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A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., Pastor Emeritus
and given by Jack Ngann, Pastor
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, March 12, 2023

“Few, that is, eight souls were saved”
(I Peter 3:20; p. 1314 Scofield).

Dr. John C. Whitcomb and Dr. Henry M. Morris estimated that “the total population of the earth would have been 1,030 million” in the time of Noah (The Genesis Flood, Baker Book House, 1983 edition, p. 26). That means there were about one billion people on earth at the time of the Great Flood. That is the same number of people that existed on earth in 1850. Today there are about seven billion people on earth. If the same percentage are saved today, with 7 billion on earth, only 56 people are saved!

“Few, that is, eight souls were saved” (I Peter 3:20).

“As the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37; p. 1034).

By the way, how many people are saved today? It may not yet be quite as bad numerically, but I believe it is far worse than anyone realizes today. I think there are great mega-churches without a single convert, great evangelistic meetings where no one is saved, and even people in fundamental churches in this condition.

According to a Gallup poll, 74% of Americans claim to “have made a commitment to Jesus Christ.” But how many of them are saved? Dr. John R. Rice said,

In recent years I have been greatly concerned to find many, many church members…who show no evidence of ever having been born again [and] yet are content and untroubled about the future. I read in the Bible again and again plain warnings to those kind of people (John R. Rice, D.D., Religious But Lost, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1939, p. 9).

Jesus told us that conditions at the end of time would be similar to the time of Noah,

“As the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

What was it like in Noah’s day?

“Few, that is, eight souls were saved” (I Peter 3:20).

I have become convinced that we are rapidly approaching a time when few who claim to be Christians are truly saved. Our text says,

“Few, that is, eight souls were saved” (I Peter 3:20).

Consider three things about those words.

I. First, the number saved.

Very few people were saved in the time of Noah, when the waters of the Great Flood covered the earth,

“And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark” (Genesis 7:21-23; p. 15).

I believe this to be true today as well. Jesus said,

“Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14; p. 1004).

“As the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37; p. 1034).

“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 which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23; p. 1004).

What if that was you? What if Christ says to you,

“I never knew you: depart from me” (Matthew 7:23)?

What if you wake up in the Lake of Fire, and it’s too late to be saved?

“Few, that is, eight souls were saved” (I Peter 3:20).

You too have a soul. You have a body, but you also have a soul. Your body will die some day, but your soul will go on forever. The Bible teaches that your soul will either go to Heaven or to Hell. And the destiny of your soul depends entirely on whether you receive Christ now, and are washed clean from your sins now. After death it is too late to be saved. You must be saved now, before you die, or you will never be saved.

II. Second, the salvation itself.

“Few, that is, eight souls were saved” (I Peter 3:20).

“As the days of Noe [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:37).

Salvation was preached in the time of Noah. The Bible calls Noah,

“A preacher of righteousness” (II Peter 2:5; p. 1318).

The Bible doesn’t say that Noah preached directly to every person on earth. Yet everyone on earth knew about the Ark and about Noah’s warnings concerning the coming judgment. Dr. Whitcomb and Dr. Morris said,

During the 120-year period of grace “when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing” (Genesis 6:3; I Peter 3:20), the news of Noah’s remarkable activities and alarming warnings could easily have spread throughout the whole earth (The Genesis Flood, ibid., p. 31).

But the generation living in Noah’s day rejected his preaching, and so God

“spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (II Peter 2:5).

I have been preaching for fifty years. Very few people I have preached to have been saved. Very few indeed. But one of the things that keeps me going is the example of Noah. He saw very few conversions. But he was faithful to God even though the “ungodly” world rejected his message.

My purpose today is to tell you the truth. What you do with the truth is between you and God. But my purpose, like Noah’s, is to tell you the truth. You probably won’t be helped by my sermons, though, any more than Noah’s preaching helped those in the antediluvian world.

“Few, that is, eight souls were saved” (I Peter 3:20).

III. Third, the way to be saved.

Noah and his family were saved from the Flood by entering the Ark. It’s as simple as that!

“And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark” (Genesis 7:1; p. 14).

“And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood” (Genesis 7:7; p. 14).

The Scofield Study Bible’s note on Genesis 6:14 says,

“Ark”: type of Christ as the refuge of His people from judgment…a present reference to the position of the believer “in Christ” (The Scofield Study Bible, Oxford University Press, 1917 edition, note on Genesis 6:14).

The Ark is a picture of Christ. Noah had to come in to the Ark to be saved from the judgment of the Great Flood. And you must come in to Christ to be saved from eternal judgment.

Jesus said,

“At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me…” (John 14:20; p. 1136).

The Bible says,

“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”
     (II Corinthians 5:17; p. 1233).

God said to Noah,

“Come…into the ark” (Genesis 7:1).

Jesus said,

“Come unto me…and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28; p. 1011).

And so,

“Few, that is, eight souls were saved” (I Peter 3:20).

I have often thought about why so few people got into the Ark. They must have thought Noah was wrong. They thought that judgment would never fall on them, that they were OK the way they were. And so, they did not listen to the preacher. They were caught by death without salvation. Thus, they perished.

There was only one way to be saved, and they rejected that way. God had prepared a way for them to be saved, but they rejected that way. It is the same today. God has prepared a way to be saved. He sent Jesus to die on the Cross, to pay the penalty for your sin. Christ has risen from the dead and is now alive, at God’s right hand in Heaven. But you must come to Christ. It is not enough to believe things about Christ – you must come to Christ. As Noah came into the Ark, you must come in to Christ.

It is not “feeling” that saves you. It is Christ Himself who saves. It doesn’t matter whether you “feel” saved or not. What matters is not what you feel, but what God feels! Personal feelings never saved anyone. Christ does all the saving. All that mattered in Noah’s time was whether or not he was in the Ark. All that matters today is whether or not you are in Christ. Your feelings do not matter. Only Christ matters. Charlotte Elliott wrote a song about Jesus, the Lamb of God, that says it so well:

Just as I am, without one plea,
     But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
     O Lamb of God, I come! I come!

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
     Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
     O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
(“Just As I Am” by Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871).

Let us stand and sing that song together.