Agonizomai: Jonah 2:9 - Salvation by Grace Through Faith

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Jonah 2:9 - Salvation by Grace Through Faith
9 "But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to thee; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance (salvation) belongs to the LORD!"

The Lamb of God PrefiguredIs it the vow of thanksgiving that causes God to deliver Jonah? No! The vow of thanksgiving is Jonah’s response to God’s mercy and deliverance. It is by definition giving thanks for something already bestowed. This is the principle throughout the Bible. It is at the root of Habakkuk’s and of Paul’s statements (Romans and Galatians) that the just shall live by his faith and that salvation, which belongs to the Lord is by faith alone, apart from works of the law – apart from any works at all. God has made it so that all we can do is render thanks; thanks with our whole being, substance, heart and will. (With all our heart and with all or mind and with all our soul and with all our strength). If He had not done so then we would glory in our "part".

And here is the very centre of the faith that hopes in God alone – the belief that salvation belongs to God. Deliverance is God’s to give, and is hoped in through the faith we have been given. Our trust is in the Lord, even when the darkness surrounds us – even when there is no apparent hope; like Abraham, our father in faith, against hope we believe in hope. {Ro 4:17-18} This is all we have, but it is more than enough. The work of God is to believe in the One He has sent. Whatever is not of faith is sin.

The best Biblical illustration is surely the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had no outward assurance that they would not be consumed. They were ready to be consumed. They might well have been consumed, as other prophets and saints have been in one way or another. But their focus is not upon whether they will die or not – it is upon the God of all Truth and holiness – the judge of all the earth Who will always do right, whether that right requires their deaths or not.

The faith that trusts in the righteousness of God from the very depths of the pit is that which our Lord displayed when he suffered the burning anger of the Father and the utter loss of His fellowship for the only time in all eternity. To be in the bosom of the Father eternally, and then to be cast from it is an unimaginable horror that only Christ could know. Satan and the demons could, perhaps, understand better than we. We haven’t the faintest inkling, except perhaps when our sin grieves the Holy Spirit and we lose the sense of fellowship. But this, though grievous, is a light thing compared that loss in One upon Whom the Spirit dwelt without measure. Our fellowship in the Spirit with God is but a shadow of the Son’s and so its loss is also but a shadow.

People may watch movies like Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" and see the physical torments of Christ. But do we see a man? Or do we see the eternal Son of God in human form? And do they see only His body bruised for us, or do we know of the invisible emotional torments of separation from His Father, and the lash of His infinite and eternal anger?

Get a glimpse in Jonah of the prayer of the heart of Christ from amidst the agonies of the cross and from under the wrath of God. He suffered these that we might never do so. We, like Jonah, have only the chastening of correction – Christ was punished in fierce wrath that ought to have been for us.

My moniker - that's John Hancock to Americans

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