Derek looks at Jonah’s disobedience to stress the importance of aligning ourselves with God’s purposes. This includes being a part of accomplishing these goals. Another way to express obedience is to cultivate endurance. Through the trials we may encounter, we must endure—and come out of them leaning victoriously on the Lord.
Well, God was on Jonah’s case and when the ship took sail it said, “God hurled out a storm into the sea.” And all these pagans began to cry out to God and ask for help. Where was Jonah—the only one who knew the true God, the only one who had the answer. Let me read. Verse 5:
“Then the mariners were afraid and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down and was fast asleep.”
You know what made him sleep? A bad conscience. He couldn’t face life. I’ve met people who take refuge in sleep. I knew a lady who if things went wrong would sleep for sixteen hours. That was her escape from life.
“The captain [who was an unbeliever] came to him and said to him, ‘What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God. Perhaps your God will consider us so that we may not perish.’”
You know, there are a lot of Jonahs in the world today. They’ve had a call from God, they know full well what God wanted them to do. But, it didn’t suit them so they’ve turned their back on God and now while the world is tossing in the tempest, where are they? Down in the bottom of the ship fast asleep. That’s a tragic situation.
We have some Jonahs here this evening. You know God called you and you deliberately turned your back on God. And who knows how you got here this evening? But I’m going to give you an opportunity later in this service to change your mind. So, you can think that over.
Think of it, the only man who knew the true God, the only man who had the answer. All the pagans around him were praying earnestly and he was down there in the sides of the ship fast asleep. What a vivid picture of multitudes of Christians today, down in the ship asleep because they’re not willing to face reality.
All right, that’s number one of my recommendations. Align with God’s purpose which is the coming of His kingdom. He’s never varied, He’s never changed. That is His objective.
Number two, cultivate endurance. We’ll turn back to Matthew 24. The verse that I quoted was verse 14:
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”
But the verse before that says:
“But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
And Jesus has been speaking about all the problems and troubles and agonies that are coming on the nation. And then He says:
“And He who endures to the end shall be saved.”
Who will be saved? The one who has endured to the end. So you’re saved now. But to stay saved you have to endure.
Luke 21, which is a parallel passage, it’s again the discourse that Jesus gave. He says in verse 17 and following:
“And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake...”
Obviously that must refer to Christians because it’s people who are hated for the sake of the name of Jesus. That’s one of those promises people don’t put in their promise box!
The next promise maybe you do:
“...but not a hair of your head shall be lost.”
Now that refers to the resurrection because lots of Christians who were martyred, their bodies were totally destroyed. But in the resurrection, if you make it through, you’ll come out with a full head of hair. Not one hair missing! That’s a guarantee from Jesus.
Then He says:
“In your patience possess your souls.”
But that really does not render the meaning. I’ll give you my version, the Prince version.
“By your endurance purchase your souls.”
I mean, you can check if you want to but I have looked at the words. That’s my understanding of it. In other words, what is the price you have to pay for the salvation of your souls? In one word, endurance, that’s right.
You see, there are things we have to buy but not with money. There’s other currency with which we buy some things. And as I understand it, here in Luke Jesus says you have to purchase the salvation of your soul by your endurance. If you don’t endure, you’ll be lost.
Then there was the scripture that Ruth and I proclaimed:
“We count it all joy when we fall into various trials.”
Can you say that. I mean, I know you can say the words but is it true? See, why we proclaim that scripture is because God convinced us, convicted us that it wasn’t that way with us. When we fell into various certain trials we, I don’t know that we complained but we certainly didn’t count it all joy. So we had to confess that as sin. And, we’re trying to do better. But James said count it all joy when you fall into various trials. Why?
“Because the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
I have observed in the New Testament that every test a Christian goes through ultimately is a test of faith. It may take many forms but what is being tested is your faith. And then James says:
“...let endurance have its perfect work...”
Don’t stop short, don’t start to endure and then give up.
“...let endurance have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
I asked you before, how many of us want to be perfect and complete, lacking nothing? What’s the condition? Endurance, that’s right. There’s no way around it.
And you know, there’s only one way to learn to endure, do you know what that is? Enduring, that’s right. One of the words used in the Old King James Version was longsuffering. And you know how you learn longsuffering? By suffering long. There’s no other way to do it. I mean, you can laugh at that but it’s exactly correct.