Faith doesn’t just sit around. It doesn’t just carry God around in its head with it. Faith is active.
Today we’re going to talk about living, active faith. Faith doesn’t just sit around. It doesn’t just carry God around in its head with it, faith, is active. And the fellow in the picture, or, you know, the real fella behind the picture was Noah. And his faith was very much an active faith.
The Bible tells us that a time came long ago when God was disgusted with the world and with the people in it. And he decided that something needed to be done. It says that “the Lord saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
And then in verse 11, of chapter six of Genesis, it says, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And so 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. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.”
So God had had it up to here with the violence and corruption of mankind. It says, that Noah walked with God. That man, he knew God, God was a part of his everyday life. Noah was a man of faith, and a man of prayer, and he became a prophet, for God spoke to him and told him what he was going to do. He said, I’m going to destroy things, you better build a boat. And if you look carefully in the picture, you’ll see it in the background there.
And here is Noah’s faith, that he believed God. And he set to work, and it doesn’t say precisely how long it took Noah to build the ark. But if you look, just in the previous few verses, it says that God says he isn’t going to put up with mankind, forever. He’s only going to wait, it’s only going to be 120 years. And so, it probably took him 100 to 120 years to build that boat. And it was the size of a small oil tanker, and it was all built by hand.
Noah did this.
The boat became the means by which he and the rest of his family were saved. It also separated him from the rest of the world, and from the judgment that came upon upon them.
Now, Noah was not the only one who believed God’s Word. Also his family did. They also lived because of their faith, because the Word of God came to them, it came to them through Noah, not directly from God; but they believed what it was that he said. And they assisted with the building of the ark and with its provisioning. And when the rains came, they were inside the ark, as God closed the door.
And so they also were saved, saved by their trust in God’s word, and their willingness to act upon it.
Noah, here in this picture, is offering a sacrifice. After the floods had receded and the boat had come to rest, Noah took some of the clean animals and offered burnt offerings to the Lord. And the fact that Noah did this, and the thing that God says almost immediately after shows, all of this happened to Noah, by faith by and grace.
Noah was a righteous man, but it was a righteousness that came from his faith, he was still infected with the same sin that infected all the people who had drowned in the flood. And the same sin that infects you and I.
Noah’s offering was an offering and praise and thanksgiving to God. But it also took the form of an offering for sin. For upon the ark it became, I imagine, apparent to Noah and his family, that the sin which had infected the world also was in them.
Can you imagine being a farmer and living in the barn with your animals and being unable to get away from them? Would that make you short tempered? It would me.
Alright, so Noah offers the sacrifices to God. And God hears and he sees and and he accepts the sacrifices which Noah offers. And so it says, that, when Noah had built an altar to the Lord, and he had offered the sacrifices, the Lord said, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature, as I’ve done. While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
Notice that God says that the inclination of man’s heart is still evil from this youth, even after the flood, the same evil infected Noah, the same evil affects us. The inclinations of your hearts turn away from God, at times. The things that you desire are often contrary to God’s will. Some of the things that you have done are things that are condemned by the scriptures, and which you’re told you are not to do.
And so, this morning in the book of Galatians, Paul speaks to them about those who have fallen, who’ve taken missteps in their life of faith, who have departed from the commandments of God. And he tells those who are reading his letter to restore those who have fallen into sin gently, and to watch out for themselves, lest they also sin.
They’re not supposed to take on the idea that “Oh, look how good at I am, I haven’t messed up today!” but, instead they are to have compassion on their friends and to tell them of the gospel and to help them to restore their lives.
And likewise, in our gospel lesson, Jesus sets it up so that the apostles are going to have to live by faith. They’re going on a road trip, and they don’t pack up their knapsack with all kinds of stuff in order to be able to prepare, but they just take the clothes that they have on. And they go. They go and they rely on the people that they’re going to, to provide for them.
Our gospel lesson also tells us what the source of this faith that hears God and believes him is the gospel that is proclaimed and taught. The good news that our sins are forgiven in Jesus Christ. This is the heart and the soul faith. And it is my purpose as a pastor to share that faith with you. So I share that word and that gospel with you so that you too can know that your sins are forgiven, and that you can believe it, and hold fast to it, and walk with God.
Now you and I, like Noah, live near the end of the age. As it was in the days of Noah, Jesus says that’s how it’s going to be at the end of days.
People are going to be marrying and giving in marriage, and they’re going to be ignoring God and doing their own thing. Persecutions will come upon the church, there will be violence, there will be wars and rumors of wars, there will be natural catastrophes, there will be plagues and famines. All of this will go on as it has, since the day of Noah. So that people will be taken by surprise, by the by the judgment that comes upon them.
But we have received the Word of God, we have been told that there is a way to escape the judgment that is coming upon the world. And that way of escape is by faith in Jesus Christ and by baptism into his name.
When on the day of Pentecost, people heard Peter preaching and he convicted them of crucifying the Christ, they said, “Man, what must we do to be saved?”
He said, “Repent, and believe on Jesus Christ and be baptized into his name.” And he tells them that this is a promise for them and for their children.
As Noah was saved, as the water separated him from the people, so Peter says, We also are saved through baptism.
This promise, he said to the people of Jerusalem, was for them and for their children, just as Noah was saved with his whole family. And so people of faith bring their children to God in order to be baptized in order that they might share in the salvation which Christ came to bring, in order that their children as well as they themselves might be joined to the power of Jesus death and resurrection.
Romans chapter six says, we’ve been buried with Christ through baptism into death, and just as we share in the likeness of His death, we shall share in the likeness of His resurrection.
Faith hears words like these and acts upon them. Faith leads to baptism. So the Ethiopian eunuch when he had heard the gospel, asked Philip, “Baptize me, please, what is to prevent me from being baptized?” And so Philip baptized him that he might share in the salvation which Christ has wrought.
And the person who has been baptized flees back to their baptism and the promise that is attached to it and to salvation. They realize that they’ve been separated from this world, in order that they might be saved from its judgments. Paul says, that we died to the world and the world has died to us, all of this in our baptism in order that we might be saved from the judgment that is coming upon the world.
Because baptism is such an important part of being part of the people of God, because these great promises are attached to it, the place where you’re sitting is called “the nave”. And that word comes from the same word, the same root, we get our word Navy from. The word “nave” means “the boat.” You’re sitting in the boat, the baptized people of God, waiting for your salvation.
And the good news is, there’s room for a lot more than eight. And this isn’t the only boat. The whole point of Jesus sending out the 72 and the apostles to proclaim throughout the world, is that the salvation which we have is not just for us, it’s for the whole world.
God calls upon us to share that salvation with others that, they too, may hear and believe, as we share the gospel with them. So them will say, “Oh!”, and will receive with great joy, the work which Jesus has done for them upon the cross, receive with great joy, the gift of baptism.
Even though our hearts remain inclined to evil, God puts in us, through baptism, his spirit, which works against these inclinations, in order that we might live and walk with God, by faith in the sacrifice which Jesus offered for us.
And today, we also have a sacrifice a better sacrifice than what Noah offered. Noah offered his sacrifice in faith knowing that one day salvation would come to the whole earth.
We eat and drink the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who gave himself upon the cross. And we receive his body and his blood, so that we might be assured that that sacrifice was for us, and receive from him forgiveness and peace.
And so, these are the basic actions of faith, to hear the word and to believe in Jesus Christ. to call upon him for forgiveness, to come to him for baptism, to receive also his body and blood.
Faith also is active in the world. It doesn’t sit around and say, what’s the least that I can do? It says, How can I share this grace that I’ve received with others? How can I put the righteousness of God that I have received into action? And so, faith acts, faith receives, faith lives, lives by the power of God.
It comes to us by the gift of God’s Word. You have received that word. Hold it fast in a clean conscience, for your sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai and lighty edited by Pastor Hinkle