Saturday, December 26, 2015

God Remembers Noah

Gen 8:20  Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Gen 8:21  And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.
Gen 8:22  While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease."

One of the blessings of studying through the account of Noah is the different ways he and the ark teach about Jesus and his work of redemption.  The account above refers to when Noah walks out of the ark after all living things have been destroyed.  I think the inference is that in the back of Noah’s mind was the nagging question as to what would stop the Lord from sending another flood to destroy sinful man.  Noah knew that the sin in his heart had survived the flood and so in a sense, nothing had changed inwardly.

And this is the very first question the Lord deals with and it comes right after Noah had made a blood sacrifice to the Lord and it says that the sacrifice pleased God. The Lord promises to never curse the earth with a flood that destroys all life as he did in the days of Noah.

I think this is fitting as it continues to teach of Christ.  There are many Christians who are confused and ask similar questions today.  They have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior; they have been saved from the wrath of God against sin but they have not been taught what that means to their future and their assurance.  Part of this is because their pastors refuse to accept what the Bible says about the eternal election unto salvation that the Bible clearly teaches.  One such verse is Act 13:48  And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.  From eternity God has appointed some for eternal life.  There is never any indication that he has appointed them to believe and then fall away; to have life and then to go back into death.  Such an idea takes election out of the hands of a sovereign God and make man’s will the determining factor.  But election is precisely  God determining to save some of fallen man lest all men perish.

Another reason that many suffer with the idea that even though they are believers they can be taken away from Christ is that they simply won’t accept the promises of God in this matter.  Let me list a couple of passages that parallel the account in Gen. 8:20-22.

Jud 1:24  Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy. 
Php 1:6  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Joh 10:28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Joh 10:29  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

The study of the atoning work of Christ is deep and complex in many ways and good men have debated it for 2000 years.  But we need to be sure to not make complex what the Bible has clearly stated.  The above verses make it clear that our salvation is in the Lord’s hand and not ours.  We can’t sin away grace because it is a gift not merited to begin with.  Jude said that Jesus is able to keep us blameless until presented before the presence of God.  If he is able to do this, why does he let some supposedly lose their salvation when he could have stopped it? 

The worse thing about believing you can be separated from Christ is not the lack of peace and stability it brings in the lives of those who believe it but the worse thing is what is says about our Lord and his love for us.  It is to infer that he is a liar,

Rom 8:33  Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.
Rom 8:34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Rom 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Rom 8:36  As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
Rom 8:37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Rom 8:38  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
Rom 8:39  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

If God says no one can bring a charge against me if I am in Christ then I will hang my salvation on the peg of his promise and not on my ability to cling to Christ.

Friday, December 11, 2015

How Strong is Our Endurance?

Gen 5:22  Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Gen 6:9  These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 

Early on in Genesis we are introduced to two men who are said to walk with God.  One of the things I was struck with was the length of time in which they walked with God.  Enoch lived another three hundred years after this was said of him.  It was said of Noah before he started building the ark and it is generally assumed it took him 120 years to complete it and then he lived another 350 years after the flood.

What I find interesting is that when we compare the length of our lives to theirs we live a very few years.  We only have to endure an extremely short amount of time of trials compared to what some of these men had to go through.  For 120 years Noah worked on a boat that made no sense to the people around him and there can be little doubt that he was ridiculed in some way for it.  It was a difficult task and many days he had to have wondered was this really necessary.  He faced all the challenges from within and without that we face today, yet he endured being faithful to the Lord for centuries.

We moderns, though, seem to fall apart at the least thing and have great difficulty patiently enduring trials without complaints, despair, depression, giving up and just general lack of contentment.  This is not to say that there aren’t many examples all around us of faithful endurance, but sometimes our inability to deal with difficulty says a lot about the strength of our faith. 

We go through difficulty that might last for a few weeks or a few months or even for many years and yet we will never have to endure for centuries.  But often it seems that one of our first reactions is why in the world would the Lord cause this to happen and we seem to think we are entitled to have trials pass quickly.  We immediately start praying that the Lord would remove the affliction long before we get to the point of praying that he would give us patience.  I have been impressed with these two men because they were faithful for centuries and I have asked the Lord to give me the same type of faith (patience) to endure for the short time of life I have on earth.

What I don’t want to do is at the first sign of problems just get depressed, sit at home and do nothing.  If I love the Lord and I love the church I will fight to the death to honor him and protect the church.  This takes an endurance that only comes from the Lord.  But we are not without examples in the Scriptures.

Paul said after at most three decades of suffering, 2Ti 4:6  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 2Ti 4:7  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2Ti 4:8  Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.  I hope that I have the faith to say the same thing after a few months of trials and that I don’t collapse early on.  At the heart of faithfulness is walking with God as we see with Enoch and Noah.  We must make our lives about him and pursue him in his Word or we will not have the faith to endure dark days.