Jonah 3:1-4 - So what happens next?

Steve Viars February 14, 1998 Jonah 3:1-4

- So what happens next?
- What happens when a person messes up but then admits it and makes it right?
- they were running from God....
- they were trying to live apart from Him...
- either as an unbeliever who was trying to handle life without a personal relationship with Christ....
- or as a believer who was running from doing something God wanted them to do...or going where God wanted them to go.....

- But now they’ve come to their senses....
- now they acknowlege that running from God has a terrible price.....
- now they acknowledge that the problem wasn’t just their feet, but their heart to which their feet were connected.....

- so they’ve repented of their sin....they’ve asked God’s forgiveness and it has been granted....
- So what happens next?

- let me present two options.....
- Option #1 is “sorry Charlie...”
- there’s no place for you.....
- yes you’re forgiven but you have no future.....
- you were supposed to such and such....
- but instead you rebelled and ran.....
- or instead, you dug in your heels.....

- but either way you didn’t do what you were supposed to do.....
- and its great that you’ve recognized that...its great that you repented of that....
- its great that you’ve confessed that to God and received his forgiveness....
- but there’s no place for you in the plan and program of God.....
- that jobs been given to someone else....in fact all the jobs have been given to someone else.....

- so you’re forgiven, but you have no future.

- Is that what happens next?

2) Or is it this....
- Option #2
- Here’s the feather pillow....
- here’s the overstuffed chair.....

- - you were supposed to such and such....
- but instead you rebelled and ran.....
- or instead, you dug in your heels.....

- but either way you didn’t do what you were supposed to do.....
- and its great that you’ve recognized that...its great that you repented of that....
- its great that you’ve confessed that to God and received his forgiveness....

- in fact its so great, that you don't have to go back and do what you were originally supposed to do....
- the nature of your forgiveness is....you have no responsibilities now.
- just sit here and relax.....
- sit here and take it easy.....

- let someone else do what you were originally supposed to do before you ran....
- forgiveness means you’re absolved from responsibility.....

- Is that what happens next?
1) Does forgivessness mean that you no longer GET to work for God....there’s no place for you?
2) Does forgiveness mean that you no longer HAVE to work for God....you’ve been absolved from that responsibility?

- what’s the answer to either of those questions?  NO and No.

- well, that leaves us where we started, doesn’t it?
- What happens next?
- If a person was running from God in some way in their life, either through sins of omission or sins of commission.....
- and now they’ve confessed that and recieved forgiveness from God....what happens next?

- well, with those questions in mind, let me invite you to open your Bible to Jonah chapter 3.
- for those who are visiting with us, we’ve been studying this book verse by verse.

- if you’re new to studying the Bible, this is not the easiest book in the Bible to find.
- its the 8th to the last book from the end of the OT.
- feel free to look at the Table of Contents in the front of your Bible to find the page number.....the Lord has brought a lot of people to our church that are just starting to learn their way around the Bible.

- now, here’s the short version of what’s happened so far....
- if you’re visiting with us today, I want to be sure that you kinow enough of this story that what we’re stuyding today makes sense [and is helpful] to you.
[could do all of this through Q and A]

- Jonah was a prophet in Israel.
- God came to him and said, “Arise, and go to Ninevah, that great city, and cry against it, because their wickedness had come up before the Lord.”
- well, Jonah didn’t want to do that because Ninevah was in Assyria....and the Assyrians were enemies of Israel.
- so Jonah didn’t like God’s Word....he didn’t feel like obeying God’s Word, so he ran.
- the Bible tells us, instead of going northeast to Ninevah, he headed south to Joppa, boarded a ship that was headed for Tarshish, and paid the fare.
- that worked out great...in fact so much so that Jonah was sound asleep in the bottom of the boat....
- it worked out great until verse 4....when the Bible tells us that God hurled a great wind on the sea.
- and this storm was so fierce that the ship was about to break up.
- and the sailors cast lots to determine “on who’s account this calamity had struck them.”...and the lot fell on Jonah.
- so they came and asked him...what do we have to do to calm this storm and he said...throw me overboard....
- and after a bit of reluctance they finally did and verse 15 says that the sea immediately stopped its raging.

- at the end of the first chapter, two marvelous things happen.
1) the sailors put there faith and trust in God.....
- they go from being idol worshippers to being men who worship Jehovah, the true God of heaven and earth.

2) God appointed a fish to swallow Jonah.
- [thats marvelous?]
- sure, this fish is an instrument of salvation....it kept Jonah from drowning.....
- it also gave him a great opportunity to think about the direction of his life, and think about what he needed to do to get back on the right track.

- and thats what chapter 2 is all about.....
- its Jonah’s Psalm of repentance......
- and we studied it last week and saw Jonah talking to God from the belly of the fish about how he had changed his mind about the benefits and appropriateness of running.
- and Jonah even admitted that the running in his feet was due to idolatry in his heart.....

- and because Jonah’s repentance was real, and genuine, and from the heart....
- the Bible says at the end of chapter 2.....
Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

- so do you know where that leaves us?
- with the question we started with....what happens next?
- lets find some answers to that question from the first four verses of chapter 3.
- read Jonah 3:1-4

- from these verses, we can learn three truths about the forgiveness of God.

I. God is the God of the Second Chance.

- one of the obvious messages that comes screaming out of this text is that God is giving Jonah the exact same ministry assignment he had before he disobeyed.
- the words he uses at the beginning of chapter 3 are almost identical to the ones he used in chapter 1.
- and thats on purpose.....The writer wants us to see a marvelous truth about our God....
- He gave Jonah a second chance.
- Now, let’s push the “pause” button for a moment and make a couple of balancing statements.
1) Does this always happen?  Does God always give someone another chance?.....No.
- there are instances in the Bible where a person behaved in a particular way and God took their life.
- one of the better known examples in the NT would be Ananias and Saphira who lied about a gift they had given to God and were immediately killed.
- of course the argument could be made there that God had given them many opportunities before that weren’t recorded in Scripture and the one we know about just happened to be the last one.
- we don't know that.....
- so yes, God gave Jnah a 2nd chance but we would be out of balance to say that it always occurred this way.

2) Secondly, are we making this point so that all of us will decide to go out and sin some more because God will always give us another chance?.....No.
- this passage isn’t written to people who are contemplating sin and wondering if they can get away with it.
- this passage is written to people who have messed up who might wonder if God would verse be willing to use them in any way again.

- and the answer that comes through loud and clear is.....Yes he will.
- Jonah received a ministry assignment......
- he messed up.....he didn’t like the assignment so he ran from God......
- he experienced God’s chatisement.....
- he recognized his sin and confessed it to God.....

- and not only did God forgive Him but he gave him another opportunity to complete his assigment.
- God is the God of the second chance.

- now, a great verse to go along with what we are saying is Psalm 103:12 - where God’s Word tells us... As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

- Thats what God did for Jonah in forgiving him....
- As big as Jonah’s sin was....as BIG as His running and his rebellion was.....God’s forgiveness was bigger.....
- As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

- now, a good question to ask from that would be, well, does that mean that God forgets our sin?
- Is that what happened in this passage and is that what happens in Biblical forgiveness?

- No, its not theologically accurate to say that God forgets things....and that really cheapens the forgiveness process because “forgetting” is a passive thing.
- What we’re talking about is even better because in forgiveness, God chooses not to remember what we did.
- you might say -- what’s the difference?
- there’s a big difference.....
- one is pasive, and one is active.....

- in Biblical forgiveness, God chooses not to remember our sin in the sense that He chooses not to use our sin in the past as a means of determining how He’s going to treat us today.

- now, another question might be....
- Are we preaching universalism?
- Does God forgive everybody?
- Does God give everybody a 2nd chance, and a third....and so on?

- the answer to that is “no”.
- Jonah chapter chapter 3 couldn’t have ocured until Jonah chapter 2 occurred.
- the additional chance came after Jonah repented.

- thats true of salvation.
- yes, God is a forgiving God, but only for those who repent and believe.
- there is a heaven to be gained but there is a hell to be shunned.

- John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life....
- That verse is very well known but the John 3:18 isn’t quoted nearly as often.....but there our Lord said, "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

- Romans 10:9-10 - that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

- now, having cleared all that out of the way...let’s go back to the main point....
- God is the God of the second chance....

- Now let’s ask this question....
- How did God want this part of the story to affect OT Israel?
- remember, before we try to apply these verses to ourselves, we have to carefully think about what this would have meant to the original hearers.....

- we’ve been seeing all through this study that the way Jonah was functioning as an individual, Israel was functioning as a nation.
- last week we took time to read the verses in II Kings 17 that teach that the nation of Israel was running from God by worshipping idols......

- what was the lesson to them?
- they too could repent.....
- they too could have another chance......
- what God did for Jonah, He was willing to do for Israel.
- God is the God of the second chance.
- Now let’s turn that around to us.
- How would God want this truth to affect you and me?
1) One answer is --- don’t ever believe the lie that because you’ve gone so far, you can never come back.
- sometimes a person who has fallen in sin believes the lie of the devil that...because I messed up once there’s no use in me trying to be sexually pure today.
- God’s done with me...there’s no place for me.....there’s no hope for me.....
- I might as well sin again.

- my friend, if you have any question about that matter, please hear the Word of God through the prophet Jonah.
- God is the God of the second chance.....
- It is never too late to repent.....
- It is never too late to turn around.....
- It is never too late to start choosing to do right.....
- Because of the sufficient blood of Jesus Christ, God is a God who always stands ready to forgive.
- If He forgave Jonah, he’ll certainly forgive you.

- Now let’s turn this around and look at it another way.....
- Does this passage have anything to say about the way we should be as a church?
- If God was willing to give his disobedient prophet another chance, we ought to be willing to do the same for anyone God brings into our church......True?

- now of course there are certain offices that a person no longer may be qualified for....there’s a difference between forgiveness and restoration to the exact same ministry position.....
- but the bottom line is....the church of Jesus Christ ought to treat repentant people the way God treated his repentant prophet.

- in fact, I’m not sure that that would be a bad name for a church.....
- Second Chance Baptist Church.....
- You Can Pick Up The Pieces Here Baptist Church.....
- Join the Rest of Us Imperfect People Baptist Church.....
- God is the God of the second chance and we must be people who hold out a hand of forgiveness to every person who comes our way.

- there was a day in the not too distant past when divorce was the unpardonable sin in the church....I don’t mean this church....but the church in general.
- and if a person had that particular condition in their past.....then there was no place for them in the church....
- and some of you remember days like that where divorced people were considered second class citizens....

- now I’m not saying that we should take divorce lightly....
- we emphasize the sanctity of marriage here and people in this church getting a divorce is very, very rare.
- but listen, if a person has a divorce in their past, or perhaps even multiple divorces in their past....- what can we learn from this passage of Scripture that will help us?
- God is the God of the 2nd chance....and if he is, then surely we should be.
- what about a person who has AIDS?
- let’s say that a person contracted AIDS through a homosexual lifestyle....and now they have trusted Christ and they’re trying to chnage their life but they still have the disease....
- would a person like that be welcome here?
- would a person like that be given a second chance here?

- and someone might say....but that person has been living in rebellion, that person has been disobedient, that person has been running from God.....
- any more than Jonah?
- God gave His repentant prophet a second chance, should we do any less for anyone God would bring through the door?

- we can’t miss the obvious emphasis of this text....
- God gave Jonah a second chance......
- and I want to ask you this morning.....
1) Is there any sense in which you’ve been hesitating to get an area of your life right with God because you’ve concluded....I’ve messed up so many times already, what’s the use of trying to change now?
2) Or, is there any sense in which you’ve shunned another person because of their past, or looked down on a person because of their past....

- if you find yourself in either category this morning....God would want you to hear His Word through the prophet Jonah.....He is the God of the second chance.

II. God’s Forgiveness Comes With Responsibility


- Let me ask you -- Did God say to Jonah.....Yes I forgive you, so now you don’t have to go to Ninevah.
- now you don't have to do what you were originally commanded to do.
- in other words, does forgiveness absolve us of responsibility?
- of course the answer is no.

- God’s forgiveness, all through the Bible,  comes with responsibility.
- Forgiveness is not an end in itself.....
- forgiveness is a means to the end of God getting us to the place where we can be used in His service......
- So, forgiveness comes with responsibility.
- now, this is a two-edged sword.
- let’s take the postive side first.

1) Not only will God forgive you, He will use you.
- God gave Jonah his job back.
- He didn’t stick him on the sidelines....
- He didn’t throw him on the shelf.....
- God put His repentant servant back in the game......

- now I said that there are certain kinds of sins that will disqualify certain Christian servants from certain aspects of Christian service.
- But there is a place of ministry in Christ’s church for every repentant person...bar none.
- Not only will God forgive you, He will use you.
- I wonder if there might be people who will sit in our auditorium today who have concluded, “Because I sinned in a particular way, or for a particular length of time....there’s just no place for me in God’s service...”
- Listen, on the authority of this text....thats not true.
- There is a place in Christ’s service for everyone.....
- There is a place in Christ’s church for everyone....
- not only will God forgive you, but He will use you.

- now I mentioned that this is a two-edged sword......we just talked about the positive side....
2) The challenging side is this.....
- God expects forgiven people to “get with it.”
- His forgiving hand should not be viewed as a feather bed.....
- It should not be viewed as an overstuffed chair....
- it should be viewed as a Christian couch.....

- God’s forgiving hand should be viewed as a job assignment.....
- as a ministry path.....
- forgiveness is a means to the end of God getting us to the place where we can be used in His service......

- Can I ask you to turn over to Luke 24:36-49 to see a parallel example of what we’re studying from the life of Jonah.
- This passage records an event that occurred after the resurrection of Jesus Christ but before his ascension into heaven.
- it illustrates the relationship between forgiveness, and the responsibility God gives us after forgiveness.

- read Luke 24:36-46
- There’s the provision of forgiveness......now the next two verses illustrate the responsibility the disciples were being given because they were forgiven....
- read 24:47-48.

- see, its wrong to think that forgiveness absolves a person from responsibility.....
- its not a feather bed....
- its not an overstuffed chair.....

- God provided forgiveness for Jonah so he could get busy fulfilling the mission he had been given in the first place.
- God provided forgiveness for the disciples so they could begin accomplishing the mission.....

- the development of logic is clear....Forgiveness has been addressed.....now let’s talk about what forgiven people do.

- what we’re studying this morning is the appropriate blend between faith and works.
- these two issues are constantly confused.

- on the one hand, you have men and women who believe they can work their way to heaven.
- they believe that its possible to be good enough to gain heaven your own way.....
- men and women like that need to benefit from Jonah chapter-2.

- trying to get to heaven through humanistic means is rebellion....its running from God.
- the first step in knowing God and pleasing Him is forgiveness.....
- without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin....
- without faith it is impossible to please God.......

- forgiveness must come first, and that is only available in and through the blood of Christ.....
- cf. Eph. 2:8-9.

- so works do not save.
- but what’s the other side of that?
- what happens after a person truly is saved/
- they work.

- works do not save, but saved people work.
- works do not earn forgiveness....but forgiven people work.

- Eph. 2:10.

 

 

[could go to Luke 24:36-49]
- could also discuss relationship between salvation and works, God didn’t save you to fill up some heavenly real estate.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video