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Amazing Grace

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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May 21, 2020 4:00 am

Amazing Grace

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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May 21, 2020 4:00 am

Extending grace to people who've wronged us doesn't come naturally–yet through God's power, it's possible! That's our subject on Truth For Life as Alistair Begg concludes our study in the book of Jonah.


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Throughout the book of Jonah, God supplied storms big fish wins plants even a worm in order to teach Jonah a lesson about grace today on Truth for Life Alastair big concludes our study titled man overboard describing God's amazing grace for all mankind or in Jonah chapter 4, so the soaking prophet takes a seat.

That's what we are told here in verse five he went out and he sat down at a place east of the city. He sits down so that he might be able to see verse five.

At the end tells us exactly what was going to happen to the city. Now we might be surprised at this given that he had assumed that with repentance would come the expression of God's compassion, but we do also know that there are occasions in the Bible when punishment still follows expressions of repentance and while we may be genuine in our expressions of repentance towards God. The implications of our deeds may yet follow.

Therefore, there is some justification in Jonah determining that he will just wait and see what's going to happen. Presumably he made this little shelter for himself out of stones or mud bricks, and the desire thought it would be a very practical one.

The heat of the sun, making it very very uncomfortable for him to sit out there in the open air, and what we discover is that God, the God of Providence is continuing to work with his servant according to the purpose of his will, and we see the way in which God is at work here with his servant as he makes provision for him. That is a recurring phrase that you may have noted, comes first in verse four of the first chapter then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea or he provided a great wind in verse 17 of the first chapter, the Lord provided a great fish here in the six that verse of chapter 4 the Lord provided of buying in verse six and then in verse seven the Lord provided a worm and then in verse eight, when the sun rose God provided a scorching east wind.

In other words, we are shown here that God the Creator is in control of all that he is may and it is an expression of his love and concern for his servant. The little shelter in which he is living which clearly wasn't air conditioned, is in need of some supplemental assistance. And so God in his mercy provides this beautiful and broadleaf plan which is not identified by name, which sprouts in an unprecedented unprecedented rate and is an occasion of great happiness were told for Jonah. You can imagine him as he sits down in his little hot in his sulky condition, wishing that he was dead and then all of a sudden recognizing that around in his growing this wonderful plant and suddenly the heat of the day beating down on his fabricated shelter is assuaged in part as a result of this broadleaf plan and he said to himself. This made me very very happy, but his happiness was short-lived because before he really had a chance to enjoy this were told in verse seven. At dawn the next day, God decides to provide something else in the same God who provided the plan to make him happy now provides the worm and the worm comes and eats away at the vine and as a result of that, the vine withers I we are not to miss just in passing that way that it is a gigantic fissure whether it is a small world what we're discovering here is that God is at work directing everything to his appointed end. I can't miss the chance to remind you again of the doctrine of providence and to quote you again from the Heidelberg catechism. What do you understand by the providence of God's question 27 in the catechism.

The answer comes Providence is the Almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds as with his hand heaven and earth and all creatures and soul rules them that leaf and blade rain and drought fruitful and lean years food and drink health and sickness, prosperity and poverty all things. In fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand. Now the arrival of the worm is not in order to bring relief, but it is actually to bring destruction in the plan were told doesn't evaporate in some unnatural way, but simply as a result of the natural processes taking place as a result of God's divine overruling of human and natural phenomena.

The same is true of what we find in verse eight scorching east wind an account of which the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint, and as a result of this he regards to his previous mood might've thought that is a result of the dialogue with God he would've put away these silly statements as in verse three it would be better for me to die than to live.

And yet here we find them. After a little time. As elapsed with the same sad song at the end of verse eight. It would be better for me to die than to live. The reason for this, apparently, is that Jonah feels himself to be victimized by what it happened to.

He was sure convinced that he was right in what he believes should have happened to Nineveh and he believed therefore that God was wrong and what he had done for the city, but he also believed that God was wrong and what it happened to himself. The prophet now. It is interesting that when he comes back again with this plaintive response. It would be better for me to die than to live. God does not engage him on the basis of his response but actually God who could have said Jamal show you about your right to die, and frankly just taken them out at that point he asks him again this important question.

Do you have a right to be angry about the vine and what he does as he argues from the lesser to the greater if he says you're concerned about this plan that has come and gone in the space of 24 hours a plan that you had no part, intending no part in growing a plan that is withered. If you are so phenomenally concerned about this. He says that, don't you think that in relationship to the people of Nineveh, a I the living God have a right to be concerned about Nineveh. As we saw earlier was a city of some significance. The picture here of 120,000 you cannot tell the right hand from their left is simply an indication of the state of the city where there are a great number of people who are unable to reach a considered and informed decision God is calling Jonah and all who follow Jonah to review his and our scale of priorities where I find this most challenging was when I asked myself. Is there anything that I am more concerned about in my life than my concern to see unbelieving people become the committed followers of Jesus Christ.

As soon as I asked myself that question. I didn't like the ends because it wasn't very quickly a question that went. Is there anything very quickly became palm anything, how many things are there in relationship to my time, my finances, my gifts my freedoms that frankly give indication not only to my own heart when I'm prepared to be alert to it, but certainly to those who are around and observe me and apparently I have a far more pressing concern about issues that are singularly trivial in comparison than I do about the nature of those who is yet I've never heard this great message of grace and salvation through Christ somebody came up to me.

I think a couple of weeks ago. If they didn't, and I'm imagining things. But that would be nothing you and they said to me, what was the response of Jonah.

At the end. How did Jonah respond answer. We don't know there's no answer to the question with which the visible gains. Should I not be concerned about that great city says God.

Now we hope Jonah would've said yes you should be concerned and furthermore I should be concerned to and from this day on, I want to be concerned but we don't know we have perhaps an indication of it. Inasmuch as when Jesus mentions Jonah, he does so in terms that are encouraging and rewarding, but nevertheless there is no express statement to that end, I think, in part, it is simply for this reason, the real question is not how did Jonah respond because the emphasis of the book is upon the compassion of God himself. The real question is how do we, the readers of the book perceive the grace of God and does the example of God in showing his compassion to Nineveh here. Establish the pattern for Arkansas or if you like taking it forward into the New Testament does the example of the concern of God our Savior provide the pattern for Arkansas first Timothy chapter 2. This is good. Verse three and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to our knowledge of the truth over those of you who were wondering immediately to camp on this issue of the sovereignty of grace this morning, and you may be tempted to actually use that as a mechanism for determining who are when you're going to be involved in evangelism with whom or on what occasions you're going to be involved in evangelism as if somehow or another the electing love of God would be used by is in our faulty thinking to narrow down the interest of God in humanity that I want to give you a fairly extensive quote and then one other quote because there is an inherent danger in the kind of emphasis that I brought this morning and it is it does not need very much to fan it into a significant flame in the minds of some of you, and it all has to do with the question of who then can believe and who can be see if God is sovereign in his grace and electing in his life.

Then there is this somehow or another restrict our freedom to present the gospel universally to men and women. While the answer of course is no. If we understand the Bible. Correct and here comes this fairly extensive quote comes from a Scottish theologian by the name of MacLeod. I hope you one whole hold of the fight against and that he happens to be from Scott Allison carefully. William, who has the right to believe who has the right to come to Christ.

That question has been discussed very thoroughly and reformed theology and the answer has been unambiguous. Every human being without exception whatsoever is entitled to come to Christ and to take him as his own Savior. Every man as a man, every sinner as a sinner.

The foulest the vilest the most vicious.

It was put in the strongest possible terms had the right to come.

This was based on certain clear emphasis of the word of God itself. For example, God commands every human being to believe.

No one is exempt from that command. We have the right to come to Christ whoever we are, because God commands us to come to Christ, we have the right secondly because of God's offer and invitation to come to Christ looking to me and be ye saved all the ends of the air come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Let the wicked forsake his way and let them return to the Lord.

The offer was absolutely universal. Thirdly, there is a universal divine promise. If we believe we shall be see that is God's promise. Now it is a conditional promise. The reward is conditional upon our believing. But God's promise is made categorically if we turn to God in Christ, we shall be saved.

Alternatively it can be put in these terms.

The warrants is universal because it arises from the fact of the Bible explicitly states that there is no price to be paid.

This salvation is utterly gratuitous. We receive the water of life freely.

We taken without money and without price. Some reformed preachers went to great lengths to ask restless fact that every human being, no matter how sinful, has the right to come and take Christ as his Savior. They were predestinarians of the deepest die.

Men like Thomas Boston John Duncan and Martin Luther, but they believed equally firmly in the free universal offer of the gospel John Duncan put it most succinctly sin is the handle by which I get Christ. He went on. I don't read anywhere in God's word that Christ came to save John Duncan but I read this.

He came to save sinners and John Duncan is a sinner and that means he came to save John Duncan Luther argued in the same way.

He said to the devil that OCS I am a sinner and I will take nine on weapon and with it I will sleazy and with thine own sword I will cut by throat.

Because sin onto drivers not away from Christ. But towards Christ.

The Bible and reformed theology have taught us to come just as we are just as IRM and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot to leave his blood can cleanse each spot or lamb of God, I come now, it may be that in reformed theology. There is no theological answer to the question, how can it be simultaneously true that only the predestined or saved and that God commands all men to believe all we can say is that both horns of the die llama are equally valid for the moment. Our concern is with only one aspect of the truth.

Every human being is warranted to come to Christ. The great thing here is that the universal becomes particular if all are warranted, each is warranted. If each is warranted. I am warranted.

This is supremely important in relation to those who are tempted to spiritual despair.

The backslidden those who were once bright shining Christians but from whose lives the glory has gone and who feel that for them. There is no hope. Where ever we stand we have the warrants to believe now. I hope that is unsettling to not a few of you because those who embrace this doctrine of God's electing love most vehemently do so.

To a great degree. In absence of any ability to articulate what I just read to and it is the missing leg on the chair and as a result of it. You and I to the extent that we are prepared to move in that direction will always find ourselves leaning and leaning ultimately in a way that is unhelpful and in a way that will limit our desires to see unbelieving people become committed followers of Jesus, so God looks down upon our scene tonight and I believe with very real concern would be prepared to answer the same question regarding the city of Cleveland. Should I not be concerned about that great city, now with all this on my heart and in my mind as I made my way from upstairs downstairs. I just encountered one individual one embarrassingly tall just one fellow sitting there.

How are your eyes if findings great is that I'm ready for world mission said your your grace means that there is nothing we can do to make God love us more than grace means that there is nothing we can do to make God love is less. And with that we come to the end of our study, called man if you'd like to hear any of the previous messages or if you'd like to request this study on CD. You could do that to Truth for Life.orc listing to Truth for Life. The Bible teaching ministry of Alister bag. We have reserved this final portion of today's program to your closing prayer from Alastair so please stay with us. But before we get to that, I will tell you about a helpful book were offering this month.

It's a book titled impossible commands. There is no shortage of Bible studies that explain God's commands were instructed to love him with all our might put no other gods before him to pray to give more to love more to do it all with joy always and we can be overwhelmed by all of this how we accomplish all of this at all times it feels impossible right. That's because it is impossible from a human perspective, we simply can't live fully obedient lives.

So what we do with that. We just throw in the towel we live. However, we please. The answer to that.

Of course, is no. That's the topic of this book impossible commands impossible commands covers the rarely discussed the subject of our inability to live a God honoring life.

The book provides a wonderful framework from which we can acknowledge our shortcomings and come to God, independence, and honesty. If you're familiar with the experience of promising that you're going to do better and then succumbing to a sense of regret when you fall short. You will find tremendous peace in this book impossible commands. We will encourage you to request your copy the book comes as our way of saying thanks for your support of this ministry and you can request impossible commands when you donate online at or you can call us at 888-588-7884. Now here's Alister to close our series with the final prayer that I look at Jonah running away and I see myself. I think many others would be prepared to admit that running away from the opportunities of tomorrow in the routine of our lives.

Back in the and innovative which you sent us looking for boats, planes, trains, and anything that will get us off to some place where we don't have to do that to which you've called us tempted to sidestep the sleeping profit underneath the deck, but it looks a lot like he's a picture of the church or sleep while the world rants and raves and wonders how it's going to stop itself from capsizing the church asleep awakened by the world. How can you sleep at a time like this don't you have a role to play, then with embarrassment and shame he's cast over the sign.

We can certainly identify with him as he screams out from the fish as the endeavors to make amends and to renew his commitment. We work with him back into the city as he does now what he's been asked to do and yet were staggered to realize that although he goes the right place and says the right thing. His heart is really not in it again we see our faces, attending services, preaching sermons given the right clichd answers and all a thin veneer for a heart that is increasingly distanced from your heart of compassion Lord Jesus Christ parts that have failed to look at the lonely people and to say where do they all come from arts that have grown cold mines that have retreated into our theological shibboleths using our theology as a means of retreat from ever getting our hands dirty from ever putting ourselves in the place of vulnerability for asking people to come to us, forgetting that it was Jesus who said come to me and he said that we should go to them, but we thank you that you are a God of compassion that you don't cast off your servants that you provide the plants to make us comfortable and happy.

You provide the worms so that we would depend on your secondary benefits. But in order that we might be cast afresh upon you. Forgive is Lord, to the extent that we have set up little idols of our own things that really prevent us from going all out for you. Whatever all-out would mean but whatever it means repair we might be able to say from our hearts tonight that knowing you. Jesus is really frankly the greatest thing and we would love for others to come to know you as well for Jesus sake. I'm Bob Lapine. Tomorrow we begin a brand-new study. It's very practical called life together study of the biblical pattern for relationships outlined in Ephesians chapters 5 and six, so be sure to join us Friday as we lay the foundation for this important series. This daily program features the Bible teaching of Alister bag furnished by Truth for Life Learning is for Living

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