Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | January 18, 2019

“behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” – “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

Today’s devotion comes from Luke 11:29-32.

“As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation;  it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah.  For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.  The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon;  and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.  The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah;  and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”  Luke 11:29-32.


The Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonah.

“Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk;  and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

Then the people of Nineveh believed in God;  and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.”  Jonah 3:4-5.

The generation who witnessed Jesus did not only personally hear Jesus preach, they also personally witnessed Jesus perform many miracles, but they still did not repent.

“The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah;  and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”  Verse 32.

And then, there is our generation.  Our generation has not only a full written record of Jonah and Jesus, we also have a full written record of all the other prophets.  We have all the Bible, stating all the preaching and teaching of the prophets and explaining the meaning of everything, the full written word of God Himself.  Finally, after the Bible was written, we also have about 2,000 years of good preaching and teaching of what the word of God means.

If Jesus’ generation had no excuse, but was called a “wicked generation” by Jesus, then what excuse does our generation have (to whom so much more has been given)?!

So to speak using some words of the two Scriptures below, if we have received the knowledge of truth, having been enlightened and having the benefit of tasting the good word of God and seen God’s sovereign grace and power particularly through good Reformed preaching and teaching, but yet treat it casually such that we do not repent and change our beliefs and behavior, then what should we expect?  We may also be condemned. 

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.  Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.”  And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.”  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Hebrews 10:26-31.

This Hebrews 10:26-31 Scripture does not apply to those who do not go to church.  They did not receive the knowledge of truth as stated in Hebrews 10:26.  They were not sanctified, so to speak, as is stated in Hebrews 10:29.  They do not talk about the blood of Christ.  They are not superficially the people of God.  Rather, this Hebrews 10:26-31 Scripture speaks about those who do go to church and received or were exposed to knowledge of the truth and were sanctified so to speak but nevertheless denied the power of the blood and insulted the Spirit of grace.  Rather, this Scripture applies to those within the church (sometimes called “Arminians”) who love to talk about Christ’s blood all the time, but who really treat Christ’s blood as ineffective by itself, believing that it does not actually “save”, “purchase”, nor “redeem” anyone, teaching that most people are not saved and that it is up to man to do sufficient works or at least generate his own faith through his own free will in order to make Christ’s blood effective to save.

Because they talk about Christ’s blood all the time, it is true that in a sense they are trampling this “blood of the covenant”, not in the sense of being hateful to it, but in the sense of treating it as ineffective by itself, like the description in Matthew 5: 13:  “… if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again?  It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

They can also be compared to the one who insults the Spirit of Grace as is mentioned above in Hebrews 10:29.  Think of a situation in which your father took you out to a very expensive dinner and even left the tip in addition.  However, you did not think that the tip was sufficient so you add your $5 to the tip.  Wouldn’t your father be insulted that you thought that what he did was not enough?  They insult God by their doctrine that believes that the blood of Christ is not enough, they feel that they must add their own tip of faith (or works) in order to be saved.  The Calvinist thinks of faith as a gift of God;  the Arminian thinks that their faith is their own product of their own free-will and thus their own gift to God.  The Calvinist has no reason to boast, but the Arminian has reason to boast for contributing what was necessary to secure salvation.

“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.  For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God;  but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”  Hebrews 6:4-8.

“…  From everyone who has been given much, much will be required …”  Luke 12:48.

But, there is hope!

“… behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”  Verse 32.

The someone greater than Jonah is Jesus.

But, the “something” that is greater than Jonah’s preaching is God’s work to save. 

Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father;  that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death;  should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing;  and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.  SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby of Canons of Dordt.

“Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”  John 6:28-29.


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