Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jonah and the whale or Gospel of Jesus

Luke 11:29,30 and 32 “As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, "This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. “

Mathew 12:39-41 “But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. "The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”

Jonah took a message of destruction to the city of Nineveh. He did not come to them declaring that they must be keepers of the law, but he did reason to himself that they would repent and receive mercy. They were not given any further instructions in regard to self-righteousness, such as they must now keep the law like the Israelites. They simply believed the word of God concerning them and hoped for mercy. They put their trust in God that He is gracious, merciful and a giver of salvation. The king of Nineveh himself spoke these words
“let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.” Jonah a man under the law and not grace foresaw God’s mercy and at first rebelled against the Idea of their salvation apart from works, knowing that if they simply repented God would spare their city from the promise of destruction. In fact it wasn’t until He was made an example in the likeness of Christ, i.e. His being in the belly of the fish as good as dead for three days, that he was ready to accept this message of God’s undeserved mercy and to take such a message to them. For He placed His hope in God for his own salvation apart from works while in the belly of the fish, and finished the prayer found in Jonah chapter two with the proclamation concerning Jesus Himself “Salvation is from the Lord.”
Jesus proclaims this sign of Jonah to be now the only sign to the wicked generation that seeks for a sign. The sign of His death and resurrection, indeed there can be, nor is any greater sign of God’s love and salvation than this. This sign of Jonah through Christ is the very gospel of grace. The people of Nineveh did not receive their temporal salvation except through God’s mercy and grace by believing the word of God through His prophet Jonah. Just as those who now here the gospel of Christ and believe will receive eternal salvation and on top of that His life as a free gift of grace from the one and only living God.

Baptism is a washing that is likewise by grace and not an act of self-righteousness. One does not nor can baptise oneself but is baptised by another. Baptism is then not a self cleansing act but a petition to God for a clean conscience (1 Peter 3:21) a cleansing that only God can provide through the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Therefore we baptise one another (according to the commission of Jesus found in Matthew’s gospel ch28vs16-20) in the name of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. As doing it in His name on His behalf acting as His body on the earth for the cleansing of the one seeking after the grace and good news of Christ Jesus. Baptism is a sign to us of our victory in Christ Jesus over sin and death. It declares our freedom from the slavery of sin and the condemnation of the Law, in that in baptism we have died with Christ and the law holds no power over things that have died (read Romans ch.6 and 7). It shows us that we can do nothing for our own righteousness and salvation but like the Ninevites we must forsake sin and believe in the free gift of God’s mercy and love. Being washed and made perfect by the act of God and not of ourselves. We died with Christ and because He was raised up so we too live in a newness of life. That is why we are called born again and saints for we are no longer slaves to unrighteousness but to righteousness. Let us rejoice for God is so good! We also see that when God spared the Ninevites the religious Jonah despised that mercy. Let us not be so captivated by self-righteousness that we, like Jonah did when he left the city, ignorantly reject God's mercy. For we have be given this gracious gift of salvation which is found in Christ Jesus. For I see today too much the false gospels going out into the world, proclaiming that once saved in Christ we are still under the Judgement of the Law. That being now saved in Christ if we fail in keeping the Ten commandments we are hell bound. that is not the gospel to be put under a yoke even God's chosen nation could not bear. I'm not saying not to keep the law, what I'm saying is that in Christ Who fulfilled the law we are free from its condemnation. The Apostle Paul tells us plainly(Romans 8:1) that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus never said to people He had healed and saw had faith in Him “Go and keep the law.” In fact He said to the woman caught in adultery who He didn't condemn “Go and sin no more.” If that was a command then He gave her no hope, but if a promise then praise God He keeps those whom He saves. You see, Jesus, who came to complete the Law, would not have commanded that woman to do something beyond her capabilities as some cruel joke. No indeed when He said “Go and sin no more” it was a promise. He knew full well the salvation and freedom He was bringing to the world. The salvation we receive from Jesus is of an eternal nature. Its the gospel that frees us from sin and promises us that we can now, because of our oneness with Christ, sin no more.

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned-- for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:12-21”

So you see Baptism is a promise to the believer of Holiness, and is carried out by Him through His body the church. For the believer is saved and made righteous by Jesus through faith, but baptism working together with faith promises a clear conscience, proclaiming that God has done for them what they could never do for themselves, that their eternal life is cleansed and made holy forever, so that they may be with the Lord forever. Not as an act of human or self cleansing but by an act of God. Nineveh was a picture of temporal grace given by faith and repentance, but Christ is eternal grace. History shows us that the Ninevites could not keep themselves from sinning. Despite their repentant heart they could not free themselves from the curse and ultimately have disappeared from the earth. But Jesus lives in those who believe in Him and keeps and perfects us. Praise God. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whomsoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Do you know and trust in how much God loves you? He loved you enough to give His beloved son so that we might be saved. He paid the price for our sin and then some! Jesus was more than enough for a payment for the sins of the world. So now in Him we are promised life and freedom from sin forever. Believe it! He loves you!