“…it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” It does indeed seem foolish to many that men stand and proclaim Divine truth and expect a supernatural response. That a man would turn from his sin and embrace Christ as Savior is not a mere act of the will, but an act of God in the life of an otherwise fallen and rebellious soul. Paul praises God for His intervention in this matter;
Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height– 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Jonah had an impossible job to do. He (for the first time in history!) was called to preach the words of Yaweh to the Gentiles. To the angriest, vilest, most brutal people of the region, Jonah was sent to bear the message of God. What hope would a single Jew have to persuade these wicked men that God was serious? What would be the result of this man walking among his enemies, unprotected and denouncing them to their face? (No wonder he did not want to go!) And yet we see his words in the fourth chapter;
Jonah 4:2 So he prayed to the LORD, and said, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.
It was not retribution from the Ninevites that he feared, but that his preaching would actually be effective! What power there is in the Word of God! It is His ordained means of changing men’s hearts. And so, what should the content of our own preaching be?
2 Timothy 4:1-2 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
We need to make sure we are preaching the truth of God on His own authority. Again to Timothy, Paul says, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:13-16) How important is this? Only a matter of eternal consequence!
1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you
God has ordained that the preaching of His Word be the means of bringing repentance and faith to the rebel sinner. We have the tool we need. Do we have the courage to wield that tool? Jonah managed to bring about the biggest “revival” ever recorded with it. Jonah 3:2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”
Jonah 3:4-5 “And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.” The entire city (600,000 to 1,000,000 people) repented. The preaching of a man. The Words of God. And “the people of Nineveh believed God. Why would we even think to change what God has ordained and makes effective? The Cause of Repentance is the Word of God preached by the Man of God and made effective by the Spirit of God. Man can never accomplish this result with all of entertainment, psychology and rhetoric he can possibly muster. What is your method?
Audio from this sermon can be heard by clicking on the link below. Take the time to check it out and let me know what you think.
The Cause of Repentance – Jonah 3