Intro: Jonah series, remind us what church is to be, do. So far: God commanded
Jonah; (to be motivated by God's mercy to call people to repentance.) Jonah ran
away; (to guard our hearts from sin.) God sends storm, sailors scared, Jonah sleeping;
(to wake up to the dire situation of the world under God's judgment.) Today, as
we continue the story, we'll discover the most important, practical strategy for
sharing your faith effectively!
A Disturbing Echo, Desperate Questions! (Read Jonah 1:6-11.) Captain calls for Jonah to wake up. Unsettling
echo for Jonah! Hebrew: "Arise, cry out!" (v.2.) Is Jonah listening? Focus
on questions sailors ask. Surprise! Non-Christians ask us same questions! Listen
to their questions, we'll discover how to effectively share our faith!
How can you sleep? (Jonah 1:6) A question of amazement, interest! Jonah's sleep
was the sleep of hardened disobedience. Woe to us if the world asks us this question
for the same reason! But this question could also reflect the world seeking the
Christian's peace in a terrifying world. ("Where does your peace, assurance, fearlessness
come from?") People will ask you the reason for your hope. Are you listening
to their questions?
Who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? / What do you do?
1:7) Determine Jonah's guilt with a dice game, ask questions of responsibility
and purpose! "Who is responsible for all this trouble?" Last week: to the degree
that the church abandons its mission, world's trouble is our fault; we're responsible!
First question leads to second: "What do we (the church) do?" ("Why do you go to
church? Why does the church even matter? What's the point?") Church's mission, purpose
is to bring God glory by sharing God's grace in Jesus. (Easy to get distracted from
that purpose!) As the church reclaims our our purpose and shares the message of
God's grace with the world, God will show grace to those around us . Are you listening
to their questions?
Where do you come from? / What is your country? / From what people are you?
1:8) Questions about our nature, character, origin! ("Where do your true
loyalties lie? Why don't you live like we do? Are you for real?") Let there be no
confusion! Our citizenship is heaven. Not of this world! Our loyalty is to God,
first and foremost! It affects how we think, feel, live! People will ask you the
reason for your hope. Are you listening to the questions you are asked? Always be
prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you!
What have you done? (Jonah 1:9-10) Question of reproach! Jonah gave a good, solid,
theologically sound answer, (v. 9). But his confession and his life were worlds
apart. Sailors knew it! ("Isn't the church full of hypocrites? Why are Christians
always angry on the news? Why are churches always splitting, always fighting with
each other?") At times, we need to accept the criticism of others, admit our hypocrisy,
confess our sins to God and them, take responsibility! One of the healthiest things
church can do today! People confused, intrigued when you apologize, b/c humility
is so rare! Are you listening to their questions? Always be prepared to give an answer
to everyone who asks you!
What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us? (Jonah 1:11) Ultimate question! ("Why do I feel guilty? Why
do I feel God is punishing me? What do I do with these feelings of shame, guilt,
dread? How can I get God to like me?") How can God's wrath be satisfied? Only through
the sacrifice of Jesus Christ! As you and I, with the same spirit of sacrificial
love as Christ, lead the questioners to Christ, that God's wrath will be settled
for them, too! Notice: This is the ultimate question. One of the reasons people
don't listen to us, is b/c we're answering this question before we've listened to
their earlier questions. Not listening to us b/c they're not here yet!
Application: Some doubt qualifications to witness: Don't know enough...the
right thing to say...have persuasive arguments... Was Jonah prepared? No! Couldn't
even pray! But the sailors were asking him how to solve their problem. Why? God's
spokesperson. So are you! The most effective strategy for witnessing: Listening!
Taking time to care, to hear the fearful, amazed, indignant questions that non-Christians
ask, and then provide honest, loving answers! People will ask you the reason for
your hope. Are you listening to their questions? Always be prepared to give an answer
to everyone who asks you!
Next Week: Why did God require His Son to die on the cross? Why couldn't God
just forgive sinners without making Jesus suffer? Was God being unnecessarily cruel?