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SALVATION IS FROM THE LORD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, July 25, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).


The German commentator C. F. Keil tells us that this verse means "'salvation is Jehovahs,' i.e. is in His power, so that He only can grant salvation" (C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973 reprint, volume X, p. 404).

Dr. McGee said,

…if you ever get saved, it is because salvation is of the Lord…So salvation is God's work from beginning to end (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson, 1982, volume III, p. 754).

Why did Jonah say, "Salvation is of [from] the Lord"? Simply because he knew he couldn't be saved by anyone, or anything else. Only the Lord could save him. This is made clear by the Hebrew word translated "salvation." Dr. Gill said,

There is one letter more in the word rendered salvation [in Hebrew] than usual, which increases the sense; and denotes, that all kind of salvation is from the Lord, temporal, spiritual, and eternal; not only this salvation from the devouring waves of the sea, and from the grave of the fish's belly, was of the Lord; but his deliverance from the terrors of the Lord, and the sense that he had of his wrath, and the peace and pardon he now partook of, were from the Lord, as well as eternal salvation in the world to come, and the hope of it (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume II, p. 541).

In other words, salvation of every kind is from the Lord. "Salvation is God's work from beginning to end" (McGee, ibid.). Let us think about that, as we look at the second and third chapters of the Book of Jonah.

I. First, Jonah's salvation was from the Lord.

Jonah had run away from God. God called him to go and preach to the people of Nineveh. Jonah fled from God's call. He got into a ship that was sailing as far away from Nineveh as possible in that day. A storm came up. It was sent by God. The sailors finally realized that this storm had been sent by God as a judgment for Jonah's disobedience. Jonah told them to throw him overboard and God could spare them. They threw Jonah into the ocean. God had prepared a special sea monster which swallowed Jonah.

As Jonah fell into the ocean and was swallowed by this sea monster, he called out to God in prayer. God heard his prayer from the stomach of the mutated fish.

It has always seemed strange to me that people believe so many fantastic ideas today, but they won't believe this account when they read it in the Bible. Many believe that aliens come to earth in space ships, but they refuse to believe this account when they read it in the Bible. Many believe in "Big Foot," or the "Loch Ness Monster," but they refuse to believe the Bible's account of Jonah. Many believe that the human race came from animals by the unproven quackery of the "evolution" hoax, but they refuse to believe the Biblical account of Jonah. They hold onto what the Bible describes as "science falsely so called" (I Timothy 6:20) - but they refuse to believe that God could "prepare" a special sea monster to swallow Jonah.

Well, I won't argue with you if you believe the weird things you read in the tabloids at the supermarket. One of those tabloids said that Hitler was still alive, hiding somewhere. He would be over 110 years old! Some people believe that kind of garbage. If you want to believe it, go ahead. But I believe in God. And I happen to believe that God can perform miracles when He chooses to do so. The Bible says,

"God wrought special miracles" (Acts 19:11).

All through the Bible we read that God is a God of miracles. God raised the body of Jesus Christ from the dead! That took a miracle! And Jonah was raised to life by God. That also took a miracle! I don't make any apology for that. Our God can work miracles when He wants to!

My Father is omnipotent, And that you can't deny;
A God of might and miracles - 'Tis written in the sky.
It took a miracle to put the stars in place,
It took a miracle to hang the world in space;
But when He saved my soul, Cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace!
    ("It Took a Miracle" by John W. Peterson, 1948).

"And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land" (Jonah 2:10).

It took a miracle for Jonah to be saved. Jonah's salvation came from God.

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

II. Second, Nineveh's salvation was from the Lord.

God called Jonah to go and preach to Nineveh a second time after he was vomited out on dry land. This time Jonah obeyed God. Nineveh was a large city. It took three days to walk through it, from one side to the other. As Jonah walked he preached. The topic of his preaching was, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown" (Jonah 3:4).

The people of Nineveh worshipped a fish god. But they knew that Jonah had been saved from a special, monstrous fish by the true God. Dr. John MacArthur, although wrong on the Blood of Christ, gives a helpful comment on this. He says,

Reports of Jonah's miraculous fish experience may have preceded him to Nineveh, accounting for the swift and widespread receptivity of his message…It is generally believed that acid from the fish's stomach would have bleached Jonah's face, thus validating the experience (The MacArthur Study Bible, note on Jonah 3:6).

I think Dr. MacArthur is right on this point. Jonah undoubtedly had a horrible appearance, his skin bleached and marred by those acids in the stomach of the sea monster. In this Jonah was like Christ, who

"shewed them his hands and his feet" (Luke 24:40).

When Thomas saw the nail prints in our Lord's hands and feet, and the gash in His side, he said,

"My Lord and my God" (John 20:28).

The whole experience of Jonah was given by Christ as a picture of His death and resurrection. Jesus said,

"As Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's [sea monster's] belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40).

So, Jonah's gruesome appearance undoubtedly gave weight to his preaching, just as the wounds of Christ did to the Disciples (cf. Luke 24:40; John 20:27-28).

But that isn't the whole story. Dr. MacArthur also recognizes that there is more to it. He realizes that the great revival at Nineveh, with thousands of conversions, was miraculous. Dr. MacArthur correctly says,

From the divine side, this wholesale repentance was a miraculous work of God (ibid., note on Jonah 3:5).

How did the people of Nineveh get saved? They got saved after hearing sermons that denounced their sins and proclaimed a coming judgment on them from God. These sermons from Jonah moved the people. Look at Jonah 3:5. Please stand and read this verse aloud.

"So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them" (Jonah 3:5).

You may be seated.

Now, I want you to notice this - the people were saved before they put on sackcloth and fasted. That is extremely important. A great many people think you have to thoroughly repent before you can be saved. They think you have to get everything right in your life first, then you are "worthy" of salvation. How wrong they are! Joseph Hart made this clear in his famous hymn, titled, "Come, Ye Sinners." Joseph Hart said,

Let not conscience make you linger,
    Nor of fitness fondly dream:
All the fitness He requireth,
    Is to feel your need of Him.
("Come, Ye Sinners" by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768,
        from Spurgeon's "Our Own Hymnbook,"
        Pilgrim Publications, 1975, hymn number 492).

All the fitness the Lord requires "is to feel your need of Him"!

"So the people of Nineveh believed God…" (Jonah 3:5).

You see, they were saved before they repented! They believed in the Lord and were saved - and then they repented! That is exactly what the old-timers taught. Listen to William G. T. Shedd, who was part of the "old school." Dr. Shedd tells us,

Faith is the means, and repentance is the end. Faith leads to repentance, not repentance to faith…The doctrine that repentance precedes [comes before] faith tends to make repentance legal, that is, a reason why Christ should accept the sinner (W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, P and R Publishing, 2003 reprint, p. 791).

But repentance does not come first. Faith in Christ comes first, then repentance. Repentance is not the reason Christ should accept you. Faith in Him is the only reason He accepts anyone.

"Why," you say, "it would take a miracle for pagans like those Ninevites to be converted en masse!" Of course. But remember, it takes a miracle for anyone to be converted! God must intervene and give life to those who are spiritually dead.

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it [faith] is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

III. Third, your salvation must be from the Lord.

What does this mean to you? Why, it means, first of all that your salvation does not depend on baptism. Water baptism is something that a human being does. Your parents decided to have you sprinkled in infant baptism. What does that have to do with the Lord? Salvation does not depend on something your parents decided to do to you.

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

Or, in our Baptist tradition, you decide to be baptized by immersion. What does that have to do with the Lord? Salvation does not depend on your decision to be baptized - or even on the baptism itself.

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

Furthermore, this shows that salvation does not depend on you following Christ. A great many people think they can be saved by following Christ, or by trying to follow Christ. This is also wrong. Yes, after a person is saved he should follow Christ as best he can. But you cannot enter into salvation by trying to earn it - by trying to follow Christ. That's putting the cart before the horse!

Look, how could Jonah follow Christ? He was a dead man, inside a sea monster. And you are just as dead. The Bible says that you are "dead in sins" (Ephesians 2:5). A spiritually dead person like you has no ability to follow Christ! Your salvation does not depend on what you do!

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

Yet, go a little farther. This also shows that you cannot be saved by an emotion you have. One young man said he had to be "enraptured" by Christ to be saved. I suppose that he meant that he had to have some feeling of rapture, being carried away in his emotions, to Christ. But I do not think the thief who was nailed to the cross beside Jesus had any such emotion when he got saved. All he felt was pain - the pain of the nails in his hands and feet. This man was not "enraptured" when he got saved. Jesus did all the saving. Jesus saved this man without any great emotion, only the physical pain of crucifixion, no enrapturement of religious emotion. In fact I am convinced by years of experience that most people feel little or no emotion when they finally get saved. Why? Because

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9),

that's why - not by any subjective emotions you may experience!

Jonah knew he was lost. Jonah knew that there was no hope for him. As Joseph Hart put it,

All the fitness He requireth,
    Is to feel your need of Him.

Jonah certainly felt his need for the Lord in that sea monster!

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

You see, Jesus already did everything necessary for your salvation. He already died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He already rose from the dead. He already ascended back to Heaven, to sit at the right hand of God. You can't add anything to what Christ has already done to save you. The Bible makes that very clear:

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

There is absolutely nothing left for you to do but believe in Jesus! God is the

"justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26).

God saves the person who truly believes in Jesus!

Yes, I know that you believed in things about Jesus before. You believed that He was a great teacher. Maybe you even believed that He was the Saviour. But those are only doctrines. I am not asking you to believe doctrines about Christ. I am asking you to believe in Christ Himself! Only Jesus can cleanse your sin with His Blood and make you a clean person in God's sight.

All the fitness He requireth,
    Is to feel your need of Him!

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

If you feel your need for Jesus to save you, please step to the back of the room while we sing the second stanza of that hymn. It's the last song on your song sheet. Don't go on the first stanza. Go on the second stanza. Dr. Cagan will take you up to my office, and we will discuss your need for Jesus Christ. Christ alone can save you.

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

It's the last song on your song sheets. If you want us to speak with you about salvation in Christ, go to the back of the room when we sing the second stanza. We will sit down in my office and listen carefully to what you say, and then advise you to come to Christ, and trust Him alone. That is the only way to be saved - by fully trusting Jesus Christ. Sing out loud and clear. And step to the back of the room for counselling when we sing the second stanza.

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
    Weak and wounded, sick and sore,
Jesus ready stands to save you,
    Full of pity, love and power.
He is able, He is able, He is willing,
    Doubt no more.
He is able, He is able, He is willing,
   Doubt no more.

Let not conscience make you linger,
    Nor of fitness fondly dream:
All the fitness He requireth,
    Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, This He gives you,
    'Tis the Spirit's rising beam.
This He gives you, This He gives you,
    'Tis the Spirit's rising beam.
("Come, Ye Sinners" by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

(END OF SERMON)

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Jonah 2:5-10.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"Come, Ye Sinners" (by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

THE OUTLINE OF

SALVATION IS FROM THE LORD

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

I.   Jonah's salvation was from the Lord,
I Timothy 6:20; Acts 19:11; Jonah 2:10.

II.  Nineveh's salvation was from the Lord,
Jonah 3:4; Luke 24:40; John 20:28;
Matthew 12:40; Jonah 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9.

III. Your salvation must be from the Lord,
Ephesians 2:5; Romans 5:8; 3:26.

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at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."