INTRO: I think it is safe to say that Jonah went to Nineveh believing it was foolish to go. I believe that Jonah knew the people of Nineveh had such a terrible reputation for evil and violence that in his mind he could not imagine their changing course. But he went, and he preached. He apparently was tireless in his determination to see that all in Nineveh had an opportunity to hear his preaching of the message of God the message God had entrusted to him. Then came the first of two great shocks for Jonah ... the preaching accomplished positive results!
I. JONAH HAD A HOPELESS AUDIENCE
A. Look at the kings admonition in 3:8
1. Nineveh was not a pretty place!
2. sin, violence, cruelty were the trademarks
3. God, why preach to people like that?
B. There is a vital lesson here for us
1. for whom is the gospel intended?
2. Mt 9:11-13 Jesus spent so much time seeking to influence the unlovely people whose lives were wracked and twisted by sin ... they needed the gospel
3. it is too easy for us to make judgments to exclude, to decide people are no hopers (Jno 1:45,456a)
II. THE MESSAGE TO THIS PEOPLE SO ENGROSSED IN SIN?
A. It was a message of judgment 3:4
1. Nineveh was rife with sin Prov 14:34
2. people were out of control ... such things as truth, honor, justice, morality simply meant nothing
3. Ps 5:4-6 Gods judgment upon sin and the sinful is to always be expected totally consistent with his nature
4. in the New Testament? Acts 17:30,31 and 24:25
5. perhaps it is not the highest motivation - fear - but God certainly uses all the methods to effect change in the sinful
B. It was certainly a plain message
1. one needed help to misunderstand Jonahs message
2. it seems to me this is characteristic of all of Gods word to mankind He speaks to be understood!
3. man, though, seems able to wrest the word effectively!
C. Implicitly, it was a message of grace
1. forty days if there was no hope, why this period?
2. but forty days was also a message which said there was a limit to even Gods patience
3. Gods grace gleams in beautiful rays through the Bible
III. UNEXPECTED (UNWANTED?) RESULTS
A. The people believed the message - 3:5a
1. by contrast Gen 19:12-14; Mt 12:41
2. people may do with Gods message as they please
3. it is designed, though, to reach the minds and understandings of sensitive, sensible, thinking people and because we cannot know peoples hearts, needs, we must simply plant the seed! and let the design of the seed accomplish
B. And the people repented when the message came 3:5b
1. fast and sackcloth symbols of contrition (Acts 9:8,9)
2. the belief led to positive action - this is the design of the word ... belief issuing in sound action, behavior
3. seems to be, too, sense of urgency in the response!
C. Historically, Nineveh ultimately was overthrown
1. Nahum 1:1,2; 2:13; 3:5 about 100 years later
2. but generation of Jonahs time certainly repented
3. perhaps there is a lesson in this, too that the fervency of one generation can quickly give way to sin, hardened impenitence in the next
D. Yet, our concern is for now not to worry about future
1. there are people now who will believe and repent
2. but Gods message must be taken to them by you and me
3. maybe it looks like a hopeless world but we must leave that concern to God ... and just plant the seed
CLOSE:A key thought here is this. We must take the message of God to the people who need it. Jonah in Israel did the people of Nineveh no good. Neither does it do any good for the Katy area for us to confine the gospel to these four walls!
Cecil A. Hutson
10 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)