In our evening devotional tonight, my lovely wife read for us one of C.H. Spurgeon’s accounts of Jonah, specifically focusing on when he attempted to flee from the commandment to go to Nineveh. It gave me pause to consider two points, how many people do not hear when God calls, and how many do, but disobey, failing to even recognize the punishment that comes upon them. “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18)
I will offer no numbers or percentage points, but I believe I can quite assuredly say that the majority of the eight or so billion people on this planet are not born-again. That much is obvious.
Every child of God is given responsibilities for the glory of God with our growth in His grace and knowledge, (1 Peter 3:18) as we keep our bodies under subjection, learn to hate this world, (1 John 2:15) our relatives, (Luke 14:26) and even ourselves, (John 12:25) we are given more responsibility, or at least it is offered to us. For many if not most this is a very rocky road, fraught with pitfalls both from our adversary and our remaining sinful nature. So, one must consider, those who claim to know Him as Savior, who say that Jesus Christ is the Lord of their lives, but even after decades show little to no growth, are they not hearing His call?
I personally know men who have attended the same church for many decades who cannot give a detailed explanation of justification, sanctification or glorification, much less other precepts of the faith that are basic in nature and worthy of much contemplation. Their calling, if indeed they have been saved by grace through faith, seems to be no more than regular attendance at church and perhaps a seat on the finance committee.
It is the lives of such men that I contemplate quite frequently, not so that I may question their salvation, that is in God’s hands, but why those who may indeed be saved either never hear His calling to go a little further with the Lord, as He said to Peter that day on the beach, (John 21:22) or if they are one of the many who have deceived themselves by practicing a “Christian routine” on a regular basis. There are many the Lord says that profess Him only with their lips. (Matt. 15:8)
Of the other thought, those that disobey but do not recognize the chastisement of the Lord when it comes, I can attest to in my earliest walks with Him. Circumstances, my own ineptitude, even happenstance, if you will were the reasons I attributed to His chastisement upon me when I was disobedient. In this age of grace God does not, as far as we know, inflict punishment as He did to the children of Israel under the law, thousands do not die simply for looking in the ark, (1 Sam. 6:19) tens of thousands do not die when the King makes a decree that he is deceived into making. (2 Sam. 24)
The punishments for disobedience are there nonetheless, but today the most prevalent statement seems to be, “I don’t feel the Lord’s presence in my life.” Adverse emotions and physical events that we see as detrimental to us are the only recognizable punishments that many seem to be able to explain away any possible sin in their lives.
Jonah knew he had made a big mistake, he had plenty of time to think about his actions in the belly of that fish. If you are indeed born-again you will see growth in your walk with Christ, what was once difficult to Spiritually discern will become second nature to you, the voice of the Holy Spirit will not only become clearer, almost audible in your heart at times, but your response in obedience will become automatic. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
Look back over your life since you got up from your knees at the cross, if you can see clear and honest growth that can be seen and witnessed to as truth by others that you knew before that time, or have known you for any length of time, then you are a child of the Most High God. If not, you may have a very serious problem on your hands.