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Homosexuality

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Perhaps one of the most hot-button issues of our time is homosexuality. For the first time in history the majority of Americans see nothing wrong with homosexuality and homosexual marriage.

What should we make of this majority acceptance of homosexuality? Should we conclude that God going to judge the USA? The Bible makes clear that homosexuality is not the basis of God’s judgment; it is God’s judgment (Rom 1:18–32). God judges those who reject Him by giving them up to their sinful lusts, letting them have their way instead of graciously restraining them.

What is the evidence of God’s judgment through homosexuality? Consider these recent indications—

  • The immoral morals of America—the vast majority see nothing wrong with pre-marital sex, unmarried couples living together, and divorce. A quick sampling of what people watch and listen to provides more than sufficient evidence of America’s immoral morals.
  • The President of the USA boldly proclaimed in his second inaugural address: “The president has called for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman…Later in the address, Obama said: ‘Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law—for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.’”
  • The Boy Scouts of America is considering ending its ban on gay scouts and leaders. The honorary president of the Scouts, the President of the United States, said, “My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life” (emphasis added).
  • Fast changing laws about marriage—there are now nine states that legally recognize same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington—as well as the District of Columbia and two Native American tribes. As mentioned above, President Obama wants the Defense of Marriage Act to be repealed so that the federal government would recognize same-sex marriages.
  • There are many alleged Christian groups accepting homosexuality. The United Methodist Church does not view homosexuality as sin, allowing homosexuals to be members and lay leaders. A number of American Baptist Churches conduct gay weddings and make a conscious effort to make church “weird” so everyone is accepted “for who they are.” Even some evangelicals allow gays and lesbians as church members, view it as genetic, or no longer proclaim it as sinful.

In view of these evidences, what should Bible-believing Christians expect? We should expect homosexuality to continue to grow in acceptance. Expect advocates of homosexuality to press their views in the name of “tolerance.” Expect growing pressure on the true Christian church to compromise. Expect growing persecution on churches that do not compromise

We did not get to this point because of the media, rising divorce rate, etc. True, Satan uses such means to destroy humanity and ultimately attack God, but means are not the cause or root issue. Legal and social efforts to reinforce and strengthen a biblical view of marriage are good and have their place, but such will never deal with the root problem.

What is the root issue? In a word, it is sin. America’s refusal to acknowledge and honor the true God of the Christian Scriptures and instead suppress that through unrighteousness is the root cause. God judges the unrepentant by giving them up to their sinful and vile desires so that they dishonor their bodies and engage in idolatry and every gross perversion. Overall, the American way of life practices and approves of sin and those who engage in such (Rom 1:32).

More than ever, Christians must sanctify Christ as Lord in their hearts, and thus be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in them (1 Pet 3:15). This requires understanding what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. It is sin that God forbids (Lev 18:22) and a perversion (Gen 18:20–21; Rom 1:26–27). God judges unrepentant homosexuals (Gen 19:4–5, 24–25; Rom 1:18–32; 2 Pet 2:4–10; Jude 6–7). Unrepentant homosexuals will not be in Christ’s Kingdom (1 Cor 6:9–10). What must be remembered is that sin is not just the act of sinning—one’s thoughts, affections, desires, and disposition are sinful as well, and this applies to homosexuality (Rom 1:24–27; 8:5–8; Gal 5:19–21).

The Bible also teaches that God saves and sanctifies homosexuals. God can forgive and cleanse sin (Isa 43:25; Mic 7:18–19; 1 Cor 6:11), change homosexuals (2 Cor 5:17), and helps repentant homosexuals fight against temptation (1 Cor 10:13; Gal 5:16).

What should be the response of Christian churches? We must proclaim the biblical gospel which “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom 1:16). We must teach, defend, and exemplify biblical marriage and morality in our churches (1 Thess 4:1–8). We must strive for sexual purity in our churches and personal lives by fleeing from immorality (Ps 141:4; 1 Cor 6:18–20; Eph 4:17–24; 5:11–12; 2 Tim 2:22). We must avoid evil and tempting situations (Job 31:1; Prov 1:10; 4:25–27), which necessarily involves rejecting media that contains unbiblical morality (public compromise always begins with personal compromise). Last, we must be faithful and compassionate witnesses to homosexuals and encourage Christians who struggle with homosexual thoughts, affections, and desires.

“Such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified,
but ye are justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God”
1 Corinthians 6:11

New Testament Introduction and Survey

Bible Class: New Testament Introduction and Survey

Class One

Class Two

Class Three

Class Four

Class Five

Class Six

Class Seven

Class Eight

Class Nine

Class Ten

Class 11

Class 12 – 1 Corinthians

Class 13 – 2 Corinthians

Class 14 – Ephesians and Philippians

Class 15 – 1 Timothy and Titus

Class 16 – Colossians, Philemon, 2 Timothy

Class 17 – James and 1 Peter

Class 18 – 2 Peter and Jude

What the Bible Teaches About Salvation

Bible Class: What the Bible Teaches About Salvation–Notes and Class Lectures

Class One

Class Two

Class Three

Class Four

Class Five

Class Six

Class Seven

Class Eight

Class Nine

Fall 2010 Bible Class

If all you had was a New Testament, could you correctly explain to someone—

  • Who Jesus really is?
  • The gospel?
  • Why good works cannot save?
  • How a Christian should live? Why he should live that way?
  • What are the essential beliefs of Christianity?
  • What a church should be like and doing?
  • How a church should deal with false teachers/teaching?

There was a time when most people had a working knowledge of the Bible, especially the New Testament. Yet today while many homes at least have a Bible, few read it much less understand it.

If you do have some knowledge of the New Testament, you need to grow and increase in that knowledge – you need to be able to use the New Testament to minister to the lost and saved.

You should know what the New Testament says, as it is God’s final Word to us. It tells how a sinner can be right with God, what you should believe, and how you should live.

To help you grow in your knowledge of the New Testament, you’re invited to attend a series of classes where you will learn…

  • The message, occasion, purpose, and content of each book in the New Testament
  • How to correctly and skillfully use it to help others follow Christ (Col 1:28)

These classes will provide clear and understandable lessons with opportunity for Q&A.

Classes meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Two locations are available:

  • SW Ashtabula County: the Windsor Community Center, on Route 322, ½ mile west of Route 534 (Tuesdays—beginning Sept 28)
  • NE Ashtabula County: Ring family farm, 4733 Root Rd Conneaut, OH 44030 (Thursdays—beginning Sept 30)

If you’re not able to attend the classes, you can take the class by correspondence. Notes can be printed out for you or you can download them from the internet.

To encourage attendance, there is no charge for the class or notes, but donations are accepted to help defray costs.

Notes will be provided; bring a Bible, but extra Bibles will be available if you don’t have one or forget yours.

For more information, contact Pastor Dan Greenfield at (440) 474-3908 or neohio.meetings@gmail.com

To take the class, please

sign up during regular church services

or let Pastor Greenfield know!

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If all you had was a New Testament, could you correctly explain to someone—

· Who Jesus really is?

· The gospel?

· Why good works cannot save?

· How a Christian should live? Why he should live that way?

· What are the essential beliefs of Christianity?

· What a church should be like and doing?

· How a church should deal with false teachers/teaching?

· What happened to Israel?

· Does Israel have a future?

· How will things end?

· The future of the church?

Text Box: If all you had was a New Testament, could you correctly explain to someone—  •	Who Jesus really is? •	The gospel? •	Why good works cannot save? •	How a Christian should live? Why he should live that way? •	What are the essential beliefs of Christianity?  •	What a church should be like and doing? •	How a church should deal with false teachers/teaching? •	What happened to Israel? •	Does Israel have a future? •	How will things end? •	The future of the church?There was a time when most people had a working knowledge of the Bible, especially the New Testament. Yet today while many homes at least have a Bible, few read it much less understand it.

If you do have some knowledge of the New Testament, you need to grow and increase in that knowledge – you need to be able to use the New Testament to minister to the lost and saved.

You should know what the New Testament says, as it is God’s final Word to us. It tells how a sinner can be right with God, what you should believe, and how you should live.

To help you grow in your knowledge of the New Testament, you’re invited to attend a series of classes where you will learn…

  • The message, occasion, purpose, and content of each book in the New Testament
  • How to correctly and skillfully use it to help others follow Christ (Col 1:28)

These classes will provide clear and understandable lessons with opportunity for Q&A.

Classes will begin the week Feb 7, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Two locations are available:

Ø SW Ashtabula County: the Windsor Community Center, on Route 322, ½ mile west of Route 534 (Tuesdays—beginning Feb 9)

Ø NE Ashtabula County: Ring family farm, 4733 Root Rd
Conneaut, OH 44030 (Thursdays—beginning Feb 11)

If you’re not able to attend the classes, you can take the class by correspondence. Notes can be printed out for you or you can download them from the internet.

To encourage attendance, there is no charge for the class or notes, but donations are accepted to help defray costs.

Notes will be provided; bring a Bible, but extra Bibles will be available if you don’t have one or forget yours.

For more information, contact Pastor Dan Greenfield at (440) 474-3908 or neohio.meetings@gmail.com

Fall 2009 Bible Class

How would you answer these questions?

Could you provide answers from the Bible?

  • What is sin?
  • When does one become a sinner?
  • How would you prove that someone is a sinner?
  • What is guilt?
  • Why does God punish sin forever in hell if the sin lasted only a moment? Such “doesn’t seem fair!”
  • Is repentance necessary for salvation? Why?
  • What is “faith”? What does it mean to “believe”?
  • Is belief in Christ’s deity/substitutionary sacrifice/resurrection essential for salvation? Why?
  • Why did God have to send Jesus to earth and punish him for our sins? Wasn’t there another way?
  • The Roman Catholic Church does believe that one has to have faith in Christ for salvation. Yet it also teaches that works are essential. How does the Catholic Church reconcile these two seemingly different beliefs?
  • What do the Amish believe about salvation?
  • Can you give the gospel to someone clearly and with confidence?

Ten classes will cover these and other crucial issues that revolve around the gospel. These meetings will provide clear and understandable lessons with opportunity for Q&A.

These classes will help you learn and be convinced of these essential truths. Additionally, they will help you to be able to meet the spiritual demands of our day by being “equipped for every good work” (see 2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Classes will begin the week of Labor Day, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Two locations are available:

  • SW Ashtabula County: the Windsor Community Center, on Route 322, ½ mile west of Route 534 (Tuesdays)
  • NE Ashtabula County: Ring family farm, 4733 Root Rd Conneaut, OH 44030 (Thursdays)

If you’re not able to attend the classes, you can take the class by correspondence. Notes can be printed out for you or you can download them from the internet.

This class is open to anyone high school age or older.

To encourage attendance, there is no charge for the class or notes, but donations are accepted to help defray costs.

Notes will be provided; bring a Bible, but extra Bibles will be available if you don’t have one or forget yours.

For more information, contact Pastor Dan Greenfield at (440) 474-3908 or neohio.meetings@gmail.com

To take the class, please

sign up during regular church services

or let Pastor Greenfield know!

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Ten classes will cover these and other crucial issues that revolve around the gospel. These meetings will provide clear and understandable lessons with opportunity for Q&A.

These classes will help you learn and be convinced of these essential truths. Additionally, they will help you to be able to meet the spiritual demands of our day by being “equipped for every good work” (see 2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Classes will begin the week of Labor Day, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Two locations are available:

Ø SW Ashtabula County: the Windsor Community Center, on Route 322, ½ mile west of Route 534 (Tuesdays)

Ø NE Ashtabula County: Ring family farm, 4733 Root Rd
Conneaut, OH 44030 (Thursdays)

If you’re not able to attend the classes, you can take the class by correspondence. Notes can be printed out for you or you can download them from the internet.

This class is open to anyone high school age or older.

To encourage attendance, there is no charge for the class or notes, but donations are accepted to help defray costs.

Notes will be provided; bring a Bible, but extra Bibles will be available if you don’t have one or forget yours.

For more information, contact Pastor Dan Greenfield at (440) 474-3908 or neohio.meetings@gmail.com

Our Convictions

In our day there are many different opinions as to what a local church should be like and look like. Orwell Bible Church believes that the following convictions are essential to being a church where Christ is preeminent (Colossians 1:18) and God’s Word is ministered to all (Colossians 1:28).

God-Centered—A local church should recognize that God is entirely sovereign in the salvation of sinners. For evangelism this should result in a total dependence upon God through biblical evangelism rather than gimmickry and pragmatism. A local church with this conviction is committed to faithful obedience, recognizing that Christ builds His church.

Evangelistic—A local church should be committed to aggressively spreading the gospel with the objective of making and maturing disciples and establishing local churches. Biblical evangelism seeks to lovingly and purposefully take the gospel to those who have not heard it, make its message as clear as possible so that God might use it to save the sinner, and call the sinner to repentance and faith.

Edifying—A local church should be committed to building up its members. This is accomplished through the ministry of the Word, prayer, fellowship, worship, and Christian service. The end result is the protection, proper functioning, strengthening, and increase of the body.

The next four convictions specify the means of accomplishing evangelism and edification

Word-Centered—A local church should be committed to preaching and teaching the Bible. As God has given His Word in written form for the purposes of salvation and sanctification, it should use a translation that is orthodox and understandable. This means that a local church should not use in its public ministry of the Word liberal (RSV, NRSV, etc.) and gender-neutral translations (NLT, NRSV, CEV) and paraphrases (Living Bible). It should use translations faithful to the text of the original manuscripts, such as the NKJV, NASB, ESV, KJV, or NIV.

Worship—A local church is committed to worshiping God together in spirit and truth (John 4:24). It worships on the Lord’s Day through singing, preaching, praying, and giving. As worship is the believer’s magnification of God’s person and works, a local church should utilize music that is consistent with and supportive of this, rather than use music that was created to appease man’s carnal desires (musical forms such as rock, pop, jazz, alternative, etc.). A holy God must be worshiped by a holy people. The purposes of sacred music, in this order, are 1) praise and glorify God, 2) teach doctrine and admonish believers, 3) unify believers, and 4) testify of believers’ holy God and their changed lives.

Prayer—A local church must be committed to personal and corporate prayer. Through prayer believers seek God’s help and blessing, and ask God to save sinners and sanctify Christians. A local church realizes that prayer is an essential ministry and part of God’s plan for fulfilling the Great Commission.

Fellowship—A local church should be committed to strengthening members’ lives and relationships through regular and meaningful contact. Christians must exemplify, encourage, and exhort one another to live godly lives. Believers must also help one another with whatever needs may arise in their lives.

The next three convictions tell how we seek to glorify God through evangelism and edification via the means of the Word, prayer, fellowship, and worship

Every Member Ministry—All the members of a local church should be committed to serving the Lord in their local church according to their Spirit given gifts, following the example and teaching of their leadership.

Unity—A local church should be committed to strengthening and maintaining the unity that its members have as a result of Spirit baptism. Such unity is based on Scripture and expressed through love, corporate worship, and ministry. This means that personal problems and/or differences will be solved by biblical procedures; that gossip, backbiting, or slander will not be tolerated; and that such activities which would destroy the unity of the body will be dealt with as matters requiring church discipline.

Separation—A local church should be committed to both personal and ecclesiastical separation. Separation is an essential aspect of Christianity (Heb 12:14), for the sinner has been separated from the power, penalty, and realm of sin and put in the body of Christ which is characterized by holiness and righteousness. Accordingly, the members of a local church will evidence a commitment to holiness and godliness by rejecting all forms of worldliness. These forms manifest themselves in many ways in our culture, whether they are evil entertainments (most Hollywood movies, rock music, most television programs, pornography, social drinking, tobacco use, gambling, illicit drug use), evil speech (profanity, gossip, vulgar jokes), immodest clothing, and sensuality (modern sexual license).

The last two convictions describe the direction and organization of Orwell Bible Church as we seek to glorify God by making and maturing disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ

Fundamentalist—A local church should be committed to faithfully teaching and militantly defending those doctrines that are basic (fundamental) to the Christian faith. It also should be committed to ecclesiastical separation, avoiding and refusing to cooperate with individuals or organizations that deny these fundamentals as well as separating from those who identify or walk with those who deny the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.

Biblically Ordered—A local church should be committed to believing and practicing the following distinctives: the Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice; the autonomy of the local church; the priesthood of the believers; two ordinances, baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper; individual soul liberty; a saved, baptized church membership; two offices, pastor (also called elder and overseer) and deacon; and separation from ungodly alliances (church and state; ecclesiastical apostasy and compromise; sinful behavior).

Why Did Jesus Pray?

“But Jesus himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray”

Luke 5:16

Jesus provides a pattern to follow on how a believer should live while on this earth (cf. Rom 8:29). In addition to studying how he prayed, it is perhaps even more basic to learn why he prayed.

As the eternal Son of God he had unbroken communion with the Father. What need did he have for prayer, then? You would think that because he always communed with the Father, as he had throughout eternity past, there was no need for him to pray as we do.

While he was one Person possessing two natures—human and divine—these natures did not commingle so that his humanity became something different from the rest of humanity. Were that to happen, Jesus would have been unlike us and thus unable to offer himself as a substitutionary sacrifice for our sin (Heb 2:17).

As a man, then, Jesus had to pray for many of the same reasons we need to pray, save for repentance and confession of sin, for he had none of his own. In identifying definite reasons why Jesus had to pray, we must be careful to limit ourselves by what the Bible definitely says and to make sure any reasons (whether explicit or implicit) are consistent with what the Bible teaches about the Person of Christ.

Consider these occasions and motivations that prompted Jesus, the eternal and incarnate Son of God, to pray–

  1. Jesus was tempted by Satan, Matt 4:1ff
  2. Jesus had to minister to and with believers who possessed sin natures, Luke 6:12-13
  3. Jesus preached the gospel to fallen, unregenerate sinners, Mark 1:35-39
  4. Jesus was a human being, which inherently involves finite limitations (even now he prays, Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25)
  5. Jesus prayed for the needs of others, Matt 19:13; Luke 22:32; John 17:11, 15, 24; Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25
  6. Jesus experienced grief, distress, and trouble, Matt 24:36-38; Mark 14:32-34
  7. Jesus worshipped and expressed thanks for God’s provision, Luke 11:2; 22:17, 19; John 17:3, 11, 25
  8. Jesus needed to be “saved from death,” Heb 5:17
  9. Jesus prayed for God’s blessing on his ministry, Luke 3:21 (conjecture, based on the fact that his baptism was the commencement of his public ministry)
  10. Jesus asked God to forgive men for their actions against him, Luke 22:34
  11. Jesus entrusted himself to his Father’s care, Luke 23:46
  12. Jesus desired to receive exclusive glory God and himself, John 17:1, 5
  13. Jesus experienced opposition from unregenerate sinners and religious leaders

So, why did Jesus pray? Jesus prayed because that is what righteous human beings do! They communicate with their Heavenly Father! Righteous men humbly address God because:

  1. Prayer is part and parcel of a relationship with God
  2. Prayer is essential to following God
  3. Prayer is the natural action of one who is godly

Jesus prayed because he was a righteous man/human being. Jesus was a human being—a righteous one—and so he prayed. He prayed for the exact same reasons we as believers—justified (righteous) individuals—must pray, with the exception of confession and repentance of sin.

Jesus, as a righteous man, prayed to God because he lived in a world that is disposed and organized against God.

The fact that we are “like” Jesus because of our humanity and righteous standing demands that we pray, for he did.

The fact that we are “unlike” Jesus because we still possess a sin nature adds an additional demand that we pray.

What does our prayerlessness testify about our pride and self-sufficiency?

Biblical Evangelism, Part 3: The Mandate and Motive for Evangelism

Why should we witness for Christ?

First, because Jesus Christ commanded us to, Matt 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; John 20:21. In light of Christ’s command,

Evangelism requires taking the initiative–“go therefore and make disciples.” We cannot wait for the lost to come to us; we must make a concerted, determined, intensive, and aggressive effort to win the lost to Christ.

Evangelism results in making unbelievers into followers of Christ–“make disciples.” This involves instruction and persuasion from their present position to a radically different one. A disciple or follower of Christ believes, obeys, and promotes Jesus Christ.

Evangelism results in public profession–“baptizing them…” The only way a follower of Christ can be identified is if he/she has made a public profession of faith, and the first step of obedience that Jesus set forth for making that public profession is through baptism. If someone maintains that they are a disciple but will not be baptized, he/she is not following Christ!

Evangelism results in training–“teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” The new convert must be taught how to live right, recalling the lifestyle they are coming out of (Col 1:13; 1 Pet 2:9). All training must be centered on the Bible and focused on Jesus Christ.

From Jesus’ commands in Luke 24:46-49 and Acts 1:8 we learn additionally the following about evangelism:

Evangelism involves a message–“repentance for forgiveness of sins” (Luke 24:47). We must inform unbelievers of their state before God and Jesus Christ as their only hope of deliverance.

Evangelism involves an activity–“proclaimed in His name” (Luke 24:47). This is the means that God has established by which the message is brought to sinners.

Evangelism involves a plan–“to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8). This is the scope and object of executing the means of bringing the message to sinners. There are no exceptions, whether racial, social, political, economic, or geographic.

Evangelism requires empowerment–“clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). Apart from God’s enabling power it is a hopeless task. With God’s strength and enabling help you can have real confidence in evangelism.

Pastor Greenfield taught this lesson during the Wednesday Bible study, September 12, 2007

Biblical Evangelism, Part 2: The Meaning of Evangelism

What does it mean to be a witness for Christ?

Why is defining evangelism important? After all, everyone who is a Christian knows the importance of it. But that is exactly the point: there is a great deal of difference between knowing that evangelism is important and knowing what evangelism is. Knowing the character and purpose of evangelism helps determine how it is to be done and whether or not one has been successful in it.

First, we need to consider some wrong ideas about what evangelism–what it isn’t.

Evangelism is not “getting someone saved.” This puts the emphasis on conversions rather than content (2 Cor 2:17; 1 Thess 2:3-4). It puts the focus on results instead of our responsibilities (Acts 18:5-6; 20:26-27). It puts our confidence in our persuasiveness instead of God’s power (1 Cor 2:1-5; 2 Cor 4:1-7).

Evangelism is not helping people be better people by “meeting their real needs.” This puts the emphasis on us transforming the culture rather than God transforming sinners. It requires the church to be involved in unequal yokes with unbelievers rather than holy separation to the Lord. It removes the need for repentance and faith and replaces it with moralism. Lastly, this is the social gospel that leads to apostasy, rather than the Savior’s gospel that leads to eternal life.

Evangelism is not “living a good life.” This puts the emphasis entirely on my lifestyle rather than telling others the gospel. This is a wrong application of a good passage such as 1 Peter 3:1.

What is evangelism, then?

Evangelism is an activity: a Christian tells the gospel to a sinner.

The activity is preaching, proclaiming, telling the good news (Acts 8:4, 12, 35).

The subject matter is the gospel; Jesus as the Christ; the Word; the good news; Jesus; resurrection; the faith (Rom 1:15; Acts 5:42; 8:4; 17:18; 1 Cor 1:23; Heb 4:6; Gal 1:23).

The objects are people; cities; villages (Acts 8:40; Luke 3:18; 4:43; Acts 8:25).

The aim is that those who hear would turn from paganism to God; to make disciples (Acts 14:15, 21).

The manner is plainly, not in cleverness of speech; without charge; truly (1 Cor 1:17; 2 Cor 4:1-2).

Here, then, is a proposed definition of evangelism: Earnestly proclaiming the gospel to sinners so they can turn to Christ and follow Him.

Biblical evangelism is God centered, not man centered. It trusts the message, not the messenger. It relies on God’s power, not persuasiveness. It seeks to save the lost, not transform the culture.

Thus, we must concentrate on knowing the content of the gospel. Believers already know it, but often lack an organized plan of communicating it. We must thus commit ourselves to speaking the truth, going through doors God opens, and seeking opportunities to speak the message.

Time To Learn a Lesson – Jonah 4

Is it possible to know a lot about God, have a special ministry from God, experience the amazing grace of God and yet be angry with God?

Is it possible to believe that God is all-powerful (omnipotent) and sovereign, and yet imagine that you can actually keep God from doing something?

Is it possible to believe that God knows everything (is omniscient) and is perfectly wise, and yet think that God has made a mistake?

Is it possible to understand the difference and significance between material things and the human soul, and yet be more concerned about material things?

The book of Jonah answers all these potential scenarios with a definite “yes!” Jonah was a prophet who knew God, received but rejected God’s special commission, experienced God’s grace in the sea, and proclaimed the Lord’s message to Nineveh. It seems that Jonah has learned his lesson. Does he now recognize and welcome God’s sovereignty over all things?

How did Jonah respond to the sovereign mercy of God? Well…

Jonah Pitched a Fit, 4:1-4

In 4:1 Jonah demonstrates our own thick-headedness: he just refuses to get it. His attitude toward the repentant Ninevites is the complete opposite of God’s (cf. 3:10). Jonah took no joy in the outcome – he sank (“became angry”) into a selfish mind-set and missed the joy of serving the Lord.

This chapter reveals several different evidences of sin harbored in the heart, and here is the first one: festering anger.

The object of “pitching a fit” is to get your own way. While we often think of children as those who throw a fit, there are many adults who do a fine job of it! Jonah’s prayer expresses his presumption that God’s mind should match up with his own! We read in chapter two how Jonah was delivered from death; what does he ask for in 4:3? Death!

These two verses (4:2-3) reveal several more evidences of sin in the heart: disobedience to God, unreasonable desires, and selfish demands.

The Lord’s response to this prophet’s tantrum is a rhetorical question (4:4). Note that no answer from Jonah is recorded; we read instead of how…

Jonah Threw a Pity Party, 4:5-8

Think back to Jonah’s first response to the word of the Lord in 1:3—what did he do when God commanded him to go and preach? He went the opposite direction! Here Jonah refuses to answer God’s question in 4:4—he refuses to examine himself in light of the Lord’s question. Instead, Jonah goes outside Nineveh to see if God would come to His senses!

During the hottest time of day in that area, the temperature can average 110 degrees. If we were in God’s shoes, we’d probably let Jonah go his own way and suffer in the heat: “you deserve it buddy.” As God is holy, he does not respond as we do. Instead, he miraculously caused a tree with large leaves to grow 8-10 feet high—and Jonah is thrilled! The result: for the first time in the book we read that Jonah is happy!

Another evidence of sin in the heart: refusal to rejoice when others are blessed. Jonah refused to think that the Ninevites should experience any of God’s mercy.

God’s sovereign power and will is abundantly clear in this passage, and he exercises his power to set the stage to make his point. God appointed a plant to shelter Jonah from the heat (4:6). God appointed a worm to destroy the plant (4:7). God appointed a scorching wind to make Jonah miserable (4:8).

Amazingly, Jonah was displeased when something important to him was destroyed. Jonah’s sinful response was shown in his selfishness and refusal to love what God loves.

Thus far, we have seen how this “man of God” has responded to God’s sovereign display of mercy toward the Ninevites: he threw a fit because he didn’t get his own way. When he refused to answer God’s probing question, God sovereignly appointed events to make his point clear to Jonah.

God Makes His Point, 4:9-11

The last exchange between God and Jonah goes something like this: “So Jonah: you feel you’re justified in your response?” “Absolutely. In fact, it’s such a conviction to me that I’m willing to die for it.”

Jonah was upset when God removed his personal air conditioning unit because something good for him was taken away. In essence the prophet says “I had a right to that!” Jonah demonstrates one last evidence of sin in the heart: misplaced values.

How skewed were Jonah’s values? In practically the same breath Jonah called for the death of the Ninevites while demanding his own personal comfort: “I want them dead! Now, where’s my gourd???”

God makes his point in 4:10-11—“Jonah, your values are way out of line. You’re concerned about a thing, and absolutely unconcerned about people. You’re obsessed about something that’s here today and gone tomorrow, but dismiss those who will live for eternity. You’re passionate about material objects and completely indifferent about moral creatures made in my image.

“Jonah, as God I have the right to show mercy to whomever I want to. You’re response—as one who has experienced that mercy—is to submit, get on board, and rejoice in my mercy.”

When God does something, you too must recognize and accept his sovereignty and rejoice in his mercy. When you elevate your plans and expectations to the level of “This is what God should do,” you are no longer humble before God.

Remember the marks of sin in the heart that Jonah demonstrated in this chapter:

  • Festering anger
  • Disobedience to God
  • Unreasonable desires
  • Selfish demands
  • No joy when others are blessed
  • No desire to love what God loves
  • Misplaced values

Have you learned your lesson? What is your attitude toward God’s plan and purposes today? Where are your values and priorities?

Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday morning, September 9, 2007

A Sinner’s Response to a Sovereign God

True believers can get themselves involved in serious sin, and with such sin can come serious consequences. How should you respond then? In despondent self-resignation? In prideful excuse of personal responsibility? No! Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up! He did with Jonah!

True believers will trust in the Lord. How should you express your trust in the Lord in the most trying of circumstances?

You Must Pray To The Sovereign God For Mercy (2:2-7)

True believers will express their trust in the Lord in the most trying of circumstances through prayer for mercy in the difficult time. True prayer involves trust in the Lord. How must I show such trust in prayer?

Know That God Will Hear Me No Matter How Difficult The Situation (2:2). It seems as if Jonah has really “hit bottom”—he was not merely in the jaws of death, he was in its digestive tract. This great fish is not known; was a definite miracle—God “appointed” that the fish would be at just the right place at just the right time. No situation is too “hard” for God to be heard by his people because of his unlimited power and relationship with his people. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, show your trust in Him in difficult situations by praying to Him, knowing that He will hear you.

Recognize God’s Sovereign Hand In The Situation (2:3). Although the sailors physically cast Jonah into the sea, Jonah readily acknowledges that ultimate responsibility rests with God. Perhaps the most important aspect of v. 3 is Jonah’s testimony to God’s sovereignty. He saw God’s hand in being thrown into the sea and he saw the ‘waves and breakers’ that swept over him as tools in God’s hands.

Recognizing God’s sovereign hand helps us to remember that nothing happens apart from God’s purpose—whether he is actively involved in the situation or permits events to occur.

Submit To God’s Sovereign Discipline (2:4). Having earlier attempted to flee to Tarshish from God’s presence, Jonah now finds himself destined for the grave (Sheol). Jonah knew his plight was the consequence of disobeying and provoking God; he realized how terrible a thing it is to be apart from the presence of the Lord. He expresses his trust in the Lord by stating that he will pray again to the Lord from Jerusalem (“your holy temple”).

Trust God No Matter How Dark The Situation (2:5-7) Picture Jonah being cast overboard, struggling in the water as described in vv. 5-6a. Verse 6b provides a harrowing perspective – trapped, unable to escape, bars surrounding every potential exit. Once in the grave, Jonah would be forever imprisoned. All hope is lost. The weight of the water gave Jonah the sense of being entombed by the sea. These verses speak of great despair and utter hopelessness. Yet, Jonah expresses praise of God’s sovereign power (v. 6b).

How should you respond when your sovereign God brings you face to face with your sin? Part of a right response is prayer. When you as a believer are caught up in the consequences of your sin, don’t despair or give up; trust in the Lord through prayer,

  • Knowing that God hears you
  • Recognizing God’s sovereign hand in the situation
  • Having an attitude of submission to his discipline
  • Trusting him no matter how dark it seems

You Must Praise Your Sovereign God For His Mercy (2:8-9)

True believers will express their trust in the Lord in the most trying of circumstances not only through prayer for mercy, but when the prayer is answered the true believer will praise his God for that mercy.

True praise has a single object—the Lord God. What is involved in true praise to God?

Trust In God Alone, For Only He Shows Mercy (2:8). To look to anyone or anything else is “vain” and idolatrous. People – including believers – look to money, work, things, and even their families for help. In Jonah’s day, for an Israelite to do such a thing was to “forsake their faithfulness,” the blessings that were theirs through the covenant the Lord made with them—God’s faithfulness, goodness, and graciousness, the one true help for human beings.

Worship God Alone, For Only He Is Worthy (2:9). Worship involves sacrificial giving, thanksgiving, and commitment. Only the true God should receive these, and believers who have prayed for God’s mercy must worship him for the mercy they have received. While we do not offer sacrifices as they did during Old Testament times, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ still offer sacrifices:

  • Our lives, Rom 12:1-2
  • Our finances, Phil 4:18
  • Our praise in song and testimony, Heb 13:15
  • Good works, Heb 13:16

Look To God Alone, For Only He Can Save (2:10). People today look for deliverance from any sphere other than God. True deliverance, safety, and salvation is found only through the Lord. Here the emphasis is on the Lord’s sole sovereignty in the area of salvation. Jonah recognized that he deserved death, not deliverance. He knew that no one deserves salvation; it is an act of mercy by a gracious God.

The Bible tells us that any believer can become wrapped up in sin (Gal 2; 6:1-2; 1 John 1:9). The response of the true believer to his sin is renewed trust in the Lord expressed through prayer for mercy and praise for such mercy.

Don’t despair Christian—God may have you going through a challenging time, but it may be to help you learn to lean on no one else but the Lord Jesus Christ.

In whom do you trust?

Pastor Greenfield preached this message Sunday morning, August 26, 2007