Monday, August 13, 2012

God Didn't Save Noah Because He Was A Good Man

In the 1950s, Tennessee Ernie Ford popularized the old spiritual song,   "Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord."   The lyrics began like this:

The Lord looked down from His window in the sky;
     He said, "I created man but I don't remember why;
"Nothin' but fightin' since creation day,
     "I'll send a little water and I'll wash 'em all away."

The Lord came down and looked around a spell,
     And there was Mr. Noah behavin' mighty well.
And that is the reason the scriptures record,
     "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."

That was a fun song but really lousy doctrine.  The problem with it is that it insinuates that Noah was a good man and it perpetuates the myth that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell.

 Look; regardless of what you have been told or what you would like to believe, God did NOT save Noah because he was the only good man on earth; in fact, there were probably thousands of people who were better than he.  But from God's perspective, Noah was just as wicked as everyone else. God saved Noah because He purposed to show mercy and grace to an undeserving, dirty, rotten, low-life scumbag.

How do I know that?  Look at the passage in Genesis 6:5-6.  "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.  And the Lord said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air, for it repenteth me that I have made them.'"

Did you see that?  The blanket indictment about man (all men, collectively) is that EVERY imagination of the thoughts of his heart was ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY.  All mankind was wicked; every one of them and Noah was no different.  He was a sinner JUST LIKE THE REST OF THEM (AND US) BECAUSE HE WAS ONE OF THEM.

Are things any different today?  NO!  After God destroyed all life in the flood, He made a promise (Gen. 8:21) "...and the Lord said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done." 

So even though God destroyed everyone except Noah and his sons, God's assessment was still the same; "...for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth."   Why?  Because Noah was still a man with a sin nature as were his sons.  They were still dirty rotten, low-life scumbags.  The verses that follow leaves no doubt that Noah and his sons wasted no time returning to their old depraved ways. 

Nevertheless, God promised that He would not destroy the world with a flood again for man's sake.

Here is the Good News for all of us; Noah was a sinner saved by God's grace.  He didn't deserve it and there was nothing he could do to earn it.  God looked on him with grace and verse 9 in chapter 6 goes on to say that "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."

There is a biblical order of events to note, in those two verses regarding Noah's saving faith, that is consistent in all those who are saved:
       1.     Verse 8 says that Noah found grace.  In a great act of mercy, God sovereignly extended His grace toward Noah.
       2.     Noah was justified or declared to be righteous by God.
       3.     Thus, Noah was perfect (made complete) in so far as God's records are concerned.
       4.     Therefore, he was able (enabled) to walk with God.

It was God's grace that made Noah aware of his dirty, rotten, sinful condition before a righteous, holy God.  And it was God's grace that made him fear God enough to believe (trust) Him and obey (worship) Him.

Biblical salvation in any age is exactly this way;  It is by God's sovereign grace, received through faith, that a believer is justified before God and declared to be complete in Him  Then, only as a result of, and on the basis of this gift of Grace can one "walk" in fellowship with God, showing the genuineness of faith by (H)is works.

John Piper sums it up like this;
"This is the meaning of grace.  We cannot obtain a right standing with God because of our works.  It must be a free gift.  We can only receive it by faith, cherishing it as our great treasure.  This is why the Bible says,  "By grace you have been saved through faith.   And this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).  Christ suffered and died so that good works would be the effect, not the cause, of our acceptance.  Not surprisingly, then, the next sentence says, "For we are...created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Eph. 2:10).  That is we are saved for good works, not by good works."


Ron Livesay said...

You "hit the nail on the head." At the heart of false doctrine is a faulty view of the sin nature. Man is utterly helpless and has no ability and no desire to seek God. Without the overwhelming grace of God, no one would be saved.

Many would say that man is free to choose. Thank the Lord, he overwhelms man's "freedom" and draws us to Himself. Otherwise we would all choose to reject Him and would get what we deserve.

Ellery said...

I like the Hebrews 11 account of Noah. God tells Noah and in reverent fear he leading to him becoming an heir in righteousness.

It all starts with God and ends with God.

Which brings to mind the catechism question: What is the chief end of man?

Pumice said...

Much of what you say is beyond discussion, it is plain and obvious truth. We cannot save ourselves. We are "dirty, rotten, no-good sinners." Original sin is too real. Depravity is one of the great ignored facts of our world.

Having said that I am afraid I still believe in free will. Your interpretation would invalidate verse 9, which you also quote. If your sequence is correct then that verse is a lie because in the Calvinist system, even after grace is extended we are still "dirty, rotten, no-good sinner." I remind you again that when Paul wrote to the church he did not say, "to the sinners at ___," but "to the saints at ____."

I was a dirty, rotten, no-good sinner until I was saved by grace. Now I am a saint.

I enjoy your posts, even when you are wrong.

Grace and peace.

Ron Livesay said...

I believe in free will, too. Unbelievers are free to choose, consistent with their nature. A dog is free to "choose" to bark, but it is not free to "choose" to live underwater and breathe through gills. An unbeliever is free to choose to reject the Gospel, because it is his nature to do so. Every unbeliever makes such a choice until the magnificent grace of God intervenes.

I too was a dirty, rotten, no-good sinner who was "without God in this world." Now I am, like Noah was, a dirty, rotten, no-good sinner who has been miraculously saved by the grace of God. That is the definition of a saint.

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

Like you, I believe in FREE WILL too. I also believe in FREE WILLY. Do you remember that movie? Let me remind you that I wrote about that Orca whale (read it at which is an astonishing metaphor for man's supposed free will. We are free to sin because we are sinners. When God saves us, He gives us a new nature. Then we are free from the bondage of sin and then our wills are free to choose not to sin.

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

In another format, an unsaved friend of mine asked, "Why did God save Noah?"

I was happy to give him this answer:
That’s a great question, Robert, and I am going to give you a straight, no-nonsense answer.

In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews (vs. 7) are these words; “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with 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.”

We are told here that Noah was warned (by God) about things which were not yet seen. And then it says that he was moved with godly fear. That phrase indicates a reverential sense of awe (or fear) that causes someone to tremble at the very existence and presence of a Holy God and then fall down in fear and worship (or obey) Him. Not only did he fear God, he acted on the warning.

It says that he prepared an ark for the saving of his household. So what does that mean? Well, the text says that the warning was about things that were not yet seen. We believe from scripture, that it had never rained on the earth until the flood (God’s universal judgment) so, certainly Noah had no experience with rain. He was just told to prepare a huge boat. Also, he didn’t live anywhere near an ocean or large body of water so you might imagine how foolish this might have seemed to all the people in Noah’s region. And this was no small task; it took Noah about one hundred years to build it so this is sounding ridiculous. BUT Noah believed God and acted in faith.

Now, this is a little parenthetical side note but it is an important Bible subject worthy of much more study. The ARK is what we call a TYPE. Scripture is full of types (the study of types is called typology) which are actual people or events that serve as illustrations or representations of something or someone else. In this account, the Ark is a picture or representation of Christ. When God rained down His judgment on the earth, all those who were “in Christ” (or in the ark) were safe and saved through the judgment.

Now look back on the passage again; the verse goes on to say that by the ark, Noah condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. Did you catch that? The condemnation was not from Noah; it was “by the ark.” Jesus Christ is the savior of those who are in Him by faith, and those who are not saved by Him, are condemned by Him.

There is one more phrase that I don’t want you to miss; “Noah became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” That is important because you asked me why God saved Noah. He didn’t save him because he was good AND He didn’t save Noah because of anything he did to deserve God’s favor. None of Noah’s work counted for any reward. Noah believed God and inherited the righteousness that comes only by faith. It was his FAITH in God’s provision (the ark) that God counted as righteousness.

And salvation today is the same. We all, like Noah, are sinful and deserve judgment and death BUT God provided an Ark, Jesus Christ, to take the penalty of our sin (death) so that anyone who believes (trusts) in Him should not perish but will have everlasting life (John 3:16). Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace by FAITH ALONE. All who call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

In simple terms, I owed a debt I could not pay. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe. I hope this helps. We can talk later.