September 23, 2017

THINGS WRITTEN AFORETIME

By Joe Neil Clayton

"Noah found grace..."

The corruption of the "sons of God" through careless mating with the "daughters of men" brought the wrath of God upon the ancient world. He determined to destroy everyone, except Noah and his family. The fact that He had determined finally upon such an extreme course shows two things very clearly. First, "Jehovah, saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of His heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). Secondly, God's patience had been taxed to the limit.

Whenever men set their hearts to ignore the will of God, He bears with them as long as he can. Nehemiah's recital of the patience of God with Israel is a prime example (See Nehemiah 9:26-31). Yet, there were times when the patience of God ran out, as in the case when the children of Israel stubbornly refused to cease idolatry in Jeremiah 44:1523.

Even after God had determined to destroy all men by a flood, Noah "found grace" in

His eyes and He gave him instructions on the preparing of a great Ark to save his family.

". . . The longsuffering of God waited (even further) in the days of Noah, while the Ark was being prepared . . ." (I Peter 3:20), and the suggestion is found in Genesis 6:3 that this period of "waiting" was 120 years! Such patience becomes a merciful God, but is astounding, in view of the sinfulness of man. Peter, the apostle, tells us by the Spirit that we should "account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation" (2 Peter 3:15), or an opportunity to be saved before His patience is strained to the breaking point by the sinfulness men.

It is significant, in the case of Noah, that the grace of God was expressed in the commands that enabled Noah to save his house. Men in some churches speak of the grace of God as some sort of mysterious invisible working of God to save men, usually expressed in that which they call "the direct operation of the Holy Spirit." The unique thing about grace, however, is that the Bible shows it to be expressed through God's word. Grace "instructs," says Paul in Titus 2: 11-12. The same inspired teacher speaks of the close connection of the grace of God with the 61 gospel" and the "word" in Acts 20:24, 32. Similarly, Noah "found" the grace of God in the commands to build the Ark.

But, Grace must be complemented by Faith. Paul tells those of us who live in this final age that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Hebrews 11:7 confirms that Noah answered the grace of God by faith. "By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; through which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith."

When Moses recorded the story of Noah, he did not record what he thought the story meant to him, or to the men of his day. We are told in the New Testament, however, that the prophets of old served the men of this age by recording these stories. The story of Noah is one concerning a certain salvation. But, God was preparing a greater salvation than that of Noah, "concerning which salvation the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what time or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them. To whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto you, did they minister these things (1 Peter 1:10-12).

To us is also given the warning, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest we happen to drift away from them. For if the word spoken (in the past ages) through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Hebrews 2:1-3a). Noah's salvation is a mold for our own, in principle, and the record of his salvation is admonitory for us.

After Noah responded to the expressed grace of God by faith, we are told that he "moved" and "prepared" the means commanded by God's grace. His carefulness in obeying every one of God's commands is a fitting example to us. "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so "did he" (Genesis 6:22). Had Noah failed to obey some command of God, he must have been classed with the rest of the disobedient who were destined to be drowned. The care of Noah in obedience reflected the dire consequence of failure. Noah wanted to live! Do you? The consequence of rebellion to God in this age is far more serious than mere drowning. It means an eternal death (Matthew 25:41-46).

Careless souls today quibble about the conditions to be met for their salvation, often refusing to be baptized. But, Peter wrote that Noah and his family were "saved through water; which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism . . ." (I Peter 3:20-21). To be saved, Noah had to obey every command. For salvation from sin today, men must obey every command, one of which is baptism (Acts 2:38, Acts 22: 16). Any one of us who refuses to obey a command cannot be saved by grace, for grace is revealed in commands. He cannot be saved by faith, for faith "moves" and "prepares." Do not add your sins to the burden that is straining the patience of God! Honor His grace, respond in faith, and be saved!

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 6, pp. 3-4
December 9, 1971

Share