The Gospel According to Jonah – Session 4
January 27, 2021
2 Corinthians 5:11-16, 17-21
God us to be a of His salvation plan.
As your large group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
Share a time when you were given a second chance at something. Why did you take the second chance?
When you think of a missionary or witness, what type of person comes to mind? Why?
In this session J.D. will look at Jonah’s journey to Nineveh where he preached God’s Word and Nineveh responded. In Jonah we will see what is and what is not the responsibility of a witness.
Watch the Session Four video.
Read Jonah 3:1-5, 6-10. How did the people respond to Jonah’s message?
What was the source of power in Jonah’s message?
When you think about sharing your faith with others, does it make you nervous? Why or why not?In today’s video, J.D. taught that God blesses us to be a to others. Becoming an effective witness requires that you know two things: 1) belongs to the Lord (Jonah 2:9). We’re not dealing with skeptics who need to be persuaded; we are dealing with dead people who need to be raised to life. 2) Faith comes only by (Romans 10:17). J.D. also taught that the Word cannot do its work where people haven’t heard it. Knowing this should lead us to two things: Get people in the of the Word of God, and like crazy.
The apostle Paul held tight to a perspective on the death and resurrection of Christ that compelled him to live a singularly motivated life seeking the glory of God. Second Corinthians 5:11-21 ties the awe Paul felt over the grace of God to his unparalleled zeal for preaching the gospel to those who hadn’t heard it yet. Paul said he was compelled by the love of Christ in such a way that he couldn’t live for himself any longer but for Christ, the One who died and then was raised. Like Jonah, Paul was simply the mouthpiece of God’s working in the world. It is our job to preach, and God’s job to appeal through us.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ 2 CORINTHIANS 5:11-16, 17-21.
What Jonah and Paul both teach us is that there is power in the Word of God when preached. The power was not in either of these men, but in the living and active Word of God. God chose people to be His “Plan A” to tell other people His Word. When we engage in preaching God’s message, God Himself is empowering our words in the ears of the hearer. Jonah, Paul, and all Christians are thus ministers of reconciliation. We do not have the power to reconcile, but the love of Christ compels us to make visible the reconciliation God offers.
Most of us as believers seem more like Jonah than Paul. We know we are supposed to share Christ, but we don’t do it. Why not?
At this point, take turns practicing sharing the gospel message with one another. Do not worry if it seems awkward at first. Beyond the awkwardness is the joy of hearing and speaking the gospel to one another.
In the exercise, what did you find easiest about sharing the gospel? What was most difficult?
How could knowing salvation belongs to the Lord influence how you view sharing Christ with others?
Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives.
Who are the people in your circle of influence who may never have clearly heard this message of salvation?
What is a feasible next step you can take to share the message of salvation with them?
What is one achievable action step you can take this week in response to what we’ve discussed in this group?
Allow participants to share names of lost friends or family members that the group can pray for together. Spend time praying specifically for those people. Close by asking God to give each person an urgency for the lost and a passion for the gospel.
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2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Paul previously said in 1 Corinthians that we have a home in heaven and eventually God will judge each of us. But Paul did not await judgment to be an open book before the Lord. In fact, Paul said he was completely open before God. Paul was consciously transparent before God. He made no effort to deceive or put up a front. What use would it be for us to try to conceal our motives from God? God will finally “reveal the intentions of the hearts” of His ministers (1 Cor. 4:5). Even now, “all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account” (Heb. 4:13).
Paul hoped that the Corinthians could also see plainly his calling, ministry, and motives. This is the meaning of I hope we are completely open to your consciences as well. Paul did not view himself as subject to the judgment of the Corinthians (1 Cor. 4:3), but the progress of the gospel in Corinth depended to a degree on their convictions regarding him.
Because the progress of the gospel was Paul’s real concern, he could say that we are not commending ourselves to you. Although Paul’s purpose was not to promote himself, it was important for the Corinthians to be convicted of the validity of his ministry. Competing visions of true ministry existed in Corinth. Some in Corinth were more impressed by outward appearance and speaking ability (2 Cor. 10:10; 12:11) than they were by the plain preaching of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” and “Jesus Christ as Lord” (1 Cor. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:5). Paul’s vision of ministry was shaped by the message of Christ crucified and risen. Another vision was shaped by the world’s love for appearance and flair in speaking. One of the visions highlighted the power and wisdom of God. The other highlighted the power and wisdom of men. The true gospel is about the power and wisdom of God.
For if we are out of our mind suggests that those who took pride in outward appearance criticized Paul as eccentric, imbalanced, or crazy. Others may have contended that Paul had quite a sound mind. It is not hard to imagine things that could have been behind the charge that Paul was crazy. He saw visions. He dignified his frequent sufferings as revelatory. He was deeply, emotionally invested in his ministry, even to the point of tears. He was constantly trying to persuade people of the truth of the gospel, even earthly judges who had authority over him! On trial in Caesarea, Paul tried to persuade King Agrippa to become a Christian (Acts 26:24-29). He was told then, “You’re out of your mind, Paul!” Therefore, any number of things might have been used to claim that Paul was crazy. Paul would not, however, be put off by such a claim. Jesus heard the same thing (Mark 3:21). Paul would not change his ways because some thought he was out of his mind. He did, however, insist to the Corinthians that whether he seemed out of his mind or of sound mind, all that he did was for God and for you.
As the church, we are called to obey Jesus’ command to go into the world and preach the gospel. But what is the motivation behind our obedience? The apostle Paul dealt with our motivation by taking us back to the reality of Christ’s love. The driving force behind God’s messengers is Christ’s love for the world He came to save. John 3:16 is clear that God’s love was the motivation for giving Jesus. That love now fills our hearts and becomes our motivation for giving of ourselves.
The selfless love displayed by Jesus in His life and death is Paul’s reference point for our love for others. The love of God compels us to live for Him and to pour ourselves out for others. This was Jesus’ desire (John 12:50), and it now becomes our own. We live for a resurrected God and Savior, not for ourselves, and this should press us into action.
Paul focuses our attention upon the spiritual dilemma that is solved only through the gospel. We do not see others “in a purely human way” because we recognize the necessity of new life that comes at conversion. The new creation that we become in Christ begins in the spiritual realm, not the physical realm. We will experience new creation bodies at the resurrection, but the work of the Holy Spirit begins by making our spirits, which were dead in sin, alive to God. We must begin seeing the lost around us as people who need new life. Paul also makes clear that there is no Plan B for taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. God has chosen us for the task to be His ambassadors.
We are ambassadors to the world with a message of reconciliation. God has made a way for sinful people to become His friends instead of His enemies. God has provided a pathway to peace in spite of the world’s rebellion. The fact that God offers peace in spite of us, not because of us, is what makes this such good news!
So what do we do? We plead with others to be saved. All of this—reconciliation, ambassadorship, life, and new creation—comes because of what Jesus did in our place. Because Jesus took upon Himself our sin, shame, and punishment, we receive God’s righteousness, friendship, and mission. And now we serve as ambassadors for King Jesus!