Summary: What happens when we gossip the gospel?
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,  "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you."  So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days' walk.  Then Jonah began to go through the city one day's walk; and he cried out and said, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown."
 Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.  When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the ashes.  And he issued a proclamation and it said, "In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water.  "But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.  "Who knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?"
 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
Last week, as we studied this same text, we discovered that Jonah was very successful in his missionary efforts to Nineveh. We also discovered that it was not because of his work ethic and superior skills. In fact, Jonah only traveled through a third of the city to preach his message. We also learned that he didn't succeed because of his communication skills. Jonah's sermon was only 5 Hebrew words. His audience didn't understand Hebrew, they spoke Assyrian. We also learned that his message wasn't riveting. It was short, but not sweet. His judgment wasn't tempered with mercy.
We learned that Jonah was successful because he was obedient.
We have several Sergeants in our congregation this morning. If I asked them what they wanted from their soldiers, where would they rank obedience? I'd guess it would be fairly high.
While Sir Henry Brackenbury was a military attache in Paris, had a conversation with the distinguished French statesman Gambetta. Gambetta said, "In these days there are only two things a soldier needs to know. He must know how to march, and he must know how to shoot!"The Englishman quickly responded, "I beg your pardon, Excellency, but you have forgotten the most important thing of all!" "What's that?" asked the Frenchman. Brackenbury replied, "He must know how to obey!" (From Fresh Bait for Fishers of Men, Louis Albert Banks)
Bottom line--God demands obedience from his followers. Jonah was successful because he was obedient. But in all fairness, there was more to it than that.
Look with me at Jonah 3:5-6 "Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. 6 When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the ashes." The people of Nineveh gossiped the gospel-the message spread like wildfire.
When they believed, they repented. They put on sackcloth, the sign of mourning and began fasting, a sign of commitment. They took care of their own spiritual condition and called on others to do the same. The people talked about God-not Jonah & his fault--not how much they hated the Jews. They talked about God-they were gossiping the gospel.
The Washington Times is reporting that Anti-War activist and Academy Award winning actress, Jane Fonda has become a born-again Christian and is faithfully attending a predominantly black church, the Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
Though Fonda is friends with Christians in powerful positions, it was her chauffeur who shared his faith with Fonda and invited her to attend his church. The gospel knows no racial or class distinction and when it is shared, it is powerful. Why did Fonda come to Christ? Her chauffeur couldn't stop gossiping the gospel! (From Fresh Illustrations)
Kurt Warner, the quarterback of the World Champion St. Louis Rams, prints his own trading cards to give to his fans. No, he's not on an ego trip. The card has his testimony on it. He wants to give something more meaningful than his autograph to those who ask, he wants them to know Christ too! He is gossiping the gospel! (From Fresh Illustrations)