Jonah 4 not only raises questions in our minds, it reports Jonah questioning God as he argues with him. But above all, it leaves us with the questions God asks. Ending the book with a question is unusual. It takes your eyes off Jonah and forces you to reflect on what God is asking. Does Israel understand the merciful character of her Lord? Does she see herself in the prophet who first flees, and then argues with God over the mercy he displays? Do you understand God’s sovereign right to be merciful as he pleases?
These are among the questions we discuss tonight at our Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian Church
“It was because of the Christ that Jonah’s preaching in Nineveh could bear so much fruit, despite the fact that Jonah himself had not been cured of his disobedience. . . . In the Christ God restored that tie with His people in the covenant of grace. In His people He is now bound to the world also– including Nineveh, which he guides. He guides the entire world, to open it up to the glory which is in the Christ.” (S. G. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol 2, p. 342).
“In the one context in which he reflects on the psychology involved in this reception, Paul indicates that it takes place ‘by believing what you heard’ by contrast with ‘observing the law’ (Gal. 3:2, 5). The Spirit is received in the context of coming to faith in Christ the Lord.” (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, p. 92).
“[T]he French-born second generation Reformer of Geneva in Switzerland, John Calvin, has been described, as we have noted, as ‘the theologian of the Holy Spirit.’ Of course the new understanding of the nature of justification (imputed, not infused, alien, not self-attained, righteousness) was a central feature of the new teaching. But this was accompanied by a desacramentalizing of the application of redemption, and a corresponding restoration of the role of the Spirit. Not that the sacraments were denuded of their power, so much as subordinated to the joint action of the word and the Spirit. . . . [I]n the Reformation teaching it was emphasized that the Holy Spirit brought the individual directly into fellowship fellowship with Christ, of which fellowship the sacraments were seen as signs and seals. . . . This is in fact a more ancient question than medieval discussions of it, and surfaces already in Scripture, for example, in the controversies over the relationship between grace and law. Paul explicitly indicates that this soteriological issue is also a penumatological one when he writes: ‘Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?’ (Gal. 3:2).” (Ferguson, pp. 96–97).
From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC
In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.” (Isaiah 19:24–25, ESV)
God’s people in Isaiah’s day may have thought of themselves as blessed by God. They were less comfortable with their calling (remember what God has said to Abraham?) to be a blessing. But that the Gentile nations of Egypt and Assyria, the world powers of the day, would join them in being a blessing was unthinkable. Israel may have considered being God’s inheritance a blessing—but to have Egypt, their former oppressors, called “my [God’s] people” and Assyria the work of his hands was astounding. Yet that is God’s triple blessing pronounced by the prophet! What does he mean?
The late Dr. Edward J. Young wrote:
“Isaiah is. . . portraying a time when those who once were enemies of God, Gentiles in the flesh, without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, will become one new man, and will be fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God.” (The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 2, pp. 46–47).
“[I]n Paul there is no more important conclusion about the Christian life, nothing about its structure that is more basic than this consideration: the Christian life in its entirety is to be subsumed under the category of resurrection. Pointedly, the Christian life is resurrection life. . . . It is in this light that statements like Galatians 2:20 (‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’)—autobiographical, but surely applicable to every Christian—ought to be read.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., By Faith Not By Sight, p. 77).
“This verse is the key verse of the Epistle to the Galatians; it expresses the central thought of the Epistle. The Judaizers attempted to supplement the saving work of Christ by the merit of their own obedience to the law. ‘That,’ says Paul, ‘is impossible; Christ will do everything or nothing: earn your salvation if your obedience to the law is perfect, or else trust wholly to Christ’s completed work; you cannot do both; you cannot combine merit and grace; if justification even in slightest measure is through human merit, then Christ died in vain.’” (Machen’s Notes on Galatians, p. 161).
Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church
“There is a mighty proclamation of grace in the book of Jonah, a grace that calls us to abandon our false security and repent. Christ pointed this out very clearly. To Israel’s leaders, i.e. the scribes and Pharisees, he said: ‘On judgement day the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation and will condemn it, because when Jonah preached they repented; and there is something greater than Jonah here.’”( C. Vanderwaal, Search the Scriptures, Vol. 6, p. 54).
From the Wednesday evening Bible study and prayer time at Trinity Presbyterian Church
In Galatians 2 Paul recalls a confrontation with Peter-—and the crucial issue is justification by faith in Christ.
“Even in Galatians, Paul’s teaching on justification has its stark urgency, not simply because church unity is at stake. His rebuke of of Peter’s conduct is so unsparing, not just because unity between Jew and Gentile is being jeopardized, but because of what that broken unity is symptomatic, because he sees that such conduct strikes at ‘the truth of the gospel’ (2:14). Moreover, it conflicts with that gospel truth because the gospel, as he expresses it programmatically elsewhere, is not the reflex, post facto, of having been saved. Rather, it is ‘the power of God unto salvation’ (Rom. 1:16), or even more tersely, ‘the gospel of your salvation’ (Eph. 1:13).” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., By Faith, Not By Sight, p. 51).
“A man who tries to earn his salvation, or to do anything towards earning it, has, according to Paul, done despite to the free grace of God.” (J. Gresham Machen, Machen’s Notes on Galatians, p. 143).
From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC
At 9:00 a.m. Pacific time, Saturday, October 13, listen to pastor Bill Shishko’s A Visit to the Pastor’s Study. This episode is The Gospel Restores Prodigal Sons with Brian Lynch. Listen live here.