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"The Tale Of Two Prophets"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2007 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'Now we're turning in our Bibles to 1 Kings 13, and beginning to read at verse 1. We're taking a break this morning from our studies in Mark's gospel - if you're a visitor, we've been going through Mark's gospel for some 17, 18 weeks over the past Sunday mornings, and we're still in chapter 3. I felt led of the Lord this week - and I know that is a term or a statement that can be misused, but I did feel compelled regarding this portion of Scripture that it had something to say to me, and I searched and searched to see what it had to say to me. After I found out what it had to say to me, I realised it probably has something to say to us all, and I felt the Lord was wanting me to bring it to you this morning.

'It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times', and you could say the same for these two prophets. The best and worst features of their age in which they served the Lord are found in both of their characters...

So we begin at 1 Kings 13 verse 1: "And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee. And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out. And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him. The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Entreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the LORD, and the king's hand was restored him again, and became as it was before. And the king said unto the man of God, Come home with me, and refresh thyself, and I will give thee a reward. And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place: For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest. So he went another way, and returned not by the way that he came to Bethel.

"Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father. And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah. And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon, And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said, I am. Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread. And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place: For it was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest. He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him. So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water. And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came unto the prophet that brought him back: And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee, But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcass shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers.

He had power in prayer, for we see that Jeroboam implored the young man: 'Pray for me, that my hand is healed and restored', and of course in response to this young prophet's intercession, Jeroboam's hand was healed...

"And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back. And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcass was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcass. And, behold, men passed by, and saw the carcass cast in the way, and the lion standing by the carcass: and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt. And when the prophet that brought him back from the way heard thereof, he said, It is the man of God, who was disobedient unto the word of the LORD: therefore the LORD hath delivered him unto the lion, which hath torn him, and slain him, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake unto him. And he spake to his sons, saying, Saddle me the ass. And they saddled him. And he went and found his carcass cast in the way, and the ass and the lion standing by the carcass: the lion had not eaten the carcass, nor torn the ass. And the prophet took up the carcass of the man of God, and laid it upon the ass, and brought it back: and the old prophet came to the city, to mourn and to bury him. And he laid his carcass in his own grave; and they mourned over him, saying, Alas, my brother! And it came to pass, after he had buried him, that he spake to his sons, saying, When I am dead, then bury me in the sepulchre wherein the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones: For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass. After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth".

I've entitled my message this morning, 'The Tale of Two Prophets'. Some of you may be familiar with Dickens' work, 'The Tale of Two Cities', which begins: 'It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times', and you could say the same for these two prophets. The best and worst features of their age in which they served the Lord are found in both of their characters. Of course they were different in many aspects: they were different ages, one was old and the other was young. They were at different stages in their prophetic career: one was at the beginning, the other was at the end. But what is far more clear and full of lessons for us today is the difference that there was between the young and the old prophet in their spiritual conditions.

If you take the young man, for instance, in verse 1 and again throughout the passage, he is called 'the man of God' - a man of God. We see why this is: he was obedient, and the phrase 'the word of the LORD' occurs seven times within this portion of Scripture, and many of the times it appears we see that that young prophet was obedient to it. He was functioning according to God's command, personally in his life - and because he was obedient, God's power was manifest in his life and in his ministry. We saw in the account that the power was evident, because after he delivered the message God gave him to King Jeroboam, the sign in verse 3 that he spoke that would happen was that the altar would be rent and the ashes that were upon it would be poured out - and of course the fulfilment of that sign is found in verse 5. The altar was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar 'according to the sign which the man of God was given by the word of God'.

This prophet, young though he was and at the beginning of his ministry, did not fear the King's threats, nor did he succumb to the King's bribes...

But God's power was demonstrated as well in verse 4, because after making the announcement of the sign would take place, King Jeroboam pointed his finger at him and gave an order that he be taken out of his presence. In verse 4 it tells us that as Jeroboam stretched out his hand it withered, God supernaturally struck Jeroboam - a sign of the power that was in the ministry of this young man. Of course, he had power in prayer, for we see that Jeroboam implored the young man: 'Pray for me, that my hand is healed and restored', and of course in response to this young prophet's intercession, Jeroboam's hand was healed.

He was obedient, the power of God was manifest in his life. Verses 7 and 8 show that he was also uncompromising, for because of this good deed toward him, Jeroboam the King invited the young prophet back to feed him and to reward him, to share a meal with him. Now you've got to understand what this meant in the contemporary age of where we are this morning, the Old Testament. To share a meal with someone was to imply intimate fellowship with them, and this young man - though he had mercy in praying for Jeroboam, and God obviously showed grace towards him in healing his hand - he not only was uncompromising in not going back to eat with him, to have fellowship with him, but he was discerning in that he realised that to do such would in some way show, perhaps, that God was accepting Jeroboam's behaviour, and was being lenient on Jeroboam's deviant worship and idolatry.

So he was obedient, he demonstrated the power of God in his ministry, he was uncompromising, he was discerning, and he had integrity. He would not be bribed, as verse 9 says. He says: 'It was charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest'. He would not be bought. To add to all that, he was courageous, which perhaps would be a summary of all his behaviour there. He delivered the God-given message that was given to him to give to the King, a message that would be fulfilled literally about 300 years after this time by King Josiah, who - as this prophet prophesied in verse 2 - would take the prophets of Baal, the idolatrous priests, and burn them on the very altar that he was speaking against - 2 Kings 23 is where we find that narrative.

This prophet, young though he was and at the beginning of his ministry, did not fear the King's threats, nor did he succumb to the King's bribes - both of which would have disqualified him from his ministry, and invalidated his prophetic preaching. So we can see clearly that this young man, this young prophet was a man of God. He was on fire, obedient, powerful, uncompromising, discerning, full of integrity, courageous - and yet, it seems that when we are moved by the narrator to look at this old prophet, he is the exact antithesis of everything that this young prophet is. If the young prophet was on fire, the old prophet's fire had gone out long ago.

Look at this old prophet, he is the exact antithesis of everything that this young prophet is. If the young prophet was on fire, the old prophet's fire had gone out long ago...

Let's look at the old prophet. He isn't called a man of God, he's just called 'an old prophet'. It says that he dwelt in Bethel, and if you remember from Genesis 28, Bethel was the place where Jacob dreamt of the ladder and the angels ascending and descending on it. It was at that place that God ratified Isaac's blessing with Jacob and his descendants, the children of Israel. Let me read you a few verses from that portion to remind you of the significance of Bethel. 'Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first'.

Of course 'Bethel' means 'the house of God', and Jacob says, 'This is none other than the gate of heaven'. Now, as we come into 1 Kings 13 we find that Jeroboam had made the gate of heaven into the door of hell. The centre of the worship for Almighty God, the only true and living God who cannot be seen, who is not an idol made with men's hands, he had made that place into the temple of idols. If you look at chapter 12 of 1 Kings, verse 29, we see that along with the city of Dan, Bethel had become one of the two centres where idolaters worshipped. Jeroboam had made two golden calves and put one in Dan and one in Bethel, and I think the reason is he feared that the people in the North kingdom of Israel would go back to the South to worship in Jerusalem, so he wanted to keep them in the North, loyal to him. So he brought religion to them, a man-made religion, and set up this calf - told them that this calf was the god that delivered them from the Egyptians and brought them into the promised land, verse 28 of chapter 12.

We know from 2 Kings chapter 2 that there used to be a prophetic school at Bethel. It may well be that this old prophet was associated with such a group - but whatever this old prophet once was, we see that he is now abiding, dwelling at the centre of idolatry. He has apostatised, because we don't find him preaching against Jeroboam's sins and Israel's idolatry. He had capitulated in spiritual compromise, and idolatry always leads to moral depravity, and we see it in his life - for in verse 18 of chapter 13 we see that this old prophet lies to the young prophet. He is the opposite of everything that this young man was, and yet from verse 11 and following we see that the tables are somewhat turned and these two prophet's destinies change.

The old prophet hears through his sons what the young prophet had said and done to Jeroboam, and he wants to know which way he went on his journey back to Judah. So his son saddled the donkey for the father, and lo and behold they found the young prophet sitting under an oak tree, verses 11 to 14. The old prophet invites the young back for a meal, verse 15, and the young refuses just as he did King Jeroboam, because he said God told him not to eat or drink, and not to go back the same way as he came. But the old prophet persists with him, and he uses two things to persuade him: his profession as a prophet. He says: 'I am a prophet too', verse 18, 'I am a prophet also'. Then he claims to have a fresh revelation from God that an angel told him: 'An angel appeared to me and told me that you had to come'. In verse 19 we see that he goes.

Why was he so courageous, so full of integrity, so discerning, so uncompromising when he faced the King - and yet all of a sudden he caves in with a similar invitation from an old apostate prophet?

Now, you should be asking the question: why was he so courageous, so full of integrity, so discerning, so uncompromising when he faced the King - and yet all of a sudden he caves in with a similar invitation from an old apostate prophet? Well, I think perhaps he believed the old prophet for a number of reasons. Here's where he went wrong: the old prophet said to him in verse 18, 'I too am a prophet', and this young man was swayed by the old man's position. Now impoliteness and ignorance can never be justified, but on this grounds we must make sure as Christians that we realise that a man's, or a woman's for that matter, position means nothing in the eyes of God, even if that position is in the church, if it's only a position. This man had a position, and it meant nothing.

Maybe this young prophet felt that the older man had more wisdom than he had, and perhaps more experience than he had, or was even more intimate with the Lord than he was. There is a great lesson here that whilst often age does bring maturity, age does not equal spiritual maturity. Equally so experience does not equal intimacy with the Lord. Those things may come together, may often come together, but they are not mutually exclusive. The one does not necessitate having the other. This led this young prophet, I believe, to allow this older prophet - whether for his position, experience, or supposed intimacy with God - he allowed this old prophet to become the oracle of God to him. He took his word as God's word, and it ended in tragedy. For as they were sitting at the table, the old prophet was given a true revelation from God, and God told him that because of his disobedience that young prophet would go out and would die and would not be buried with his fathers, but his corpse would lie in the street. He went out, the ass was saddled and he went on his way, and he met a lion on the road and the lion devoured him - and that lion and that donkey stood beside that corpse, contrary to the laws of nature, as a testimony that even small disobedience in the life of a believer, who has up to now been extremely consecrated, has consequences that can be fatal.

Now, what lessons can we learn from this tale of two prophets? The first lesson I want to bring to you is from the young man. Now the young man shows us, I believe, how you can begin well and end badly - you can begin well and end badly. If you like, this is a message of warning to early starters in the Christian life. Had the young prophet continued to obey God's directions, he would not have been killed - but gradually he got out of the will of God. Now that is not self-evident from the reading of the text, because the narrator is so swift in giving us each little detail in the account. Nevertheless, if we delve deeply we see that he had a gradual step out of God's will. If you look at verse 14 we see that instead of hurrying home as God told him, without eating and drinking, and going home a different way, he sat down. The old prophet found him sitting down under an oak tree.

Now, I'm reading a little bit between the lines, I'll grant you, but I imagine that - a little bit like Elijah with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel - this man had had a tremendous victory, a spiritual mountaintop experience. Perhaps he's off his guard just for a moment, and decides to take a rest - feeling that he has done his duty to God, he loses his victory. Andrew Bonar said: 'Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle', and it is true that the devil will find work for idle hands to do. For whatever reason this young man rested rather than rushed home, and he could have rested all he wanted once he got home, but he wasn't home yet. He sat down.

Now I know that the older generation perennially and traditionally has always been down on the younger generation, they're never as good as young people in our day!

This was a young man, now you might think, 'Well, why are you talking about young men when most of our young men are away this weekend?' - well, I don't know, because this message isn't coming from me, I felt led of the Lord to give it to you. I have a hunch that I'm giving it to you because our young people are away. We are facing a potential crisis today in the church of Jesus Christ in the West in relation to our young people. Now I know that the older generation perennially and traditionally has always been down on the younger generation, they're never as good as young people in our day: 'When I was young I was at all the meetings, and I did all I could, and was all I could' - we have to accept that that is part of what it is to have generational gap, but I think I'm right in saying that there is a lack of commitment among young people, and often young married people in the church of Jesus Christ today. Don't interpret that I'm being down on the young folk, because I'm not - but we have to mark the fact that there is, at times, a lack of interest and a lack of commitment among the younger generation. I'm not talking about teenagers now, I'm talking about folk in their twenties and in their thirties.

We've got to ask the question: why is it? We've got to face up to the reality that the local church anywhere is only ever one generation away from extinction. That's frightening. There are many adults who as young people served God zealously in their youth, and they have sat down. Whether they have sat down to rear their family, sat down to follow their career - there can be many other reasons - but they have sat down one way or another, and they have got sidetracked from the Lord's programme in their life. Bunyan wrote that great story 'Pilgrim's Progress', but these Christians have stopped progressing, like this young prophet they have sat down and their spiritual growth has stunted, and their spiritual service has ceased.

The second mistake he made was that he relinquished his personal responsibility of seeking God's will for himself. He made this older prophet the oracle of God to him, and we need to beware in this day and age of charismatic excess, we need to beware of others telling us that they know God's will for our lives. Warren Wiersbe said well that the sign in the United States over the traffic lights preaches a good sermon, it says: 'Obey your own signal'. We need to sometimes also beware of leaning on our own understanding as Proverbs 3:5-6 warns us. Gideon did that, Samson did that, Saul did that, King Hezekiah did that - and they all started out well with promise, but they didn't end well. There is a danger not only when we stop progressing, but when we stop seeking God, when we stop waiting on God and trusting God. Let me ask you: who seeks God today? Who in the younger generation seeks God today? He stopped seeking God, and young and old could sing as we have done:

'Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and His Word?

What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill'.

Beware: because many began on the Christian road in a blaze of glory, and have ended in a bog of shame. Many useful men of God, they began well but they ended badly...

For those young people who are here today, beware: because many began on the Christian road in a blaze of glory, and have ended in a bog of shame. Many useful men of God, they began well but they ended badly. The second lesson from these two prophets is found in the old man, because he shows someone who began badly but ended well. This is a message of hope for the old sluggard. Someone well said: 'It's not how you begin a thing that matters, it's how you finish it'. In verses 26 to 32, when the old prophet heard the news he immediately realised that it was the Lord's judgement against prophetic disobedience. He would have also realised that God was speaking a message through this death, He was saying that disobedience in the idolatrous worship system that he was involved in was doomed to destruction. So he went to the scene of the tragedy, and he got the body of this young prophet and brought it back to Bethel and buried it in his own tomb, and he instructed his sons that he wanted to be buried beside that man of God.

Now all of this indicates that this old prophet had a change of heart, and he feared God again. Something had happened! Do you know what my thought was when that truth came to bear on my heart? It was: would to God that he had thought about this young man's welfare when he was alive. If you're near the end of the journey you need to beware, you need to beware. I think I've told you before that during the Second World War RAF fighter pilots, it's documented, made the most mistakes when they were flying in to land after their sortie and their battle. Why? Because they relaxed, they thought they were out of danger, and then they crashed and burned. In the course of his final series of Bible lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary Harry Ironside, who many of you know and love, often prayed these words: 'O God, keep me from becoming a foolish old man'.

This old prophet had become a foolish old man, but he was able to turn things around and end well. When Dr Culbertson, the retired president of Moody Bible Institute, heard his Trustees planning to build a building in his honour and name it after him, he protested. This is what he said: 'Men, you do not know how I will end!'. How will you end? Or how are you ending? Now, what I want to do now in the closing moments is, I want to tie these two tales, these two stories of two prophets together and apply them to our fellowship, to our lives, to our families - and, wherever you're from, I want to apply it to you as well.

One of the best ways of helping them is recovering a biblical doctrine that has been lost - do you know what that is? It is to rediscover the doctrine of discipleship...

Here is one of the best ways you can end well: invest your life and the rest of your future in young people. This old man got in the way of this young man. He hindered his progress, and in the end it wrecked him. Now God forbid that we should ever do that, and there is a lack of commitment and all the rest, we could go on over the things - but my question to you, as we have most of the, how do I put it, mature body of the Church here today, while the young people are away - my question is: are you a help, or are you a hindrance to them? Do you help them or do you hinder them? One of the best ways of helping them is recovering a biblical doctrine that has been lost - do you know what that is? It is to rediscover the doctrine of discipleship. Do you know what that is? Discipleship? It's a lost art! It is biblical, and it is found right throughout the word of God from cover to cover, and it is this: that the older are to help the younger. God's people are exhorted to mentor, to counsel younger members within the community of believers.

Deuteronomy 6:7: 'Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up'. First Peter 5:5, New Testament: 'Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble'. Titus 2:3-4: 'The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children'. Moses poured his life into Joshua - do you think it was a coincidence that Joshua led the people through the Jordan into the promised land? Elijah poured his life into Elisha. Jesus poured His life into the twelve. Paul poured his life into Timothy - 2 Timothy 2: 'The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also'. What he had poured into Timothy, he wanted Timothy to pour into others!

There is some tender language that is used of discipleship in the New Testament, 1 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul says: 'We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children'. We were like a mother to you, tending you. First Thessalonians 2:11: 'Ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children'. Who are you discipling? Who am I discipling? In a very thought provoking article in Christianity Today, Christian historian Bruce Shelley pointed out that we would not have had some of our greatest heroes in Church history had there not been mentors who loved them and discipled them. 'Behind many of the great leaders of the Christian church stood others who, through their lives and teaching, provided instruction'. He gives several examples, I'll give you three of them. Martin Luther, Martin Luther's mentor and discipler was a man called Johann von Staupitz. He was a Professor of Bible at the University of Wittenberg, and when Luther became an Augustinian monk he became his spiritual director and counsellor. Luther later said, I quote, 'If it had not been for Dr Staupitz, I should have sunk in hell'. It was Staupitz who revealed to him the doctrine of God's grace.

John Wesley, his discipler was a man called Peter Bowler who belonged to the Moravians, a group of German Christians who possessed what Wesley seemed to lack: a trust and rest in God. It was through the Moravians and Bowler that Wesley eventually found his heart strangely warmed and went on to reciprocate what the Moravians were doing in missionary endeavour right throughout the whole world, preaching the gospel. Another: William Carey - his discipler was Andrew Fuller, who broke with the hyper-Calvinistic Baptists of his day, who were appealing that we should not go and preach the gospel, but he went. Carey was spurred on by Fuller's evangelistic zeal, and questioned: 'What about people beyond our shores? Don't they too need the gospel?'. These two men were soulmates in missions - Carey in India, Fuller from home as he supported him, prayed for him, drummed up all the people that he could to stand with him in missionary endeavour.

Our young people need us, each of us, to pour our lives into theirs and do all we can for them!

But what did it all come out of? One-to-one discipleship, small groups of men and women who got together to encourage one another, pray for one another, instruct one another, exhort one another. If you're of the older generation, let me remind you, if it needs to be done, that you had these things - you had them! The BB, you had CE, YMCA - those are young people's things I know, but some of you older men tell me that if you had a question, the one that you went to was probably a leader in the Bible class in the shipyard or some other factory where you were. Maybe on a daily basis you were studying God's word in a small group with someone who could answer your questions, and you were able to question. Do you know what that is? That's discipling, and it happened automatically, probably because we were in a greater and better spiritual climate - but it's not happening today! I know that our young people's leaders do a tremendous job against all the odds, don't think that I'm discrediting what they're doing, they're doing great things - but our young people need us, each of us, to pour our lives into theirs and do all we can for them!

There is a vacuum today, and young people are suffering for it. If you want to go back to the book, brother, you want to go back to the book, sister - here's one way you can do it: make disciples. I don't mean make little copies of yourself! I mean make a person to become what God wants them to be. There is a great debate - you've heard it on the radio and in secular media - about how young people need role models today. There's no one out there - the pop stars, the sports stars, they're all running amok, and there's no one for these people to look up to. There is a crisis in the world in relation to role models, and there is a crisis in the church. If we don't give them the role models they should have here, who do you think will give them to them? Satan will.

The young, whether we like it or not, are the future of the church. They're the future of this church. Rather than be all doom and gloom about the future, you have an opportunity to influence the future for good by influencing young people for God. Oh, it costs. Oh, it costs, yes. Nothing that was ever worth anything didn't cost. It will be uncomfortable, it will be inconvenient, it might even be expensive, but it's imperative if the church and witness of Jesus Christ anywhere is to go on.

Can I quote to you as I close from the introduction of a book written many many years ago by Bishop J.C. Ryle entitled 'Thoughts for Young Men' [PDF]. This is what he said: 'I am growing old myself, but there are few things I remember so well as the days of my youth. I have a most distinct recollection of the joys and the sorrows, the hopes and the fears, the temptations and the difficulties, the mistaken judgements and the misplaced affections, the errors and the aspirations, which surround and accompany a young man's life. If I can only say something to keep some young man in the right way, and preserve him from faults and sins, which may mar his prospects both for time and eternity, I shall be very thankful'.

Can I repeat that last line, and think of the old and the young prophet as I do - and can you say: 'If I can only say something to keep some young man in the right way, and preserve him from faults and sins, which may mar his prospects both for time and eternity, I shall be very thankful'. This is the message to my heart, the message I believe God would bring to yours, may it not be missed.

Father, all of us who are Your children have a prayer that we would not only start well and go on well, but end well, that we would finish the course and keep the faith. What we pray for ourselves we pray for our children, we pray for our young people. We pray that - thanking You for what our young people's leaders and children's workers and Sunday school teachers do - but we pray that we would not leave the job to them, but all of us would disciple the younger, that they may be committed and grow into positions even of leadership in years that lie ahead. Help us to see that this is Your ordained plan for the organism of the church to grow and to thrive. God forbid that that process of life should stop at this generation, but give us a vision that we may disciple one another, lay our lives down for brothers and sisters of whatever age, and let us all be a help and not a hindrance to the work of God. Amen.

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins,
Preach The Word.
May 2007
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "The Tale Of Two Prophets" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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