HALTING BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS
A Sermon By Pastor Burke
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.
Our text is from the Old Testament account of Elijah on Mt. Carmel, where he rebuked the children of Israel for worshipping and following the idol Baal. Israel wanted to worship and serve the true God of Heaven and the gods of the heathen at the same time. But Elijah told them that they just couldn’t do that and get by with it. The true God of Heaven (Israel’s God) does not permit His people to worship idols at all (Exodus 20:1-5).
The story continues with the contest between Israel’s God and the false god Baal, in which Israel’s God proved Himself to be the true and living God when He consumed Elijah’s sacrifice with fire from heaven. Baal, on the other hand, was unable to answer the prayers of his prophets to consume their sacrifice, because Baal was just a god of their imagination and of their own making.
1. What it means to halt between two opinions.
The word “halt” in our text is important. It means to be undecided as if to hop back and forth from one opinion to the other. It also means to be lame or crippled on one’s feet. To be undecided about who the true God is, is to be spiritually lame or crippled. Such a spiritually lame condition, when added to man’s natural depravity, leaves unregenerate man all the more helpless and hopeless of recovery.
On the other hand, many professing Christians today are also halting between two opinions. They pretend to worship the God of the Bible, but they also worship the gods of the heathen at the same time. Like Israel, they don’t realize that God is displeased and angry with them. He doesn’t accept the worship of those who practice idolatry and polytheism. Instead of a pleasing God their worship is a sin to them. Instead of reaping God’s blessings, they will reap His judgment and His curse.
2. What is meant by “opinions”?
The Hebrew word rendered “opinions” in our text is also rendered “thought” elsewhere in Scripture, which suggests that these Israelites’ spiritual convictions were based on their own thoughts or opinions about God, which they conceived in their own minds. People have a natural tendency to form opinions in their own imaginations about who or what God is, rather than learning about God from the Bible, which is His Holy Word.
My friends, you can’t know God any better than you know Him in His Word. People who claim they know God and understand His will (and so on), yet they have never read or studied His Word, are only fooling themselves. The fact is all they really know about God is what they make up in their own depraved hearts and minds. Most people would be totally surprised if they would take the time to read the Bible. They would find God to be entirely different than what they imagined Him to be. And this includes many professing Christians, who never read or study their Bibles! Of the myriad of truths concerning the God of the Bible, we have provided just a small sample below as food for thought:
1. God is the living God (Jeremiah 10:10). In fact, He is life (John 1:4), and He is the Creator and Giver of all life (Acts 17:25).
2. God is a Holy God (Isaiah 6:3, 57:15; 1 Peter 1:16). There is no sin or imperfection in Him (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).
3. God is omnipotent, or all-powerful (Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Matthew 19:26; Revelation 1:8). There is nothing that He cannot do. He is limited only by His own Holy nature and perfect will.
4. God is omniscient, or all knowing (Isaiah 40:28). He knows everything there is to know about everything and everyone. He knows every thought and every motive of the hearts of men.
5. God is omnipresent. He is everywhere present at the same time (Psalm 139:7-9) therefore He is infinite.
6. God is eternal (Psalm 90:2). He had no beginning and shall have no end, therefore He is unaffected by time.
7. God never changes (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8) therefore His promises and His judgments never fail.
8. God is sovereign over all (Psalm 115:3; Daniel 4:35). He works all things after the council of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). None can prevent His work or thwart His will. He is sovereign over the salvation of sinners and the eternal destinies of the souls of all men (John 6:37-40, 44, 65).
9. God is able to save the souls of men (Hebrews 7:25). He is able to give salvation and eternal life to as many as He shall call (Acts 2:39); to as many as repent and believe the gospel of His Son (Mark 1:15).
10. God will judge the souls of men (Hebrews 9:27). All men will stand before Him in judgment on the appointed day. The lost will give an account of there sins and be sentenced to eternal punishment at the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), while the saved will give account of their works and receive or lose rewards accordingly at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).
But what about the other “opinions” of Baal and all the other so-called gods? How can we know if they are worthy of our worship and our devotion to them? The same Bible that teaches about the true God of Heaven also teaches about the other gods of this world. All of these gods have several things in common, ten of which we have provided below:
1. They are dead. That is, they were never alive (Habakkuk 2:18-19). They may be a rock or a tree, or perhaps a theory or philosophy of science.
2. They cannot see, talk, hear, smell, or move (Psalm 115:4-8). They may have eyes, mouths, ears, hands and feet, but these do not work.
3. They are products of men’s imaginations. They were created by men, which makes them inferior to men (Psalm 135:18).
4. They are like unto the people who made them. The nature and attributes ascribed to them are like those of the men who created them, therefore they are inherently sinful and unholy.
5. They are temporal. Unlike the true God of Heaven, their existence had a beginning and will have an end (Jeremiah 50:2).
6. They cannot hear or answer your prayers. It is vain and useless to pray to them (1 Kings 18:26-29). Therefore they cannot help you in times of trouble. In times when you need God to help you, these idols are less than worthless.
7. They are powerless to save your soul. Being without life themselves they cannot give spiritual life to the souls of lost and dying men, much less forgive your sins.
8. They exist in opposition to the true God of Heaven. They were made by men who despise the true and living God, who would not worship and serve their Creator (Romans 1:20-25).
9. They bring judgment from the true God of Heaven. All those who worship and serve them shall be punished by the living God, except they repent (Leviticus 26:30; Revelation 21:8).
Are you halting between two opinions? How long will you continue to do so? If the true God of Heaven is God, then serve Him. If the idols of this world be god, then serve them. My friends I implore you by the mercy of God to forsake your idols. They are less than useless. They are powerless. They cannot help you, much less save your soul from eternal death. And worst of all, they will bring the judgment of God upon all who worship and serve them.
The Bible tells us to “…come out from among them…” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18). Put them far away from you. Repent of your sin of idolatry and trust in the only true and living God. He can save you. The Bible tells us to “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”. Believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day for you. All who believe this gospel shall be eternally saved.
May the following verses be true of all of us:
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.