Pastor Randy’s Top 66 – Jonah
“Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” Jonah 2:8-9
I could spend some good space here talking all about the story of Jonah, and by good space I mean a lot of pages, especially considering that some years ago I preached ten sermons on four short chapters. But I’ll make this brief and get right to the verses at hand.
As Jonah is repenting for disobeying the Lord who had told him to go to Nineveh and preach to the enemies of the Israelites, he prayed these very insightful words. Verse eight clearly exposes the frailty and inadequacy of worshiping false gods when Jonah acknowledges that they are worthless. The Ninevites were pagans who worshiped, among other gods, Dagon the fish god. Interestingly Jonah would’ve shown up in Nineveh stinking of fish! Jonah knew the true God and had seen the true God working in his very situation – having heard from God to preach, and then having seen the Lord intervene to keep him from traveling to a land in the complete opposite direction from Nineveh.
Knowing that the Lord God had preserved him once he was thrown overboard and was as good as dead, he now shouts words of praise for God’s goodness and mercy towards him as a rebellious prophet. Jonah has now promised to fulfill the vow he had made as a prophet/man of God and he will go preach to those that need to hear about Jonah’s gracious and merciful God.
The last part of verse nine is paramount in understanding the grace of God in salvation – even under the Old Covenant. The Lord has always interacted with His people through His divine grace – undeserved favor – His choice to bring life into spiritually dead and rebellious sinners. As we stated before in a previous favorite verse, the Lord God is not obligated to save anyone, and if He so chooses to do so, then that is His prerogative, and according to Ephesians 1:5, He has saved us because of His pleasure and purpose. So, when Jonah declares ‘Salvation is of the Lord’ he is proclaiming the greatest truth available concerning how one comes to a saving faith in Christ.
It is not by our good works (Ephesians 2:8-9); it is not by our will, heritage, family’s decision, or other good deeds (John 1:13; Romans 9:16 – please read these verses!), but salvation is of the Lord. He is the One that saves.
Our salvation is a monergistic work of God and God alone. Mon – means ‘one’; erg – is a unit of work; one working to bring about our salvation. God does all the work to bring spiritually dead humans to life – His Life – true life (Ephesians 2:1-10). Once we come to faith we are to grow in our sanctification – we are to mature in the faith – but we cannot do this on our own, and the Lord isn’t going to do it all for us. So, our sanctification – our spiritual growth – is a synergistic work between God and the Christian. Syn – together, combine; erg – unit of work; working together.
Peter asked Jesus if he could walk on the water with Jesus. Jesus said, “Come on out!” Jesus enabled Peter to walk on the water, but Peter had to step out of the boat! So, our salvation is a work of divine grace initiated, performed, sustained, and completed by God and God alone (Salvation is of the Lord); and our growth as a Christian is you and I working along with the Holy Spirit to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh so that we can become more and more like Jesus.
So, how do we know that Jonah really understood that ‘Salvation is of the Lord’? Well, he preached to an entire city of well over 120,000 (Jonah 4:11) and EVERY SINGLE PERSON REPENTED AND CAME TO FAITH. If you don’t want to believe that, then that’s your business. But as far as I’m concerned: If God said it, then that settles it! There’s only one way that every single person living as pagans and worshiping a fish god can repent and come to a saving faith in Jehovah God, and here again is that way: Salvation is of the Lord.
Do you know this Savior Jesus Christ? Don’t work at trying to be a good boy or girl; don’t try to pay for your salvation with a nice hefty gift to the church; don’t try to look the part and go to the coolest church and participate in all of their activities and religious acts; because they themselves are ‘worthless idols’. Don’t cling to those worthless idols, but trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross and rest in the Gospel truth that Salvation is of the Lord.