By Thomas L. Andrews
Our imagination can be very useful when it is channeled toward spiritual evaluation. One often wonders what it would be like to live in another time or if you had actually been someone else. There might be profit in this if we will be objective in answering appropriate questions. Choose a time similar to ours. For instance, what if you had been Noah? That is, if Noah had your characteristics, would the Bible story have to be changed? We know the story of Noah as recorded in Genesis 6-7; you know it yourself, so let’s consider them together.
The story of the flood and a man “perfect in his generations” is a very familiar one. God was disgusted with the continually sinful lives of the people of that time. Finding Noah to be a righteous man, God gave a very unique command. Build an ark to save yourself! Is the world so different today? Peter’s cry on Pentecost is still appropriate today: “Save yourselves.” Put yourself in Noah’s place. What would you have done when God gave you the command?
If you had been Noah, would you have found favor in the eyes of God? The matter is of initial importance. What kind of a life is yours? How often do you inventory your spiritual qualities? This is a matter that is too serious to simply take for granted. Is your life or character fit for spiritual work? At times, our hands are dirty, consequently we can’t do a particular job until we wash them. So, our lives might be stained with sin or unprepared.
Preparation is essential for one to be useful in God’s kingdom. First, there must be the remission of sins by becoming a Christian. Our preparation is just beginning. We must study. By diligently applying ourselves to God’s word we may be an approved workman (2 Tim. 2:15). Readiness is a factor that sometimes is overlooked. Properly prepared Christians are ready and willing to take up some spiritual work. Would you have found favor in the sight of God?
If you had been Noah, would you have built the ark? Would you have taken the responsibility? Building the ark was a major construction job. Undoubtedly, no such structure had been built before and there was little evidence for its need of usefulness. A boat 450 feet long is gigantic even by today’s standards, much less in Noah’s time. A common reaction is “I don’t want to take on so much responsibility.”
There is responsibility in being a Christian. One cannot evade this and have any hope of heaven. The idea of not taking any responsibility as a member of the church is absurd. Yet men and women are frequently guilty of this. When some work is mentioned as needing to be done it is easy to say, “Let someone else do it” or “I’ll help but I won’t be responsible for it.” Such reasoning hinders all Christians in serving the Lord and reaching their potential as servants of God. We can’t bury our “talents” in earth and expect to be rewarded (Mt. 25:14-30). The early disciples took the Lord’s cause to heart as they “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). When we refuse to teach others or fail to do our part in the church, we demonstrate that we would not have built the ark.
If you had been Noah, would you have built the ark according to God’s pattern? Innovation has no place when it comes to doing God’s work. That is, where God’s will is specific we must act accordingly. This has been an acute problem for men through the ages. Learn this lesson. God had a definite idea about the plans for the building of the ark. That is why he specified the materials, dimensions, and design. Noah did not have the right to change anything that God had told him. All of the work had to be done according to God’s pattern.
The church has been plagued by institutional issues in recent times and the effect of modernism is easily seen. Some Christians will tow the line on the “issues” but fail to see or show little concern about the rest of God’s pattern. The home is very much a part of God’s plan. His way is right. What one wears, how one lives from day to day in relation to others are questions whose answers are to be found in God’s pattern. God has a plan for your life. Are you following it?
If you had been Noah, would you have been satisfied to save only those that God said should be? Read that again. This last question is very serious and quite appropriate for our times. Modernists are seeking to take away responsibility for one’s action. However, this principle has an eternal quality about it that we need to face up to. God has set forth the conditions of salvation. Disobedient people will be lost. In Noah’s day, God closed the door to the ark. No doubt, when the water began to rise there were several people that remembered the preaching of Noah and wanted to get in, but the door was closed.
Sympathy and efforts are misplaced today. Rather than trying to see how someone could be saved out of the church we ought to be trying to get them in the church. Instead of worrying whether God will have mercy on some good person we ought to be trying to teach them the truth.
Yes, people are going to be lost and the sooner we accept that fact, the sooner we will begin to work at saving some. Are you satisfied with God’s way? Then let’s act like it.
What if you had been Noah?
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 6, pp. 208-209
April 7, 1983