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Living by Faith (Vol 22) - Noah's Faith

Sunday English Service - 13 JAN 19


Please turn with me to Hebrews chapter 11. Let me read verse 7. By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with the godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. Now, when you read a passage like this, or when you read a chapter like this in Hebrews chapter 11, from which we’re teaching about the life of faith, you can see what New Testament teaching must have been like in the early church, because these are derived from the teachings that are given personally in the church. Now, it has come in the form of written material, and therefore it is shortened. And it is our job to take it and expand upon it and try to bring out the truth that they tried to bring out in the early days in the church from these things. So, Hebrews 11 is a wonderful chapter to learn faith from and the examples of Abel, Enoch and Noah, and then Abraham and others are given here, a big list comes and we're going to look at everyone. Today we're going to look at Noah from verse 7.

Now, this is a very interesting story, the story of Noah, from Sunday school days, everybody has known it, but there are a lot of things that we really don't know from it. And it is a wonderful story that shows how to live in a society, a very ungodly society, a society that does not reverence God, does not follow God, does not believe in God, and yet live for God. How to do that? Enoch was one example of that and Noah is another example of that. Enoch walked with God under those circumstances. Noah goes even more than that. He does several other things that I want to point out to you. I want to show you today, how that we can live by putting faith in God's word, believing in God's word, and obeying God's word, being a witness before the world before such a world that doesn't believe in God, and in the end, be vindicated for our faith. I want to show these things.

And before we look at that, let me just say a few things about Noah, the man himself. A lot of us immediately come to the conclusion, we know everything that needs to be known about Noah, but I think there's a lot of new people here that are new to Noah, and even those that are used to Noah from Sunday school days, really, we need to take an adult look at it, on a church setting, not just like Sunday school. So, let me just say a few things about the man, Noah. When Charles Haddon Spurgeon, I don't know if you've heard of Spurgeon. How many of you have heard Spurgeon the great preacher in England? He started preaching in 1855, in England. When he began his preaching ministry, a lot of people were attracted to Spurgeon’s preaching because he was an excellent preacher and this caused others to rise up against him, and they ridiculed him more than any other man in his generation, they say. They thought that he preached an outmoded gospel, some kind of foolishness, because at that time there was this great movement called enlightenment. And that was not really true enlightenment, they thought it was enlightenment. There was a lot of stress and a trend to question the scriptures. They gave more respect to reason than the scriptures. So, if it does not agree with reason, we must reject it, was their position. So, they will read the scriptures with a critical attitude and even the preachers went to seminaries and studied with a critical attitude, looked at the scriptures just to criticize it, to find fault with it. So, they'll read something like Adam and Eve story, and they'll question whether there was a man named Adam. “Or is he a fictitious figure? Just to tell a truth, they have made out this story about a couple.”

This is the way they went out reasoning, and it was getting worse and worse. And right at the time when it was a fashionable thing to disbelieve the Bible and question the Bible, God raised up this man named Spurgeon, he believed the Bible absolutely. He had no problems with the Bible. He never questioned what the Bible says. He would take and read a passage or read a verse and simply explain to the people in a very dynamic, powerful way, very interesting way. Very great preacher. Never went to a Bible college but well-read, well studied, very knowledgeable, preaching from a very young age, from his teenage years, started attracting thousands of people. And this man believed in the Bible. That was his characteristic. He simply believed the Bible. Never questioned it, simply explained it in such a way that people will benefit from it. And people didn't like it. The sophisticated commentators of that day argued against him and they would say things like, “Up like a rocket down like a stick, he would come,” they say. It means he shot up to fame just like that he would come down very soon and go to nothing. That's what they said.

But Spurgeon hung on. He said though he stood alone, he stood on the word of God that cannot be shaken. And he will continue to stand on the word of God. And even some people called him dog, it seems, in those days. They used all kinds of derogatory terms. He said, “I'm willing to even be called dog now,” knowing that in 50 years, he would be vindicated. Well, those who had reputations at that time, and were speaking so loudly against him would be discredited. He saw that happening. That if he kept on preaching the word of God, and standing on the word of God, one day, he will be vindicated, and they'll be discredited. And today, about 150 years after he died, all of his sermons are available online, on the internet, because while he was preaching every week his sermon was printed and came out in print as a single sermon and distributed throughout the world and preachers and people from all over the world were eagerly waiting to read Spurgeon’s sermons. Every single week they sold it for a penny or something, and it went all over the world. And today, you all know Spurgeon, a lot of the Christian world knows Spurgeon. He had about 10,000 people in the end in his church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. Today, Spurgeon is well-known, his sermons are well-read. Even today, preachers of all kinds and people of all kinds will go to Spurgeon’s sermons and read them often, even go there is an index of topics, index of verses. Any verse you can look up to see if he preached about it. His illustrations are most fantastic, a very humorous person. In those days, it's amazing how he preached.

There was a book called the ‘Lectures to My Students’, he had a pastor's college like we have a Bible College these days, he had a Bible college and trained preachers to be pastors. And the lectures that he gave to them are written as a book. And in my beginning days, I used to read that again and again. There was such humor, amazing humor. Every line where you’ll just want to laugh out loud when you read it. I just couldn't imagine, that in those days, preachers were like that. I thought in those days there were more solemn and very quiet and subdued. No wonder he went over very well and thousands of people came to hear him. Today, people all over the world read him but his critics, if I asked you to name even one you won't even remember one. We don't know where they are. But Spurgeon is well-known.

I said this to say this, not only Spurgeon, Luther also had to stand alone. In society, many times people have to stand alone for the faith, and we should never be afraid to stand alone. Spurgeon stood alone, Luther stood alone. Luther, literally feared for his life, and therefore he had to be protected by the princes of Germany. Some of the princes that liked his preaching took and hid him in a castle. For about six months he was kept in a castle. During that time, he translated the Greek New Testament into German language. Before that there was only Greek, Hebrew and Latin. No translation in the local language, so nobody could read. While hiding, he translated it, entire New Testament. He had to be hid so that nobody will kill him. Such was the opposition to Luther. Even Knox, who came from Scotland, from him came the famous Presbyterian Church known for the preaching of the word of God for so many years, excellent preaching and teaching of God's word. He was also like that. Hunted and persecuted for his ministry, for a successful ministry.

So, God's people always had times when they had to stand alone, and Noah was such a man in his day and age. His story comes in Genesis chapter 6, 7, 8 and 9, four chapters. You may want to read it later on. But let me read to you just one verse from there. Genesis chapter 6 verse 9 about Noah. This says, This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Perfect is a word, old English word that they use it but not very fitting. Actually, what they mean is, he had integrity. Perfect doesn't mean that he never had any faults. He was not God, he was a human being. He had a lot of faults, but he had integrity. He was blameless, blameless is another word. Perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. The same thing is used of Enoch also that he walked with God and I showed you what walking with God means. That you had to have the same destination in mind because Amos 3:3 says that, “How can two walk together if they are not in agreement?”

So, you got to be in agreement about three things I said last week. One is that you got to agree about the destination, you got to be going to the same place. So, when a man agrees to go to the destination that God has in mind, take God's a destination as his own destination, then he can walk with God. Secondly, you walk with God if you follow the same path to get there. You can go in two different paths and get to the same place, but you can't walk together. If you want to walk together you got to take the same path and we talked about how you got to walk at the same pace also because if one is walking faster than the other, you cannot walk together. These are all spiritual truths. He’s talking about how you agree with God about the destination, agree with God and make God's ways your ways, and agree with God on the will of God on all matters so that you take every step according to His timing and according to His guidance. That's how you walk with God.

And just like Enoch, Noah also was a man who walked with God and he was blameless man of integrity among the men of his generation, it says. Noah descended from the godly lineage that came from Adam. Adam’s descendants split into two, Cain and Abel, and Abel was killed therefore he didn't have any descendants. Cain had the descendants but ungodly descendants. But when Abel was killed, there was another son born to Adam and Eve called Seth and he became the father of the godly descendants and the godly line. And in that line comes Noah. And when Noah was born, six of his ancestors were still living. And named Enosh, Cainan, Mahalel, Jared, Methuselah, which is Noah’s grandfather, Enoch’s son. We talked about it last week. And then Noah’s father Lamech and then all these six people were alive. Enoch was dead but others were alive, it's possible that six ancestors were alive because they were all living for 700, 800, 900 years. Just imagine if we had people living 700, 800, and 900 years. Your grandfather's grandfather's grandfather will be still living.  That’s the way it would be. So, that's why you have six generations of them living.

Why I said this is because it is important to know that these people who are living at that time so that Noah had the input of all these people, the teaching from all these people, from the godly line and he grew up in such circumstances. It is said about his father Lamech that when Noah was born in chapter 5 in the last few verses, we read that when Noah was born his father named them Noah, which means rest. Why did he name him rest? Because Noah’s father looked at the world and so one thing that is terribly wrong with the world, that is, the world was under a curse, the earth was under a curse. Therefore, work was difficult. The work of our hand, blessing was missing in that. It was difficult. You have worked so much and earned so little, you eat by the sweat of the brow because that is the curse that came as a result of man’s sin. So, Lamech recognized that because of the curse of the ground which the Lord cursed, work has now become difficult, he named his son Noah, which means rest. Because he thought that when Noah was born, there is some special purpose for him, that God had something very special planned for him. He could not really pinpoint it very clearly, but he saw that there was this problem of a lack of blessing in work. There is a curse in the work of our hands, so that he thought, “Now, Noah has come and because of Noah something good might happen so that we may have some relief, some blessing, experience some prosperity and ease in the matter of work and profession, and the work of our hands.” So, he named him rest because he thought, “We can rest now from sweating and working so hard to try to make our ends meet.” That's the expectation that he had.

So, Noah grew up in that kind of an environment and the Bible says in chapter 6 in verse 8, that Noah found grace in the eyes of God. That God had a special purpose for him, chosen him. Grace in the eyes of God and the grace of God that he had really enabled him to live a life that was full of integrity, that was a blameless life, that was a holy life in a very difficult society that was unholy, that was full of unbelievers, full of people that were full of wickedness, so wicked that chapter 6 verse 5 says, The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. This is Genesis 6:5. The wickedness of man was great in the earth, that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

I think today it's a lot better maybe because there's so many of us today believers who live in this earth. We are the salt and the light of the earth. Because of us, I think the earth is a little more tolerable. Back then just imagine if God had to send a flood and destroy the earth so that except Noah and his family no one would live. How bad it should have been. How bad the people were. How wicked they must have been. 365 days, 24/7 their intentions, their thoughts were only evil, continually it seems, all the time. They're not capable of any good at all. Fully evil, always doing evil, thinking evil, imagining evil, bringing forth evil. So unbearable it became that God had to destroy the whole mankind except this one family. So, right in that situation we read that Noah was a very different man, he lived as a very different man in that situation.

So, now let's go to Hebrews chapter 11 and look at verse 7 and look at those four things. I want to first talk about the faith of Noah. That is how his faith led to a certainty about what God had said. See, for faith to come and faith to work in a person's life, you must have some word from God regarding something. Romans 10:17 says, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” So, starting point of faith is the word of God. God reveals something to you, you’ll get to know something, God says something and as a result you believe in it. And not simply believe in it, not simply hear it but over time you get certainty of it, you're so sure of it. That is what happened to Noah. He was divinely warned of things verse 7 says. Being divinely warned of things not seen as yet. He was divinely warned of things. So, he had received a warning from God.

You know that Enoch preached about coming judgment. Enoch preached in warning people. Even in Enoch’s days things were very bad, we talked about it. And Enoch was a preacher of righteousness and he preached. He warned people. Even back then the warning started already. Methuselah, Enoch’s son was born when Enoch was 65 years. Was named so because his name meant that when he died that will come. When he died what will come? The flood will come. That's what it meant, that's why he lived as the longest man on earth, 969 years. God was so patient. He kept him alive for the longest period of time so that man can have ample opportunities to repent and turn to him. He lived for 969 years. His name was a constant reminder. He was living in Noah’s days. His name was a constant reminder of the fact that when he died the flood will come. So, there is already news through the godly line of descendants that something terrible is going to happen because the world has become so wicked, full of evil, that God is going to judge this world and it's going to come, and nobody seems to repent. And there is already a sense that it's going to happen.

So, Noah certainly must have learned a lot from Enoch’s preaching. He has heard about Enoch’s preaching and Methuselah’s name and all of that. Apart from that, he himself personally had somehow heard the word of God, God has spoken to him saying, warning him of some things to come. Divine warning was given. He was divinely warned of things. Two things he was warned of, one is, that the earth's population was going to be destroyed by a monstrous, cataclysmic flood. A judgment by water is going to come. God has warned him of that. You read that in chapter 6 verse 17 and so on. God clearly tells him that there's going to come a flood and people are going to be completely destroyed. Second thing he is told is this, something that Noah probably never thought about, that God was going to deliver Noah and his family very specially. He's going to keep them alive. Everybody's going to die but he's going to keep them alive. And keep them alive through a great ark which the Lord will teach him how to make, that Noah himself was going to build. The instructions are very clearly given. The ark is supposed to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, 45 feet in height. Just imagine that, when you get an idea of how big that is. It’s probably from here to the gate, 450 feet. That's how long it is. 75 feet wide and 45 feet high in height, like a multi-story building. And it's got to float in water. This man has never seen rain, first of all. Before that time, the Bible says the mist came from the earth and watered the earth. That's how everything grew. So, rain was something that is unknown to Noah. He has never seen or experienced it. And he has never seen a boat of that size, and ark of that size, anything a structure of that size. He could never envision, never think of and have any knowledge of such a thing that it will float on the waters like that.

So, God is talking me about two things that are completely never seen, cannot even be imagined by Noah at that time. Rain and the resulting flood and upon that flood waters this ark is going to float. Something that is in his wildest imagination he never thought that was possible. He could never even imagine that. But faith is about that. That is why Hebrews 11:1 is very important. What is faith? Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. See what faith is this. Faith is that you're being told by God about something that your eyes have never seen. That you are even incapable of even dreaming, imagining, in your wildest imagination. Something that you have never conceived in your mind, never seen, never experienced. But God says that's possible. It can be anything.

Whenever God does great things through people, some of those people that God does great things through are very small, ordinary people. God raises them and gives them a dream, a vision, a purpose and gives them His word and tells them that He's going to do something so grand, something that is far beyond them they can never even imagine, never conceive, never even believe. That's how big He is. But these people that are used by God usually believe it even though they could never imagine it, they've never seen it. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. In their heart, in these people that believe, in their hearts it's like they've seen, it's already there. Their eyes of faith can conceive it. They can imagine it. I bet Noah, as a result of hearing God's divine warning about the things to come, was able to see through his eyes of faith how the flood would come, and the water level will rise, and people will cry to save their life. That they will perish in those waters along with animals and stuff. And then he could see probably the ark floating and him inside, and his family inside along with all the animals and birds and other things because it's so real to him.

Faith is always like that. You take anything, healing or anything just like that. I heard many years ago Kenneth Hagin said that he was a 16-year-old boy, he was bedridden, could not even get up. He had a serious heart disease. They said he won't make it. He is not expected to live very long. He cannot run, he cannot play, he cannot go to school, he cannot do anything. Just bedridden with a terrible heart disease. Right at the time he began to learn about faith. He says the more he thought about how faith can move mountains and how that God is a healer that wants to heal him, the more he looked into the promise of God and the word of God about how God is the healer, the more he got the certainty of it. And then he says he began to see himself getting up and walking. He began to see himself as well. He began to see himself as living and doing something productive through his life. And he says, one day he simply got up and walked. And to everybody’s surprise he lived till 86 years old and did great work and went on to be with the Lord. He taught about faith in a very dynamic way and he would often say this, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. When a person has faith, he is heard from God, he's got the word of God, some promises come alive to him and in a very special way he believes. It is not like other believers who just read it and just close the Bible and go on and they know what's in there but it's not really gone in them, they don't really believe it. This person that has faith really believes it so that it is so real to him. It's almost tangible, that he can feel it, that he can know it. It’s like he has it.” That is how he says healings happen. Faith works like that.

That is what happened to Noah. He heard the warnings from God and it's so real to him, so real. Even though everything that God said was so new to him and unbelievable to him, it was so real to him. He had a visual certainty. He began to see that the word would come to pass. That is how everything happens in life by faith. God wants to take you and use you for something mighty. Through the word, he gives you the vision of what you’re going to do, what you're going to be, where you’re going to go, and how he's going to use you. He instills that in your heart, and you begin to believe it and that becomes very real to you and nobody else can understand.

Look at Noah, you think everybody else understood why he was making the ark? You think anybody else understood what he was talking about? When he understood about the flood, the coming flood and the destruction and how he's going to float in a boat and all that? Everybody would have laughed at him. Nobody would have understood. But for him, it was real. It’s a long time ago. The standard of what faith is was already set in the midst of that unbelieving society, the dark society which was so full of sin. God was teaching faith to Noah. So that Noah heard from God about something that he could never in his wildest imagination even think about it. Something that his eyes have never seen, never imagined but he's now able to see and imagine and believe with such certainty. Alright.

So, faith brings a certainty in the heart, a surety and assurance, a confidence. That's what faith is. Secondly, in Noah we learn that confidence, that certainty or surety that happens to come as a result of looking at God's word, results in obedience, actions that correspond with faith. That is what we call obedience. If you really believe it, you'll begin to act in line with what you believe. If a person does not really believe he will not act in line with what he believes. See, some people say, “I believe in Jesus. I go to church, I believe in Jesus. I'm a Christian. I believe in Christianity. I believe Jesus was born of Mary the Virgin. I believe that He is the Son of God,” and all of that, but they will not even leave their sin and live a life for God. There is no change. They believe all the doctrines, they know what the Bible says but there is no real change. They are not disconnected from the world's sins and wickedness and so on, they’re part of the world in that way. Their mind is full of the world, and everything is full of it. And they have no intention of coming out of it, and living a different kind of life. But they claim they have faith, that they are from the Christian faith. I would say to you; such a person is not a Christian at all. His faith is not real. His faith is not true. If he has faith, he will show it in his action. There will be a change. I don't mean that he’ll be perfect. I mean there will be a change, that he will hate sin, that he will fear God, that he will love God, that he will love the word of God. If a person says, “Yeah, I believe,” but he doesn't want to even go to church, hear the word of God, pray, read the Bible know anything about God, then I question whether that person really believes, whether that faith is real.

Faith without corresponding action is dead, the Bible says. Such faith, it does not bring about anything. It does not save a person, it does not heal a person, does not deliver a person, does not bring any blessing to a person. Real faith, the Bible faith, when it is there in a person's heart, it will result in actions that correspond to that faith. His actions will show that this person really believes. Yeah, he really believes. Because he really believes that's why he longs for the word of God. He runs to hear the word of God, he reads the word of God. That's why he prays every day. That is why he lives for God with the determination every day. That is why when he does something wrong, small thing that is wrong, his heart is pricked and he's full of remorse. And he goes and repents before God for his sins and gets it right, because he has done something wrong that has offended his God.

Those things are there in the believer. Even though he's not perfect he is living a spiritual life, he’s longing after God. So, Noah’s faith brought about obedience. In what kind of obedience? Obedience you can look at in two ways. One it says, godly fear. In godly fear, he prepared an ark, it seems. He was moved with godly fear when he prepared an ark. The word fear has negative connotations many times. This Bible is not talking about Noah having some kind of negative fear, that he was terrorized by the very thought of God. Now, today, I think sometimes Christian teachings are given in that way to scare people. The very thought of God scares people. They try to do the commandments of God, live by the word of God, because of a negative type of fear that God will break your hand, leg, kill you or something like that, or send you to a hospital, make you spend two, three lakhs, that God is out to get you. That kind of negative fear.

I don't think any of us, many parents are here, I don’t think any of us as parents would like our children to fear us in that negative way, be terrorized by us. What kind of a person we will be if our children are terrorized by our very presence? But at the same time, we’ll be unhappy if the children just treat us very casually and don't even respect us at all. Don't have any kind of fear at all about us, a healthy fear. You see kids, they'll be playing, doing things, when the father comes, they’ll all sit with their books and seriously reading. That's a healthy fear. It's not that the father is going to kill them or something but because he is the father and he provides everything, he loves them, he's got a great future planned for them, that he's thinking and expecting so much from them, they want to please the father and behave in such a way that it will please him. Don't want to cause displeasure to the man who's doing so much for them. It is out of love they obey. It's a different kind of a thing. Heart beats a little faster, not because they're terrorized but because they're worried that they may have offended him. It's a fear that is out of love.

The proper word for it is reverence. In Tamil Bible, the exact translation of the word reverence is used – ‘bayabakthi’ is used. It’s the exact translation of the word reverence in English. Unfortunately, the word fear comes, and they mean reverence. Many times, in the Bible, fear means reverence. And if you look at it, everything will be alright. So, with holy reverence or with a godly reverence, he obeyed. That means Noah heard from God, that God is going to send a judgment and destroy the world and he respected God, loved God, wanted to live for God, believed His word. Therefore, he started to work. He started to make an ark, even though it seemed so unreasonable, even though it seemed impossible.

Have you seen the ark? I've seen the ark. I didn't go to Mount Ararat. One group has really built this ark exactly to specification and they have it now near Cincinnati, in the state of Kentucky, border of Cincinnati, Ohio. And tourists come from all over the world to see this. I'm not a great tourist. When I go somewhere, I just preach and just go back, so I have not been to Israel, never dipped in river Jordan and all that business. I guess this baptism is okay for me to get me to heaven. But I'm not into that kind of thing, to be a tourist. But this time I was really wanting to go and see because these people had researched this thing well and made exact replica of the ark. Can you imagine? 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, 45 feet in height. And inside it, they have put specimens either in picture or some form of made material of all the birds, animals, reptiles, everything you know. They’ve put a specimen of everything that is supposed to be in that ark, that was preserved in the ark. Amazing presentation. Millions of dollars they have spent to make this. And it's become a very famous tourist spot now. A lot of people are coming from all over the world in buses, they bring them from hotels, and you need like two days to go and look around. It's an excellent place to go. If you have a chance, you should see that, I think.

But the thing is this, amazing. When I stood next to it, I said, “My God.” If God told any one of us to build something like that, they’ll say, “No, no, no, God, please find somebody else.” Even today in 2019 we’d feel so incompetent, so challenged by the very thought of doing something like that. It stunned me that Noah back then, dared to get into that work and believed God, that God will enable him, teach him to build this ark, and built this ark. Amazing. And it worked. It didn't sink like the Titanic. Amazing. So, this was something that was done out of respect and love, that kind of fear. “I must not forgo this. I must not just think of it lightly. I must get on the job, do it, no matter how difficult it is. God will help me because He has said, I will do it.” That's the kind of attitude. That’s godly fear. Godly fear causing obedience. But the obedience was also practical obedience. In other words, he built the ark. The Bible says that Noah did everything just as God commanded him. Exactly as God commanded him. He was carefully to do it exactly. Follow the blueprint exactly so that he finished the 450 feet ark.

Just imagine what kind of abuse he took. Now, we have all kinds of jokes. I remember people have in the world things called Polish jokes, and all that. I'm sure back in those days, when Noah was building that ark, they had Noah jokes. The whole town was talking about him. Talking about this foolish guy, a real guy who's lost his mind building something that is unbelievable. He believes that one day it's going to float on water, and the whole world is going to be submerged in water. And this is going to float on top of it. And they would have talked and laughed, and this went on for 120 years, the Bible says.

I remember when I was a young boy, my father used to take me just outside of Tambaram to a village. Now it's all become more like city. In a small village, there were some Christian families and my father used to go and preach there and do some ministry. I used to accompany him. We came across a man there who became a very lifelong friend with us, middle-aged man at that time. He was suffering some stroke, so his one side was not doing very well. So, he was using a stick to walk. And when the stroke came, and he became sick, everybody thought he will die, it seems. So, he decided to build a coffin for himself. He was not sure whether his children will do it properly, so he wanted to make sure that he's buried in a good coffin. So, he called somebody home and they bought some good wood and made a fine coffin and finished it and gave it to him. But the guy didn't die. To my remembrance, I think he lived at least 10, 12 years after that. And I used to go with my father all the time to that place and the coffin will be always in the front veranda like thing, because the house was so small, the coffin is so big, they didn't want the room to be taken up by the coffin. They didn't have no room for the coffin in the house. And you got to kind of duck to go inside. It’s a little tiled house and there was a small veranda and this thing took up the whole space in the veranda. And was right on the street. Everybody could see it. And every time we went there, I would just feel like laughing out loud and my father will joke, and we'll talk about it. And just imagine what the people that went up and down the street talked about. This thing sitting there for years together, more than 10 years, the man continues to live. I hope he was buried in that coffin. I think he died when I was not here. Otherwise, I would have been there. Just 10, 12 years he lived like that.

And just imagine the ridicule for all those years. That would have seemed like a long time. But 120 years Noah went through that. The ark was under construction 120 years. People laughing, looking at it, talking about him. The whole town talks about him. People come from outside of town just to see this thing. “What is he building? What kind of thing is this? What is it going to do?” Nobody believes in him when he tells them the story of how a flood is going to come. Nobody is ready to believe. But he's still doing it because his faith was real. He acted in line with faith. His actions corresponded with faith. He acted in obedience. Faith always leads to obedience. Faith leads to certainty of belief and that certainty of belief once it comes, that's real faith. Certainty is real faith and once you've got that certainty, you'll begin to act even if it seems unbelievable, even if nobody else believes, you begin to act on it. And that's what Noah was doing.

Now, thirdly, certainty of belief leads to obedience, but that obedience leads to being a witness before the world. When you obey like that God's word and act upon it, you become a witness before the world, you are conveying a message to the world, when you act like that on God's word. The witness that Noah bore before the world was a twofold witness. One, through his words that he spoke. He was a preacher of righteousness. Go right next door to Peter, 2nd Peter chapter 2. Peter talks about Noah and he says in chapter 2 verse 5, that God did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, and describes Noah as, a preacher of righteousness. So, back in those days, there have been some preachers. Enoch was a preacher, Noah was a preacher. They were preachers of righteousness. And just imagine this, by his words, he began to bear witness to what God was going to do, the coming destruction. For 120 years, this goes on. He was preaching. People would come to see the ark, this big thing that's going on, and he would preach to them as they stood there and laughed. And they would shake their head in disbelief. Other times, I imagine, that he went around to other villages and towns around and continued to preach to them. So, faithfully he preached righteousness for 120 years.

I've been preaching for 40 years, so I think I got 80 more to go to catch up with Noah. I can imagine how long that is, that's a long, long time to preach. Not only was his preaching a witness before the world, that he talked about the ark and why and God is going to send the flood and so on, his life itself was a witness because he was a blameless man. He was a man of integrity. He lived differently from the rest of the world. The rest of the world did not respect God, had no fear of God, they lived wicked lives. 24 hours they were thinking wickedness, doing wickedness. Here was a different man who feared God, lived for God, lived a holy life, blameless man of integrity, that life spoke much.

Life speaks much better than preaching sometimes. Preaching is necessary and it can be powerful. We need something like this. We need to take the word of God and explain systematically and show what it really means. I don't underestimate preaching, I'm a preacher. So, preaching is very important. But life is also very important. Life sometimes speaks louder. Life speaks more powerfully than preaching. When everybody is doing wickedness, everybody is filled with the thoughts of wickedness and evil, so full of evil, the society is. And right in the middle Noah must have shined like a star, he must have been the light of that world of his day. He must have been a different man so different from everybody. Just imagine what kind of a witness he would have been. They would probably be talking about, “Oh, you think he's crazy? Yeah, it looks like he's crazy, but he's a good man. He won't cheat you. He’s a man of character, he’s a man of integrity, he’s a blameless man, you can't find any fault with him. His preaching I can't believe. He believes there's a flood going to come. I don't believe that but you can't fault his life. He's a good man. You won’t find a better man like that. He’s a very disciplined man, very holy guy. Guy that's always fearing God, living for God. Having great deal of reverence for God, worshipping God, as his family.” His life was a tremendous witness.

Life is always more powerful a witness than preaching. I think church needs to know that. Sometimes we think preaching will do it and not in all circumstances. I've seen in some cases where the wife gets saved and the husband isn't and the husband is in a big problem then. The wife goes home and every time she puts the sambar there and rice there, she says, “Are you really going to go to hell or are you going to take baptism? When are you going to do it? This week or next week? When are you going to change? I'm telling you, John says this, Matthew says this, Paul says this, Peter says this,” she's preaching all the time. And the guy dreads to go home because the wife is preaching all the time. She doesn't want to be a wife she wants to be a preacher. And the guy doesn't want to listen. That's why 1 Peter chapter 3 says... Have you ever read 1 Peter chapter 3? Very interesting chapter. It says, Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, that they, without a word, without any preaching, without you lecturing, without taking your Bible and going for a full-length sermon, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel. 

Now, they have taken this verse and gone very far. In my days, no gold, no fine apparel. You can’t dress with anything good. And no arranging of hair. You can only bundle up your hair very simply. You cannot braid your hair and all that. This was all subject matter for preaching from 1 Peter chapter 3. But he's not talking about how you can’t wear gold, how you can't wear good clothes, or how you can't wear all these things. What he's saying is, you're not going to win others just by wearing gold, and winning them with good clothes and arranging your hair. What matters in success of marriage is, it's not just how you look, it is the hidden person of the heart, next verse says, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. He's not saying, “Don't wear any gold. Don't wear any fine apparel. Don't do your hair or anything like that.” No, I'd rather have people do hair and just imagine all hair flinging everywhere. And the cosmetic businesses multibillion-dollar business because people believe in all the stuff that you can put on, you know. Fine, put it on. But the thing is, that is not going to do the job. What is going to do the job is your conduct, is your life that speaks louder than everything. They’ve missed the main point. It's always like this. We missed the main point of what he's trying to say and we hung on to the gold, what kind of clothes you can wear, how you can do your hair, how long it should be and what it should be. We totally miss the point. It's talking about how to win unsaved, unbelieving husbands by just not speaking anything, without a word, but just by conduct.

But let me say this. So, Noah is a witness before the world. He was preaching by word, by conduct he’s witnessing, the result is not one salvation, not one person believed. That's what stuns me. I learned a great lesson from Noah. That's why you need to go beyond the Sunday school level. 120 years of preaching, not one gets saved. If I was a preacher, I don't know how I'll handle that. Preach and preach and preach and preach. I’ve been preaching 40 years, if nobody got saved, boy. I don't know what I’ll do. It will be tremendously frustrating to anybody. 120 years this man so faithful to God, so believes the message, so believes the word of God and stands on it and preaches, nobody believes, everybody dies in the flood. No results after all. So, the lesson is, all you can do as a preacher is just preach and live uprightly and present the message, a good message, but the result comes from God. God has to do something.

Nowadays, thank God, the Holy Spirit is working in a mighty way, bringing in the people, drawing people to Christ, touching people's lives. Since Jesus has come and died on the cross, risen again, the Holy Spirit is at work. Now, it's so easy for people to come to Christ. We’re sitting here, people are calling us, “Can you give me a Bible? Where do you buy Bibles? I want a Bible. Can you tell me something about Jesus? Can you pray for me?” We don't have to go anywhere, people will call us. So many people wanting to come to Christ. There is such a move the Holy Spirit drawing people to God. But back then, there’s such wickedness, such problem. God sends forth his preachers to preach, nobody responds because it was full of such wickedness, and they all perish in the flood.

Finally, the fourth thing. Look at verse 7. We saw how he was divinely warned of things. He received a word from God about things not yet seen. Secondly, we saw how he obeyed, he got certainty, then he obeyed. And then, by which he condemned the world, by doing this, by obeying and building an ark, he condemned the world. That is the third thing. That is where the witness comes in. By building the ark he was condemning the world. He’s saying, “You’re going to die, you're going to perish, a judgment is going to come. God is displeased with you. You're living in wickedness.” He was condemning the world just by his very life, and by his very doing the ark. And then finally it says, became the heir of righteousness which is according to faith. Now, this is something very amazing. He became heir of righteousness which is according to faith. See, it brings in the New Testament truth in a very nice way with his old testament story.

He became heir of righteousness which is by faith. The righteousness which is by faith is really clearly available only in the New Testament because through Jesus Christ, by faith in Jesus Christ you receive His righteousness. But the Old Testament teaches about the righteousness which is by faith. And look how well this New Testament teacher, using the Old Testament material brings in that stuff. He says, he became to the heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. Now, what is righteousness and what did Noah receive as a reward for all this faith and action, and all that? What kind of reward did he receive? What kind of righteousness did he receive? Righteousness is good standing with God, the ability to stand before God, be able to come to God, stand before God and have a relationship with God. That's what righteousness is. God is righteous. So, as a sinner, you cannot stand before God. To stand before God you must qualify.

Now, Martin Luther was a Catholic priest, and when he was a Catholic priest, he was a very devout, pious man. He had a very sensitive heart. He wanted to live for God. He was a very holy guy. Wanted to live with all with his whole heart for God. So, he read in the Bible that God says, “I am holy, therefore you be only even as I am holy.” So, he said, “I'm going to be holy like God. Just like God, I'm going to be holy. Just like Jesus I’m going to be holy.” So, he went on and tried to live a holy life, tried to ask for forgiveness of sins every day and tried to go through life practicing holiness and so on. In the end, he was frustrated and he went to an old preacher in the Catholic Church, old priest an experienced man and told him, complained to him and said, “Look, I don't like this God at all. I'm praying so much. I'm trying so hard. I want to live a holy life. I want to be devoted to Him. I want to be as holy as He is, because God is saying, He won’t accept my holiness, He will accept only His holiness. That I must be like Him in holiness. ‘That my best holiness is dirty rags,’ he says.” In the Old Testament, it's there. It's like filthy rags. Even though I give my best in terms of holiness, it is only filthy rags. So, what does God want? He wants a holiness like He has. Only that holiness will qualify before God. I can bring my best I cannot give what God expects. He wants something that is equal to His holiness, nothing less than that.

Now, he told the preacher, old preacher, “Tell me now, why is this God like this? Why is He so cruel? He knows that I cannot give this I'm just a human, but He's expecting from me a holiness that is divine, holiness that belongs only to God. How can a human-being give such a holiness? I hate this God, I don't want this God,” he says. And the man consoled him and said, “Don't worry, go pray. God will help you to understand this. God is a loving God, Good God. If you can't give it God doesn't expect such a thing. There must be a way. God must have a way.” So, he came back and he started studying. And all of a sudden, one day his eyes opened and he read some scriptures and his eyes opened and he began to see, “Oh, my goodness. Because I cannot match His holiness, because I could never come up or generate myself that kind of holiness, God knowing that I am incapable of coming with a holiness that would match His holiness, God realizes that, therefore, God sent His Son and put all my sin upon Him, and took the holiness of God that was in Jesus, this divine Person, and imparted it to me. The holiness that I cannot give, God has freely given. Now, it is by faith I receive this holiness.” That is how it came to be known as righteousness which is according to faith, not righteousness which is earned, not righteousness which is self-generated, not righteousness which comes while you’re striving for a holy life, but a righteousness that is a gift of God, that can be received only by faith. That marvelous revelation broke through to his heart. And that is the basis of the Protestant Reformation.

Let me read to you just a couple of verses and then close. Romans chapter 1 verse 16 and 17. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it, that is in the Gospel. He's talking about the gospel and why he’s not ashamed. And then he talks about why he is not ashamed. For in it the righteousness of God, not my righteousness, not my self-generated righteousness, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” This is the verse that set him free. The just shall live by faith. In the gospel… What is the gospel? He says, “I'm not ashamed of the gospel.” What is the gospel? Gospel is a revelation of how God saw that no man could ever come up with a righteousness that matches God's expectation. Therefore, God decided to give His Son and through Him give His righteousness free and full to mankind. That's the gospel. “That's the gospel I'm not ashamed about,” he says. Why should I be ashamed about that gospel? The Gospel has in it, the revelation of how God gives His righteousness to us. Since He gives it, I don't have to work for it. I receive it by faith.

Chapter 3 of Romans verse 21 and 22. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets. Listen to this. The righteousness of God, apart from the law is revealed. Righteousness of God, that has nothing to do with the law because the Jewish people, including him, when he was a pharisee, they viewed the law as the source of righteousness. That is, if they did what the Ten Commandments said, it will make them righteous, they thought. He says, “No, no, no, no. God gave the Ten Commandments not to make you righteous. No man shall be justified by the law. He gave the Ten Commandments to show you, you can never come up with perfect righteousness, you can never do the Ten Commandments. That's the reason, to disqualify you, Ten Commandments was given.” So that when you understand you're disqualified, you can never do it, then Jesus can come and then He will be the Savior who’ll save you from the disqualification. So, he understands the gospel now. He says, now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets. That is the Old Testament, Law and the Prophets teach that righteousness only.

Old Testament does not ever teach righteousness by the law. It says, do it and you will live but it knows very well that you can't do it. And therefore, you cannot live. The just shall live only by faith. But deliberately it says, do it and live. It's like saying, “Come on. Let's see if you can do it,” so that you will try to do it and try to find life by it but you'll fail and cry out to God and then you'll find Jesus is the answer. Now, listen to this verse 22. Even the righteousness of God... “The Old Testament is teaching the righteousness of God,” he says.

...through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference. “The entire Old Testament is teaching this righteousness which God gives through Jesus Christ that we can receive by faith,” he says. Amazing. One more verse. Philippians chapter 3 verse 9. And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness. He now differentiates between his righteousness and the God-given righteousness. My own righteousness, which is from the law. His righteousness, if he comes up with it’s from the law, from doing what the law says. But that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith. “This righteousness which is from God that comes to us by faith is what Noah received,” he says. That means Noah did not qualify before God because he was a good man. No, it is not that he was a good man that he qualified before God. That God had favor upon him, God's grace was given to him, that is how he became a good man in the first place.

Genesis chapter 6 verse 9, I read to you that he was a blameless, perfect man among the men of his age. And the previous verse says, Noah found favor or Noah found grace in the eyes of God. Grace comes first in verse 8. Then here he is blameless and man of integrity. Because the grace came that made him full of integrity and a blameless person. The grace of God gives him the ability to live a blameless life, a life of integrity, that's the story. But oftentimes in the church they understand exactly the opposite. They say, “If you be good, if you maintain your integrity, and if you are blameless then God's grace will be given to you.” Wrong. You're putting 9th verse before 8th verse. 8th verse says, God's grace was upon him. God had given him grace. Verse 9 says, he was a man of integrity, blameless. It is God's grace that enabled him to be like that. And it's the same way with us. How does God deal with us?

See, the author of Hebrews is taking Noah’s story and bringing an amazing New Testament truth which is also Old Testament truth in a beautiful way. He says, “How does God deal with us sinners? First, He takes us and He knows that we are sinners, we could never qualify on our own, by our own efforts. So, He gives us His righteousness as a gift, just simply gives it to us so that we become righteous by a gift.” We become righteous, not by doing righteousness, but by a gift, we become righteous. But what does it mean? Does it mean that now that I'm righteous by a gift, I can just go on living in sin and do whatever I want? No, no, no, no. This righteousness which has come as a gift now enables me to live a righteous life, in righteous conduct. Because He has given me this position as a child of God, accepted me and considers me as righteous, and calls me righteous, I start behaving better. That itself changes us.

And this righteousness, the second kind of righteousness is the righteousness that grows in us so that we become more and more and more righteous people of integrity and blameless and so on. Both is righteousness. When we say righteousness first, the gift of righteousness from God to sinners. Secondly, what the gift of righteousness does inside the person who receives it by faith in Jesus. It changes him. He begins to behave differently.

I’ve always used this example. It’s an old example. And I’ll say this and close. If you wear a lungi... by the way did you know they're selling lungis in America? They call it lungi pants. The Americans have a way of selling anything and everything. You should see their advertisement. Somebody sent me via WhatsApp how many ways you can wear lungi and how it helps you in so many ways. Indians must learn to sell the lungis from them. But anyway, if you wear a lungi, it’s so cheap, you feel like sitting next to a garbage can, it doesn't matter. You're ready to be dirty, and you're ready to even risk tearing it up or anything because it just costs 300 rupees. You can buy a new one. But if you wear a suit, your total behavior changes. If you wear some nice clothes, your total behavior changes. Why? Even if you come into a place like this, you want to make sure the chair doesn't have any dirt on it. Because your nice suit is going to be spoilt. So, you're looking out for it.

Righteousness is a robe, robe of righteousness. It's something that you become conscious about. And because of this robe of righteousness, once you've got that you don't want to associate with anything that defiles it, that is contrary to it. Just imagine a person wearing a suit going outside the gate and standing in a tea shop, drinking tea. Somebody's going to talk about it. Probably these days, take a picture and put it on the WhatsApp. “Look at this in the tea shop.” Nobody with a suit will do that. There's nothing wrong in drinking tea in a tea shop but you got to go change and go into some other get up. You got to look different to go there. Not like this.

Righteousness is like that robe that brings honor to you, elevates you, brings you to a position where you are a child of God. And because you become conscious of that, you begin to behave righteous. That is how God changes us. That is exactly what happened to Noah. God changed him in that way, that he became the heir of righteousness. I tell you today, those who are believers and those who have put our faith in Christ and received His gift of righteousness, we are heirs of righteousness. That means righteousness grows inside of us, so that in reality also we become more and more and more righteous every day, and more and more and it gets better and better.

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