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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:Faith Through the Flood
Text:Hebrews 11:7 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Living in a sinful world

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

(1976 Psalter Hymnal unless otherwise noted)

470 - Abide with Me

454 (Red) – My Soul, Be on Your Guard

70 - Thy Tender Mercies, O My Lord   

465 - Am I a Soldier of the Cross?

Scripture Readings: Genesis 6:9-7:24; Hebrews 11:7


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Pastor Ted Gray
“Faith Through the Flood”
Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 6:9-7:24
Many people would agree with the late columnist, Sydney Harris. In one of his syndicated columns, he explained: “Although the Noah story, with the ark and the animals, is of course legendary and figurative, like many such tales, it is believed to have had some basis in historical fact. There was a flood of huge dimensions, and it had a profound effect on that part of the world.”
Just as there are many skeptics when it comes to the biblical account of Jonah being swallowed by a great fish, so also there are many skeptics when it comes to the biblical account of the flood. Many scoff at the account of Noah. Many are skeptical that there was a worldwide flood in which all species of animals and birds, along with Noah and his family were spared by being in the ark. Many people today would say that the biblical story is a nice story for little children, but knowledgeable people realize that it didn't really happen that way.
One area of skepticism springs from disbelief that all the animals could fit in the ark. Yet studies show that there was ample room for all the animals. Usually when we see a drawing of an ark there are many large animals on it. We see the hippopotamus and its mate, the elephants and the giraffes. Those animals were indeed on the ark, but so were the smaller animals. And if you were to take the average size of all animals and combine them together you would find that the average size is smaller than a sheep. Two hundred forty sheep fit into one double-decker railroad car. How many railroad cars would fit in the ark? Five hundred sixty-nine. That is more than enough space for all the species of animals.
Tim LaHaye and John Morris, in their book The Ark on Ararat point out that all the animals would fit in just half the space of the ark. That would leave half the space of the ark for Noah, for his family, and for all the provisions that would be needed. Perhaps some of you have seen the Noah presentation in Branson, Missouri. They do an exceptionally fine presentation, and part of it is a realistic portrayal of how all the animals would indeed fit in the ark with room left over.
We believe the account of Noah because it is recorded in the inerrant Word of God. That is the basis for believing that there was a worldwide flood of immense proportions. But it is interesting to note that over the course of history there have been numerous sightings of a large ship on Mount Ararat in present day Turkey. These sightings are from antiquity.
About the year 275 B.C., Berosus, a Babylonian historian, described how people would climb up Mount Ararat to get pitch from an old boat that was shipwrecked way up above the tree line. Josephus, the reliable and well-known Jewish historian, also cites numerous ancient historians who had seen and heard about the petrified remains of a gigantic boat on Mount Ararat.
There have been recent sightings of this ship as well. During World War II photos were published in the Stars and Stripes magazine, as pilots who had flown over Mount Ararat were surprised to see the petrified remains of a great boat are there on the top of the mountain. For most of the year the remains are covered by snow and ice, for Mount Ararat is 16,854 feet above sea level.
The ship that so many people have recorded seeing over the course of history is large enough to fit the description of Genesis 6:15 where the Lord said to Noah, “This is how you are to build it: the ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high.”
The ark was a massive ship. It was so large that it wasn't until the year 1858 that another ship that large, The Great Eastern, was made. It should not surprise us that the ark was so large, because God gave Noah the blueprint, and then God waited patiently for Noah to build the ark. From Genesis 6:3 many believe that it took Noah 120 years to build the ark, and Peter observes, in 1 Peter 3:20, that “God waited patiently in the days of Noah.”
Another area of truth that is often doubted relates to the extent of the flood. Some skeptics, including Sydney Harris, admit that way back in history there was “a flood of huge dimensions” but they can't imagine that the whole earth was flooded with water. Yet Genesis 7:20 says that “the waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than twenty feet.”
There are many people who believe that a worldwide flood is simply impossible, including some professing Christians. For instance, Bernard Ramm wrote a book entitled, The Christian View. Although he was a professing Christian he argued against the worldwide flood because he reasoned that such a depth of water around the globe would be so heavy that it would throw off the orbit of the earth. He believed that there was a great flood, but that it was local, not worldwide. By human reasoning, many would agree with him.
But we understand that God is able to do what we are unable to comprehend. After all, the sun stood still for Joshua as he fought the Amorites (Joshua 10:13). As Jesus said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27). Not only is it possible for Almighty God to flood the world with water and still keep the orbit of the earth true to its course, but there is also ample evidence that is exactly what the Lord did.
Around the world, there are large deposits of animal bones – petrified skeletons – which are found on high hills and mountains. They are found in well-known places such as the Rock of Gibraltar. And these collections of bones are found in unusual spots. There is a hill in northwestern Nebraska that rises up from the surrounding flat plain. At the top of the hill there is a large collection of petrified bones from animals of all types. The bones come from a diverse group of animals, from animals that would not normally be together, literally the lion and the lamb.
What is the only explanation?  It is that as the waters rose around the world, all living creatures fled for refuge. But they could not escape the rising water. No matter how high they climbed the water caught up to them and they drowned.
The worldwide nature of the flood is significant because it points to the worldwide judgment of all the earth when Jesus returns on the last day. When Jesus returns He will bring righteous and perfect judgment on not just part of the world, but the entire world.  Everyone will face the flood of God’s judgement on that day, except those who have saving faith in Jesus Christ, “for there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1 assures us. On the cross of Calvary, Christ bore the righteous and proper judgment of God against sin for all who have saving faith in Him alone.
There is much more evidence for the truth of Scripture regarding the worldwide flood. Some of you may have been to the Noah’s Ark Museum in Kentucky. I have not been there, but when I was at a restaurant not too long ago, having supper with a friend, we happened to be talking about Noah – I think I may have mentioned that I planned to preach about Noah in the not-too-distant future – and the waitress said, “I don't mean to cut in on your conversation, but I just got back from visiting the Noah’s Ark Museum in Kentucky.  It was so amazing!”  I'm sure it is amazing, because it is based on the biblical truths that we have read about in God’s Word.
No Skepticism
Although there are many skeptics, Noah was not in the least bit skeptical.  Our text, from Hebrews 11:7 says: By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Instead of skepticism, Noah demonstrated true faith in God, described in Hebrews 11:1 as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Our text tells us that Noah was “warned about things not yet seen. Imagine what it must have been like for Noah to receive the command to build the ark. He lived in a dry land, and there had never been a large flood before. If Noah had lived by human reasoning and not by faith in the Word of God he never would have built the ark. But he understood the truth that the Apostle Paul would later write about: “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7). He fit the description of Hebrews 11:1 “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Because Noah’s faith was in God, he also had the obedience that springs from faith. Our text does not give us the amount of time that it took for Noah to build the ark. But as noted earlier, most commentators believe that it took 120 years to build the ark.  In that span of time, do you think that the evil one stirred sentiments of doubt in Noah's mind? How easy it would it have been for Noah to question this command of God to build an ark! He could have said: “Lord, no one else is building an ark.” “Lord, they will all laugh at me.” “Lord, I have never seen a worldwide flood. Are you truly going cover the whole earth, so that even the highest peaks of the mountains will be covered with water?”
But no such statements are found. Instead, Genesis 6:22 makes this remarkable observation: “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.” And then that point is driven home in Chapter 7, verse 4: “And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.” That type of obedience is a characteristic of true saving faith. In Paul's greetings to the Roman church, in Romans 1:5, he describes how by God's grace he and the other apostles were to call people from among all the nations – the Gentiles – “to the obedience that comes from faith.”
In other words, if your faith is real it will impact your life. That is why Jesus said that you know a tree by the fruit that it produces. That is why James describes how faith without works is dead. Although we fail to render perfect obedience in this life, everyone who has true saving faith in Jesus Christ will strive for that obedience which comes from faith; we do so out of gratitude for what God has done in saving us from the flood of judgment that we deserve.
Our text also describes for us how the obedience of Noah in building the ark led to the saving of his family. This is the first direct reference to God working within the family. For instance, regarding Abel and Enoch there is indirect, but no direct reference, to the salvation of their families. Noah was a grandson of Enoch, so in that sense we see God's work, generation after generation, in His covenant of grace within the family circle. But in Hebrews 11:7 we see the direct reference of God working through families: “By faith Noah…in holy fear built an ark to save his family.”
Because God works in families, it is so important that each one of us live lives that reflect the obedience that comes from our faith in Jesus Christ. Those of us who grew up in Christian families are thankful – especially in later years as we reflect back – for the example that Christian parents lived out for us and taught us by instruction in God's word.
Our example of faith, as we express the obedience that comes from faith, does indeed have an impact on our families, and beyond to our friends and communities. And it is a lasting impact. As Hebrews 11:4 points out, “Abel still speaks though he is dead.” The way you and I live our lives, will still speak volumes even after we have died. And that presents both a challenge and an incentive to us. The challenge is that we must strive to live lives that reveal Christ living in us. And one incentive to do so is that even after physical death our lives will still speak to our children, our grandchildren and others who come after us.
We also see that our faith has an effect on other people in the second half of our text, which says: “By his faith he (Noah) condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. Because saving faith is an example – either an example that others follow, or an example that others ridicule – it leads to the condemnation of those who denounce it. From Noah's life we see that our faith is evident not only by the way we live, but also in the words we speak. In 2 Peter 2:5 Noah is described as a preacher – a herald – of righteousness.
As Noah lived an obedient life of faith and proclaimed to those around him their need to repent of their sin and believe in the Lord, he did so – not to “the choir” – that is, to other believers, but to a very godless, sinful culture. Can you imagine the ridicule that Noah experienced as he built the ark: “Noah, have you lost your mind?” “Noah, we aren't going to drown!”  "Noah, how in the world do you plan to get all those animals into the ark?”
Noah lived in a culture that certainly ridiculed his faith and his message of righteousness through faith in the promised Messiah, Christ the Lord. There were millions of people in his day. But how many believed? How many were saved? There were eight in all, Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.
Yet although the numbers were miniscule, Noah didn't give up living his faith and proclaiming the gospel. By contrast today, so many Christians give up so easily. So many churches believe that if they don't have large numbers of people in their services they are a complete failure. Noah shared no such concerns. Rather, he lived by faith and in holy fear built the ark, even as he proclaimed to the unbelieving culture in which he lived their need to repent and believe in the Lord. Noah did not measure success by numbers; he measured success by faithfulness.
By way of application, we live in a culture like Noah's.  In Matthew 24:37-39, Jesus said, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
We live in those times. We live in a culture so similar to Noah's, but do we exhibit the same faith as Noah? In your life and in mine do we see at least an effort to exhibit the obedience that comes from faith? In your life and mine is there a willingness to live out the truths of God’s Word and to proclaim the truth of his word, as Noah did? 
The witness of our lives is crucial – we must be that letter from Christ “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:3). But the witness of our words is also crucial, as 1 Peter 3:15 points out, “...Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”
The Door of Christ
A second application: Just as Noah was saved by entering the door of the ark, we are saved by entering the door (or gate) of Jesus. Just as the ark was able to spare Noah from the flood of judgment, so Christ alone is able to save those who have faith in Him.
The real significance of the ark is that it points us to Jesus Christ. Just as Noah and his family were spared from God's judgment by being in the ark, so also, we who have saving faith in Christ are spared from the condemnation we deserve; we are spared from the flood of God's judgment that will come on this world on the last day, because we are secure in Christ. J.C. Ryle, a gifted Anglican writer from another era, pointed out that “What the ark was to Noah, Christ is to the soul.”
Noah and his family were perfectly secure in the ark. The ark had been covered with pitch both within and without. And the word for pitch, used in Genesis 6:14, is an interesting word.  The word translated “pitch” is the same word used for atonement or propitiation. Just as the ark was covered with pitch, inside and out, making it totally secure, so too our sins are covered, inside and out, completely, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
It is His work alone that spares us from the righteous and proper judgment of God against sin. As the apostles declared in Acts 4:12: “There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved.”  The salvation that we have in Christ is a totally secure salvation, just as Noah and his family were totally secure in the ark. Just as God shut the door ensuring the security of Noah and his family, so the Lord has secured us in Christ and promised us that nothing can separate us from His love.
And then a third application: Just as the day came when it was too late to enter the ark, the day will come when it is too late to believe in Jesus. The same waters that brought Noah and his family to safety in the ark, brought judgment on all those who had not taken Noah’s warning of judgment to heart. It will be just as Jesus said in Matthew 24, “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
The flood of God's judgment will again come upon this world. It won't be in the form of a worldwide flood. It will be an even greater event which will culminate in the judgment of the living and the dead. The only ones who will be spared from God's righteous and proper wrath at sin will be those who have entered the door – or the gate – of Christ.  In John 10:9, as Jesus describes Himself as the great Shepherd of the sheep, He makes this promise: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”
There was only one door to enter the ark. There was no other way to enter; no other way to be spared from the flood. In the same way there is only one way to be spared from God's righteous judgment. There is only one way to be secure in your salvation. And that is by faith in Jesus Christ alone. You know the declaration of Jesus, recorded in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
The flood of God's judgment is coming. We will either be under that judgment as unbelievers, or by faith in Jesus Christ, we will be declared righteous because He bore the punishment for us on the cross of Calvary. For those who believe in Him, His return will bring great joy. But for all the scoffers, for all the unrepentant and unbelieving, it will be a day of great mourning.
Jesus described it this way in Luke 21:25-28: “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Back in Noah's day, when the floodwaters began to pour down, many millions ran in agony – in vain – for safety. They ran to the highest point they could find, but they could not escape from the rising water of judgment. The same scene will happen again, perhaps in your lifetime and mine. All the skeptics and scoffers, the unbelievers and unrepentant will, in the words of Revelation 6:16, call to the mountains, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
On that last day, will you and I lift up our heads and rejoice, exclaiming “Our redemption is drawing near?” Are we people with saving faith in Jesus Christ alone? Are we willing to stand against the ridicule and hostility of the world? By God's grace will you and I endure to the end with obedience that comes from faith, repenting when we fail?
So may it be.  By God’s grace and sustaining Spirit may you and I be as Noah was, “an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Amen.
Bulletin outline:
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built
an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became
an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith – Hebrews 11:7
                              “Faith Through the Flood”
                           Genesis 6:9-7:24; Hebrews 11:7
I. Noah’s faith teaches us that true saving faith includes:
    1) Believing the promises and warnings of God (Heb. 11:1, 7; 2 Cor. 5:7)
    2) Obedience (Gen. 6:22; Rom. 1:5), which becomes a lasting example (Heb.11:4)  
    3) Proclaiming God’s righteousness to an unbelieving culture (2 Peter 2:5)
II. Applications:
    1) Our culture is like Noah’s; we must also live by faith (Matthew 24:37-39)
    2) As Noah was saved by entering the door of the ark, we are saved by entering
         the door (or gate) of Jesus (John 10:9; Acts 4:12)
    3) Just as the day came when it was too late to enter the ark, the Day will come
         when it is too late to believe in Jesus (Luke 21:25-28; Revelation 6:16)


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Ted Gray

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