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People will turn from false gods by seeing true God, Merritt says


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–“A god who can’t burn wet wood isn’t worth dry faith,” said James Merritt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Snellville, Ga.
Speaking at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., April 14, Merritt encouraged students to throw water on the wood that feeds the fire of revival.
“What we need is for the fire of revival to fall on the pews of the church, to fall on the classrooms of the seminaries, to fall on the hallways of Congress and to fall on the oval office of the White House,” said Merritt, citing America’s moral decay in the past 30 years.
Using the 1 Kings 18 account of Elijah’s contest on Mt. Carmel with the prophets of Baal as his text, Merritt presented three conditions that must be met for the fire of revival to fall.
The first condition is a confrontation with a false god, said Merritt, who also is chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.
Elijah declared that Israel, under Ahab, had followed false gods and Elijah called for a showdown to expose the false prophets and false worship, Merritt recounted, noting the prevailing wisdom today says either all religions are equal or else it ignores them altogether.
“Elijah said there was only one way to God. The tragedy here is that they had listened to false prophets for so long they couldn’t recognize a true prophet. So Elijah set up a test between he and the prophets of Baal. The true God was the one who would answer with fire and ignite the wood around the altar.”
Merritt described the second condition necessary for revival as confidence in a faithful God.
“Elijah knew the people needed not only to hear a declaration of the person of God. They also needed to see a demonstration of the power of God. People without Jesus today need not only to know the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, they need to see the dynamic of the Holy Spirit alive in us,” he said.
“People will turn from a false god to the true God when they see evidence of the true God living in us. You can give them all the religious facts, all the apologetics, all the dogma you want to, but what they want to know is if Jesus is really making a difference in your life,” Merritt said.
“People still want to know that there is a god who answers by fire. Do you want to know the test of a great church? Is there fire in the pulpit, is there fire in the people, is there fire in their hearts?”
Merritt added, “Elijah was so confident in God he taunted the false prophets as they prayed to their god. When they gave up, Elijah did something that is absolutely essential if God is going to answer by fire. He repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. The altar was the place of worship,” which he described as “putting God in his proper place.”
“The church will not be revitalized,” Merritt said, “until worship is prioritized. God will not put things in their right place until he is put in his right place.
After repairing the altar, Elijah placed the sacrifice on it and had it soaked with water, Merritt recounted. Explaining that the altar proved God’s power and the water proved Elijah’s faith, he said Elijah wanted people to know he had great faith in a great God. “The God who can’t burn wet wood isn’t worth dry faith.” Merritt said, noting that a problem for many Christians today is that their God is simply too small.
The third condition for the fire of revival is the confirmation from God, Merritt said.
“Elijah prayed for God to answer by fire and make his name known. The fire fell and it consumed the sacrifice, licked up the water and converted the sinner. Realize only God can bring people to God. God will use you for his glory, but you can’t use God for your glory.”
Observing that Elijah then had them execute the false prophets, Merritt said, “We are surrounded by false prophets who say that homosexuality is OK, abortion is OK and that you don’t have to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. One day the fire will fall.”
Merritt closed with a test for the seminary community to know if the fire had fallen in their lives. “When the fire falls in your life, sin will be burned out, the Savior will be burned in and self will be burned up.”