Fire That Defeats

Sermon from CCM Fallowfield


This sermon was preached by Abi Alsop at the Fallowfield site of Christ Church Manchester on Sunday 2nd February 2020.



This message was part of the ‘Who needs Jesus?’ series, preached at Christ Church Manchester’s church in Fallowfield in autumn 2019. The full series included the following sermons:




This sermon was based on 1 Kings 18:20-40.

The Prophets of Baal Defeated

20 So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 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.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your 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 seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.

36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.




Idols Capture our Attention and Diminish our Awareness of God

  • An idol is any person, object or activity you give a higher priority in your life than a relationship with God. An idol could be your job, a relationship, your home, your family, a digital device, what you look at on that device, alcohol, having a good time, drugs, sex. An idol can even be serving in church, commitments that consume all your energy and time.
  • Some of these things are damaging in and of themselves, however, many of these things aren’t bad, but when they become our top priority over God they become idolatrous. They take our attention away from God, and lessen our awareness of His presence.

  • Attention leads to devotion. And where we place our devotion really matters.  Calling on idols will not help us thrive and is not what we are designed for. God created us to have a relationship with Him, that’s why he sent his son Jesus, to take our place and give us access to the throne room. The good news is God can overcome any opposition. Idols are no match for a God whose fire defeats.


God can Overcome Any Opposition

  • The Israelites (like us) were sinful and corrupt humans. They were in desperate need of God to purify and cleanse them. They used sacrifice to help them turn away from sin. The action of sacrifice, or atonement, was a way of making amends for their wrong. Jesus would ultimately be the sacrifice to pay for sin and make all believers right with God.
  • The action of sacrifice, or atonement, was a way of making amends for their wrong. Jesus would ultimately be the sacrifice to pay for sin and make all believers right with God.
  • Idols are no match for the fire of God right. We worship the true God, who is powerful and shows up. Elijah asked for God to move and He did. When our attention is fixed on Him and we are aware of His presence, opposition can be defeated. Those idols are not a threat to God, he so wants our affection. He can help us when we call on Him.


We Need to Turn our Hearts Back to God Again

  • Elijah put God and himself on the line before all those people. He had a lot of faith. But this faith wasn’t an easy win, he learned this faith over many months of daily dependence on God. Because Elijah had his eyes fully fixed on the Lord, he was aware of what God was doing.
  • Turning our hearts back to God means surrendering our lives to Him, whether for the first time or the 1000th time. James 4:8 says ‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.’ God invites us to turn to Him, to posture our hearts towards Him.

  • When we know who God is and are aware of the power of His presence, we will experience life in full. Idol worship is deadly. It is toxic for our spiritual life. God wants us to turn around from past and present idols in our lives. He is eager for our attention and promises to show up when we call. We can turn face to face with Him again.



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