I had the wonderful opportunity to fill the pulpit at By Grace Community Church (PCA) in Newport News, Virginia. It was such a blessing to preach at the church that has poured so much into me over the last six years, and I wouldn’t have chosen any other congregation to preach my first sermon to!
Whether you’re a fellow believer struggling to share your beliefs well or you’re merely interested in seeing how Christians answer this question, hopefully this post can help start the conversation.
People are desperately looking for hope, for meaning, for understanding, for purpose, for relief from suffering, for forgiveness of all the wrong they’ve done. The God of the Bible offers all of that and we as Christians are in the same position as Jonah. We have the words of life for those in desperate need—though they may sound like words of death.
If you’re anything like me, you have one primary question on your mind at the end of Jonah 3. Where is the justice? How can God relent His punishment? Like we already said, no amount of personal suffering can undo all the evil Nineveh has done; their enemies are still dead, raped, and homeless. How can all of that go unpunished? It can’t. And it doesn’t.
Friends, you are never too far gone for God to save you. God knows how to bring you back to Himself. He’s totally fine with using both ordinary and extraordinary means to call you back. If you are in Christ, if you are a Christian, no matter how far you’ve run and how deep you’ve descended, God can and will deliver you. He has appointed a fish for you.
For the next four weeks, we’ll be working our way through the spectacular book of Jonah. Many of us are familiar with the general narrative, but it’s easy to assume we know the whole story because we heard it in Sunday school as young children. Truth be told, this is no little kid’s fable. Jonah
Billy Graham famously used to say that the Bible is a love letter from God to humanity. That’s a pretty flowery, pleasant, popular message; I don’t know if I entirely agree with this, I don’t know if that’s a precise enough summary of the whole of Scripture. At the same time, I won’t say it’d
God’s people are forever unable to do what He commands them without either doing it with them, for them, or through them.
Is hell the same for everyone? A student of mine essentially asked this question after a Bible study a number of weeks ago. Here’s his exact question, and my response: “Hey Patrick, there’s been a question on my mind for a while. It’s when you rescinded a statement that you made earlier when you said
No sin is small enough to let persist in your life…You cannot be stripped of your salvation, but you must be stripped of everything else.