Jonah Tried It

But He Learned His Lesson!
By Ronnie Bray

“Jonah tried what?”
He tried running away from the Lord, but found that no matter how hard or far he ran the Lord always found him and set him straight.

“And your point is?”
My point is that those that run away from God are on a hiding to nothing. Take, if you will, the example of Anti-Mormons. These people run away as far and as fast as they can from what the Good Lord intended them to believe and do.

“For example?”
For example, take the passage in Paul’s writing referring to Baptism for the Dead.

“I’ve never heard of it. Are you sure it is in the Bible?
Of course it is. I thought you read the Bible.

“I do, but I have never come across anything about Baptism for the Dead! Suppose you show me where it is?”
Right. Turn to Paul’s first epistle to the Christians at Corinth, chapter fifteen, and verse twenty-nine. Got it?

“I’ve got it. Now what?”
Please read it aloud.

“Else what shall they do which are baptised for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptised for the dead?”
Thank you. You see, right there Paul writes about people being baptised for the dead.

“You are right. But, again, I must ask you what point you are trying to make here?”

Anti-Mormons run away from this verse by maintaining that Baptism for the Dead was not a rite practised the Early Church, yet Paul says it is practised in the early Church and draws on its reality to underpin his teaching of the reality of bodily resurrection.

“Why do they run away from it?”
That’s a good question, but there is not a good answer to it other than because Christianity lost sight of this essential rite in the first few Christian centuries they deny that it even existed, despite Paul’s pleading it as support for the doctrine of universal, physical resurrection from the dead. Paul in his impassioned treatise on resurrection has to rest the doctrine of resurrection on a practice with which the Christians at Corinth were familiar. Some Christians had come to doubt the reality of the resurrection as far as anyone other than Jesus was concerned. To correct that view, Paul preaches with the enthusiasm born of certainty about a matter that he is convinced is a central and essential teaching of Christianity. Remember that Paul had seen the risen Christ and as one of Christ’s apostles, he had a particular commission to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to Gentiles, and to convince them of the central tenets of the Christian Gospel. The resurrection of the saints, which is what members of Christ’s Church were called, is promised and Paul uses the Corinthian saints’ familiarity with the rite of baptising living proxies on behalf of those that had died without accepting Christ as their Saviour. The fact that people were being baptised for the dead by the Church at Corinth, in the hope that those for whom the proxies stood would be resurrected and saved is the crux of Paul’s appeal to the practice of baptism for the dead as evidence of the reality of the resurrection. Corinthian Christians practised baptism for the dead, but Paul argues it would be simply a waste of time if there were no resurrection.

“I see. What I don’t see is how Anti-Mormons run away from the scripture.”
They run away from it by not believing it refers to Christian baptism for the Dead.

“But, if Paul uses it to strengthen his argument in favour of resurrection he must have believed it was a Christian ordinance!”
You are so right, and he did! Anti-Mormons run away from this Christian rite by pretending that it was a pagan practice, and they point out some pagan practices that are similar, but not exactly, and which have dissimilar objects than does Christian baptism for the dead. By showing several pagan instances of ablution, they seek to weaken the argument of Saint Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ and deflect attention from what was once an integral part of orthodox Christian practice.

“That’s really sad. But, why can’t they see what Paul means?”
It is not always easy to identify every motive that impels anti-Mormons to run from the Lord and flee from what he has caused to be written in the Bible. We could suggest, if we were to be kind, that they lack the faith to take the Lord at his word and just believe what the Bible says. It is evident that some people only have enough faith to believe things

they either understand or what they have been taught to understand by those of their particular faith position, in whom they have placed their trust, when they should trust the Lord’s word in the Bible to mean what it says.

“I see. What else do Anti-Mormons run away from that is in the Holy Bible?”
Well, the one that springs most readily to mind after baptism for the Dead is the command Jesus delivered to his disciples to be perfect.

“You are jesting with his one, right? Jesus knows humans can’t be perfect so why would be order Christians to be perfect?”
If we bear in mind that Jesus’ perspective stretches out far beyond this present world and beyond our present life, then many of the things Jesus said that seem difficult for us to latch on to become clearer, plainer, and make more sense to our limited thinking. If you will turn to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter five, and verse forty-eight you will see one of them.

“I have it. Shall I read it aloud again?”
Yes, please, and pay attention to the words.

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Wow! He really did order them to be perfect!”

“Well, I suppose he means that for all of us, so, yes, he wants us to be perfect. Actually, he wants us to be as perfect as God is. How can that be?”
When Jesus commands us, ‘Be ye therefore perfect – even as your Father in heaven is perfect,’ we are forced to consider that the Father-God, he that reigns in heaven and besides being our heavenly parent he is also the Father-God of Jesus Christ, and that he is the grand law, sole giver, and is pattern of the perfection which he recommends to his children. The words uttered by Jesus for our obedience are very emphatic, εσεσθε ουν υμεις τελειοι, ‘Ye shall be therefore perfect - ye shall be filled with the spirit of that God whose name is Mercy, and whose nature is love.’ God has many imitators of his power, independence, justice, etc., but few of his love, condescension, and kindness. He calls himself Love, to teach us that in this consists that perfection, the attainment of which he has made both our duty and privilege: for these words of our Lord include both a command and a promise.

"But, can we be fully saved from sin in this world so that we can be as perfect, as whole, as complete as Jesus orders us to be?"
That is an important question, to which this text gives a satisfactory answer: ‘Ye shall be perfect, as your Father, who is in heaven, is perfect.’ As in God’s infinite nature there is no sin, nothing but goodness and love, so in our finite nature there shall dwell no sin, for the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus makes us free from the law of sin and death, Romans 8:2. God shall live in, fill, and rule our hearts; and, in what He fills and influences, neither Satan nor sin can have any part. If men, slighting their own mercies, cry out, ‘This is impossible!’ Who does this contending reprove? It reproves Almighty God, who has given a command, the fulfilment of which is impossible.

"But who can bring a clean out of an unclean thing?"
Again, your question leads to one incontestable answer. God Almighty can bring a clean out of an unclean thing, and he can bring a perfect thing out of an imperfect thing, a whole man out of a failing, sinful man. However firmly established the disorder of sin in us may be, the love of God and the grace of the Lord Jesus can fully cure it.

“But, will Jesus actually make us perfect?”
If not, are we to believe that Jesus, who laid down his life for us, will not use his power to effect that salvation which he died to bring about.

"I see what you mean, but where are those person thus perfected and saved, if there are any? "
Wherever one person is found that loves Almighty God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbour as themselves; and lives to honour the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its Author, there is one made perfect by their obedience to the Gospel of Christ. And can we not hope there are many such in the Church of Jesus Christ, not known by their claiming to be of this kind, but known by more sure testimonies of their uniformly holy tempers, of permanent piety to God, and of their enduring munificence to their fellows?

“Why would someone run away from that commandment?”

Because they lack the faith to believe in and accept the words of Jesus Christ in which he said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” [John. 7:17]

“So, Jesus invites us to find out for ourselves by a practical experiment?”
Right! And Jesus assures us here that those who make such an effort will not wrangle at any of the doctrines of the Scriptures, and neither will they run away from them. He promises us that after we have tried them out, then we will know that Jesus is not speaking for himself but is teaching us what his Father sent him to earth to teach us.

“Let me see whether I have understood what the Holy Bible is telling us in these two examples. Jesus tells us that by living the way he sets before us and by trusting in God, we will be given evidence through our faith that will lead us to certainty.”
That is correct. No one who has ever made an honest effort to live a pious and godly life, and who seeks to do all the will of God, has ever had any doubt of the truth of the doctrines taught by Jesus Christ our Saviour, or has ever been visited by any shadow of a doubt that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and perfectly suited to the nature of man. They only doubt the truth of Christ’s gospel that wish to live in sin.

“Running from God and the teachings of Jesus Christ seems to be a waste of time. I guess the Prophet Jonah learned that after his miraculous return to his calling by the power of God?”
He did. Some of us want all our own way too much rather than trying to grow our faith to the point where it will please God to bless us, and so we become fugitives from Divine Blessings, and cause ourselves, and others, a lot of trouble.

“I see what you mean by running away from the teachings of the Bible. Do you have any more examples?”
Oh, there are lots more that I could share, but why don’t you begin reading the scriptures yourself and find other instances of where we might be tempted to run away from doing what God wants us to do because our faith is too weak to be obedient?

“That’s a good idea. I will be perfect in reading the scriptures every day, and let you know how I get on, and what happens to my budding faith.”
That is good. As you search the holy scriptures you will see the goodness of God in giving us evidence of his truth that are within every man's reach. It does not take substantial learning to be a Christian, or to be convinced of the truth of the words of our

Saviour Jesus Christ. It does, however, take an open and honest heart, and a willingness to obey God, whatever he commands us.

“That’s what Jonah had to learn, isn’t it?”
That is right. And, just like Jonah, we must set out from where we are to get to where God wants us to wind up. In the matter of our eternal salvation, it is preferable that we do not contradict Almighty God’s plans for us nor set off in the opposite direction than that in which he points us. He knows best where we should be and what we must be doing to arrive at the destination he has prescribed for us. Jesus said he was preparing mansions for his disciples. Who would want to go anywhere else but to that mansion? It is God’s plan for us that we race towards our mansion with all the despatch we can muster and avoid snares and wrong paths that would keep us from the blessed destination God has made ready for us.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful