put you in a tomb where you got a several-ton rock in front of it.

And then 12 of the best-trained soldiers in the world standing guard in front of it. That's really dead. And then God responds just as excessively. He didn't just restart Jesus' heartbeat. They didn't hear some strange knocking coming from inside the tomb, like, hey, I'm alive.

Let me out. No, Romans says he was raised in power, which means he rolled away the stone by himself. He scared the Roman guards so badly that they passed out.

12 soldiers passed out from fear. Then Jesus ascends on his own to heaven instead of the right hand of the Father, then comes back down and walks through walls. That's God just showing off, saying, I not nearly conquered death. I destroyed it.

I destroyed it. And then in the book of Acts, chapter 2, when the disciples finally get the spirit of the resurrection inside of them, do you remember what it says happened? What appears above their heads? What appears above their heads? Fire. The fire of Elijah. The fire that is able to do in their souls, the fire of love, what nothing else could do. It turns them into champions.

It turns them into men and women of God. I was sitting with an atheist a couple years ago, and he was interviewing me. He said, you realize that what you believe might very well be just a myth, just a religious myth that makes you feel good at night, just a way for you to explain the world. I was sitting on my desk because he was interviewing me. I had a letter. I just happened to have a letter from a lady here in our church.

You might be here right now. She wrote me this letter, and she said, I wanted to say thank you. She said, because for 10 years, my husband was on drugs. And she said he'd abandoned me, and he'd abandoned our children. And I'd given up hope for him. She said, but through the ministries of your church, he heard the gospel. He believed. God has not only saved him, but God has delivered him off of drugs. He has moved back into our house.

He is a completely different man. He is the husband I always yearned for, and the father I always wanted my kids to know. And I just wanted to say thank you because I know it wasn't you, but you were a vessel through whom God's power came in the gospel that transformed my family. And I slid that letter to that atheist and said, why don't you tell those kids it's a myth? That's not my only proof for Christianity, but it certainly gets my attention when you see the almighty God begin to work resurrection power in somebody's heart. Number four, whereas false gods lead to soul drought, the true God deluges us with living water.

That land had been in a famine and a drought for three and a half years. And in a moment, God opened the heavens and flooded it so that there was righteous rivers running through it. Now, this one's hard to describe.

It really is. All I can say is you've know, you know it after you've experienced it. There's a sense, listen, in which when you come home to God, you know you have finally come home to the place you have been yearning for all your life, even though you didn't know exactly what to call it.

When you finally find God, when you know that he's the one you've always been searching for, when you finally are at home in God's house, and you realize that all your life you've been homesick for a home and you didn't know this was it, and your soul begins to run and overflow with righteous waters of joy and peace and new life, and it floods your part soul. Tim Keller says it this way, Jesus is the only God that if you find him will satisfy you, and if you fail him will forgive you. Other gods don't satisfy, they just leave you thirstier. And other gods, listen, if you fail them, they crush you. So Allah and Buddha say, if you fail me, I'll crush you. Secular gods like money, beauty, if you fail me, if you don't get me, you're going to be miserable, you're going to be single, you're going to be poor, and that's miserable. Jesus says you have failed me. And I stretched out my arms, and I died for you, and I forgive you, and I receive you on the basis, not on how well you've danced, but on the basis of what I've done, the price I paid to save you. He is the only God that if you find him will satisfy you, and if you fail him will forgive you.

Now, watch the ending. I really ought to cut the sermon here, but I got to show you these last, because these are awesome. Verse 41, it's totally random, but it's not random, it looks random. Verse 41, and Elijah said to Ahab, verse 42, go up, say to Ahab, prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.

He's making fun of him again. All right, hey, rain's coming, man, you better get home. So in a little while, the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain, and Ahab rode like a man trying to escape a storm, got to get home, and he went to Jezreel. Now watch this, verse 46, and the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. He outran a chariot, and what does that look like? You know, here's Ahab trying to get home for the rain, here's Elijah just like, hey man, he just streaks right by.

Now, why is that detail in there? It's giving you a contrast to limping, that's why. The people in Ahab are in indecision, and they limp along through life. Here is Elijah resolute in God being God, and he runs. As he waits upon the Lord, God renews his strength, and he mounts up with wings like an eagle.

He runs and he's not weary, he walks and he's not faint. And it's giving you a picture of what your life begins to look like when you actually come to a point where you decide that God is God. That's what I want for you. I want you to run. I don't need you to supply our budget, I don't need you to volunteer for our sake, I need you to go all in with God because you'll begin to run, and you won't limp along through life.

That means you always are happy and have a chipper smile on your face, you always feel strong, and it means you begin to soar in faith, you begin to soar in extravagant generosity, you begin to soar through trials. That's what I want for you. That's what I want for you.

That's what I want for you. What do you need to do to show that you are no longer limping? It's time to get off the sidelines and do something. That decision today may be to receive Christ as your Savior. Maybe it's baptism or church membership. Maybe it's serving on a volunteer team or joining a small group Bible study.

Whatever it is, take that step right now. You were listening to Summit Life, and if you happen to join us a little late today, you can hear this entire message again free of charge when you visit jdgrier.com. These free online resources are part of our mission to reach the world with gospel-centered Bible teaching, because as we say quite often here, the gospel isn't just the diving board into Christian life, it's the whole pool. And when you give to this ministry, you are making that mission possible, helping us stay on your radio station and online, and we are so grateful for your partnership. As our way of saying thanks for your generous support this month, we'll send you a brand new devotional from Pastor JD called Elijah and Elisha, an eight-day scripture guide through 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 6. It follows our current teaching series right now on Summit Life and is broken into eight days worth of study. Each part includes a short chapter that aligns with the teaching you've been hearing and will be hearing for the next few weeks. It also includes space for notes on the scripture readings from 1 and 2 Kings, interactive application questions, and prayer prompts. Request a copy of Elijah and Elisha, an eight-day scripture guide through 1 Kings 17 to 2 Kings 6 when you give to date.

The suggested giving level is $35 or more. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or go online and request the book when you visit us at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch, inviting you to join us again tomorrow when we're diving into a relevant topic that too often gets overlooked in the church, depression. Be sure to listen Wednesday to Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-14 12:28:53 / 2024-05-14 12:38:24 / 10

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