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First Family Church

The Parable of the Prophet

There's only one word that matters—God's! And disobedience to that word carries a steep price. Join Todd as he unravels a living parable that points to an unbreakable principle in this message from 1 Kings 13-14.

Sermon Transcript

If you were to ask our family the name of our imaginary friend, they would say the name Billy to you. If there are Billy's here, my apologies. Billy was the guy that we would talk about when we'd snuggle in bed and our kids were little. He would come up at the dinner table and he wasn't there as much for maybe our older two kids, he kind of got his fame mainly towards our younger two. But we would usually spend the night sometime just cuddling in bed and Billy would always come up and we'd tell a story and it was just of a way to end the day laughing and just kind of bonding, those kind of things. I suspect I'm not alone in how that works. You may have a family, an imaginary friend as well. Most of the Billy stories were not that important. They were just goofy narratives that had actually no point. Most were about bodily functions. Can we just admit that as parents with little kids? Are you with me? But the kids would laugh. We had a great time, but there were moments when Julie and I would want to kind of embed a truth into our kids' lives in somewhat of a discreet fashion so the Billy story, though it would be odd and about bodily functions probably still, had a deeper meaning that we didn't want to just come out and say, we would let the story communicate it. Maybe you've done that as well.

That's about the best way for me to build a bridge to 1 Kings 13. It's a feeble attempt at best, but 1 Kings 13 may very well be the oddest chapter in the Old Testament. It is, in our family's terms, kind of like a Billy story, like it must point to something else because the stories in 1 Kings 13, they just seem odd and almost out of place. But could it be that God is embedding a truth in that that points to something else? He is. In fact, I submit to you, you'll find this to be true in the text, that what we read in the middle section of 1 Kings 13 is actually pointing to what happens in 1 Kings 14.

So why don't we do this this morning, let's open our Bibles to those two chapters and let's see what God would teach us here in week seven of season three of "The Kings and the King." 1 Kings 13 and 14. We are on the heels of the divided kingdom. Jeroboam is in the north, Rehoboam is in the south. God has brought this upon the nation of Israel as judgment. Both kings are committing massive idolatry, setting up false worship, and the Lord is not pleased. But this is taking place in Israel and so 1 Kings 13 begins with that as the backdrop. Here's where I'm headed today, just so you'll see the general outline of these two chapters. We're going to see the curious parable in 13, first of all. In 14, we'll see the continuing plot line and we'll see what 13 points to. Then I think we'll all at this point know for sure what the clear point is. 

So let's dig in, can we? 1 Kings 13. The Bible says that "a man of God came out of Judah," recall Judah is the southern kingdom. It's comprised primarily of two tribes. It's the place where God's anointed city is, Jerusalem, the one he chose. The word of the Lord came to a man of God out of Judah, "to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings." So let me set the scene for you. A man of God from the southern kingdom is going to the northern kingdom to prophesy and to make a judgment, so to speak, to give a warning to that king. That king's name is Jeroboam. 

He's at one of his false altars and he's involved in false worship and this man of God "cried against the altar by the word of the LORD and said, 'O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: "Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name,"'" that would indicate he's speaking of a king is coming in the southern kingdom where he's from, Judah. By the way, these names and places can get very confusing today so I need you to really kind of be in fifth gear most of the day, okay? He says, "a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you." Quickly, this is not a negative light on Josiah, what he's saying is Josiah will come in about 300 years, he'll be the last king in Judah, and he'll actually reform the worship. He'll destroy the high places that were false. He'll actually desecrate the places that were used to offer sacrifices to false gods. He would actually return the nation to worshiping God. So this sounds like he's going to be in the line of another person who's going to do bad things on the altar, no, he's saying that this king will come who will actually reform and change the ways of Israel to worship the one true God. That's what he's saying here. You can read this in 2 Kings 23 if you're curious, but this is going to take place about 300 years from when this man of God is saying this.

And he says if you're curious if this will happen, he says, "he gave a sign the same day, saying, 'This is the sign that the LORD has spoken.'" In other words, "What I'm saying to you is from the Lord. Here's the sign that says it's from the Lord. "Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out." So he speaks of what will happen in the future as well as what's going to happen now in the present.

So when Jeroboam the king, verse 4, "when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, 'Seize him.'" He sees this man as an enemy. He's in the territory of the north, he's from the south. He's like, "Capture that man! We'll get rid of him." And immediately when he stretched out "his hand, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself." So Jeroboam's not the powerful potentate he thought he was, is he?

Suddenly the sign that's mentioned in verse 3 happens. Watch this. "The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the LORD." Jeroboam should have seen this happen within minutes and said, "Wow, what God says happens. So if he says to me that in the future a king is going to come and desecrate these high places of false worship, that will happen too because what God just said would happen, happened right now." Does all that make sense?

Jeroboam doesn't think that, though. He doesn't say that. Instead he thinks only of his stiffened arm, which is typical of Jeroboam. He always seeks the Lord's hand and never the Lord's face. He always wants what's best for himself. He's out for the gift, not the giver.

He says, "'Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.' And the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king's hand was restored to him." What a merciful act, amen? It "became as it was before. And the king said to the man of God, 'Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.'" In other words, maybe I can purchase you. Maybe a bribe will put you in my corner because you have some incredible power, apparently. What you say comes true because it's from the Lord and you can heal hands that have withered and stiffened? I want you on my team.

But the man of God from Judah knows he cannot be bought or bribed and he says, "If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for so was it commanded me by the word of the LORD." It's good to see this man of God holding fast to God's word, amen? Then, of course, I think there are some fellowship implications here as well, as well as the bribery aspect. Just know this: he kept to God's word and he said, "I will not eat bread or drink water or anything because the Lord told me not to." In fact he said, "Don't return by the way that you came." So verse 10 concludes this by saying, "he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel."

Now what begins in verse 11 is the odd set of stories that I want you to think about and how they relate to our next chapter. So watch this, in these first 10 verses, Jeroboam is kind of the main character. God is speaking to Jeroboam saying, "I'm going to do something unless you repent, and what I do, I'm not joking or lying. I'll keep my word to you."

Look over at verses 33 and 34 for a moment. Here we see Jeroboam re-entering the scene. Do you see it in 33 and 34? "After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places. And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth." I see verses 1 through 10 and 33 and 34, you'll see this in the next slide, as sort of bookends to this first section on the curious parable because in 1 through 10 the key character is Jeroboam, in 33 and 34 the key character is Jeroboam. So God is trying to get Jeroboam's attention by saying, "I'm going to do something to your family and to your line if you don't repent." But it wasn't just that direct message, God sent a message indirectly and that's what 11 through 32 tell us. 

Here's what happens in 11 through 32, you ought to read it with your kids today. A former prophet in the northern kingdom hears about the man of God from Judah – now track with me carefully, okay. He's a former prophet. I believe he's a false prophet now. He hears about it. He's in the northern kingdom and he hears about the man of God from the south and he says, "This is intriguing, that he went and prophesied to Jeroboam about the altar being torn down and what's going to happen in 300 years." So he goes and he says, "Hey, this is really intriguing. Come to my house and let's, I guess in essence, talk about it." And the man of God from Judah, from the south, says, "No, I can't go to your house." Why? "Because God said, 'Do not go to the house. Don't eat.' In other words, I'm not going to associate or fellowship or be bought by anyone in the north. I had a message for the north, from the south from God, but I'm not for sale. I'm not for hire."

Then this man from the north, this former prophet says, "Oh, but listen, an angel told me that you should come and eat at my house." Now right there, the man of God from Judah has a decision to make: does he listen to someone who's saying to him, "Listen, an angel told me something that's different than what God told you." And the text tells us clearly, you can read it, that the former prophet from the north, he's lying. But at this point the man of God from Judah actually says, "Oh," and he is deceived and he goes the false prophet's house in the north. He disobeys the Lord. 

Now this will seem unfair to many of you. He goes to the house, he eats, and at that point, the Lord tells the false prophet and, again it gets confusing, hang with me, "Tell the man in the south that because he disobeyed, he'll not make it home tonight. In fact, he won't even be buried in his hometown." That's a real kind of a dishonoring aspect for a prophet.

Well, he saddles his donkey. He heads back to the south and sure enough, what God said happened. He met a lion on the road, the lion killed the man from the south, just as the Lord said through the false prophet in the north. Then the lion stays there and doesn't eat the man or the donkey. Now that's unnatural, wouldn't you agree? That's like a guy going to Jethro's and not getting wings. It just doesn't happen, right? I mean, a lion is not going to sit next to a dead man that he just killed and a donkey, that's fresh meat, and then not do anything. But that's what happened and as folks from the city walked by, they noticed, "Wow, this lion has killed a man but he's not eating the man or the donkey. This must be something unnatural." A better word would be supernatural. "God is speaking. God is communicating something to us." In other words, whatever God says comes true. 

God said, first of all, that in 300 years a good king would destroy all these false places of worship and the sign that it was going to come true is this altar will fall down today. The altar falls down today. But Jeroboam doesn't hear that. So then God sends messages through these odd kind of parable like stories. Even a man of God if he disobeys, will suffer punishment, and even lions won't do what's natural if God tells them not to. So everything's under the command and control of God and everything he says comes true.

As the story ends, the man from the north, the false prophet, takes the man of God from the south and buries him in the north and then he says to his sons, "Bury my bones with his bones." So by way of symbolism, just to add a little extra bonus for you: I think what's happening here allegorically is that these two people from the north, one from the north, one from the south, they represent I think allegorically symbolically Jeroboam and Rehoboam and they both will die a death because of their disobedience to God. One's a false prophet, one disobeyed God's command, and I think it's kind of symbolic to show there just are no exceptions. When God speaks, what his word says will come true. Does that make sense?

So that's what's playing out in 1 Kings 13, this curious parable that's tucked in the middle of this warning to Jeroboam. You would think that if you had that many messages from God, your ears would be wide open, don't you? Like you would just hear God like, "Wow, I've seen this, I've heard this, I'm getting multiple messages that God is saying, 'Jeroboam, what I say will happen.'" You would think he would listen but Jeroboam, verse 33 says, he "did not turn from his evil way after this thing." Do you see 33? And the two little words, "this thing" referred to all that happened before it: the warning by the man of God at the altar; the sign that it was from God; and then his death based on what God said when he disobeyed; and then the lion, the donkey, the man. All of those things as odd as they may seem, signaled to Jeroboam, "If you don't listen, you will be next." There are no exceptions to God's word.

The question is: is that what happens? Is God true and every man a liar? Let's read in 14. Here's the continuing plot line. A bit of time passes and Jeroboam's son falls sick. This is what takes place between verses 1 and about 17 in chapter 14. Let me just tell it to you while you read it on your own. So the son is sick, near death, and so Jeroboam asks his wife to dress up in disguise and go to another man of God, Ahijah, and ask him for help in healing their son. Now I think this is quite ironic because Jeroboam must know that the man of God, Ahijah the prophet, has some type of connection with God to know things and heal things and call upon the name of the Lord and to miraculously work in his favor, and yet he tries to dress up his wife so the prophet doesn't know. That seems ironic to me. If you know this man's got special, I don't want to use the word special powers, I don't mean that in that way, but if he knows this man can work miracles in God's name, why would you try to fool him by your dress? That seems odd to me.

But he does and Jeroboam's wife obliges and goes to the man of God's house. This is a separate prophet, the one who is currently prophesying for the Lord there in that area. And she no sooner gets to Ahijah's house and he knows, though he's got bad eyes, the text says, he knows certainly, "Oh, Jeroboam's wife is here." So all that work and all that travel, it didn't matter. He said, "The Lord has told me," and he says, "I've got unbearable news for you," and he relays to Jeroboam's wife the punishment God is going to bring upon Jeroboam's family because of Jeroboam's sin. 

Essentially you'll see this beginning in verse 10 and 11 of chapter 14. Yes, the child will die but that's probably the most gracious act in this section. He says that all the men of Jeroboam's home will be cut off, you see that in verse 10. In other words, there will be no heir at all eventually. His family will be forgotten and it will happen in a devastating way. If you're in the city, you'll be eaten by dogs. If you're in the country, the birds will get you. So when you think about the way in which God is going to punish Jeroboam for his false worship, you suddenly see that this child's death, even though it's sad, is actually a gracious act of God as well. 

In fact, you see this in verse 13. Can I just mention this briefly to you? The prophet Ahijah tells Jeroboam's wife that Israel "shall mourn for him and bury him, for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave," in other words, he's the only one that will have a decent burial and funeral, "because in him there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel." I think this young child by God's grace alone had found favor in God's eyes. I think what that means is he, in some ways, had trusted the God of Israel, Yahweh. Only God could have worked in his heart, in this young boy's life, to bring him to a place where he believed in the God of Israel. 

Aren't you glad and thankful that God reaches out and draws children to himself, amen? And some would speak against this at times and be critical of this but I see in Scripture a beautiful call to let the children come and here's an example of a young boy, sick, who will endure the judgment that God gave to his dad and yet in this moment he says, "Actually, I'm going to allow him to die a death in the judgment upon his dad, but it will be the most gracious death of all the men in that family." 

So the Lord's word does come true, by the way. He explains in verse 14 that basically this is the beginning of God's judgment on the north. He will raise up a king for himself after Jeroboam who will actually cut off the whole house of Jeroboam. That happens, by the way, in the next king. Jeroboam's son does reign but only two years. He's then assassinated. It's the end of Jeroboam's line forever. Are you beginning to see a trend here? What God says happens.  

He says then he'll actually get up the whole northern kingdom in about 700-722 and another country will come in and scatter them. Verse 16, "he will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam." 

Verse 18 tells us that this is exactly what happened. When she came to the house, the child died and all Israel buried him and mourned for him according to the word of the Lord. You may say, "Well, Todd, that happened to Jeroboam. That was the most specific prophecy given in 13, so God said it's going to happen, it did happen, but what about the southern kingdom? Didn't God promise judgment on them for their false worship? Let's see how 14 concludes, can we? 

It skips to Rehoboam in the south and here what you find is basically Rehoboam who had started well, he's finishing terrible, much like his father, and he's involved in false worship, cultic practices, sexual orgies that are just idolatrous in their nature. Then in verse 25 we find out what God did. It says, "In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem." God had told Rehoboam, "If you commit idolatry, I'll judge you for that." Shishak king of Egypt comes in and though Rehoboam did kind of repent in some ways, he endured years of having to pay tribute to this king. He lost much of all the gold and the wealth and the power that Solomon had left for him. It was an entirely different kingdom when the king of Egypt came in. He pretty much ruled Rehoboam. Rehoboam was much like his puppet.

Do you see what's happening, church? 13 is a set of kind of Billy stories, a set of parables to Rehoboam and Jeroboam that if you disobey God, the last word won't be yours, it will be God's. God's word stands.

So when you look at the curious parable that is kind of tucked inside 13, and it's actually living and its factual, not fictional, but I think the word "parable" best describes kind of the nature of the story. It just seemed like an odd event, doesn't it? And most commentators see it serving like this, like a parable speaking to real life events. So when you see the curious parable that God did everything he said and then he turns around and does it in real life to both kings, you begin to see the clear point, that God's word is the only word that outlasts every other word.

In fact, let me just show you some verses that I think will heighten this for you. If you read through 13 and 14, here's a good exercise in your small groups, here's one you can do with your family, I would underline every time you see the phrase "the word of the Lord" or one like "according to the word of the Lord," or the phrase "the Lord has spoken." You'll have multiple times in which you begin to see, "Wow, these two chapters illustrate for us that when God speaks, then God does." God always keeps his word every single time.

Here are four instances of that in this text, just about this story, alright? Notice them with me. Here's 1 Kings 13:26 which, I believe, is the key verse in this whole text. Verse 26, "when the prophet who had brought him back from the way, he said, 'It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the LORD; therefore the LORD has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word that the LORD spoke to him.'" So when God speaks, what God says, he does. Are you with me, church? 

Look at verse 32. Here's the prophet that's in the north, he's a false prophet, but even he recognizes that what God says "shall surely come to pass." He's speaking of what the man of God in Judah said about the altar and though this former prophet in the north is now false and turned from God, he still knows that what God says will come to pass.

Look at 14:18, the things that happen in regards to judgment on Jeroboam. As sad as it is that a child was under this as well, it happened because it was "according to the word of the LORD." 

Then if you were to go to chapter 12 of 2 Chronicles, you'll find a commentary on what happens in 1 Kings 14 regarding Rehoboam. Look at this verse. This is just a recounting of the king of Egypt's invasion of Jerusalem. "Thus says the LORD, 'You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.'" 

In every situation in 1 Kings 13 and 14, God tells us in his word that this is because the Lord has spoken. He warned them, he then fulfilled his word.

So I need to make sure that you understand something this morning, church, with great clarity: God's word is the final word, it's the word that outlasts all other words. You are not an exception. I am not an exception. Whenever you think you can kind of skirt around in God's word, whenever you're thinking, "Well, that won't really affect me. That doesn't apply to me. Well, God would understand my situation." All of those are false thoughts. There are no exceptions. God's word is the final word and he will keep his word every single time. Just ask Jeroboam, Rehoboam, a man of God in the south, a former prophet of God in the north, a lion, and a donkey. God keeps his word every single time.

How would you sum this up, Todd? How would you word this in a sentence? I'd simply say this to us, that in both mercy and judgment, God's word will stand when all else is proven false. In fact, could you read that with me? Could we say that as a church together out loud with passion and conviction? Let's say it together, can we? In mercy and judgment, God's word will stand when all else is proven false. And most of us agree with that. We support that and believe that. We will often run to, perhaps, New Testament verses and we should, that's fine, I just want you to see that even in the narrative of these many kings that we're studying, you find this undeniable, bedrock, fundamental, theological truth that guides the church today. It was true then, it's true now, that God's word will stand.

Now out of this take-home truth, I want to just give you some secondary lessons that actually will work kind of as actions for us, okay? I'll mention these briefly to you. They flow out of the primary principle, our take-home truth that God's word will stand when all else proves false. But I want to make sure I kind of put some flesh on that for you, maybe put some meat on those bones, can we call it that? So here are some secondary lessons that we need to kind of lodge into our hearts and brains, that God's word is the final word, yes, but especially about worship. 

Don't miss the context of these chapters. Both of these kings were involved in idolatrous false worship. They were setting up high places in areas that God never instructed them to do. They were appointing people to be priests. They were building Asherah poles and approving and condoning sexual practices and worship that were unbiblical and ungodly and against the Mosaic law. In its most specific context, these kings were judged because of idolatrous false worship and so Travis was spot on last week when he said we don't define and set the terms for worship. God does. And we're not the point of worship, amen? God is. And so I want to warn us against idolatry and false worship. If you think that you can skirt God's word on that issue, you're wrong because God's word is the final word.

In fact, let me ask you a probing question. We often read in these texts about how they built high places. These were areas where they would set up their idols and they would go and get significance that actually God said, "That's not where you get significance, that's not where you find your meaning, you find it in me." They would build these false places and they would worship their idols. Can I ask you a probing question? Where are your high places? They may be an actual place. For some pastors, that actual place is a church building. Did you know that? We've got several former pastors in this room, we can turn ministry into an idol faster than you can blink an eye. We worship things that happen and we make good things into god things with a little "g." 

So as I mention these things, it's not that I'm picking on you. I think we all are under the pressure and temptation sometimes of making high places that were never meant to be high places like a sports complex or Ankeny High School. Ankeny Centennial. Or Nationwide Insurance. Or where your bank account is. Or where you bought your car. Or your address. Or your kids. Or your wife. Everyone is really quiet, aren't they? Where are your high places? Where are the places you've set up, "This is where I'll get my meaning. This is where I'll find significance. This is what I'll worship." I would remind you, God calls his children to worship him and him alone. If you think you can escape what he says about worship, you won't. His word is the final word and he is a jealous God.

The second secondary lesson is that disobedience, namely idolatry, has a cost. There is a steep price to pay for continuing headlong in worshiping things other than God. And there are no exceptions. So I need to warn you about that and make sure that you're not missing the point here of these two chapters.

Thirdly, influence matters for both good and bad. I see that somewhere in this, there is a significant lack of influence upon the sons of the mothers and fathers. Would you agree with that? And so we see that Solomon began a terrible trajectory with his legacy. I think this is one reason that we see the name of Rehoboam's mother mentioned twice. In fact, if you were to analyze 1 Kings 14:21 through about 28, actually through about 31, you'll find that it is bookended by two interesting phrases. Where Rehoboam's mother was mentioned, she was an Ammonite. It means she wasn't an Israelite and she worshiped a false god. She was probably, well not probably, she was one of the thousand that Solomon brought in and built a place of worship for her and her god. And did it have an influential effect? It sure did. Rehoboam seems like he has gone right after the way of his mother and the way of his father. Isn't that interesting?

So as you think about your own high places, you think about perhaps the disobedience you're entertaining, make no mistake, it has an influence upon our children. The good news is there seems to be some way in the middle of all this that God's mercy is powerful. So the last secondary lesson is this: there is mercy always in the mix of these things. You say, "Todd, where do you see mercy? I saw that in the take-home truth. I thought that was an odd statement because I didn't see where mercy is. In fact, the whole tenor of your message, the whole sense of this passage is like, 'Wow, warning, warning, warning! Judgment, judgment judgment! Where in the world, Todd, do you see mercy?" Good question. At least three places. First of all, when God restores Jeroboam's hand. That's a merciful gracious act, isn't it? And I find some mercy in chapter 14 about verse 8 when he's telling Jeroboam's wife through the prophet that he "tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you." He had actually been merciful in giving the kingdom to Jeroboam and saying, "If you'll be true to the covenant, I'll work through you." Jeroboam wasn't but what a merciful act that God, even in spite of David and Solomon's sin, still was being faithful to his own name. I find perhaps the greatest moment of mercy in how God just cared for this little boy, Jeroboam's son, who did die, yes, but found the Lord. He was, I believe, a child like follower. Not a child like, he was a child but he had that child like faith. Somewhere in the middle of this incredibly idolatrous family, God's mercy shows up in a little kid. Isn't that beautiful? We can read this and say, "Wow, he still died," but the truth is in the context, the mercy of God reigns and that he's the only one of Jeroboam's sons to receive a decent funeral and burial. And to some degree, I don't know how to explain this completely, but the sense is that this is the one of his sons in whom God found something pleasing, in other words, God saw faith.

So aren't you thankful that there is always mercy in the middle of these times of judgment? What I find is this, that in both mercy, like 14, 13, when God found something pleasing in this child and then kept his word to that child, as well as in judgment when God would speak to the kings and say, "I've told you this. I'm going to do that." In both of those kind of times, which word stands? Say it with me, church: God's word. So here's our statement again. Don't forget it. Keep it front and center. Say it with me one more time, would you? In both mercy and judgment, God's word will stand when all else is proven false.

The New Testament echoes this, by the way, in a verse that I think has been ridiculously stunning to me this week. I usually try to bring you into my own boat of conviction as I close a message. Well, here's the one for this week. I mean, there are loads of them in these chapters, but here's the one that put me on my knees this week. Paul affirmed everything we saw in these chapters when he said in Romans 3:4, "Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar." You see, I don't like that verse. Do you know why? Because I wouldn't say to you I'm a liar. I'm not a liar. Oh, I've told a lie before. Kevin's told a lie. Jim's told a lie. But if I say, "Jim, are you a liar?" Jim is probably going to say, "I'm not a liar." You see, no one likes to be called a liar but when you compare how accurate and right and truthful you are to how accurate and right and truthful God is, guess what? Every one of us ends up a liar. 

I didn't like that. I was like, "What?" As I was rereading the verse, I looked at different translations and nothing is changing. God is always true to the extent that if you were to compare your truthfulness to God's, guess what? Every single living human being comes out a liar. So if you were wondering how true and accurate God is, up next to him, you're  a liar.

Now, this verse is kind of between two sections in Romans. It comes right when the verdict that all men are sinners is kind of announced by Paul. So it makes sense he would say, "Man, every man's a liar. Jew or Gentile, we're just toast." All have sinned and fallen short of God's glory, right? So we've all sinned. If no one matches up to God's perfection and holiness, no matter how much of a lie you've told whether it's white, gray, cream, beige or black, right? Man, we're still all, what? Liars. But it's right before the announcement, the news that Jesus Christ, the truth of God, has come and paid the price for every single sin we've committed. Yes, everything that makes you a liar, Jesus has paid for. And suddenly this verse became good news to my soul. Yes, do you know what? In God's sight and compared to his righteous, accurate, truthful nature, man, I'm laid low as a liar, but Jesus has paid for every single one of those lies.

Here's how this applies. Listen very carefully. So if God is true to his word in judgment, if he says, "If you disobey, there's punishment. If you don't believe, you'll suffer for your sins," if he's true to his word, every time if his word is the one word that outlasts all other words, then his word will outlast all of the other words that my sin says about me as well. And suddenly the good news of God's righteous truthful character began to just overwhelm me and when he said, "Todd, I will save you," guess what will happen? He will save me. "But Todd, you told a lie. You sinned here and you sinned there. You've sinned everywhere." You're right and I'm not saved because I didn't sin here, or because I did sin or because of me, I'm saved because God's word says all who believe and trust, he will save. I'm not saved because of my word, I'm saved because of God's word.

So you can sit there this morning and think, "Wow, this is a sobering passage about warning and judgment." That would be a truthful correct thought, but don't miss the other side of that coin. God keeps his word as well when he says that all who believe in Jesus will have eternal life. So when your sins crawl up your front porch, when every lie you've told stares you in the face and you think, "Man, I am a liar. God is the only one that's true." When you've placed your faith in Jesus, the one who's died for all of our sins and was raised again to prove the sacrifice was satisfactory, guess what? God's word is just as true then. You can bank your life on it. And he will save all who repent. That's why I'm glad that God is found true and every man a liar because it's God that saves us, not ourselves.

So I don't know where you are today completely. I know most of you, I don't know all of your spiritual status, but can I encourage you to leave this morning knowing that God's word is the word that stands and to build your life on it. Build your life on the truth that his word is the firm foundation. You may know that old song, do you? It was written in the late 1780s. I didn't know that, by the way, I just looked it up myself, okay? But I love this song. I sang it as a kid and it speaks of God's word and we should leave this morning with this kind of song resonating with us. Here's how the first verse goes. I'll just show you the words. "How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord/ Is laid for your faith," say the last four words with me, "in His excellent word!" Here's God's word laid for us. We can build our life on it and in both mercy and judgment, it's the word that will stand. What more can he say to you? He's given his word. He's sent his Son. Amen? 

Here's how the song goes. You may know it and you can sing it with me.

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?"

Isn't that good? We flee to Jesus and because God is accurate, right, just, true, correct, he will protect us all the way to the end. That's how this song ends. Here's the last verse. Sing it with me, would you?

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake!"

We hope you enjoyed today's sermon. For more messages, visit firstfamily.church/sermons. Thanks for listening.

 

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