Second Sunday after Pentecost: Genesis 6:9-22, 7:24, 8:14-19; Psalm 46 or Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28; Psalm 31:1-5, 19-24; Romans 1:16-17, 3:22b-28 (29-31); Matthew 7:21-29
The one way of salvation: Learning from the ark, looking to Christ
To view the Genesis flood exclusively in terms of judgment is to see only one side of what God was doing.
As well as judging, He was also saving - ‘In this ship a few people - eight in all - were saved by water’ (1 Peter 3:20).
The ark points forward to Christ ‘who came back from death to life’, Christ who ‘saves’ us (1 Peter 3:21).
God was working out His purpose of salvation.
In Noah’s day, the remnant of faith was very small, yet the promise of God's love was given to them - ‘I will establish My covenant with you’ (Genesis 6:18).
Even when wickedness threatens to overwhelm us, we still have God’s promise of love, ‘the new covenant in Christ’s blood’ (1 Corinthians 11:25). ‘The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin’(1 John 1:7).
Knowing that Christ loved us and died for us, we are to be like Noah (Genesis 6:22). We are to walk with the Lord and serve Him.
‘The Lord closed the door behind them’ (Genesis 7:16).
What was going on outside of the ark is contrasted with the haven of salvation inside the ark.
What was it that made the ark a place of salvation? - The Lord.
What is it that makes Jesus Christ the Source of our salvation? - God has given Him the Name that is above every name, the Name of our salvation (Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12).
From the ark, we learn of
(a) the one way of salvation - The ark had only one door. Jesus is ‘the Door’ which leads to salvation (John 10:9);
(b) the eternal security of salvation - All were safe inside the ark. In Christ there is eternal security (John 10:28);
(c) the absolute necessity of salvation - Outside of the ark, there was certain death. Refusal to come to Christ for salvation leads to judgment: ‘How shall we escape...?’(Hebrews 2:3).
Following the flood, we have this simple yet striking declaration: ‘the ground was dry’ (Genesis 8:13).
Safe from judgment! This is the message which comes to us from the Cross: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).
The judgment has fallen upon Christ. We are no longer swept away in the judgment. We can stand on solid ground: ‘On Christ the solid Rock I stand’ (Church Hymnary, 411). He is our Support in ‘the whelming flood’.
God said to Noah, ‘Come out of the ship’ (Genesis 8:15).
We are in Christ. He is the Source of our salvation. God has brought us into Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30).
He does not bring us into Christ solely for our own benefit. We are sent out to be fruitful (Genesis 8:17; John 15:16).
We are to ‘abide in Christ’. This is the way of fruitfulness (John 15:4-5).
We are not sent out alone. Strengthened in ‘the ship’ (in Christ), we step out with Christ and for Him.
God’s Word brings peace. Let us share His Word with joy.
‘Be still, and know that I am God...Shout to God with loud songs of joy’ (Psalms 46:10; 47:2).
In our worship, there is to be both quiet trust and loud praise.
We read the great words: ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1).
* God’s Word brings peace - ‘in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength’.
* We must not keep God’s blessing to ourselves. We must share it with joy - ‘Sing to the Lord...let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare His praise in the coastlands’ (Isaiah 30:15; 42:10-12).
The Lord is to be ‘exalted among the nations’. He is not only ‘our King’. He is ‘the King of all the earth’ (Psalm 46:10; 47:6-7).
‘Father (Jesus/Spirit), we love You. We worship and adore You. Glorify Your Name in all the earth’ (Mission Praise, 142).
We are blessed by the Lord when we walk with him in the pathway of obedience.
God is at work among His people, teaching them many lessons.
Through His precious promises and strong warnings, He leads us in the way of obedience and blessing (Deuteronomy 11:31-32).
If we are to enjoy the Lord’s blessing, we need the whole Word of God - the warnings as well as the promises.
Obedience to God - This is the most important thing in the life of faith. Obedience demonstrates the reality of faith. By our obedience, we show our ‘love’ for the Lord. We rejoice in ‘all the great work of the Lord’. By ‘His mighty hand’, He has provided for us a great salvation. Our enjoyment of His salvation increases as we live in obedience to Him (Deuteronomy 11:8-15). Without obedience, there can be no blessing (Deuteronomy 11:16-17). Teach others to obey God - especially the ‘children’ (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).
God is good. He loves us (Deuteronomy 11:22-25). Obey Him. Choose blessing (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).
Walking in the pathway of obedience, let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
‘Into Thy hand, I commit my spirit’ (Psalm 31:5).
These words were spoken by Christ as, in death, He gave Himself for our sins (Luke 23:46).
For Christ, there was suffering - ‘I am the scorn of all my adversaries’ (Psalm 31:11).
His suffering was followed by rejoicing, the joy of the resurrection - ‘I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place’ (Psalm 31:7-8).
God answered the prayer of His Son - He brought Him into the ‘spacious place’ of the resurrection, the ‘spacious place’ which is, for us, ‘eternal salvation’ (Hebrews 5:7-9).
We look to the crucified Christ and we say, ‘Praise be to the Lord, for He showed His wonderful love to me’ (Psalm 31:21).
In the risen Christ, we are ‘strong and our hearts take courage’ (Psalm 31:24).
Christ has saved us. Let us rejoice in our Saviour.
‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith’ (Romans 1:16).
Do you think it was easy for Paul to maintain such commitment to Christ, such confidence in Christ? What kind of world did he live in? - A world of ‘ungodliness and wickedness’ (Romans 1:18-31). Many times, Paul could have given up in despair - ‘There is too much ungodliness and wickedness all around me. How can I go on?’
When you feel like giving up, when everything seems to be so difficult, remember Paul. Remember his longing to ‘impart some spiritual gift’, his desire to ‘reap some harvest’ his eagerness to ‘preach the gospel’ (Romans 1:12-15).
Let us say, with Paul, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14). Let us be ‘set apart for the gospel of God’ (Romans 1:1).
We are sinners - every single one of us. There are no exceptions - ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. When we see ourselves as we really are - sinners - , we come to see that there is no way for us to earn God’s love. We will never deserve to be loved by God. His love is always ‘a gift’- ‘the redemption which is in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 3:23-24).
Through ‘faith’ we look away from ourselves to Christ. We rejoice that ‘His blood’ was shed for us. We receive from Him the forgiveness of our sins. This is the love of God. This is His gift. He gave His Son to be our Saviour. He gives salvation to all who trust the Saviour. ‘By grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8).
No ‘boasting’ (Romans 3:27) - Rejoice in your Saviour!
Christ has saved us. Let us build our lives on Him.
Whenever we are seeking to follow Christ, there will be dangers - false prophets (Matthew 7:15-20), empty profession (Matthew 7:21-23).
Clearly, our faith must be grounded in the Son of God and the Word of God. This is the point of Jesus’ parable of the two builders and the two houses (Matthew 7:24-27). We must build upon Christ. We must build on the Word of God.
Jesus’ ‘sermon’ ends in verse 27, and is followed - in verses 28-29 - by a statement of its effect upon His hearers.
Down through the centuries, Jesus’ teaching continues to make this impression on people.
His words come to us with authority, addressing us with remarkable relevance.
We imagine that our time is very different from Jesus’ time, yet Jesus’ words make it very clear - things are not so different after all.
Still, we hear Him speaking as One who has authority. His Word is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable.