Sermons & Sunday Schools

The Honor Roll of Faith: Abraham (Part 2)

Full Transcript:

We’re in an area of Scripture where I am calling it the Honor Roll of Faith. When I embarked on our study of Hebrews, I said that our journey would bring us to a place that we would all have an opportunity to once again fall in love with our Lord, Jesus Christ, and to come and worship Him more consistently and deeply.

Through this study, I have prayed that if you don’t really know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then that you would be lead to repentance and follow Him for all the days of your life. If you do know Him, then that you would discover afresh the supremacy of Christ and learn to live daily by faith in a way that pleases Him in the very thoughts you think, words you speak, and actions you are involved with during the day.

Don’t forget that it is because Jesus has opened for us a new and living way to approach God by His one-time sacrifice on the cross, so that we may endure and finish the race that God has called us to by faith. It is by His death and what it accomplished that we can press-on and have a firm assurance of those eternal realities, which are invisible to the outward eye.

By faith, we can look backward and see how faithful God has been in history. In hope, we look forward and maintain a steadfast hope in a present faith in Him and His promises as we live every single day. Like the saints that have gone before us, who had a forward-looking faith and won the approval of God, we must follow their example and live by faith to gain the Lord’s approval in all that we do.

Coming to this section of Scripture, I must mention that faith is trust in the unseen, not trust in the unknow, which is a huge difference. Hebrews 11:7:

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Biblical faith is a faith that is certain that what it believes is true because of who said it, and what it expects or hopes for will come to pass. Biblical faith is grounded in what we can’t see, but what we know is true. Faith lays hold of what is promised and hopes for something real as something solid though as unseen.

What God says is true, and what God says will come to pass, which is our hope. Through Jesus Christ, we are saved, and we know that we will obtain full salvation. Even though that full salvation has not yet happened, we know by faith that we have it because God tells us the truth.

These Old Testament examples before us live with trust in the unseen – or better – they live by faith. Faith is the ultimate assurance and evidence that the things not seen are realities because of the character of God. When the Old Testament people acted in faith, they inspired their generation as we saw in the case of Abel. Though dead for a very long time, the power and duration of a faithful example lives beyond the grave. Through Scripture, his voice speaks to us of the only acceptable way to worship God.

With that being said, let’s fix our eyes on the next example of what it means to have faith and live by faith. For Abel, living by faith is worshiping God in an acceptable manner and according to God’s way. With Enoch, living by faith is walking with God in a pleasing manner, especially according to the character of God.

As we look at Noah, living by faith is unquestionably obeying God’s word in a manner of complete conviction. In other words, taking God at His word without questioning Him, which is hard for some people. However, for Noah, that principle of living was very successful, and he lived nine hundred and fifty years.

If it was a success for him to live in that manner where he obeyed God unquestionably, without questioning the why’s of the ways God does things, then we too should take on this manner of life and learn to love God and walk with God to the point in which we don’t have to question what He says. We know it is true; therefore, we ought to live accordingly.

It is impossible to please God without faith. If you don’t have faith, you cannot please God, nor can you be saved or please God in your daily walk. The context and people to which Noah ministered was not favorable. Genesis 6:5, 7:

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

7The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”

God is communicating to Noah some of the things He is displeased with, which is according to how men are living their lives on the earth. They are living their lives with great wickedness and disregarding everything that God had laid down in the beginning as far as the foundational principles on how to respond to one another, how to live with one another, how to sacrifice to the Lord in a proper manner, how to worship God, and how to give Him thanks for everything.

Therefore, God looked down upon men and saw that their wickedness was great on the earth and how it had reached into heaven, so he assessed that the intents of their thoughts and heart were evil all the time. Today, is this world any different? Are people the same today as they were in Noah’s day? The heart is deceitfully wicked about all things, so I would say that humanity is the same even today.

Now, who is Noah? Like Enoch, Noah was blessed by a harmonious relationship of communion with God. Genesis 6:8-9:

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

This is the same thing it said about Enoch, which is that Enoch walked with God. Remember, walking with God is daily. When you get up in the morning, God is on your mind. You are conscious of His presence, you understand what He requires of you, and you are sensitive to your own sinfulness. All these things happen when you walk with God, and you are very in tuned with what God wants you to do every day.

In Noah’s time, a time of great wickedness, he was righteous, so he was in the minority. Noah was not in the majority, which tends to be wrong, especially about spiritual things. Noah was blessed with this relationship with God, and he understood what it meant to walk with God. Noah loved it and it filled his heart.

The length of time, which Noah labored and preached, was a long time. In fact, the Bible tells us that Noah was six hundred years old when the rain began, and he entered the ark. After the flood waters subsided, he lived three hundred and fifty years. Genesis 9:28-29:

Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood. 29So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and he died.

However, Noah was about four hundred and seventy-five years old when God spoke to him about what he was going to do with the world. From that point, on to the point where it started to rain, God delayed the flood for one hundred and twenty years so that people could hear the preaching of Noah on how to get right with God. Thus, they could repent of their sins and believe in Noah’s message. 1 Peter 3:20:

who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

Noah challenged the unrighteous generation of his day to repent and put their trust in God. He warned them: if they continued in unbelief, divine judgement would over take them. Well, the message hasn’t changed, and it is the message today. Judgement is coming upon the world unless men repent and believe in Jesus Christ, the message of God, and trust God. If they continue in their unbelief, then judgement will come. If it did then, then it will in the future. 2 Peter 2:5:

and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.

Noah is preaching for one hundred and twenty years, and virtually had no converts. For Noah, living by faith is unquestionably obeying God’s word in a manner of complete conviction in his heart. Even though Noah did not see anything yet, he still believed God. The question I have is this: what does it mean, from Noah’s example, to take God at his word without question?

For Noah, as well as for us, there are several things that are included. Number one, believing God’s word without any visible evidence beyond what God said. At this point in Noah’s life, there is nothing beyond what he said.

In Hebrews 11:7, Noah was being warned by God about things that would happen. In fact, the term, “warned by God,” carries the weight of a serious command from heaven. Essentially, it is to be divinely commanded, admonished, instructed, or warned by God. God stressed to Noah the importance of not fudging with, adding to, subtracting from, or minimizing the word of God. It is the same word found in Hebrews 8:5:

who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.”

In other words, Moses had to do it exactly the way God said. He was warned not to fudge with the things God has said, and not to soften the things God tells us and shows us in the word. Don’t soften judgement but tell it like it is. Thus, Noah really walked with God and learned to know God’s character and what He wanted. Noah knew one of the things God wanted was for him to simply tell it like it is.

At this time, Noah knew, by what God said, that God was going to judge the earth. Also, Noah knew that God was going to judge by means and in ways that he had not seen or ever heard of. Remember, there was no rain on the earth yet. Before the great flood, dew watered the ground from a canopy, so there was never rain.

Also, God told him that there would be mountain-high flood waters. If you don’t know what rain is, it is hard to comprehend how much water that could be, especially if it covers the highest mountains, and the Bible tells us the water rose one hundred twenty feet above the highest peak. In addition, God told him of the devastation of the whole world. The elements, which God pronounced good in creation, would turn against unbelief for a cataclysmic judgement upon all humanity due to the evil and wickedness of their heart.

If we are going to live by this kind of faith, then we must believe God’s word with no visible evidence beyond what God said. As said before, we will have a resurrected body someday, we will be in God’s kingdom someday, and there will be a new heaven and earth someday. God promised all these things, but we haven’t seen them. However, we know it’s true since God said it is true, which defines faith. Therefore, faith holds on to them as if they are true, especially since they will be true.

However, God must do His plan first. He must work it out, and He puts us in the middle of that plan. We are in that plan, and it is an exciting time to live. With all the world stuff and instability in the world that is going on today, the message of God is even more important than ever.

Secondly, believing God’s word is confirmed by external conduct. In Hebrews 11:7, the word reverence means to stand in awe of God’s declaration. Meaning, the attentiveness to divine instruction. Again, it is the same word used to describe the character of the high priest, Jesus Christ, as He offered prayers in humble submission to the Father, the Father being the only who can save. Hebrews 5:7:

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.

There, it is translated as piety. In the ESV, it is translated as reverence, and in the NIV, it is translated as reverent submission. In other words, He had an inner-reverent heart towards God. There was no animosity towards God because of what God was going to do. There was no complaining toward God or grumbling before God. There is reverence before God. Again, the word is used in Hebrews 11:28:

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.

Reverence coupled with Godly fear. Proverbs 1:7:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

In the Septuagint version, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which the author of Hebrews quotes often, says in Proverbs 3:5:

For all the words of God are tried in the fire, and he defends those that reverence him.

Those who believe His word and find those words to be true are the ones who reverence God. Those are the ones who honor God in their heart. Outwardly, Noah is living by faith. Inwardly, Noah shows an external conduct that he had such an honor and respect for the God who created the heaven and the earth, and the God whom he walked with, so it was evident to all around him.

In addition, the conduct of Noah confirmed the meaning and essence of faith that we read in Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

For Noah, that is his own salvation and the salvation of his household, and the judgement of the flood, which are the things he grasped by faith though unseen. Yet, knowing it will happen because of what God is doing. Thus, he had an inner-reverent heart. We, too, should have inner-reverent heart when we consider who God is and what He is doing even if we don’t understand all that He is doing, and we don’t have all our questions answered.

Thirdly, believing God’s word coupled with evidence of faith. You can say that you have faith, but where is the evidence? In Hebrews 11:7, Noah’s faith becomes most remarkable because it really shows that he took God at His word. He believed God’s word concerning the impending judgement on the fallen, unrepented human race. He believed God’s word on the means, which God would use to deliver himself and those, who would join him on the ark. He believed God and took steps necessary to saving himself and his family.

Here, believing God’s word is coupled with evidence of faith. When you believe God, you take steps to prepare as God tells you to prepare and how God tells you to prepare. Then, what is the steps that Noah takes? In Hebrews 11:7, Noah prepared an ark, and he prepared the ark according to God’s blueprint. In fact, in Genesis 6:14-16, the Bible tells us some details about that ark:

“Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. 15“This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16“You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.

This is a ship, not a boat, which is huge. To visualize the ark, it is about one and half football fields long, as wide as a football field, and it is four stories high from its keel. That thing is huge. Matter of fact, Creation Research Institute is building an ark according to those measurements in the Midwest, which should be done in about two years.

When I was on an aircraft carrier, it was two and half football fields long, it was as wide as a football field, and it had one hundred jet plans, trucks, boats, and five thousand people. I was always amazed as to how it floats. Well, I wonder how we got our ideas on how to build boats. Possibly, Genesis laid down some things on how to build a ship so that it floats and is seaworthy.

It was a big ship built on dry ground far from any large body of water, and it had never rained before. Noah obeyed God and began to lay the great ship’s keel. While he was doing that, he was also preaching. He was building the ark, preaching repentance from sin, and trusting God’s word and coming judgement. For one hundred and twenty years, Noah did that faithfully. In addition, he praised and worshipped God all along.

More importantly, while Noah was doing this, he persevered undeterred by the mockery of others. Can you hear the Noah jokes? The laughter on those sunny days, with no mist in the air, or any smell of rain or moisture in the air. Surely, Noah looked like a mad man and a crazy preacher, especially to his unbelieving onlookers.

Imagine the people pulling up their beach chairs, sitting back on an afternoon, Noah is preaching and building the ark, and people are mocking him. As these things were going on, Noah sounded like a fool to those who came to hear him preach.

Are you willing to be a fool for Christ? Are you willing to be in the minority when no else in your family believes what you believe? However, you believe it because of what God said. Like Noah, it is the same for us, so we ought to act and have this kind of visual faith before others. 1 Corinthians 1:23-25:

but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Are you ready to be found a fool for Christ’s sake? How about on your job when you don’t get promoted because you live your Christian life? Are you willing to live in a way in which you look like a fool because of what you believe? However, what you believe is true and you hold that by faith. Your desire for those who are around you, who think you are foolish, is for them to see what you see by faith, believe in Jesus Christ, and to be saved from the judgement that is coming.

By Noah’s faith, two things float to the surface. In Hebrews 11:7, we see a double-edged sword of the Gospel. Every time the word of righteousness goes out, it goes out for two reasons: to bring and seal judgement or to bring salvation by grace. The word of God never comes back void without accomplishing either one of those two things because God’s justice must be met.

God was using Noah to carry out the message of salvation to a world that is going to be condemned by his faith. The word condemned carries the meaning of one’s good example to render another’s wickedness, the more evident and condemnable. In other words, the light of testimony, or a godly life, exposes darkness.

During his wicked generation, Noah was a shinning light. People probably didn’t like Noah. For example, found in the history of Athens, Greece, the finest man, who was called, “the just,” was voted out of the town and banished by the people. One man asked why he had voted that way, and he answered, “I am tired of hearing this man being called the just.”

Every time he was looked at as a good, just person, it condemned others as a wicked and sinful person. Thus, there is a danger in goodness. In its light, evil stands condemned. Under the message of the righteousness of God, evil stands condemned. Under the lifestyle of the person of faith, who believes God, the world stands condemned. Therefore, Noah’s faith condemned the world because what he was told by God was yet unseen and came to be in every detail to an unbelieving world, which is personal righteousness contrasted with godlessness all around. Genesis 7:1:

Then the LORD said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.

When other people broke God’s commandments, Noah kept them. When other people were deaf to God’s word, Noah listened to them. When other people laughed at God, at the message, and Noah building the ark, Noah reverenced God. So, who is going to have the last laugh?

Noah’s faith condemned the people around Him, who disbelieved God and disregarded the warning. Not one person responded to his faithful example and righteous preaching. 1 Peter 3:20:

who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

Only eight people out of all the people who lived at that time, so everyone else was sealed in unbelief. Once again, opposition and persecution to the Gospel rises out of unbelief. Ridicule rises out of unbelief, and we should never ever be surprised by unbelief. Unbelief is as old as the hills. Genesis 6-8 is a record for our instruction of a clear rejection of the message of salvation, the Gospel, because of unbelief.

Did you ever feel disappointed? When you enthusiastically share the Gospel with someone and they outright rejected you, you conclude that there must be something wrong with either yourself or your message. However, this ought not to be. A Welsh preacher of his day said:

The idea that we ought to feel disappointed when people do not believe the gospel, that we ought to think that something has gone wrong is altogether mistaken. The idea that the Gospel is a message that must appeal to men and women is all wrong. By nature, people have always rejected and hated the Gospel. The world, in general, has ignorantly refused to believe the only message that can save it and make it right with God. It’s always been like that. You may feel in the minority, a fool for Christ, and that things have gone wrong even when you sincerely have preached the Gospel. By His message and His life, the world is condemned in their own unbelief.

In Hebrews 11:7, a second thing that rises to the surface is that he was confirming God’s way of salvation. Noah became the heir of righteousness, which is according to faith. Again, we see this word heir. Used in a Messianic way, it is one who receives his allotment by the right of sonship. When used of Christ, all things being subject to His sway. If it’s used as far as Christians are concerned, then it is as exalted by faith to the dignity of the sons of Abraham; hence, the sons of God are to receive the blessing of God’s kingdom promised to Abraham.

The inheritance in which Noah entered was not entered by self-righteousness, but by a righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Noah was looking ahead to the cross. We are looking backward to the cross. However, the cross is central for salvation, and Noah, Enoch, or no one could have been saved if Christ did not die on the cross. It is an inheritance, which God has provided in Christ.

As studied in Hebrews, Jesus Christ is supremely and uniquely the heir of all things. Noah and all true believers receive an alien righteousness, which means righteousness that is not our own, comes for God, and is necessary for salvation. The only way we can obtain this righteousness is by faith in Christ and belief that He died for our sins plus trust in Him alone for our salvation.

Meaning, Noah and every other heir of righteousness is so only by having been made one with Christ. In Christ, we are saved. If Christ is the heir of all things, then there is no inheritance remaining for others unless they are united to Christ. Christ is God’s final word on salvation. Hebrews 1:2:

in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

He is the final revelation of God. There is no other revelation of God. If someone does not believe in Christ, they cannot be saved, so what is left for them? The same thing is left for them as what was left for this world back in Noah’s time, which is judgement.

Remember, all true children of God are fellow heirs of Christ Jesus. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God. If children heir, then we are also heirs of God and fellow heirs of Christ. To those who do no inherit a righteousness that comes from God, all that is left is judgement. Today, the world is forewarned by the flood of Noah’s day as the Lord himself taught in Matthew 24:37:

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

Prior to our Lord’s return, the state of the world will have some of the same characteristics of Noah’s day. People will be utterly absorbed in things earthly and present, which is the world. People will live for things, money, power, and fame. In our country, everyone wants to be an American Idol, a millionaire, but so what? The government will take it from you anyway. Therefore, people are utterly absorbed in the present to the point where they don’t even look to the future or to where they will spend eternity. Matthew 24:38:

For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark

They were going along the same path they always went along. They were not concerned about judgement, but about the present and filling their own stomach. They were concerned about their own pleasure, not the eternal soul before a just and holy God.

Secondly, people will comfort themselves with the talk of peace and safety. Paul mentions to the people, who are living in his day, in Thessalonians 3:5:

While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.

People talk about peace and safety by saying, “Oh! Judgment is not going to come.” However, peace and safety are not all around us. God’s judgement is coming.

Thirdly, people will utterly disregard God’s word and warning of worldwide judgement. Matthew 24:39:

and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Today, we have the same message that Noah preached. If people don’t repent and believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, then all that is left for them is judgement. In an hour of judgement, there is security only for those who’s life is hid in Christ. Paul said in Colossians 3:3-4:

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

If we are in Christ, we are safe. We are rescued from impending judgement and from the worldwide outpouring of God’s wrath because Christ is the one who rescues us.

Sometimes, the typical teaching of Noah and the ark is not rightly understood. Usually, the ark is taken as a type of Christ. However, what if this was the position: the righteous, Noah, is a type of the righteous One, the Savior. The ark, made by Noah, represents the work brought by Christ for salvation. Noah’s family were granted salvation from death solely for Noah’s sake, not because of any righteousness of their own.

In Genesis 7:1, he did not say that those who entered the ark with Noah were also in a righteous position. Thus, Noah represents Christ, who is the one who grants salvation based on His righteousness, not your righteousness, which is the alien righteousness. Genesis 7:1 (KJV):

And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

Our sins are forgiven for Christ’s name sake, not for our name sake or the name sake of anyone else. Yet, each of them, in his family, had to accept deliverance personally by association with Noah and his example and preaching, which is done by entering the ark. The act of entering the ark proclaimed their individual faith of each, so they were saved by faith also.

By Noah, we are forewarned that all what God has said will come true. Thus, the message and example we receive from Noah is that living by faith is unquestionably obeying God’s word in a matter of complete conviction, which is taking God at his word without question.

I pray that you live like that. If you do, then your life will be different. If you do, then you will be in the minority, considered a fool for Christ, but you will be rescued from the wrath to come, especially since you believe the God who said it and who cannot lie. God will always tell us the truth.

Unfortunately, it is dangerous being a Christian. Even our faith condemns the world as Noah’s faith condemned the world. As a pastor, the hardest thing for me to do is to go and preach a funeral to someone I know has never lived like a believer or confessed Christ. Now, I am there preaching, and I can’t preach them into heaven. I would like to, but I can’t. I can only preach Christ to those who are there, so that they would see their standing before God and call on the One who can save and rescue them from the wrath to come.

I pray that we would truly learn to live by faith. Let’s pray:

Lord, I Thank You again for the word of God. It is awesome, Lord, to hear Scripture. Thank You, Lord, for the visible and visual faith of Noah. Thank You, Lord, for His reverent heart. Thank You, Lord Jesus, that he walked with You and learned early in his life what it meant to have joy by walking with God, who has created the heaven and the earth and who provides salvation eternally for all those who believe in Him. I pray, Lord, that we too would live this way. We too, Lord, would live in a manner where we trust You with complete conviction in our heart. In a way that we reverence and have awe for You. In a way that we have visible faith and evidence that we are believers, not only in the words we speak, but in the actions and message that we give to those around us. I pray, Lord, to use us to be that example to others, so those who do not know You and are still in unbelief may believe. That their eyes may be opened and that You may grant them life, and that, Holy Spirit, you may quicken them to come and believe in Christ by faith. I pray that you would use us in that way. Again, I Thank You, Lord, and help us to continually live this way. I pray this, in Christ’s name, Amen.