INTRO: The more I read and learn about ancient Nineveh, the more impressed I am by the power of Gods word. Im afraid the impact of Ninevehs penitence has been lost on our modern minds for two reasons: our emphasis upon Jonahs doings and our lack of historical knowledge. If the book of Jonah tells us anything, it is that no sinner is so awful that God does not want him to hear His word and that Gods word is powerful to change even the vilest of sinners. Verses 5-9 of Jonah 3 tells us of A Mighty Change in Nineveh. Several points here are worth our noting carefully.
I. UNIVERSAL SCOPE OF THE MESSAGE (3:5)
A. Greatest to the least of them
1. Jonahs message was for all of Nineveh
2. not one message for the great, another for the small
3. everyone was subject to the same message and had to respond in the same way
B. Such is the case with the gospel
1. Mk 16:15,16 to every creature ... everyone was subject
2. Acts 10:34,35 same message to all ... same response from all God doesnt see kings; He sees souls
3. therefore, Acts 10:47,48 baptism was required from the first gospel proclamation it was the universal response
II. EVEN KINGS CAN BE REACHED WITH/BY THE WORD (3:6)
A. Exactly how the king heard of Jonahs preaching Im not sure
1. but he must have begun to hear reports from messengers
2. he saw the effect of the message and knew it was not an idle movement
3. king recognized that he had a stake in Jonahs message this king wisely recognized a sovereign greater than he!
B. Are we prone to limit the power of Gods word?
1. hes too important shes too involved in other things hed never be interested, etc.
2. the power does not lie with us ... but in the word!
3. Jer 23:29 with Isa 55:11
III. THE KING SOUGHT TO INFLUENCE OTHERS TO GODS POINT OF VIEW (3:7)
A. He sets an admirable example!
1. he wants others to see their error, their need
2. he does not say, Well, thats their problem
3. he recognized he was his brothers keeper
B. Are not there people under our influence needing Christ
1. spouse? children? parents? friends? workmates?
2. note the attitude of David Ps 51:12-15 David knew he needed to influence others to Gods point of view
3. people are lost without Christ, the gospel do we care
IV. THE DEMANDS OF PENITENCE (3:8)
A. The kings decree notes three vital elements:
1. sorrow toward God covering with sackcloth was a sign of this true penitence (see 1 Ki 21:27-29)
2. plea for forgiveness cry mightily (Ps 130:1-3)
3. reformation of life let them turn (2 Chron 7:14)
B. This certainly conforms to New Testament teaching of/on penitence
1. 2 Cor 7:10 Acts 8:22 1 Thes 1:9
2. each element is essential ... most assuredly the reformation of life is proof of penitence
3. what changes must be made? any matter in our lives which is not in harmony with life in Christ!
V. THE DESIRE OF PENITENCE? (3:9)
A. The king of Nineveh sought Gods mercy!
1. he was convinced they were lost, undone without it
2. he knew there was no hope without reform in Nineveh
3. he was frightened very sensible!
B. We, too, desire the mercy of God
1. I am reminded of Heb 10:30,31
2. Eph 2:4-6 Gods mercy is allthat stands between us and perishing!
3. His mercy is extended as with Nineveh on His terms repent and obey!
CLOSE: How terrible is your sin? God wants to forgive you, to give you life in the kingdom. But the initiative now rests with you. Are you willing to turn from your waytoGods way?
Cecil A. Hutson
24 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)