GOD'S WORD PRODUCES RESULTS
1. This morning, we will conclude our series of lessons from the book of Jonah.
2. As you recall, God wanted His prophet Jonah to go and preach against the city of Nineveh. However, Jonah did not want to go so in order to flee from the Lord, he boarded a ship and sailed for Tarshish. But during that journey, the Lord sent a great wind on the sea that threatened to break up the ship. In order to save the ship, the crew, after discovering that the storm was Jonah's fault, threw him into the sea. While drowning, Jonah prayed for the Lord's help, and God sent a great fish who swallowed Jonah and eventually vomited him onto the dry land.
3. After Jonah came to his senses, God gave him another chance to go to Nineveh. This time Jonah obeyed God's will.
4. Let us open up our Bibles to (Jonah 3) and find out what happened next.
FROM JONAH CHAPTER 3, WE LEARN A FEW VALUABLE LESSONS ON THE SUBJECT OF EVANGELISM.
I. FIRST, GOD'S WORD IS FOR EVERYONE.
1. As I told you a couple of weeks ago, the Ninevites, who were also called the Assyrians, were a cruel, brutal, and wicked people. They were more wicked than the Nazi's of this century.
2. After they defeated a city, they would burn the whole city and carry away the women and children to be there slaves.
3. They would torture their prisoners by cutting off their hands and feet and for pure pleasure, they would burn their prisoners at the stake.
4. One way the Assyrian kings boasted about their military might was to decorate their palace with the heads of their victims.
5. But even though they were a wicked people, God sent Jonah to proclaim the Word of God to them.
6. God's Word should be preached to everyone, even to the outcasts of our society.
7. A few summers ago, I was invited to speak at the University Church of Christ on the subject of "Reaching the Imprisoned for Jesus." During my speech, I asked the group this question:
a. What are your first reactions toward the accused after you hear about a horrible crime? Some responses were:
b. We are angry at the accused.
c. We want severe punishment to be administered.
d. When an awful crime has been committed, we get angry at the accused.
8. Besides anger, another reaction towards the accused should be…They need help. They need the Lord in their lives.
One day, Mary Mott, a member of a Church of Christ in Alexandria, VA, saw Jeffrey Dahmer on a television show in which he discussed needing “peace” in his life.
I am sure that we all know who Jeffrey Dahmer was? He was a serial killer who confessed to killing over 17 people. He chopped up his victims and then stored their body parts all over his apartment.
After Mary Mott saw Dahmer on that television show, and even though she was angry at what he had done, felt that He needed Jesus in his life. Instead of wanting him to die in his sins, Mrs. Mott sent Dahmer a package of all of the lessons from the World Bible School Series and a Bible.
Dahmer completed the lessons, and on May 10th in a whirlpool in the Columbia Correctional Institution, he was baptized by a Church of Christ minister. Before his death, Roy Ratcliff, the man who baptized him, said that he became a changed man who started ministering to the other inmates.
Dahmer received forgiveness of his sins and a new life in Christ all because a concerned Church of Christ member reached out to him with the gospel of Jesus.
9. As Christians, we need to stop being judgmental and start spreading the Word of God to everyone, even to people we may not necessarily like.
II. SECOND, GOD'S WORD HAS THE POWER TO CHANGE THE HEARTS OF PEOPLE.
1. When Jonah arrived in Nineveh, He only proclaimed eight words to the Assyrians.
2. These eight words were enough to cause the Assyrians to repent.
3. The Word of God is powerful.
Many years ago in a Moscow theater, Alexander
Rostovzev was converted while playing the role of Jesus in a
Sacrilegious play entitled Christ in a Tuxedo. He was supposed
to read two verses from the Sermon on the Mount, remove his gown, and cry out, "Give me my tuxedo and top hat!"
But as he read the words, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted," he began to tremble. Instead of following the script, he kept reading from (Matthew 5), ignoring the coughs, calls, and foot-stomping of his fellow actors.
Finally, recalling a verse he had learned in his childhood in a Russian Orthodox church, he cried, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom!" (Luke 23:42). Before the curtain could be lowered, Rostovzev committed his life to Jesus Christ.
4. Since there is so much power in the Word of God, we need to be proclaiming it.
5. Do you know a close friend or a love one who has not given his or her life to the Lord? Have you tried to talk to them before, however they still refuse to become a Christian?
6. Don't get discouraged. Keep planting the Word of God! It's powerful and one day it will bring forth fruit.
Perhaps you recall the story of a man who distributed tracts for many years on a street corner. Finally, seeing no visible results, he gave up. When he returned to the same spot two years later, he saw another individual handing out Gospel leaflets as he had done. Striking up a conversation, he discovered that the man had become a Christian through a salvation tract given him on that corner about two years before. The convert added, "Many times I've come back here to find that earnest worker and thank him, but he never returned. I decided he must have died, and so I've taken his place!" The first man suddenly realized that his work had not been in vain. Much encouraged he went back to giving out tracts the very next day.
7. It takes many blows to crack a hard boulder; and if one stops too soon, all his previous efforts go to waste, for the work of the sledge is cumulative. It is the constant pounding on the same spot that weakens the stone. This is also true of the flinty hearts of men. The Word of God, "Like a hammer," may have to be applied often before it breaks "the rock in pieces" (Jer. 23:29). So don't stop witnessing to that needy soul -- Be persistent! The next word of Scripture he hears may be the final stroke that will open his heart to the Gospel.
8. God's Word is powerful and it can change the hearts of people.
1. During the past several Sunday mornings, we have learned many valuable lessons from the book of Jonah. Here are a few lessons that we have learned:
a. In our spiritual walk with God, we must always have a yielding attitude towards God's will.
b. In our spiritual walk with God, we must learn how to cope with our problems.
c. In our spiritual walk with God, it is possible to start all over again.
d. In our spiritual walk with God, we need to proclaim the Word of God.
2. I hope and pray that you have benefited from these lessons as much as I have. At this time, if you would like to respond to the Lord's invitation, please come now as we stand and sing.