Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. SALVATION BELONGS TO THE LORD!” (Jonah 2:8-9 ESV, caps mine)
Tucked into the middle of the book of Jonah is the heart of the Gospel choice. By, “Gospel choice”, we mean the choice that the Gospel gives to each and every person: Do you want to continue to pursue salvation in vain idols or do you want to declare with thanksgiving that salvation belongs to the LORD?
The Gospel automatically creates two, and only two, categories of people in the world.
The first is of those who look to something other than God for their salvation (what the Bible calls an idol). These are the people who think that their job can save them, if only they can work the right one. These are the people who think a relationship can save, if only they can find the right one. These are the people who think their dollars can save them, if only they can amass enough of them. These are the people who think that their good deeds can save them, if only they can do enough of them.
The Bible calls these pursuits vain idols, because they cannot save anyone. No amount of professional success, no relationship, no amount of money and no amount of good deeds can make us right before a righteous God. Our sin has contaminated thoroughly all that we think, say, and do. So much so, that the motivations of our heart, the reasons we do what we do, are sinful. Those who hope in these idols find out eventually that they are vain, that they cannot save a sinful heart, and that they have forsaken their true hope for salvation in God.
The second, and only other category of people, are those who believe that salvation belongs to the LORD. These are people who have given up their effort to save themselves by making up for their unrighteousness. These are people who have thrown themselves on the mercy and grace of a Savior who has died for their sinfulness. These are people who have believed in their heart and confessed with their mouths that Jesus Christ is LORD and salvation belongs to him. They have realized that since salvation belongs to Jesus, they have to go Him to get it.
Examining yourself in light of the these two categories is foundationally helpful in bringing a person to the place of forsaking those idols which cannot save and taking hold of the steadfast love of Jesus which can. What is heartbreaking is not that people have trusted vain idols to save them (we all start that way). What is heartbreaking is when someone, having been told that the idol cannot save and the Jesus can, still trust the idol.
Idol? The LORD? Which are you trusting in?
– Eric Creekmore, Lead Pastor
Photo Credit: http://livefolkco.tumblr.com/post/126299881326/kristinenicole-chosen-by