Monday, April 30, 2012

Jonah's Punishment, Repentance, And Forgiveness

by Pastor Bruce Oyen

About the content of this posting.
     This posting is about an outline used in a recent sermon on the second chapter of the Book of Jonah. A prior sermon outline posting deals with chapter one. And one prior to that gives my 3-point outlines of all 4 chapters of the Book of jonah.
     Like the one on chapter one, this is not a manuscript of the sermon. In fact, I did not write a manuscript for it. My sermon method is to preach from outlines, and draw from the content stored in my mind, and from what comes to mind during the sermon. Following an outline keeps preachers on track, and not reading a manuscript allows freedom of expression in words and body language. It also allows a very important element in preaching: eye contact with one's listeners. Eye contact is vital because it creates a mental and emotional connection between the speaker and the listeners.
Some thoughts on preaching through the Book of Jonah.
    I have prepared one sermon on each of the four chapters in the Book of Jonah. Each of these sermons has three main points.
   Of course, more than four sermons can be preached from this book. But it is done this way to cover the whole book in a relatively short period of time. Most listeners want to see movement or progress in a sermon series. They do not like the idea that a preacher will be almost forever preaching through a Biblical book. And when preaching through narrative portions of the Bible, it is good to do so in a manner that allows the listeners to see the big picture. This is done by avoiding too many details, and by concentrating on the most important subject matter.
My sermon title and outline on the second chapter of Jonah.
     Here are my sermon title and outline on the second chapter of Jonah:
Jonah's Punishment, Repentance, And Forgiveness.
    This sermon is based on chapter two, and on the previous chapter. From that chapter, we considered 3 main points: Jonah's commission from God, his rebellion against God, and his guilt before God.
    In this sermon, we will see that Jonah's guilt led to his punishment, and his punishment led to his repentance, and his repentance led to his forgiveness.
First, consider Jonah's punishment.
    We first see in chapter two that he was punished by God because of his guilt. Consider these points about his punishment:
    A. His punishment was deserved for two reasons:
       1. He had defied the will of God in his own life.
       2. He had hindered the work of God in the city of Nineveh.
    B. His punishment was unusual for two reasons:
       1. He had been swallowed by a great fish.
           a. Sperm whales have been known to swallow sharks 15 feet long.
           b. Whale sharks have been known to swallow humans.
       2. He had lived to tell about it.
    C. His punishment was educational for several reasons:
       1. It taught him the importance of obedience to God.
       2. It taught him that there are consequences for sin.
       3. It taught him to set aside his prejudices.
       4. It taught him God's love for all humanity, not just for his own people.
       5. It taught him God's love for him, personally,  for whom the Lord loves he chastens.
    D. His punishment was typological in two ways:
       1. It was a type of the fact that God disciplines his people, Jews.
       2. It was a type of the fact that God disciplines his people, Christians.
Second, consider Jonah's repentance.
    A. His words of repentance made reference to many of the  Psalms, including these:
        3, 5, 18, 30, 31, 37, 42, 49, 50, 56, 69, 88, 103, 107, 120, 142.
    B. His repentance had several causes, all related to his experience with the big fish:
       1. Affliction, verse 2.
       2. Feelings of isolation, verse 3.
       3. Feelings of abandonment, verse 4.
       4. Feelings of helplessness, verses 5 and 5.
       5. Faintheartedness, verse 7.
       6. Facing his own mortality.
    C. His repentance had several expressions:
       1. He prayed for help, verse 1.
       2. He cried out for help, verse 2.
       3. He resolved to again look to the temple of the LORD, verse 4.
       4. He remembered the LORD, verse 7.
       5. He made a vow to the LORD, verse 9.
       6. he acknowledged that salvation is of the LORD, verse 9.
Third, consider Jonah's forgiveness.
      Even though chapter two does not say that Jonah asked God for forgiveness, we can safely assume his repentance included a heartfelt desire for it. All true repentance includes a sense our sinfulness, and of our guilt before God. This, in turn, leads to the desire to be forgiven of that guilt.
      Consider these Bible-based facts about the forgiveness that Jonah received from God when he repented:
     A. It was immediate, not delayed.
         Psalm 32:5; Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9
     B. It was total, not partial.
         See verses above.
     C. It was permanent, not temporary.
         Jeremiah 31:34
     D. It was free, not costly.
         Isaiah 55:1, 2
     E. It was instructive.
         It teaches us of God's great willingness to forgive even the very wayward person, if there is genuine repentance.
     F. It was restorative.
        1. Forgiveness restored his peace, and it will restore ours.
        2. Forgiveness restored his joy, and it will restore ours.
        3. Forgiveness restored his usefulness, and it will restore ours.
Conclusion to this sermon:
    As usual, I first concluded this sermon with a brief review of it three main points, and their application to ourselves: Jonah's punishment, rpentance, and forgiveness. Then, we took time for prayer about the subject.
Closing song
    It is profitable to have as part of a conclusion a closing congregational song. I chose the wonderful song, "My Hope Is In The Lord." The words and music were written by Norman J. Clayton.



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jonah's Commission, Rebellion, And Guilt

By Pastor Bruce Oyen

Introduction to this posting.
     In a previous posting, I gave a simple outline of each chapter of the Book Of Jonah. In this posting, I will give a fuller outline of chapter one. It is the outline from which I recently preached on this chapter. However, it does not have all the details, such as Scripture references, used when the sermon was preached.
Some thoughts on preaching.
     It is better to seldom preach from manuscripts. Instead, keep most of the material stored in one's memory. Then, during sermons,  use outlines to keep  on track. This method enables  preachers to have important frequent eye-contact with their listeners. It also enables them to preach what I call prepared-but- extemporaneous sermons. In such sermons, there is an eye-to-eye connection between the preacher and his audience that reading a manuscript does not allow. When we are not tied to a manuscript, we can preach with our our eyes, facial expressions, bodily movements, personalities, and our words. When we are not tied to a manuscript, we more fully communicate with those to whom we are speaking. But onto my outline on Jonah, chapter one!
An Introduction To Sermon On Jonah, Chapter One.
    When this sermon was preached, this outline was preceded, of course, by an introduction to the subject matter. The introduction included a giving of my shorter outlines of each chapter, given in a previous posting. The introduction also included a reading of the entire first chapter of Jonah, at which we again looked as each main point was expounded on. Therefore, much of the chapter was gone over twice in the sermon. As we proceeded through the main points and sub-points, application was made to ourselves. As one can see, it is easy to apply some of these points to both Christians and non-Christians. Thus, the sermon has an evangelistic thrust to it as well.
1.) First, we read of Jonah's commission, verses 1 and 2.
     A. The content of his commission.
          1.) It was specific.
          2.) It was startling.
     B. The city of his commission
          1.) Its location.
          2.) Its history.
          3.) Its wickedness.
          4.) Its danger.
          5.) Its need.
          6.) Its repentance.
          7.) Its destruction.
2.) Second, we read of Jonah's rebellion, verse 3.
     A. The reasons for his rebellion.
          1.) His bias against Gentiles.
          2.) His bitterness against the Assyrian Ninevites.
     B. The expressions of his rebellion.
          1.) He tried to avoid Nineveh.
          2.) He tried to avoid God.
     C. The foolishness of his rebellion.
          He could run away from the will of God, but he could not run away from the presence of God.
3.) Third, we read of Jonah's guilt, verses 4 - 17.
     A. His guilt affected the sea, verse 4.
     B. His guilt affected the ship, verse 4.
     C. His guilt affected the sailors, verses 5a and 6 - 8.
     D. His guilt affected his strength, verse 5b.
     E. His guilt affected his statement, verses 9 and 10.
     F. His guilt affected his senses, verses 11 and 12.
     G. His guilt affected his service, verses 13 - 17.
A Conclusion To Sermon on Jonah, Chapter One.
   Concluding a sermon on such a chapter as this one is easy. If we are Christians, we have been commissioned to be Christ's witnesses, though we might never be sent far away. And, we have been commanded to live Christlike lives. But, like Jonah, we can rebel against God's will. However, not one of our reasons for doing so is acceptable. When we rebel, we are guilty. And this guilt will affect us and others until we get right with God. The conclusion should include time for prayers of repentance.
A Concluding Song
    A hymn or Gospel song can be very a effective means of driving home to the heart the Biblical truths considered during a sermon. In this case, we sang the first and last verses of that grand old song of repentance, "Lord, I'm Coming Home." Those verses and chorus say this: "I've wandered far away from God -- now I'm coming home; the paths of sin too long I've trod -- Lord, I'm coming home. My soul is sick, my heart is sore -- now I'm coming home; My strength renew, my hope restore -- Lord, I'm coming home. Coming home, coming home, never more to roam; open now thine arms of love -- Lord, I'm coming home."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gary Gilley's Important Negative Review Of Mark Driscoll's Popular Book On Marriage

By Pastor Bruce Oyen

    Mark Driscoll's popular book on marriage is a best-seller. But Gary Gilley's important negative review of the book deserves to be taken seriously. Here (in red) is what Gilley says at the end of his review: "There is in fact some helpful biblical teaching, but to get to this the reader must disregard and/or wade through a trash heap of psycho-babble, statistics, poorly exegeted Scripture and personal opinion.  Because of all this Real Marriage is more harmful than helpful."  

Simple Sermon Outlines Of The Book Of Jonah

By Pastor Bruce Oyen

Jonah and the Big Fish
Introductory statements
    The Old Testament's Book of Jonah is short and simple. But it packs a punch! It relates to everyday life. The purpose of this posting is to present some simple sermon outlines on all 4 chapters of this Old Testament book. And the purpose for doing so is two-fold: 1) To give preachers outline-ideas of how to preach through this book. As one has put it, outlines are sermon skeletons on which to put some meat. 2) To give interested persons an easy-to-grasp survey of the book, with the hope that this will plant some seed-thoughts in their minds that might bear fruit, whether now or later.  
    It is not my intention in this posting to go into much more detail about Jonah's book. Bible students can get a lot of help from the standard Bible commentaries and study Bibles, provided they are commentaries and study Bibles that are by authors who believe the Bible to be what it is: the inspired Word of God correctly transmitted to us in the words of men.

Here are a few conservative study Bibles I recommend:
  • The Ryrie Study Bible ( It has 10,000 notes and other helps)
  • The NKJV Study Bible (My favorite. It has 15,000 notes and other helps.)
  • The Zondervan KJV Study Bible (My second favorite. It has 20,000 notes and other helps.)
  • The Zondervan NASB Study Bible (This has the same notes and helps as the last one.)
Here are a few commentaries I recommend that would comment on the Book of Jonah.:
  • The multi-volume Expositor's Bible Commentary set.
  • J. Vernon McGee's Commentaries.
  • The multi-volume Pulpit Commentary set.
  • Warren Wiersbe's commentaries.
  • Believer's Bible Commentary, by William MacDonald. One volume covers the whole Bible.
  • Unger's one-volume commentary on the Old Testament.
  • Charles Lee Feinberg's one-volume commentary on the Minor Prophets.
  • The two-volume Bible Knowledge Commentary, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck.
  • The multi-volume commentary set by Keil and Delitzsch.
Chapter Outlines of the Book of Jonah

 Chapter One:
    A. His Commission.
    B. His Rebellion.
    C. His Guilt.
 Chapter Two:
    A. His Punishment.
    B. His Repentance.
    C. His Forgiveness.
 Chapter Three:
    A. His Re-commission.
    B. His Obedience.
    C. His Success
 Chapter Four:
    A. His Anger.
    B. His Blessings.
    C. His Rebuke.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Should We Bury The Dead, Or Cremate Them?

By Pastor Bruce Oyen

Bury the dead, or cremate them? A controversial subject.
    Cremation is a controversial subject among Bible-believing Christians. Some are for it, some are against it. Good Christians take opposite views on the subject. It is possible that in years past there was a consensus of opinion among Christians that a dead person should be buried, not cremated. It is possible that now that opinion is no longer the predominant one among Christians.
My personal opinion 
    My personal opinion is that Christians should practice burial of the dead, not cremation. But I must admit we cannot say the  Bible specifically says, "You shall not practice cremation, but must bury the dead." If the Bible had such a command, it would help settle the matter, at least for Bible-believing Christians. So, the matter must be approached in a different way. It is somewhat like using tobacco products such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The Bible does not say "You can't smoke and you can't chew tobacco." Therefore, we must consider Biblical principles and medical facts in order to make a decision for or against tobacco.
    One of the Biblical principles that can help us as we consider burial versus cremation is this: the Bible clearly and often teaches that we are not the result of evolution, but of God's creative power and wisdom. Therefore, since the human body is of miraculous, divine origin, burial of the dead is a way of showing respect for God's handiwork. Read carefully through Psalm 139, verses 13 - 16, and ask yourself if cremation seems compatible with what you read. 
The opinion of a Jewish Christian Bible scholar
    Please open-mindedly consider what a Jewish Christian Bible scholar says about the subject. The scholar is dead, but is still well-known to many students of the Bible, especially students of the Old Testament.
    His name is Charles Lee Feinberg. The jacket of his commentary on the Minor Prophets says he "is one of the leading authorities on Jewish history, Old Testament languages and customs, and Biblical prophecy. He grew up in an orthodox Jewish home and studied Hebrew and related subjects for fourteen years preparatory to the rabbinate." The book jacket also tells of his many academic degrees and achievements.
    I am currently (April, 2012) reading for the second time Dr. Feinberg's helpful commentary on the Minor Prophets. The book can be described as being somewhere between the simplicity of J. Vernon McGee's commentaries and the complexity of the Pulpit Commentary set.
    What Dr. Feinberg wrote about Amos 6:10's reference to the burning of bodies applies to the subject of cremation versus burial. He wrote this: "In ancient Israel, in accordance with the words of Genesis 3:19, burial was the accepted method of disposal of the dead. In this the New Testament doctrine of the body concurs. Hence cremation was considered wrong and not countenanced (see Amos 2:1). But when God's judgment falls upon his people, there will be so many dead that they will not bury them but burn them. The cases here and 1 Samuel 31:12 are exceptional cases. Here (in Amos 6, editor) cremation is resorted to in order to prevent contagion; in 1 Samuel it was done to obviate further dishonor of the bodies of Saul and his sons by the Philistines."
My conclusion on the subject
   I hope that this brief posting has given you some reasons to be for burial, and to be against cremation.