INTRO: As I was returning from a trip this past week, thoughts of the book of Jonah kept recurring in my mind. Particularly I kept musing upon the description of the city ... an exceeding great city of three days journey. What was the lesson to be learned here? Was there really a lesson here at all? When I was about tempted to dismiss those thoughts to move on to more fertile ground, it dawned on me that this is a magnificent lesson on The Power of One! In fact, I wonder if that may not be one of the most important lessons of the entire book. Think for a few minutes of some simple - but so needed -thoughts.
I. FIRSTLY, THERE IS THE GREAT CITY
A. Note the use of modifiers in the description size
1. great -- exceeding -- of three days journey
2. by the standards of that time Nineveh was a very large city, even by todays standards, of perhaps a million people
3. of three days journey perhaps describes the time necessary to walk streets with message or distance across to describe a region or circumference
4. great, too, in military and commercial importance
B. But it was also great in importance to God
1. souls of men are the tremendous concern of God
2. this city of something near 1 million souls certainly held more than a passing interest to God (Mk 8:36 on importance of the soul)
3. remember, too, God was/is God of all humanity
4. note Acts 17:24-27 all nations!
C. In our case, there is the great world around us
1. how many more millions now than then!
2. and each soul is of great preciousness to God
3. doesnt this lesson from Jonah move us to concern for the world in which we live?can we truly be Gods children and not be concerned?
4. Jno 4:35,36
II. SECONDLY, THERE IS THE GREAT NEED
A. In 1:2 is stated the great need of Nineveh (see 3:8b)
1. Nineveh was a place of great sinfulness
2. remember Gen 6:5 and Gods resolve to destroy world?
3. well, He had resolved to destroy Nineveh - 3:4
B. Without Gods message, that city would perish in sin
1. He wouldnt, couldnt spare it in that condition
2. as was case with Noahs world, God made provisions for that message to be proclaimed ... it was a grave message!
3. 2 Pet 3:9 God would, though, destroy city without its repentance
C. Surely we can see the parallel to our own time
1. sin is rampant any sensitivities people still have are shocked by magnitude, blatantness of sin, evil
2. perhaps Johns words of 1 Jno 5:19b apply perfectly
3. never has there been greater need than now!
III. THIRDLY, THERE IS THE POWER OF THE WEAK
A. God sent one man to the great city, the great need
1. odds - numerically - were certainly not good
2. yet, it had never been Gods practice to send overwhelming numbers to accomplish His purposes
3. there have been the Noahs, Josephs, Samuels, Elijahs
4. 1 Cor 1:27-29 reason? that any good effect should be attributed to God
B. Jonahs only weapon the word of God
1. to a city accustomed to swords, spears and warfare came the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17)
2. apparently, there was no miraculous demonstration, etc.
3. but we do remember that Jonah was to preach only that which God would bid him preach (3:2)
4. power is not in words but in Source of and arrangement of those words into a message and the effect of this one man armed only with the word of God was monumental!
C. Here, then, is the power of one
1. one person courageously speaking Gods word can change the course of someones history!
2. 2 Cor 4:5-7 God has not changed His mode! there is a saving message to be shared, and it has been entrusted to mere mortal man! Rom 1:14-16
3. too often we worry about the odds, the distance, the inadequacies, the reactions ... we forget that God said, Go
4. the account of Jonah becomes a challenge to us, an encouragement think of Rom 8:31 and Isa 55:11
CLOSE: Certainly our challenge is as great as that of Jonahs going to Ninevah. The difference is that we have so much more scriptural experience upon which to draw. We know that when God is on our side there is great power of one!
Cecil A. Hutson
03 November 2002
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)