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Know the Whole Story
Many people know some stories from the Bible, but not how the narrative fits together. The Bible is one story that begins in a garden, ends in a city, and all the way through points to Jesus Christ. Open is your guided journey through this powerful, life-transforming story.
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Increasing Corruption on Earth

6:1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in1 man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim2 were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Noah and the Flood

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,3 for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.4 Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits,5 its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof6 for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

Footnotes

[1] 6:3 Or My Spirit shall not contend with
[2] 6:4 Or giants
[3] 6:13 Hebrew The end of all flesh has come before me
[4] 6:14 An unknown kind of tree; transliterated from Hebrew
[5] 6:15 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters
[6] 6:16 Or skylight

(ESV)

Overview

Grace, faith, and salvation “in Christ” are not new ideas that emerge in the New Testament. The Bible is one story. God is gracious. He always has been and always will be.

The ark helps us to understand what it means to be “in Christ.” Just as Noah and his family were brought safely through the judgment of God because they were in the ark, so we will be brought safely through the final judgment if we are “in Christ.”

Everything you need to know for life flows from two convictions: You need to know who God is, and who you are. Get these right, and you will have a firm foundation for life. Get them wrong, and you will be in serious trouble.

These truths are foundational to a biblical worldview. A worldview is a set of core beliefs that will determine how we think and how we live. People choose very different lifestyles because they operate on different core convictions about who God is and who we are.

Holding a biblical worldview means believing that God created you, that He has absolute rights over your life, and that every good gift comes from His hand. If you believe this, your deepest joy will be to know Him and obey Him. But if you believe that your life is an accident, that it belongs to you, and that good gifts come by chance, your life will revolve around discovering and being true to yourself.

These are two entirely different worldviews, and both of them cannot be right. These convictions are like a rudder on a boat that will control the direction you take in life. Convictions formed deep in your heart today will determine where you will be tomorrow.

Men and women who do not know what they believe about God and about themselves are like people sitting in a boat with no hand on the rudder! Their boat will drift with the prevailing winds and currents. If your boat is heading for the rocks, the first thing you need to do is to stretch out your hand and grasp the rudder.

Same Start, Different Directions
From the beginning, the human family has been divided in its response to God. Adam and Eve had two children, and the world’s first brothers set the rudders of their boats in totally different directions. Abel sought God, but Cain resisted God and his anger spilled over onto his brother. In the end, Cain killed Abel, and became the world’s first murderer.

Cain’s actions isolated him from God and from his family, but God showed him great kindness. Cain’s achievements were impressive. He built a city, and his offspring made significant contributions to music, art, and culture. But without God there was a continued restlessness in his life.

After the death of Abel, God gave another son to Adam and Eve. His name was Seth and the focus of the Bible story is on his line.

Amazing Grace
All the way through the Bible we find God reaching out to save people by grace, through faith, and in Christ. The pattern is established right at the beginning in the story of Noah: “Noah found favor [or grace] in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen. 6:8).

God acted with kindness and compassion toward Noah, first, by warning him that judgment was coming, and second, by telling him what he needed to do in order to be saved from it: “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood” (6:14).

Knowing about a coming judgment would not be of much help to us unless there was a way to be saved from it. The warning of judgment is not the angry outburst of a vindictive God; it is the gracious call of a loving God who says, “I must destroy evil, and I will. But I do not want to destroy you, and here is how you can escape.”

Faith In Action
God told Noah to prepare for an unprecedented flood. In the same way, God tells us to prepare for something that has never happened before. Jesus Christ will come to judge the living and the dead.

Faith believes what God has said and shows itself in action. The evidence of Noah’s faith was that he built an ark. He believed what God told him and he acted on it. “Faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26). True faith is a living tree bursting with the fruit of obedience.

Jesus used the story of Noah to draw a comparison: “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” (Matt. 24:37–39).

Eating, drinking, and marrying are all good gifts from God, but if we enjoy these things and give no thought to the coming judgment, our joy will be short lived. Noah’s great priority was to be ready for the day God had told him about, and the only way to be ready was to believe what God had said and to do what He had commanded.

God told Noah to get into the ark a full seven days before the rain began (Gen. 7:4–7). Loading the ark when there was not a drop of rain falling was an act of faith. There was no obvious reason for getting in there except for the Word of God. Noah must have felt rather foolish.

But then the rain came, and along with it, springs of water came up from the earth (7:11). The ship built in the desert rose, and Noah and his family were lifted up and taken into a new world.

Christ, The Ark
The flood was a judgment that will never be repeated (see 9:8–16). But God warns us about another more terrible judgment to come. Just as God provided the ark for Noah, He has provided a way for us to be saved from the final judgment through Jesus Christ.

All who were inside the ark were safe. All who were outside the ark were destroyed. God has provided an ark for us. Jesus Christ is that ark!

God spoke through Noah’s preaching, telling the people of his day that there was an ark they could come into and be saved (2 Pet. 2:5). In the same way, God points us to Christ and tells us that we can be saved if we will come to Him.

The apostle Paul describes Christians as being “in Christ.” Just as Noah was in the ark, so you can be in Christ. When the Day of Judgment comes, those who are “in Christ” will be lifted by Him and taken to a new world.

This ark is open to all who will come. Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). The people of Noah’s time had an open door of opportunity. An ark was built and the whole community could have been saved, but outside of Noah’s family, there was not a single person who believed his warning.

Get Out Of The Rain
One day, some years ago, I was sitting in my study in London writing a sermon for the coming Sunday. The rain was pouring down outside—a real London soaker!

An elderly couple was walking up the street. The rain had obviously caught them by surprise because neither of them had a raincoat or an umbrella. They stood under a tree that was at the edge of our property. It was winter, and the tree was absolutely bare, so it gave them no shelter whatsoever.

I grabbed a coat and went out to them. “You’ll get soaked out here,” I said. “Why don’t you come into the house?” They looked at me, and in true polite English style said, “No, thank you very much, we are quite all right out here.”

“But you are getting soaked!” I said. “You can come in and be dry.”

But nothing I said could persuade them, and in the meantime I was getting soaked myself. I left the door to the house open and told them that if they wanted to come in, they were more than welcome. They never moved an inch. To this day, I do not know what they were afraid of.

That sudden rainstorm is a good picture of the judgment of God. If we stand alone, the rain will fall on us directly, and we will be overwhelmed by it. But if we are in the house, the downpour will fall on the roof, and because we are inside, it will not touch us.

Jesus Christ is the refuge God has provided for us—the ark that shelters us against the storm of God’s judgment. When He died on the cross, the judgment of God for our sins fell on Him, and God invites us to come to Him as our shelter. If you are in Christ, God’s judgment will not fall on you, because it has already fallen on Him. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Here’s the question: Are you “in Christ”? Have you put your trust in Him as your Savior and Lord? Why would you stand outside, when the door is open for you to come in?

Pause for Prayer
Father, I believe You are the Creator and that You have absolute rights over my life. I recognize that I have a knowledge of evil and that I am excluded from paradise. I believe Your Word about judgment to come and recognize that apart from You I have no other hope.

Thank You that in Your grace You sent the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe in Him today. I put my whole trust in Him. I call upon Him to be my Savior. By Your Spirit, place me in Him and save me through Jesus Christ. Amen.

  1. On a scale of 1 (not at all) to 10 (perfectly), how well do you think you know God? How well do you think you know yourself?
  2. How did God show grace/kindness to Noah? What is your reaction when you hear God’s warning of a coming judgment? How much thought have you given to it?
  3. How did Noah demonstrate faith? How do you demonstrate faith?
  4. How is Jesus like the ark? Why do you think so many people fail to come in?
  5. In your own words, what do you think it means to be “in” Christ?
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