How Faith Works
James E. Cooper
"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 the heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Heb. 11:7).
The above scripture illustrates the kind of faith it takes to be pleasing in the sight of God. The Bible teaches that it is impossible to please God without faith (Heb. 11: 6). Yet, faith without works is barren and dead (Jas. 2: 20, 2 6). The faith that is pleasing in the sight of God is an obedient faith - a faith that works by love (Gal. 5:6). Our text illustrates how Noah's faith worked by love, and serves as an example and an admonition to us (cf. I Cor. 10:6, 11; Rom. 15:4).
"Noah Was Warned of God"
When mankind in general "had corrupted their way upon the earth" and "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually," God determined to destroy sinful man from the face of the earth (Gen. 6:5-12). However, in the midst of all that wickedness there was one man who found favor in the eyes of God. God did not destroy mankind without a warning, but warned Noah that all flesh would be destroyed because of sin.
We, too, have been warned of God concerning the destruction of this world. God has promised that the world will not be again destroyed by water (Gen. 9:8-17), but has warned that it will be destroyed by fire (2 Pet. 3:1-12). Noah believed the warning he received. Do you?
"Of Things Not Seen as Yet,"
There was no visible evidence before Noah that could serve as a basis for calculating that a great flood would come. The only ground of his conviction was the word of God. The only thing to which he might refer gain-Sayers was that "God has spoken." Noah believed God, and obeyed his instructions.
There are no visible signs before us that tell us of the destruction of this world by fire. Jesus gave his disciples some signs by which they could foretell the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, "But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mk. 13:32). "Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh" (Matt. 24:42). We have the same kind of evidence that Noah had. God has spoken: "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Pet. 3: 10).
"Moved With Fear"
Noah had enough faith in God to move him to action. His reverence and respect for God induced him to act under the belief that what God said was true. His faith in God's word had the same effect upon him that the sight of a great mountain of water coming at a distance would have had. Your faith in God will have a similar effect upon you. If you believe God's word concerning the destruction of this world, you will realize that "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31). Your faith in Him will move you to obey whatever He commands you to do in order to escape the doom that awaits those who are unprepared to meet Him.
"Prepared an Ark to the Saving of His House"
In order to escape the flood, Noah carefully obeyed God's instructions. He "prepared an ark to the saving of his house." God gave Noah specific instructions as to how to build the ark. It was to be built of gopher wood, 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high, pitched within and without. It was to be of three stories, with rooms in it, with one window and one door. Noah did exactly as God commanded him (cf. Gen. 6:14-22).
Noah's obedience was in order to be saved from the flood. His faith was not in the ark, but in God's promise that it would be the means of his salvation. He did. not defy the flood - God's power of destruction .- but accepted God's terms for his salvation, which required, in his case, the building of an ark.
Noah did not argue that he could be saved by faith only, and that if he erected the ark he would be saving himself. He did not question the righteous command of God, but humbly obeyed. Noah did not argue that building the ark would be an attempt on his part to help God save him. He believed and he obeyed.
It was said of Noah: "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he" (Gen. 6:22). Can the same be said of you?
You must obey God in order to be saved * Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all those who "obey him" (Heb. 5:9). Through the word of God we understand that obedience to Him is the only possible means of our salvation in the Day of Judgment. Jesus said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). Concerning those who substituted man's doctrines for the will of God, he said: "But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men" (Matt. 15:9). Almost the closing words of the New Testament are: "I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book" (Rev. 22:18-19). This principle applies not only to the book of Revelation itself, but to all of the word of God. We must neither add to, nor subtract from it (Deut. 4:2). We are not to go beyond that which is written (I Cor. 4:5). He that goeth beyond the doctrine of Christ hath not God (2 Jno. 9).
Have you carefully studied God's instructions to the alien sinner that you might follow them specifically? If you will turn to the New Testament of Jesus Christ, you will find that the alien sinner must hear the gospel of Christ, believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, repent of his sins, confess Jesus before men, and be immersed for the remission of his sins (See Acts 2:3742; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 22:16; Matt. 28: 18-20; Mk. 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21, etc.).
"He Condemned the World
In his obedience to the commands of God Noah "condemned the world." This did not make the world any more sinful in the sight of God, nor did it make their destruction any more certain. By his obedience he showed that all those who were destroyed were suffering the consequences of their own deeds. The obedience of Noah drew a clear line of distinction between those who obeyed God to their salvation and those who disobeyed God to their destruction. His actions picture vividly the difference between those who believe God and- those who disbelieve. Everything Noah did in reference to the threatened flood was done in virtue of his simple faith in what God had said.
Noah's contemporaries probably considered him both a fool and a fanatic. Imagine their reaction to the old man out on high ground building a boat and preaching that the world would soon be destroyed by a great flood. Can't you just hear their laughs of derision? But in the end Noah was proved to be neither a fool nor a fanatic. Those who had laughed at him for believing God's word were destroyed in the flood, while Noah and his family were saved.
The world may mock the Christian of today who believes God and obeys his revealed will, but in the end those who faithfully follow God will be eternally blessed, while those who mock the believer and continue in their sinful ways will perish "from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might" (2 Thess. 1:9). How will it be with you, my friend?
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XI: 6, pp. 14-15