In the last session, we saw how the knowledge of evil changed everything. Paradise was lost. The man and the woman experienced difficulty in their work and dysfunction in their marriage. They were dislocated from their home, and they were at a distance from God. The knowledge of evil spread. But God would not allow it to prevail.
Everything you need to know for life flows from two convictions: you need to know who God is, and you need to know who you are. Get these right, and you will have a firm foundation for life. Get them wrong, and you will soon be adrift.
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 they are.
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.
And if you believe that when you die you will cease to exist, it will be natural for you to feel that your purpose in life is to find fulfillment. But if you come to believe that after your short life in this world you will meet with the God who made you, your first priority will be to prepare for that day.
These are two entirely different worldviews, and they cannot both 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.
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.
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” (Genesis 6:8).
God showed kindness to 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).
The warnings of judgment in the Bible are not the angry outbursts of a vindictive God; they are the gracious call of a loving God, who is saying, “I must destroy evil, and I will. But I don’t 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” (Matthew 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 (Genesis 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 Peter 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” (e.g., Romans 8:1). 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 carried safely through the judgement of God and brought into a glorious 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. But they remained outside. 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 you stand outside, the rain will fall on you directly, and you will be overwhelmed by it. But if you are in the house, the downpour will fall on the roof, and because you are inside, it will not touch you.
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” (Romans 8:1, italics added).
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?
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.
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 I 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.