Summary: The incredible story of Jonah and the depth of God's grace
Pastor Brad Reaves
(c) 2019 Grace Community Church, Winchester, VA
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The Gospel is only 'Good News' in the context of Bad News
A man got a call from his doctor, "I have some good news and some bad news."
"Oh no!" Said the man give me the good news first
"The Good News is you have 24 hours to live," said the doctor.
"What possibly could be the bad news?!" said the man.
"I forgot to call and tell you that yesterday."
Jonah is a story that is far greater about a man who was swallowed by a whale. That's not the point of the book. Too often we get caught up in the miraculous that we forget the real purpose for the Scripture. Such is the case with Jonah. Jonah is a good news / bad news message from God to the people of Nineveh. The bad news is that God will bring judgment to the Assyrian's for their horrific and brutal practices and destroy Nineveh in 40 Days. The good news is that God is a merciful God who will withhold His judgment if the people repent.
That's the gospel. The Gospel is not singly, "ask Jesus into your heart, and you will live forever in heaven." That is the Good News, but the bad news part has been left out. If that is all we teach or preach we are leading people to a false gospel. The other half that must be included is a message of repentance. The gospel without repentance is often called "hyper-grace."
To say, "God loves you, so follow Jesus" isn't a false message; it's an incomplete message. The gospel has a bad news side to it: "If you do not repent and turn your life over to God, you are doomed for all eternity." Faith without repentance is no faith at all. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no salvation for the sinner if they do not hear the bad news.
I. A Message of Repentance is Part of Our Obedience to God
10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. 1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Arise! Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message that I will give you.” 3 This time Jonah got up and went to Nineveh in accordance with the word of the LORD. (Jonah 2:10-3:3)
Chapter 3 has a familiar ring to it as God extends to Jonah his mercy and a second chance of obedience. God commands the whale were to take Jonah, and God commands the whale to spit Jonah up on the shores near Nineveh. Three days Jonah spent inside the whale. It was dark and wet and he was alone. It was here that Jonah comes back to God. It was here that Jonah repents of his rebellion. And it was here that Jonah experiences the depth of God's sacred mercy.
Now expelled from his underwater transport to the dry shores of Assyria, God once again gives Jonah his commission to go to the people of Nineveh and preach a message of repentance. The was no purgatory to remediation, no slander, no demotion from God’s favor. God provided His lesson, mercy was extended, and now forgiveness. Now, it is time for Jonah to do what God originally called him to do and the commission is essentially the same: “Arise… go… proclaim.”
And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
(Hymn: Amazing Love)
God is the God of second chances. So it shouldn't amaze us that God not only chose to forgive Jonah but also restore his prophetic position. God is a God of second chances. When our chains are broken, it is not so we can go on selfishly for our own benefit, but that we can go and let others know. God delights in using people, broken people. People with histories, people with difficulties, people with failures to accomplish his will. He's not interested in a preacher who Looks sharp and sounds sharp. He is looking for people in love with Him, to Arise... Go... Proclaim.
Every person who has confessed Jesus as Lord has the same root calling, to Arise... Go... Proclaim; Repent... Receive; Deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me. That is the calling of this church and everyone in it. God defeated death and you have found the received the keys to everlasting life. Now arise, go and proclaim it to whoever you can.