Those Who Cling…Forfeit the Grace – Gospel in Life

Those Who Cling…Forfeit the Grace

Tim Keller |  September 30, 2001

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  • Idolatry
  • Salvation
  • God's Love
Jonah 2:1-3:3
RS 139-4


We continue to see the relevance of Jonah’s situation and the story of Jonah to our own. Jonah was a prophet and he had a relationship with God. He was a preacher. He had faith. He had an understanding of who God was and who he was. He was moving along in his world just fine. Then his world changed, because God came to him and said, “Now I call you into a new ministry, a new situation. I want you to go to Nineveh.”

Ninevah was a violent, ruthless, imperialistic nation. It was, as it were, a clear and present danger to the very existence of Jonah’s country. He was filled with disdain, hatred, bias, and bigotry. To use the technical theological term, Jonah freaked out.

What we see next is that Jonah has a spiritual breakthrough. He moves to a new level. Let’s look at four things we can learn from Jonah through this experience: the key to spiritual transformation, the method of spiritual transformation, the marks of spiritual transformation, and the continual need for it.

Jonah 2:1–3:3

Jonah, a prophet sent by God to the violent nation of Assyria, experiences a deep spiritual change when he’s swallowed by a fish. His prayer during this time teaches us a lot about spiritual growth, something we all need.

1. The key to spiritual growth

Jonah realizes that relying on things that don’t matter means missing out on God’s love. He says, “Salvation is of the Lord,” a phrase that sums up the whole Bible and Jesus’ teachings. This idea challenges the common belief that people are either religious or not. Knowing and accepting God’s love is essential for our first meeting with Him and for ongoing spiritual growth, as Jonah’s story shows us.

2. The method of spiritual growth

God’s love, or grace, is deep and can be understood in many ways. It’s given freely and without obligation. We need to recognize that we need this love, a realization that comes when we face our own weaknesses. Understanding forgiveness shows us how serious sin is and how costly grace is. We should not only understand grace but also treasure it and live it out every day.

3. The signs of this new life

Two main signs show we understand grace: less fear and no prejudice. The good news of the gospel, that we’re saved by grace and not by our actions, leads to an identity based on humility and confidence. This replaces fear and pride. Also, understanding grace means understanding that God loves everyone, regardless of their beliefs. This counters the idea that religious people must be violent.

4. The need for ongoing spiritual growth

Understanding grace helps us navigate a changing world. Just like the hobbit in “The Lord of the Rings” who changes when he faces evil, we too can find strength in the One who died for us. We should always pray for a heart ready to face any situation and aim to grow in faith and humility.



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