Agonizomai: Heb 11 - 07 - Christ - Gracious For the Purpose of Salvation

Friday, March 26, 2010

Heb 11 - 07 - Christ - Gracious For the Purpose of Salvation

Heb 11 - 07 - Christ - Gracious For the Purpose of Salvation

Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

The writer’s over arching point to the Hebrews is that faith endures; true faith, that is - God-given faith. It would be so easy to turn faith into a justifying work by either not distinguishing between justification and sanctification, or by thinking that saving faith is a latent attribute of all natural men which they can unleash any time they want.

Take Noah, for example. He lived at a time when God said that the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that that every intention (imagination) of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. {Ge 6:5} This is very emphatic language. So how did Noah come to be such a God pleaser? Apart from the fact that he came from the godly line of Seth and grew up under the gospel, what made Noah to differ from all the other men of his time? {1Co 4:7} The answer is not faith, but grace. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." {Ge 6:8} God must be gracious before we can be faithful. And grace is an entirely undeserved, unsolicited and freely bestowed gift of God. Noah was blessed in this way, freely by God’s sovereign grace, to believe Him.

But note that the faith Noah displayed was accredited to him by God. Noah walked in it. Noah is also spoken of as having "walked with God." {Ge 6:9} He is described in this verse as "a righteous man, blameless in his generation." How is a man made thus? As to justification it is only by imputation. As to experiential holiness (in his generation) it is through walking by faith. The faith that saves also sanctifies. But the faith that sanctifies does so because it endures. And it endures because it is of God. The endurance of Noah’s faith was illustrated by preaching to a hardened and disinterested world for 120 years (without any tangible results, it needs to be said) while building a massive boat in the middle of a plain where there was no water. By faith he endured ridicule, disbelief and indifference. He was willing to be a fool in the eyes of men in order to know the wisdom of God. This is faith - walking by faith in the day to day calling of God. It endures. It is dead to the world and alive to God. This is why Noah is in the faith hall of fame. So long as we understand that Noah would be the first one to give all the glory for his endurance to God alone.

Of course, Noah did not condemn the world in the sense of holding a self-righteous view about the unbelievers. He condemned the world by obeying God when others refused to do so. It was God who actually condemned the world {Ge 6:6,13} - and that condemnation was illustrated and illuminated by Noah’s obedience. For all men have a duty to believe God and to obey Him - though none do unless, as in Noah’s case, God gives them grace to do so.

As to Noah becoming an heir on account of his obedience - the text does not say this, though one needs to carefully read what is there and not read into the text what the mind naturally thinks. Noah was an heir on account of his faith in God, which was manifested in obedience.


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