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Noah – Lesson 4

De-Creation.

Text: Genesis 7

Genesis 7 is a factual account of the flood.  The day of God’s judgment is come, and the probation of mankind upon the earth is at an end. Like a judge sitting on the bench, professionally and precisely weighing up the evidence in his summing up, without emotion he passes sentence and decrees punishment. Judgment must happen and justice will follow and everyone will be able to say they get what they deserve. We could summarise the chapter in four brief statements:-

Noah Believed and Obeyed. V1 & V7

Hebrews reminds us of this.  By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

The command that was issued

  • Come into the ark. And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. The invitation was issued by God, but not to be refused. It was a direct command:-
  • Based on Righteousness through faith.
  • Extended to Noah’s family. They were all there on the basis of righteousness.
  • Extended again to include a remnant of every living thing.

What the ark symbolises. Now, to get a proper perspective on this, we must remember the general principle that everything in the OT points us to Christ. The ark, is to be seen in that light, and we are to ask, ‘What does this tell us about Jesus?’  The ark is a ‘type’ of Christ.

The response. Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

  • Obedience! 4 times in tese verses, we read that Noah obeyed. That’s what marked Noah out from the other people.  Noah obeyed God. The others disobeyed God.  
  • Noah went into the Ark. vAnd 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.
    • What a challenge that must have been. A huge floating coffin with no light! Full of animals. The work the heat the smell, the darkness.
    • What faith and trust. Seven days they were locked up in that thing. No sign of rain For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. What a test of faith.
    • What a blessing! To be in the Ark with his wife and family. Wouldn’t that be the greatest blessing of all? To know that the family are all gathered in?  To know that come the day of judgment none of our children or their children will be outside of Christ.

Noah has trusted God and has obeyed him. He’s in the ark. He’s safe and so is his family. Now look what happens next.

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Saintly Perseverence

Noah Lesson 3.

Saintly Perseverance.

Text:  Genesis 6, and 2 Peter 3;9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

There is one more aspect to Noah’s character that we must consider – and it is a huge part of who he was. Let us call it ‘saintly perseverance.’  So see:-

The Duration of Noah’s Ministry.

Let’s go back to that controversial verse in chapter 6. 3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.  Now you should know by now that this is not about you, despite the fact that many evangelicals, who have a ‘semi-pelagian’ view of salvation think it is.

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Pelagius was a British monk who lived from 360 to 418 AD.  Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin, and believed that the fall had not deprived mankind of the will to choose good, and so fulfil the law of God.   He believed in man’s free will to choose, and argued strongly that a sinner could bring himself to God by an act of his own free will.  His beliefs earned him the condemnation of Augustine of Hippo, and at the Council of Carthage in 418 Pelagius was condemned as a heretic.  Pelagius’ doctrine of the Free Will of Man became known as Pelagianism.

‘Semi-Pelagianism’ is rampant in modern evangelicalism.  Also sometimes known as ‘syncretism’ it is the belief that God has gone to great extents to save us, and we must do the rest. Sometimes semi-Pelagian preachers will tell sinners that God has gone 99% of the way to save us, – now WE must do the additional 1%.

The problem?  Once we add anything to Christ’s finished work on the cross to save us, we add our own works, and thus negate what Christ has done for us.  The Reformed position is the opposite to Pelagianism, and is known as ‘Monergism’ – God in Christ has done everything needed for the salvation of man, who is passive in salvation.  Christ saves us, we do not choose him, or contribute anything to our salvation.

The semi-Pelagian position is both theologically and contextually incorrect.  We know that God is not capricious, or acting on a whim. God does not elect his people to salvation and then decide to unelect them!  It is about all mankind. It is telling us that his probation on this earth is limited, in that he has 120 years in which to repent before the final day of judgement comes.   So

  • Man is ‘life limited’ – our sinful condition on this earth is terminal and one day we will die and the opportunity to repent is over.
  • There will be a sudden and unexpected day when Christ shall come, and those who are outside his kingdom will be lost forever. Like in the days of Noah, they shall be marrying and giving in marriage, working and taking their leisure, and eating and drinking and laughing and singing and crying – life will be going on as usual, when without warning suddenly God will pour out his terrible wrath upon sin.  For mankind, history on this earth has ended.  No more Gospel preaching, no more believers to bring on the radio and make a mockery of, no more ‘pride’ marches…  No more time to repent. 2 Peter 3:10
  • In the context of the flood, there’s a 120 year probation. Now many commentators will say that this is the length of Noah’s ministry. Noah preached for 120 years!  Think what that must have been like, given the dreadful immorality and godlessness of those times.

Why did God allow Noah to preach for so long?  2 Peter 3:9  

Why would God commission a preacher to proclaim the Gospel to people who won’t listen? TO DEMONSTRATE HIS PATIENCE!  But we must not abuse this divine longsuffering or take it for granted. God’s patience is very great, but it does come to an end. Judgement will come. 1 Peter 3:3 

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Who was Noah?

Noah – Lesson 2.

Who was Noah?

Text:  Genesis 6:9ff

Learn about:-

Noah’s WalkGenesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah:

This story is not just about the flood or even about judgement. It’s about how God saves a man out of a lost world. The message of Noah is the message of salvation.   So, what about Noah the man?

  • Justified by faith. Noah was a just man. Now, remember what we have learned over and over again. There is no-one in this world who is JUST.  To be just is to be right in the eyes of the law – but in the light of God’s law, we all are unjust, and we all stand condemned.  The only way to be just in the sight of God was to be made just, by grace, through faith.
  • Blameless. and perfect in his generations,   He had a living testimony. Not sinless, but then not part of the culture of the time either.
  • He was in fellowship with God. and Noah walked with God.   Just like Enoch, who also walked with God.
  • He was a family man. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
  • A Gospel preacher 2 Peter 2:5

Now all of this points to the fact that Noah was a man of impeccable character. A godly man, with a testimony. But contrast Noah with his neighbour’s. He lived in an age which was totally inhospitable to him. Read more…

The Days of Noah.

Noah – Lesson 1.

Discerning the Times
Text: Genesis 6:1-8
Introduction: The story of Noah begins with a description of the times. There was much disobedience, much sinfulness, much rebellion against God. Why is it important for us to understand these times?  Matthew 24:37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

We too are to be discerners of the times, for we too live in a wicked age, when abject ungodliness is the norm. It is in such times that the Son of Man will unexpectedly return. So what was it like in the days of Noah? Read more…

Doubtful Matters

Doubtful Matters and A Christian Example.

Text .  Romans 14:13-23

Paul has been teaching us about the correct way to use our Christian liberty.  He has told us that we are not to disagree on non-essential issues, issues that are secondary to the Christian faith, that when a ‘weaker brother’ come into our fellowship we have to receive him in a particular way – in such a way that we will not simply argue with him and thus destroy his faith! V1.  Now that leaves us with two dilemmas.

  • Who is ‘the weaker brother?’ In Romans, most likely the weaker brother was the Jewish Christians who had returned after exile) But what of today?  My own humble opinion on the matter, is that none of us are strong in the faith, outside of Christ, who grants us the gift of faith in the first place, and without the help of the holy spirit who sustains us.  But what then on my second dilemma?
  • Where do we draw the line in ETHICAL matters? In ethics, practical obedience, what is an essential issue and what is not?  Paul’s two ‘doubtful matters’ of food and feasts could be expanded many times today. It can be straightforward enough when theological or doctrinal issues are in question, to find a place to draw the line – that’s helped and guided by 1st Corinthians 15.  But what of modern ethical issues?  How do we apply the ‘nonessential’ rule in those cases, – how far do we let the ‘weaker brother’ stray before we are forced to say – you are wrong?  Where do you draw the line?  Obviously, if something is clearly condemned in the scripture, surely we must take that line also – but many modern ethical problems are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible.

This whole section has at its heart the basic principle of Christian liberty and freedom, and the restraints that we must exercise upon ourselves, for the sake of the Lord, other believers and the witness of the Gospel. Its principles are fundamental for Christian ethical behaviour.  1 Cor. 8:9  For the Christian there is…

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Adiaphora

Adiaphora

Text Romans 14:1.

Adiaphora!  Today I want to introduce you to a new word – one that you maybe haven’t heard before. Adiaphora. It’s not a biblical word – it’s a philosophical word – used to denote matters upon which we can agree to disagree. Secondary issues upon which we should never fall out with each other. Theologians use it too. To differentiate between two broad sets of issues.

  • Matters of saving importance. Paul lists these for us in 1 Cor 15:1-4.  These are the things upon which we MUST agree.  The inspiration and authority of the Bible, the sinfulness and ruin of man, the Persona and work of Christ, his death, burial and literal bodily resurrection from the dead, the need to receive the Gospel in order to be saved.  This is the gospel, the Good News. We find this same concise statement of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.
  • Matters not of saving importance. For example, why would we disagree with other believers over dress codes, bible versions, even whether Christians should drink alcohol.  Some Christians hold VERY strict views on the Lord’s Day.  Others will go to the other extreme, and just treat the Sabbath as any other day Whatever our practice is regarding the Sabbath day, we must live our own lives unto the Lord, knowing that we will answer before Him for ourselves, and not for others.

Now this is precisely what Paul is teaching us about in Romans 14. Read more…

Martin Luther & the Indulgence.

What did Martin Luther find so Objectionable about the Indulgence?

Text .  Romans 5:8-9

Around 500 years ago, Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, was becoming more and more concerned about a scandal that was happening in a town near where he lived where a religious huckster was selling supposed ‘spiritual blessings’ for money -, possibly the very first ‘faith and prosperity teacher in the church, trading money for supposed and highly dubious spiritual blessings.’  The year was 1517, and throughout some of the regions of Germany an indulgence had been proclaimed, to raise funds for the completion of St Peter’s basilica in Rome.  The cleric who was raising the funds (there’s a lot of political intrigue going on behind the scenes) was Albert of Mainz, and his claims for the indulgence were extravagant to say the least.

(Roland Bainton in ‘Here I Stand’)  “The instructions given to the indulgence sellers declared that a plenary indulgence had been issued by His Holiness Pope Leo X to defray the expenses of remedying the sad state of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul and the innumerable martyrs and saints whose bones lay mouldering, subject to constant desecration from rain and hail. Subscribers would enjoy a plenary and perfect remission of all sins. They would be restored to the state of innocence which they enjoyed in baptism and would be relieved of all the pains of purgatory, including those incurred by an offence to the Divine Majesty.  Those securing indulgences on behalf of the dead already in purgatory need not themselves be contrite and confess their sins.”

The indulgence was never proclaimed in Saxony, where Luther worked.  But in an adjacent area, a German called Johann Tetzel was preaching the benefits of the indulgence and the people of Wittenberg could travel over to pay their money and return with a pocketful of worthless promises…  Tetzel’s method was outrageous.  He played upon the fears of the simple people who believed that their departed loved ones, a mother or father, husband or wife or child, were being punished in purgatory, having their remaining sins purged, before they could be admitted to heaven.  You can imaging the anxiety this caused, the fear and distress.  Tetzel played upon this, by claiming that the church (or specifically the pope) could and would relieve the souls that are suffering in purgatory, if payment was made.  One of his catchy sales slogans went something like, ‘As soon as the gold in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs!’

 Is it any wonder Luther was incensed by this.  The thought that a person could have their sins forgiven, just by pay a sum of money, with no conviction of sin and no repentance, was repugnant to the man who had learned, on his own quest to find peace of heart before God, that ‘the justified soul lives by faith, and faith alone.’  Tetzel’s doctrine of salvation by works was abhorrent to Luther and abhorrent to Scripture.

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