18 November 2015

THE NEED OF THE HOUR


Jonah 3:1-10

We live in a culture where the church today is desperately trying to find new ways to entice or keep people in the church, instead of the plain preaching of the word and the simple truth of the gospel message. Some, if not many churches feel that biblical preaching is outdated and irrelevant. For some churches use drama, pursuing the latest church growth programs, open dialogue (conversation over preaching), and storytelling and never open their bible. Self-motivated worship (as if God needs me to accomplish His will, or if worship is all about me). Contextualization of passages to make them feel more acceptable (watered down or trying to make everything the bible speaks about relevant in my life. The removal or never lack of mentioning words like: sin, accountability, conviction, false teaching, self-examination and Hell and Damnations. 

Some churches have even encouraged and allowed secular means to bring people in! Now, I’m not picking on the church because I enjoy doing this! It absolutely breaks my heart to see how far the other way some so-called evangelical churches have gone to reach the lost. Remember, I love the church. And again, I’m not picking on the obvious ones who are apostate and are only entertainment centers that claim to be a church. Because that’s all they are! Sadly they tag “Church” in their name. I’m talking about the ones that profess the same things we do! Who hold to the inerrancy of scripture? Who say they believe in the sufficiency of scripture but somehow or somewhere forgot its power and now they feel unconvinced so they use man centered ways to reach and keep lost people in their churches.

Here are a couple of examples: A large church in Winnipeg called “The Rock” This Easter, Church of the Rock will embark on another epic adventure to discover the true meaning of Easter. Join the gang as they turn back the clock to save the day. Pastor Mark Hughes will be preaching the message "Back from the Future." This is from their website. New Springs Church in South Carolina, praise band perform Miley Cyrus', Wrecking Ball, under the "pastoral care and direction" of their pastor Perry Noble. See, to witness this for myself, through their Own Websites and their own You Tube channels, is very disheartening to say the least!

Why? This is not what God intended for His church. This is not what the word of God says we should do. This is an abomination and a disgrace to the True Church. 

As Steve Lawson said “the crying need of the hour is for divine power to be restored to the evangelical pulpit.” When we substitute God’s Word for schemes and secularization, it becomes hazardous and very dangerous…….. not only for the church but for the soul of man. What is the need of the hour?  Expositional preaching and exhortation of God‘s precious holy Word. We as a church family get to see this first hand (front row seats) as we continue in this Minor Prophet’s Letter. Jonah went into a pagan culture, where people had little if no previous knowledge of biblical truth. Jonah went into this city where many would say this is hopeless and the there is no way they will listen to what he has to say. This is what makes this letter so powerful and amazing and relevant today! All Jonah did was simply preach.God’s strategy is for sinners to come to understanding of the gospel is the preaching of His word. As the bible says….“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor 1:17-18

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Cor 2:1-5

“For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.  But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” 1 Thess 2:3-8

The Book of Jonah is a prime example or account of how God uses simple broken people to proclaim a powerful message to lost and broken sinners. Again as Steve Lawson said in his commentary on this passage “one man (Jonah), equipped with one message (God’s), committed to one method (preaching) who effected great spiritual change. It is no different today. God’s work must be done God’s way if it is to know God’s blessing.” This is a statement that should be hanging over the door way of every sanctuary across North America and around the globe.

“God’s work must be done God’s way if it is to know God’s blessing.”

What is the need of the hour? As I we go through this passage! Keep in mind to the question!  What is the need of the hour? What is it that the people of Nineveh need? What is it that the people of Killaloe and surrounding area need?Answer: Gospel and Biblical Exposition to grow in His amazing love and grace, which leads to eternal life. Remember salvation is the sole workmanship of God. As john penned “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:12-14. As Paul said “….for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Rom 1:16. And later penned these words “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17. We need to hear the word of God for life changing/transforming power unto eternal life. We see that power hear in full color HD1080 in this chapter. What is need of the hour? God’s word to transform lives.

THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD LEADS TO SALVATION   (V5-V7)

“Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be (God’s longsuffering for this wicked nation) overthrown!" (v4)

Jonah lifted up his voice like a trumpet that everyone might hear. “He called or cried out...” Basically Repent our be destroyed in 40 days. Their belief in the Lord began with hearing a message from the Lord by Jonah. Preaching the Gospel is the ordinary means of salvation…..Faith in Christ is the result of hearing the word, the doctrine of God preached. God sends Jonah to proclaim His message of deliverance to this wicked nation that worshipped false idols like the fish god (half man half fish). The word of God, so powerful that it enters even to the deepest and most inward and secret parts of the heart, In this case the Ninevites. Fatally wounding the stubborn, and openly reviving the believers. The word of God leads to repentance…..Remember last week in Prov 28:13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. The Ninevites saw their wickedness. Their hearts were stirred with genuine remorse............ a brokenness. Repentance begins with acknowledging your own sinfulness. The condition of freedom is confession to a holy God. The One whom we’ve offended. Look at what it says in (v5) “And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth (a display of grief), from the greatest of them to the least of them.”

Everyone REPENTED, all the way from greatest (the King) to even the homeless person who lived on the street. Why were they so convicted? “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” Heb 4:12. When you read the word of God does it convict you? Just as the Ninevites, you must repent before you die, because after death there is no conversion of the soul.” We MUST come to the Lord in genuine repentance and He will forgive you. God will pardon you from your sin.

THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD LEADS TO RENEWAL (V8-V9)

“Renewal” means "to make new" "the new man" (in contrast to the old unregenerate nature), which "is being renewed unto knowledge The Word of Truth. A changed Nature which we get at the point of Salvation. As Paul said “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”. 2 Cor 5:17. A new creation has: New affections, motives, thought life, hope and aspirations. The nation of Nineveh repented of their wickedness and believed the True Sovereign God! They were treated with the mercies of God and were brought into a proper fellowship with God.
They were renewed, just like when you came to the Lord in repentance. We were forgiven and we became “New Creations”. As Jeremiah penned In Lamentations 5:21 “Restore us to Yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old.” Restore us to our former estate which is speaking of the Nation Israel. But, we can put this verse into application for the nation of Nineveh. See the Ninevites did just that……(v8) “…..Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.”
  • Stop living reckless and wicked lives.
  • Stop preying upon the heart of others.
  • Stop your worship to pagan deities.
  • Stop sacrificing your children.
  • Stop everything and come to the True God for renewal of life.

There is no repentance whatsoever unless there is a change of life. True repentance is an inward thing which has its seat in the mind and heart. The change of life (your new nature) is the proof of the changed heart. We need to understand this nation stopped all there wicked and evil acts. Keeping in mind! There is over 600,000 people coming to God in repentance and begging for His mercy and forgiveness. Why did they change? (v9) “Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish." 

“Relent” means “To become less intense, to soften in temper; to become milder and tender; to feel compassion. God showed them mercy, just as he showed you and me mercy! The Ninevites submitted to the Lord in repentance…….Because for the first time they realized He was a mighty an awesome God! J. I. Packer says “Not until we have become humble and teachable, standing in awe of God's holiness and sovereignty... acknowledging our own littleness, distrusting our own thoughts, and willing to have our minds turned upside down, can divine wisdom become ours”. That’s the power of the gospel and the Word of God.

THE POWER OF GOD’S WORD LEADS TO GENUINE REVIVAL (V10)

WHAT IS REVIVAL? An increase hunger for a delight in God’s Word as Ps 119: 107 says “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to Your Word!” In order for this revival to happen, something must take place! 

First, it involves a disdain for sin and renewed desire for obedience to God. As Ps 119:37 says “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways.” 

Second, it brings increased commitment and interest in personal prayer.  Ps 80:18 says “Then we shall not turn back from You; give us life, and we will call upon Your Name!” 

Third, it’s God gladly at the center of my Life, experienced and enjoyed. Lam 3:24 says “The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in Him." 

Fourthly, it’s getting back on the right path again. As John wrote “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

REVIVAL IS NOT!

An emotional extravagance where people are caught up in the moment and fall down out of control. It’s not a long line of anxious sinners waiting for a turn at the microphone to reveal their most secret sinful something. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said “Does it grieve you my friends, that the name of God is being taken in vain and dishonored? Does it grieve you that we are living in a godless age... But, we are living in such an age and the main reason we should be praying about revival is that we are anxious to see God's name vindicated and His glory manifested. We should be anxious to see something happening that will arrest the nations, all the peoples, and cause them to stop and to think again”. This is what happened to Nineveh. A wickedest of all nations repenting as God's name vindicated and His glory was manifested. REVIVAL BEGINS HERE. The greatest revival in all of History........The Nation of Nineveh.

SOME OTHER EXAMPLES OF REVIVALS THROUGHOUT THE AGES:

The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) the beginning of the church. Jonathan Edwards and “The First Great Awakening” (1734) A village mourned over the death of 2 young people, and over a period of 6 months half the village was converted by the Power of God. From there Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley the church grew rapidly in new England between 1740 and 1742 with more than 300,000 new and revived Christians turning to the Lord in faith and repentance. One Historian called this time “The most glorious and extensive revival our country has ever known”.

Clean Hands and Pure Hearts Revival in Scotland (1949) began with 2 ladies praying for their own lives and in the Hebrides Islands of Scotland. One morning a young man read the scriptures (Ps 24:3-5) “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of His salvation.” It says “After he read he asked the question?  Are my hands clean Lord, is my heart pure? He and his fellow intercessors fell on their faces in the barn, and their lives were revived as they got their hands and hearts clean before the Lord.” By Sunday the next week the whole island was filled with God consciousness. And Churches were filled to overflowing getting right with God.

Here in this text! Nineveh a nation once known for their evil humbled themselves, from the greatest to the least. They repented and believed in God. (v10)  “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” Again, 600,000 souls turning from their wickedness and believing God. God had compassion for them for they were genuine and truly believed the message A beautiful picture of this demonstrated for us in Luke 15:18-20 “And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” This is what the Lord does to every single person that cries out to Him....He runs and embraces you and me. He seeks the lostLuke 15 in the prodigal son (v18-v19) “I have sinned against Heaven and before you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” and in (v20) it says“had compassion” We serve a God who is full of compassion for these lost sinners. God had pity for this nation! Why? Because they need a Savior! For without one they are destined to spend eternity in Hell. The Lord sends true revival to the humble and contrite. The broken-hearted over sin; the ones who are deeply affected with grief and sorrow for having offended a holy God.
  • Even in all Israel’s sin and backsliding, God’s grace will prevail.
  • Even in all Nineveh’s wickedness, God’s grace will prevail.
  • Even in our sinful and disobedient behavior, God’s grace will prevail.

As it says in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack (not lazy, doesn’t delay) concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. In Matt 9:36 “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. This is the same God who was moved with compassion for this nation, a Nation of wickedness “...scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd”. The Power of God’s Word is transforming to those who listen! Always remember true biblical revival begins with faithful preaching and faithful hearing of god’s word. Jonah preached what the God gave him to say:  (v4) “….And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" The Ninevites did more than just hear Jonah, as soon as they heard they responded by believing God (trusting the One true God)  (v5) “And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.” The Ninevites turned from  the  sin that was most characteristic of them “violence” (v8). It’s the power of God to transform a life and He uses His word today to do it! Steve Lawson says “if churches today are to see more people come to Christ, then more BIBLICAL PREACHING is needed, not less. God has always been pleased to use the foolishness of preaching His word to bring about the conversion of lost sinners. He did so in Jonah’s day and He will do so now IF CHURCHES will return to solid, straightforward biblical preaching”. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17. What is most needed today? Gospel preaching and the proclamation of the gospel to lost sinners. And God is inviting you to do just that when we leave this place. The world or communities are filled with Ninevites! What is most needed for our community? The Gospel

1 comment:

Al DeFilippo said...

Thank you for the post. For more on John Wesley and George Whitefield, I would like to invite you to the website for the book series, The Asbury Triptych Series. The trilogy based on the life of Francis Asbury, the young protégé of John Wesley and George Whitefield, opens with the book, Black Country. The opening novel in this three-book series details the amazing movement of Wesley and Whitefield in England and Ireland as well as its life-changing effect on a Great Britain sadly in need of transformation. Black Country also details the Wesleyan movement's effect on the future leader of Christianity in the American colonies, Francis Asbury. The website for the book series is www.francisasburytriptych.com. Please enjoy the numerous articles on the website. Again, thank you, for the post.