This month, 57 years ago Jenny and I met and soon started going out. After about three years we broke up for some reason that was my fault. After about two weeks I was missing her so much that I went to her home, without an appointment and asked her for a second chance. It seemed as though she was waiting for me to visit and we made up immediately, went onto engagement, then marriage … and that was a few months over 51 years ago. Second chances might well be the moment you have a radical change of heart that affects the rest of your life. What about when God gives you a second chance? No … I am not speaking about a second chance to surrender to His Lordship in salvation. He tends to continue giving people chances to repent, believe and be saved … although time is running out for everyone. The second chance mentioned in Jonah is that of service and ministry.
1) Jonah hears God’s Word for the second time.
Jnh 3:1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time.
Before we even get to the content of the “Word” … hearing from God again in this way was confirmation that His prophetic ministry had not ceased. Maybe God has been prodding you to study for some shape of full time ministry, be a Sunday School Teacher, Youth Leader, do visitation, prayer and/or counseling ministry, be an evangelist doing street work, a missionary, a pastor, open a care center for some need … and the list continues. What has God been prodding you to do? Maybe as you read this Note … He is speaking again to you. How would you respond?
2) Jonah hears the message of God for the second time.
Jnh 3:2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
Get this … the same destination with the same message.
(1) God wanted Him in Nineveh. He ran, he rebelled, he suffered until he repented and now God wants him to get to Nineveh.
(2) God wanted him to preach the same message. Note this … proclaim to it the message I give you! Think through this … God wants Jonah to preach the message He gives him to preach. Why? Because Jonah did not want to preach God’s message in Nineveh in the first place. It’s like our Lord Jesus giving us the “Great Commission” to deliver to all nations … and we change the message to please ourselves, our theology or our personal image. I want to spend some time here because it is very important:
Mt 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
How do we make disciples? Teaching people everything Jesus commanded us … that is, everything He taught. Jesus as God is speaking about far more than the Gospels. It includes the Old Testament and from Acts to Revelation! Why do I say this? It is because the whole Bible is all about Jesus and His salvific work. Peter explains it like this:
Ac 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
And Paul’s explains it like this in his defense before king Agrippa:
Ac 26:20 “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”
Don’t misunderstand me here … baptism is Biblical but it does not save. Confirmation for those baptized as infants of believing parents is good because catechism is done … but it does not save. Church membership is good because it creates the basis for a permanent local Church … but it does not save. Ministry within the Church and in society coupled to Mercy Ministries are good, but they don’t save. Listen to Peter and Paul again as they are inspired by the Holy Spirit …
(a) Peter … repent, turn to God, be forgiven and experience spiritual refreshment.
(b) Paul … Repent, turn to God and prove repentance by godly behavior.
That is the Gospel and this Gospel is contained in all the Bible because the whole Bible is about the Gospel. Once the Gospel grabs you and you realize to whom you belong, repentance is in short, godly living and pursuing holiness out of a grateful heart and a happy soul. This is the message that God wanted Jonah to preach to Nineveh.
My reason for laboring this issue is because much of the Visible Christian Church today do not preach a Gospel of repentance, proved by the fruits of repentance. This is the real reason much of the Visible Christian Church is powerless. They might have numbers, massive buildings and lots of money, but they don’t have spiritual power that sees lives, families, addictions, fights, etc. dealt with Biblically with radical changes that brings glory to God. The message you preach and the message the Church Group you belong to preaches, needs to be the full Gospel Jesus commanded His first disciples to teach.
Never forget God’s Word to Jonah, which is His Word to us as well … “proclaim to it the message I give you.” The message must be God’s and this means it must be one hundred percent true to the Gospel contained in the Bible. Any changes to it renders it a different Gospel. O we need to pray for the Visible Christian Church today … we need to pray for all preachers, pastors, evangelists, Sunday School Teachers, Youth Leaders, including anyone handling the Word of God, especial Bible Colleges and Theology Faculties of Universities to remain true to the Bible and proclaim the Biblical Gospel and teach people to proclaim the Biblical Gospel.
2) Always remember that dilution means pollution! Too often preachers want to make the gospel more palatable to their hearers so that those hearers will join their Church. Have you noticed how many Churches only mention “sin” or “hell” when it is in a song they sing? Do they think they can improve on what Jesus taught? We might live in a more modern world, but sin and sinners are the same or worse that in Jesus’ day. He started His ministry like this:
Mk 1:14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
He did not preach believe and live as you please … repentance comes first. When preachers don’t include this they are sending souls to hell!
O God Almighty, by Your Spirit direct all type of Gospel Workers to preach Your full Gospel Message faithfully. Amen.