In this episode, we continue to look at the life of Noah. This man’s faith led to a radical obedience. Noah suffered for his faith; it was a risk and it cost him something. We will look at two structures – one in the shape of a triangle and the other in the design of a timeframe – that will help us to adopt a proper perspective. Because without a true perspective, we cannot adequately exercise our faith.
Perspectives in Timeframes
So this is the picture of Noah. And it’s “—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him.” (1 Peter 3:22) “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind—” (1 Peter 4:1)
So here we’ve got the triangle and we’ve got a timeframe. I’ve got me and other people. I’ve got me and God. I get to pick which suffering I want to incur. I can suffer the rejection of people, and when will that happen? What’s the timeframe for that, if I’m going to do good? It’s now, right? It’s pretty immediate.
And what I gain is glory from God. A reward from God, which is probably out there somewhere, which is why it takes faith to please God.
Or I can appease these people and go along with them now, and what I’m going to get is loss from God. I don’t please God.
Do you see the difference in perspectives in timeframes?
Noah probably did not have a pleasant hundred years. That was probably a pretty unpleasant time for him. But he was saved from the flood. He was saved from the consequences of the flood. Everybody else is in prison. It’s pretty dramatic the picture that he’s painting here.
These people are in prison now. They had a hundred years of eating, drinking, and making merry; and now they’re in prison. Noah had a hundred years where he was getting splinters in his fingers and getting mocked; and now he’s in the Hall of Faith. See the contrast?
1 Peter 4:1. “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” Buried in Christ, raised to walk in newness of life.
4:3. “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you don’t run with them in the same—”
Choose God or Man
Here we’ve got the triangle again.
Now Peter is writing this letter to a group of Jews. And the Gentiles come to these guys and say, “Hey, you used to party with us, and you’re not doing it anymore. How come?”
And these guys say, “Well, I’m walking a different life now.”
And they think it’s strange. They think it’s strange you not run with them in the same flood of dissipation. Now the translators have helped us with the picture here a little bit. This isn’t actually the same word as the flood like the water, but it’s the same idea.
The water came in and drowned the world and ended life. Well, that’s exactly the same thing sin does. We’ve been raised to walk in the newness of life, the life of Jesus. And that’s our ark! The life of Jesus is our ark. And when we live in the ark, we’re saved from the effects of this flood of sin, our flesh.
We can walk outside the ark anytime. And when we do, we’re walking right into the flood and all the destruction that it brings.
And they speak evil of you. Here again, we’ve got the rejection of men. Which are we going to be more afraid of, the rejection of men, or displeasing God? There’s a timeframe difference. There’s a tangibility difference. But without faith it’s impossible to please God. We want to see evidence of things not seen, and that’s the word of God.
The Testimony of Noah
1 Peter 4:5, “They will give an account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” They may be mocking you now; they may be rejecting you now. They’re storing up for themselves judgment. God is ready to judge right now. He’s just waiting for the time.
4:6. “For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God according to the spirit.”
This was the reason God went and built the ark and took all this time. He could have just plopped Noah up, destroyed the world, and put him back. But he had Noah build this ark so that through Noah, people could get the point. They could have the testimony. There’s a way to be saved from this condemnation.
4:7. “But the end of all things is at hand—” for us. There’s a new pronouncement: The world’s going to end. It’s going to be burned up. We’re not exactly sure when, but it’s certain. When it is, everyone’s going to be judged.
“—therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable without grumbling.” Have you seen this list before? Love others. Be hospitable. Be content with things such as you have. Have you seen this list before? Where did you see it? Hebrews 13.
Let’s go to Hebrews 12:25. “See that you do not refuse him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now he has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’” He shook the earth before. He’s going to shake heaven the next time.
Hebrews 12:27. “Now this ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken—” This earth is going to go away. There’s a theme here, right? If we try to please these people who are temporary and are going to be judged, and if we cling to this earth that’s going to be destroyed, we are to be pitied because we’re clinging to things that are temporal and won’t last.
Hebrews 12:28. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” It’s almost exactly the same phraseology.
So what do you do? Let brotherly love continue. Remember the prisoners. This is one that Peter didn’t have. Be hospitable. Have a good marriage. Be without covetousness. Don’t grumble and don’t be covetous are basically two sides of the same coin. It’s the same thing.
When we do these things, what are we doing in noahic terms, when we live like this? We’re building an ark. We’re being a witness. We’re preaching the gospel. So that people can be judged according to men in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit. And maybe they’ll want what we have.
This is the message of the Hall of Faith. Do we want to live in a flood of dissipation, which is pain to us now? It’s not just in the future. Or do we want to live in the ark, be safe both from the effects of the flood of dissipation of our own flesh, of the world’s system—which will cause us consternation from other people—and please God?
The end is near. Let’s build an ark.
Righteousness of Faith
The last part of Hebrews 11 pertaining to Noah, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark—” He was a witness. He escaped destruction “for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world—” his witness, created accountability, “—and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
This is a phrase Paul really loves: “became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” And, of course, the book that Paul wrote where this is the theme of the whole book is Romans.
So let’s just flip through Romans and see some of these instances of righteousness of faith. It starts in Romans 1:16. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ—” Jesus preached the gospel through Noah, and Noah built the ark.
Paul loves the gospel. Why? “—for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it—” the gospel “—the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith—”
And what Paul is going to demonstrate in the book of Romans is that righteousness begins when we’re justified by faith freely without any requirements whatsoever of behavior on our part. Just enough faith to look. Just like Abraham; just like David.
And then it becomes manifest through experience the reality in our lives when we walk by faith. That’s why it’s “from faith to faith.” And we’re saved from the penalty of sin, and then we’re saved from the power of sin. Looking forward to the time when we’ll be saved from the very presence of sin.
And all three of these things are salvation. They come through faith, through believing, “For in it—” the gospel, “—the righteousness of God is revealed—” How is revealed? Through people building arks, living in obedience when we walk in faith. “As it is written, the just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
Let’s look at Romans 4:10. How did Abraham get righteousness? “How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised—” While he was uncircumcised.
Romans 4:11. “And he received the sign of the circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised—” Righteousness of faith comes through believing, not through ceremony. This is justification.
And sanctification comes in Romans 9:30. The actual coming of righteousness as a reality in our daily walk.
The way we actually build the ark is this way: Romans 9:30, “What shall we say then—” In other words, what’s the conclusion of all the passage up to this time. The theme verse of Romans is the just shall live by faith. So Romans is mainly about living by faith, building an ark of a life of faithfulness.
“What shall we say then—” This is what we say. This is the big point. “—that Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness—”
Paul is writing this whole book of Romans to a group of Roman Christians whose faith is being spoken of throughout the whole world defending his gospel from slander from Jewish competitors who are claiming that grace is not the basis for salvation, but Judaism is and religious practice.
See these Gentiles weren’t even pursuing it, but they obtained it. How? The righteousness of faith.
9:31 “But Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not obtained the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.”
10:1 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.”
10:4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is the law, ‘The man who does these things shall live by them.’”
And if we had time, we could go to Leviticus 18 where this is quoted. And what we would find in Leviticus 18 is a whole list of rules. And it’s mostly sexual stuff: Don’t have sex with your mom. Don’t have sex with your father’s wife. Now why would he say that when he just got through saying don’t have sex with your mom? Might be a stepmom.
And he goes through all these things, and he closes loopholes. Why would he close loopholes? Because we look for them. Because what the law does is give us a challenge to find loopholes so we can still do what we wanted to do and not break the law, right? That’s how it works.
That does not create righteousness.
Romans 10:6 “But the righteousness of faith speaks this way—” And then he quotes Deuteronomy 30.
And Deuteronomy 30—I’m going to paraphrase—says—this is Moses speaking: Look guys, this is not that hard. It’s not like you have to have a missionary come from across the sea and explain it. It’s just not that hard. It’s not like you have to have an angel come down out of heaven and explain it. It’s just not that hard. You know the right thing to do. You know it in your heart. So speak it and do it. That’s all the hard this is. See? I’m giving you two roads today, guys. A road of life and a road of death. A road of blessing and a road of cursing. Choose life. I’m giving you a choice, but I’m encouraging you to choose life because if you do you’ll live. And if you choose death, you’ll die.
Does that sound familiar, relative to Noah? Get in the ark. Live. If you don’t, you’re going to die. Once the door shuts, it’s too late. And he’s talking to elect people. This is not a heaven and hell passage. He’s talking to Israel about whether they’re going to get blessing or not. And this is the way life goes. It’s a stark contrast.
The end is near. We will have lived our lives building an ark, eating and drinking and being merry. If we eat and drink and be merry, there’ll be a lot of people who will go along with us. I, more than likely, will suffer from it because sin brings death. It’s the consequence of sin. But at least we can avoid shame, at least in some respects.
But then we won’t please God, and the loss is immense.
On the other hand, we can do good. If you do good, you’re going to suffer for it. Those who desire to live godly will be persecuted, 2 Timothy 3:12 tells us. But we’ll please God.
Noah moved with godly fear, chose to do all that God asked him to do. In doing so, he created a witness that condemned the world.
We’re asked to build an ark too. We’re buried in Christ, raised to walk in the newness of life. When we walk in the newness of life, we’re building an ark.
We’re invited every day to walk in a flood of dissipation, of the desires of the flesh, the root of which is envy and self seeking. We feel it every day all day long, don’t we? We still live in this body of death. But, by faith, we can put that to death and walk in loving one another and being hospitable and being content with what we have. And in doing so, we’re building an ark and following Noah in the hall of faith.