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WHY NOAH WAS SAVED AND THE REST WERE LOST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, June 17, 2012

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).


Dr. Gleason L. Archer held degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and from the Harvard Graduate School. He ended his career as Professor of Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Dr. Archer was a friend of my long-time Chinese pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin, who was also an Old Testament scholar and Biblical linguist. I knew Dr. Archer and he spoke at our church. Concerning Noah and the Great Flood, Dr. Archer said that Christ’s belief in Noah and the Flood in Matthew 24:37-39 causes the true Christian to accept the account in Genesis. He said, “Jesus is predicting that a future historical event will take place as an antitype to an event recorded in the Old Testament. He must therefore have regarded the Flood as literal history, just as it is recorded in Genesis” (Gleason L. Archer, Ph.D., Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan Publishing House, 1982, p. 21). Concerning the Flood itself, Dr. Archer said, “Geological evidence is of decisive importance, even though it is seldom mentioned by scientists who reject the accuracy of Scripture. This is just exactly the kind of evidence that a brief but violent episode of this sort [in the Flood] would be expected to show within the short span of one year...which so definitely testify to the type of Deluge described in Genesis 7” (ibid., p. 83). He said, “Some Christian geologists feel that some of the major seismic disturbances indicated in various parts of the globe at the Cenozoic levels are best explained as triggered by the Flood” (ibid., p. 82). Thus Dr. Archer said that a universal Flood is consistent with geological evidence (ibid.). I believe that Dr. Archer was exactly right, and that there was a universal Flood in the days of Noah.

Furthermore the size of Noah’s Ark was enormous. Dr. Henry M. Morris said, “Assuming the ancient cubit to have been only 17.5 inches (the smallest suggested by any authority), the ark could have carried as many as 125,000 sheep-sized animals. Since there are not more than about 25,000 species of land animals...either living or extinct, and since the average size of such animals is certainly much less than that of a sheep, it is obvious that all the animals could easily have been stored in less than half the capacity of Noah’s ark, each pair in appropriate ‘rooms’” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995, p. 21; note on Genesis 6:15).

But to me the most interesting thing about Noah is that the events concerning him and the Flood are, as Dr. Archer indicated, a type of “a future historical event,” which the Lord Jesus Christ described when He said,

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

The Lord Jesus Christ told us that events in the world at the time of His Second Coming would be similar to those in the days before the Great Flood. Thus, the conditions in Noah’s day would be repeated just before the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world as we know it. Every sign seems to indicate that we are now living in that time, in the final days of this age.

During his very last crusade sermon, in New York City in 2005, Billy Graham correctly said, “In the New Testament, the ‘new birth’ is mentioned nine times. Repentance is mentioned about seventy times. Baptism is mentioned some twenty times. But the coming again of Christ is mentioned hundreds of times” (Living in God’s Love: The New York Crusade, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005, p. 109).

The Lord Jesus Christ said that the days in which Noah lived would be similar to the time when He would come again,

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

In this sermon I will focus on (1) the conditions in Noah’s time, and (2) the way Noah was saved.

I. First, the conditions in Noah’s time.

What was it like in the days of Noah? The Bible says,

“God 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).

People in that day had their minds fixed on evil “continually.” When they went to bed at night, their minds were filled with evil thoughts. When they woke up in the morning, the thoughts of their hearts were instantly filled with evil imaginations.

In his sermon “Original Sin” John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church as it once was, in speaking on Genesis 6:5, said,

We have no reason to believe there was any intermission of the evil. For God, who ‘saw the whole imagination of the thoughts of [the] heart to be only evil,’ saw likewise, that it was always the same, that it ‘was only evil continually;’ every year, every day, every hour, every moment. [Man] never deviated into good...Such were all men before God brought the flood upon the earth. We are, secondly, to enquire, whether they are the same now (John Wesley, M.A., “Original Sin,” The Works of John Wesley, Baker Book House, 1979, volume VI, p. 59).

Mr. Wesley went on to point out that people today are in the same condition as those before the Flood because original sin ruined the entire human race. He said man is full of pride, that “Satan has stamped his own image on our heart in self will,” that we love the world rather than God, that we are filled with carnal lust and “the desire of the pleasures of imagination.” He said that men are full of love for the world. He spoke of man’s “atheism and idolatry, of pride, self-will, and love of the world.” He said,

Is man by nature filled with all manner of evil? Is he void of all good? Is he wholly fallen? Is his soul totally corrupted? Or, coming back to the text, is ‘every imagination of the thoughts of his heart only evil continually?’ Allow this, and you are so far a Christian...Deny it, and you are but a heathen still (ibid., p. 63).

Wasn’t Mr. Wesley right? How about you? Isn’t it true that God is not in your thoughts most of the time? Isn’t it true that you love things in the world more than you love God? – that in fact you don’t really love God at all? Isn’t it true that you are too proud to admit all this? Isn’t it true that your mind is filled with lust? Isn’t it true that “Satan has stamped his own image on [your] heart in self will?”

But, you may say, “Hasn’t that always been the condition of man since the Fall?” Indeed it has. But the difference lies here – mankind in the closing days of this dispensation ever more strongly rejects the work of the Holy Spirit in convincing them of sin. That is exactly what happened in the days of Noah. The Bible tells us that God said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3). The people of Noah’s day resisted the Holy Spirit to the end! And isn’t that the case today in a way, and with an intensity, that has never before been true in the long history of Christianity?

Think back. In the early years of this dispensation thousands of people literally ran into the churches, leaving their pagan life-styles behind. In those early days of Christianity it could literally be said that tens of thousands “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (I Thessalonians 1:9). Even in the dark days of the Middle Ages millions were very serious about their Christianity, with an intensity that we never see today in the Western world. And in the days of the Reformation people were so hungry for God that they often went to prison, and even to a burning stake, rather than deny Christ. Where do we see such devotion in most of the world this evening? And in the days of the three Great Awakenings it was common for thousands of people to come under deep conviction of sin before they trusted Jesus and were converted. Where in the Western world today do we see revival like that, which was quite common in the Second Great Awakening? Where do we see such a thing as described in the awakening of 1814 in Cornwall?

      Hundreds were crying for mercy at once. Some remained in great distress of soul for one hour, some for two, some six, some nine, twelve, and some for fifteen hours before the Lord spoke peace to their souls – then they would rise, extend their arms, and proclaim the wonderful works of God, with such energy, that bystanders would be struck in a moment, and fall to the ground and roar for the disquietude of their souls (quoted in Fire From Heaven by Paul E. G. Cook, Evangelical Press, 2009, p. 80).

Where do we see such a movement of the Holy Spirit in our churches today? Where do we see conversions like this?

Here is a man who has lived without any real sense of God or of the seriousness of his sins, and a day dawns when he becomes aware of God. He experiences deep conviction of sin and begins to seek God, often with a sense of desperation. He does this until he is brought to repentance and looks away to the Lord Jesus Christ for pardon and salvation. Then he is given an assurance of God’s mercy and the forgiveness of his sins. And this is followed by great joy and gladness (Cook, ibid., p. 119).

Where do we see conversions like that in our Western churches today? We do not see them because people resist the Holy Spirit as they did in the days of Noah!

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

II. Second, the way Noah himself was saved.

The whole world had become materialistic. By “materialistic” I mean that mankind was focused on the material world, with little thought of the supernatural. God was not central in their thinking. They were only concerned with the things of this life. They thought only of their life in this present world. Jesus made that very clear when He said,

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).

It is very interesting that Christ did not mention the fact that their thoughts were “only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5), though they were. Christ did not mention that “the earth [was] filled with violence” (Genesis 6:13), though it was. Christ only mentioned that they “were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark” (Matthew 24:38). But by only mentioning eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, Christ pointed out the root of their sin. They were so focused on those things that, as Dr. McGee said, “They lived as though God did not exist. They did not believe that He would judge them and scorned the warning that the flood was imminent” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume IV, p. 132; note on Matthew 24:38, 39). This describes people in our day also. Mark Dever, the influential pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., said recently, “Thousands, if not millions, of church members aren’t really born again Christians.”

Jesus said that they “knew not until the flood came, and took them all away” (Matthew 24:39). Oh, they had heard that the Flood was coming. They saw the ark. They heard the warnings of Noah, whom the Apostle Peter called, “a preacher of righteousness” (II Peter 2:5). They had plenty of warning that judgment was coming. Yet they “knew not until the flood came.” The Greek word translated “knew” means “to be aware of,” “to perceive” (Strong). Dr. Rienecker said that this is “A description of life without concern and without any foreboding of an impending catastrophe” (Fritz Rienecker, Ph.D., A Linguistic Key to the New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, 1980 edition, p. 72; note on Matthew 24:39). What a picture of our day as well!

The people of Noah’s day were given by Christ as a picture of the way most people would live at the end of this present world. I believe that some of you here this evening are living like those in the days of Noah! You may have heard that judgment is coming. But it doesn’t grip you. You have heard about the coming judgment, but you do not “perceive” it. It just doesn’t concern you. It might seem interesting, but it does not cause you to feel any foreboding or fear. You have heard about the coming judgment, but it has not gripped your heart, or changed your life. They “knew not until the flood came, and took them all away” (Matthew 24:39). The human race continued to focus on the material things of life, such as eating and marrying, with no fear of God. How about you?

Now consider how Noah was saved. The Book of Genesis simply says,

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8).

Luther compared those words to what the angel told Mary, “Thou hast found favour with God” (Luke 1:30). Luther said, “This mode of speaking shuts out all merit and magnifies faith by which alone we are justified before God and find favor in His eyes” (Luther’s Commentary on Genesis, Zondervan Publishing House, 1958 edition, volume I, p. 138). Arthur W. Pink said, “Like all other sinners who find acceptance with God, Noah was ‘justified by faith’” (Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings in Genesis, Moody Press, 1981 edition, p. 97).

So the first thing we learn about Noah was that he was saved by grace. The next thing we learn is this:

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear...” (Hebrews 11:7).

The grace of God caused Noah to move with fear. As John Newton (1725-1807) put it, “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear” (“Amazing Grace,” second stanza). Only the grace of God can strike fear in the heart of an unsaved sinner. Before God’s grace comes to a man he has no fear. The Apostle Paul spoke of those who have not been touched by grace when he said, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18).

Someone once said to me, “I’m not afraid of God” – as though he thought his experience was unusual! But it isn’t at all unusual. It simply means you have never been touched by God’s grace – because the first thing grace does is to teach your “heart to fear” as Newton put it. Without God’s grace you will live your whole life with “no fear of God before [your] eyes.” But when God’s grace comes to you, by His Holy Spirit He makes you conscious of your sin. He strikes fear in your heart because of your sin. If you are not made fearful of sin you will not be saved from sin! Dr. J. Gresham Machen said, “When a man comes under conviction of sin, his whole attitude toward life is transformed” (J. Gresham Machen, D.D., Christianity and Liberalism, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990 edition, p. 67).

Before you experience conviction of sin, you will only think about how to have a real conversion. One young man said, “I’m afraid I’ll have a false conversion.” He is afraid of the wrong thing! There is no fear of God. There is no fear of sin. He is not awakened to his horrible condition! “There is no fear of God before [his] eyes”! But when the Holy Spirit comes He will reprove you of sin (John 16:8). When sin becomes horrible in your mind your “whole attitude toward life [will be] transformed,” as Dr. Machen said.

And that is the way it was with Noah. When the Holy Spirit convicted him of his sin, he “moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Hebrews 11:7). Only conviction of sin and a holy fear of God will move you to salvation in Christ, who is typified by the ark! Think man! Think of your sin. Think of the past sins of your life! Think of the coming judgment you will experience for your sin! Call upon God to convict you so deeply that you can say, “My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

We tell you to come into the ark, to come to Jesus for pardon from your sin by His death on the Cross. We tell you to trust Jesus and be cleansed from sin by His precious Blood. But all you can think about is how to trust Him! When your sin horrifies you, you will not be thinking about “how” to trust Christ! Oh, no! You will “move with fear” and come into the ark of safety, which is the Saviour, Jesus Christ! As Dr. Machen said,

When a man comes under conviction of sin, his whole attitude toward life is transformed; he wonders at his former blindness, and the message of the gospel, which formerly seemed to be an idle tale, becomes now [alive to him]. But it is God alone who can produce the change (Machen, ibid.).

Pray for God to convict you of sin! For unless God awakens you by convicting you of sin you are as doomed as those in Noah’s time, who “knew not until the flood came, and took them all away” (Matthew 24:39).

If you are not yet a real Christian we want to give you a time to pray and seek counselling. Please step to the back of the sanctuary now and Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place to pray. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 24:36-42.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).


THE OUTLINE OF

WHY NOAH WAS SAVED AND THE REST WERE LOST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

I.   First, the conditions in Noah’s time, Genesis 6:5, 3;
I Thessalonians 1:9.

II.  Second, the way Noah himself was saved, Matthew 24:37-39;
Genesis 6:5, 13; II Peter 2:5; Genesis 6:8; Luke 1:30;
Hebrews 11:7; Romans 3:18; John 16:8; Psalm 51:3.