Go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you. (Jonah 3:2)
God called Jonah to preach “the message that I tell you.” Jonah did not have to come up with his own message – he needed no innovation from his own mind – God gave him the message to preach, that would effectually save the entire city of Nineveh. He needed no dimmed lights or mesmerizing music; he needed no soft words or cunning speech. In the same manner today, God calls us to preach His message – the Gospel, which has once- for-all been delivered to the saints (Jude 3; cf. Heb 1:1-2). We are not to expect a new message; rather our job is to be a herald of the message God has already spoken. It is this message that is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Rom 1:17). Sadly today men have felt the need to alter the Gospel message to make it more palatable and acceptable to the masses. “Invitations” are offered to come to Christ for peace and blessings and a prosperous life. When an unregenerate heart responds to such a call, he or she hears and interprets these things carnally, as they only are able to. He or she hears only of physical and material well-being. Then the sinner is told simply to repeat a
prayer and they will be saved. If the sinner is not told of his sin, nor warned of the wrath his sin incurs, he does not even know what it is that he is saved from. If the cost of following Christ, of cross-bearing, and of suffering for the name of Christ is not mentioned, when these things necessarily come, the “new convert” feels that he’s been duped, and readily gives up on his faith. Brethren, when we have opportunity to preach the gospel, we must not neglect the hard words which prepare hearts for the gospel. This is the message God has given us to preach!
“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4) When Jonah preached this, his word was received for what it was, the Word of God. The Ninevites did not count Jonah’s words as the fantasy of a crazy prophet, or the opinion of a mere man – they accepted the message as the very judgment of God. They could have laughed, as the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah did, but instead they realized their spiritual danger. Preaching the fear of the Lord is never easy; it’s not nice and comforting. Today many so-called men of God believe that it is their calling as heralds to be “encouragers” who “just don’t like to be harsh in their preaching.” But such preaching is the God- ordained means where one may realize the spiritual peril of t his soul, so that he might receive the free gift of salvation. Paul wrote in 2 Cor 5:11, “knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” Of course fear of God’s wrath is not the whole of saving faith, but it is in the words of commentator Gordon Keddie, it is “the plough’s turning of the sod, a necessary step on the way to a fruitful harvest.”
Listen to this message here: