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Sermon Blurb – Salvation Is Of The Lord

Not unlike Caiaphas’ “prophecy” regarding Christ’s death on behalf of the nation in John 11:49-53, when Jonah confessed in Jonah 2:9, “salvation is of the Lord,” he spoke better than he knew. I imagine him uttering these words balled up in the fetal position within the womblike gut of the fish, blinded by the impenetrable dark but eyes wide opened to the sovereignty of God. Summarized in these brief but profound words is the message of the entire Book of Jonah, if not the message of the Bible as whole. Concerning it, Charles Spurgeon declared: “That is one of the grandest utterances that any man ever made.” It is, Spurgeon argues, “an epitome of Calvinism; it is the sum and substance of it.” Regarding this Calvinism, and it’s rival theological position, Arminianism, J.I. Packer recounts this fascinating exchange between the famous Calvinist, Charles Simeon, and famous Arminian, John Wesley in 1784:

“Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions… Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?”
“Yes,” says the veteran, “I do indeed.”

“And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?”

“Yes, solely through Christ.”

“But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?”

“No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.”

“Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?”

“No.”

“What, then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?”

“Yes, altogether.”

“And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?”

“Yes, I have no hope but in Him.”

“Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it. And therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.”

And truly this is the sum and substance of Jonah 2:9, as we’ll see Sunday. We agree with the old Baptist, Mr. Spurgeon, when he concludes: “If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, “He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord.”