THE BOOK OF JONAH NEVER USES THE WORD SIN
BUT IT’S ALL OVER THE BOOK:
A BETTER PICTURE FOR MODERN MAN
A PENETRATING DEFINITION FOR YOU AND ME
INSTEAD OF SEEING SIN AS “BREAKING THE RULES”
IT IS A “SELF-SALVATION STRATEGY”
IT IS FINDING YOUR IDENTITY
IN ANYTHING OTHER THAN GOD
Many of you are not viewers of American Idol, and you are certainly free in Christ not to watch. :>) (If anyone should feel the need to explain herself — it’s me! The talent God gives the young amazes me — and I feel free in Christ to tape it and watch the parts I like and discuss the talent and drama with my daughter Sally! After all, it may be my fault she too watches.) Lately I have watched how God seemingly dealt with Colton Dixon, sending a storm (at least Colton was convinced God sent the storm) and at Colton’s humble response. Colton was rising high, expected to make it to the top, when his mentor suggested he sing a Lady Gaga song and he did. The next night he was voted off. (I realize being voted off American Idol isn’t a big deal, but I’m sure it felt like that to Colton.) Colton sensed it coming. He anticipated the storm… Though no one else expected him to be voted off, he nodded — I could almost hear his thoughts: It is because of me that this tempest has come. Immediately he took the mike and said, “I need to apologize. Last night was not who I really am.”
They asked him to sing a final song before leaving American Idol and he fell to his knees and sang Everything by Lifehouse — a prayer to his God in the midst of his storm, a Jonah-like prayer of repentance from the belly of the fish.
Find me here, and speak to me
I want to feel you, I need to hear you
You are the light that’s leading me to the place
Where I find peace again…
I am certainly not saying that every storm is sent by God to discipline us — though I do know we can learn from every storm. But sometimes, as in the case of Jonah — and it seems Colton felt sure too — we do know the storm is from God because we were running from Him. Colton himself said, of singing this song after he got the news he’d been voted off: “I wasn’t singing for the judges at that point, or for the crowd — I needed to hear from God, and I did.” He felt it was God who had the people vote him off — a mercy, indeed. And now that he has repented, his life is back — when asked how he is doing after being voted off, his smile is genuine, and he says enthusiastically, “I’m good!” He found his peace, his identity, his salvation in the belly of the fish. “Salvation,” he knows, “belongs to the Lord.” He says he is going to sing Christian rock — because that is who he is. Back to his calling. Back to God’s identity for him.
I suspected Colton Dixon was a genuine Christian from fruit that I saw. He wasn’t obvious about it — no pointing to God to garner the evangelical vote. He wasn’t even planning to audition, but came as a support to his younger sister, and the judges asked her to go get him from backstage. (He had auditioned the year before.) The love between these teenage siblings was evident — love that is rare, except when Christ is present. And then, when Colton was voted off — he told everybody why. He used a definition of sin that penetrates the modern man and our own hearts. He said, “That was not who I am.” He was sorry — and quite willing to be thrown into the sea.
Watch this interview, and hear Colton’s repentance when she asks him what he learned from his American Idol journey.
In the Keller sermon you will hear this week, Keller uses Bridget Jones as an illustration of Soren Kierkegaard’s definition of sin — which is “trying to build an identity apart from God.” Bridget tries to build an identity from a word from herself — but ends up very confused!
We have to get our identity from Christ. When we try to get it anywhere else, we are in trouble. I wrestle with this all the time. When I speak or write or interact with people, I have to tell myself, “This is about bringing glory to God, Dee — not about bringing glory to yourself.” It is so tempting to forget my identity, my purpose, and veer… but then, I can almost count on a storm. The perfect storm — designed just for me! These messages I long for you to order will help you (and me) to stay on course, to stay on the narrow path, to build on the rock, to bear fruit — so that God won’t have to send that storm.
I’ve listened to the first one at least five times, and the penny is still dropping. Believe me, this is a good investment.
(MY BIG NEWS WHICH I GOT ONE HOUR AGO IS THAT SALLY HAS HAD HER BABY THREE WEEKS EARLY. HER NAME IS CLAIRE AND SHE’S FINE AND I’M SO THANKFUL. I’VE JUST ARRIVE IN WISCONSIN, NOT EVEN UNPACKED, BUT AM HEADED TO WASHINGTON D.C. AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. MAY CLAIRE (MEANS LIGHT) BE A LIGHT IN THIS DARK AND HURTING WORLD!)
ORDERING YOUR SERMONS:
We’re going to be in Jonah for May and most of June. Some of you might like to purchase the sermons all at once, and Redeemer does have a deal that makes it worth it to buy the package instead of individually.These are the sermons we are going to be needing for May and June.
This is the package — Keller’s most recent trip through Jonah — and I’d like everybody to get this: Link
This is an individual sermon on Jonah that is amazing — and I’d like you to get this too: Love Beneath the Waves
Finally, many of you already have this, but if you don’t, when we get to talking about election, you will find this helpful: Love Before the World 1
I will also post them individually each week — but it is cheaper if you get the package at once. This week we’ll be listening to the first in the package: Running from God. If you prefer to order it on an individual basis, here is that link.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. What “perfect” storm have you experienced recently that you think may have been sent as a mercy from God?
A perfect storm are when the conditions are just right to create a monster. But I’m using the word theologically — when God designs a perfect storm for the child he loves, to bring him to his senses, to bring him back to his real identity and purpose.
Tuesday-Wednesday: Bible Study
Optional: This is an interpretative dance for Lifehouse’s Song “Everything” Watch it if you like and comment.
We don’t know a lot about Jonah, but what we do know is very important. If your daddy was an important man, it is so easy to find your identity in him, instead of in God. If your nation is a successful nation, it is so easy to find your identity in national pride instead of in God. These are self-salvation strategies. God had defined Jonah, had given him a “word,” had called him to be a prophet — but he was running… Let’s look at what we do know about Jonah.
3. Read 2 Kings 14:25
He [Amaziah, the king at the time of Jonah] was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.
A. Israel was recovering from its enemies. King Amaziah, the king during Jonah’s time, had restored a huge area. Look on your Bible map and find Lebo Hamath and the Dead Sea. How big an area had been recovered?
B. When your country is victorious, it is easy to begin to find your identity in your country. Patriotism is not bad, but it can become sin. Give an illustration.
C. What did Jonah’s father do? What kind of prestige went with this?
D. Being proud of your parents is not bad, but it can lead you into sin. (Remember our new working definition of sin.) Give an illustration of this.
In “Man Overboard” Sinclair Ferguson culls a great deal out of this single verse. He explains that it shows what a great calling God had on Jonah’s life — for Jonah is described as a servant and a prophet. “A servant” Ferguson explains, has a rich meaning — it means God had set him apart for a unique purpose. Jonah, as a prophet, had a destiny — to speak the very words of God to whomever God sent him. That was his identity, his purpose, his meaning. A “word from the Lord” had defined him — but he veered from it — he had a “self-salvation strategy” — so God had to send a perfect storm.
4. Read Jonah 1:1-3
A. What purpose did God have for Jonah as described in verses 1-2?
B. What calling has God given to your life? (It may be specific, but it is also found in 1 Peter 2:9-10)
C. How did Jonah respond? How is this an illustration of sin?
5. Keller says that Jonah could not flee geographically from God, for God is everywhere. (See Psalm 139) But he was trying to flee relationally from God — from intimacy, for His face. What lie did Jonah have to believe in order to do this?
6. Think about the last time you fled God’s calling for you. Ask Him! Describe it.
7. Read Jonah 1:4 and describe how God responded. Why, do you think?
Thursday-Friday (or sooner) Listen to Keller’s sermon: Running from God
8. What do you learn from:
A. How does Earnest Becker define sin?
B. How does Soren Kierkegaard define sin? (Important!)
C. What point was Keller making with Bridget Jones?
9. Jonah had an “identity implosion,” Keller says, for he no longer knew who he really was. Look at his answers to the sailors’ questions in Jonah 1:8-9 and find the one question he does not answer. What was it — and why didn’t he, do you think?
10. When we find our identity apart from God it is as though we are under an anesthetic! A sleep unto death! Have you experienced this? Explain.
11. What else stood out to you from this sermon and why?
12. What is your take-a-way and why?