Saturday, December 12, 2009

Soteriological Cogitations #2

The Foundations Of Grace

Genesis 6:
5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

The story of Noah and the ark is one that is well known. It is so well known that there are those who do not hold to belief in God, or His Word that are familiar with many aspects of it. It holds a certain fascination, and has been depicted in film, song, cartoons etc.; even in a television commercial. (Remember the buckle up/carpool advertisement of some years ago)Sadly the actual revelation and truth of the story are glossed over, more so in a church which should have understanding of this The premise of the flood, and its’ consequences reveal man’s depravity, and God’s incredible, and irresistible grace.

Genesis 6

First and foremost man is wicked. The thoughts and intents of the hearts of man are evil. I use the present tense here, as nothing has changed since Noah’s day in terms of the unregenerate. Total depravity manifests in man’s fallen state. God sees it all. Nothing is hidden from Him.
This portion of scripture is NOT saying that God was unaware of this, evidenced by His creation becoming a grievous thing to Him.
Those who promote “open theism” say this passage proves that God is not prescient, i.e. completely omniscient, but that is not the case at all. A good example would be a military leader who has to send an army into battle, knowing full well that many will be killed. Yet in that foreknowledge, he sends them in, and it is a grievous thing.
As Robert E Lee is reported to have said, and I paraphrase; to be a good soldier you must love the army, and to be a good general you must also order the death of the thing you love.The all knowing
God is a greater and more perfect example than this. He foreknows the names of all who will fall, and all who will live.God’s nature requires the destruction of all that He has made.
Wicked men, and a creation that is tainted by rebellion and sin, cannot stand in the sight of a holy and righteous God. However one man, Noah, finds favor, i.e. grace in God’s eyes.
Let us please have understanding here. Noah is not being portrayed as being perfect. He did not find God’s favor in his own efforts. It is bestowed favor, that is, grace.
The Hebrew word “found” ( מצא ;mâtsâ' ;maw-tsaw') denotes an acquiring such as gift is acquired, something that comes to you.
Noah was a sinner, as all men are sinners and fall short in every way. (Romans 3:9-18)
Noah’s being called righteous and blameless, just as we are found to be righteous and blameless, does not speak of sinless perfection. This can only be accomplished by sovereign grace, through the atoning death of Christ.
Noah was foreknown from before the foundation of the world, just as Jesus is the Lamb foreknown from before the foundation of the world. This is God’s will concerning salvation.
(1 Peter 1:20-21; Eph 1:4; Phillipians 1: 10 and 2:15;Colossians 1:22;1 Thess 3:11-13 and 5:23;Jude 1:24; 1 John 1:8-10)
We are even shown one of Noah’s weaknesses depicted later in Genesis 9:20-21
It can then be rightfully concluded that God’s choosing of Noah and his household, as well as all the remnant of creation that was saved in the ark, received unmerited favor. Grace!

The Hebrew for favor, (חן ;chên ;khane) is defined as grace, graciousness, being favored. It is taken from the same root that gives us the names Hannah and John/Jochannan; Hannah meaning the favored one and John denoting the “I Am” who bestows favor. This is an interesting word study in and of itself.Needless to say Noah was not righteous of his own accord. God chose him, and he discovered the grace of God in being chosen. This is the nature of true revelation.

Matthew 16:
17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

James 1: 17 EVERY good gift and EVERY perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Paul received such revelation from Christ Himself. (Galatians 1:11-12)

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Noah. Peter, James, Paul, all received the knowledge of saving grace. Favor, calling, election, all speak of that which comes from outside of ourselves.As we continue on in Genesis 6, the original point is driven home;

Genesis 6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

The Lord then gives detailed instruction re: the construction of the ark, and all that would be brought aboard be it man, animal, or foodstuff. The rest of the story is well known. The rains came, and the earth was flooded resulting in the destruction of the rest of mankind, all animals, and plant life. The earth was wiped clean.
God’s grace is demonstrated in the preserving of a remnant that represents the whole. This is what the tithe speaks of; the tenth is a representation of the entire. This is why the resurrected Christ is the first-fruits of all who are in Him ( 1 Cor 15:20-23), the saints are a type of first-fruits of creation (James 1:18; Rev 5:9-10;Rev 7:9-10), and true biblical Israel,i.e. the elect is the remnant of both jew and gentile, ( Romans 9:11-13;11:1-11; 11:25-27; Acts 15:13-21; Amos 9:9-12; Eph 2: 11-22)
After the rain and flood waters subside, the Lord makes a covenant with Noah, who is symbolically, the federal head of the new creation.
Genesis 9: 1-7 is a virtual repeat of the instructions given to Adam. (Genesis 1: 27-31)
The Lord then makes known His covenant to Noah and his sons.

Genesis 9:9 "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of 12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." 17 God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."

What we call a rainbow, is a sign that never again will all mankind be destroyed by flood. However that does not mean that all mankind and creation will be spared destruction in any other form:

2Peter 3:5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

The everlasting covenant given to Noah, speaks only of destruction by water.
This brings understanding to the prophetic declaration of Christ in speaking of His return.

Matthew 24:
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

One will be taken and one remain. After all was said and done, Noah and those aboard the ark remained. Corrupted creation including the rest of mankind was swept away, that is, taken.The unregenerate are unaware of their fate.Those who are called to “board the ark” are those who have been baptized, into His death, and united with Him in His resurrection. They are those who have been saved by grace, through faith, created in Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit, for the works which glorify God. This is the favor we “find” in the eyes of the Lord. Grace testifies that it is all His doing.

Hebrews 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Our salvation finds completeness in His return.

Matthew 24:
43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.
44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The warning to be ready is given only to the elect. What if Noah had been found to be disobedient and tarried in building the ark?
There will be those that are His, like the 5 foolish virgins and the slothful servant, who will find themselves unprepared for His coming.

2Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Obedience to the call which comes by election is the testimony of its authenticity. He desires the obedience which walks in the works prepared beforehand, not sacrifice which speaks of OUR good intentions and works. Sovereign grace carries the responsibility of obedience. It requires not only hearing, but doing.

James 1:25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

May we like Noah be blessed in our doing.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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