Summary: Noah portrays for us how we are to walk by faith.
We're going to look at Old Testament characters and talk about the character traits portrayed by each that God wants to develop in us as His children. The theme of this series is simple: God seeks to stretch us to go beyond our comfort zone so He can grow our character.
In life, there are two zones to live in. One is the “comfort zone”. It's safe. It doesn’t require a lot of courage or faith or obedience. We can hang back and settle down in the comfort zone. The problem is that the comfort zone is a “no growth zone”. You may think the worst that can happen is the longer you stay, the more you remain the same.
But actually, the longer you stay, the less you stay the same, because you atrophy into something less. Either we're growing stronger in the development of Christ-like character, or we are growing weaker. So what needs to happen is that we need to stretch ourselves out of our comfort zone and get into the other zone, the “character zone”.
The character zone isn't always safe. But it’s in the character zone we experience the growth God wants for us. It’s there God can develop our character to reflect that of His Son. It’s only in the character zone that we find significance and are enabled to partner with God to build His kingdom and make a difference in our world.
In this character tour of the Old Testament, we'll see how God stretched folks in order to develop Christ-like character in each of them. Today, we begin with Noah, who is a portrait of faith.
1. Noah had a personal faith - v. 8
In some translations, the word "favor" is translated "grace." Indeed, grace is unmerited favor; it's getting something we don't deserve. Noah benefited from God's grace - that is only accessed by a personal faith.
"Through our faith, Christ has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy." - Romans 5:2a (Easy to Read)
At this point, it might be helpful to explain the differences between Old Testament and New Testament salvation. Some mistakenly believe Old Testament believers were saved through observing the law of Moses or through offering animal sacrifices. No. Old Testament believers were saved the same way that New Testament believer are saved, through personal faith in the Messiah and His complete sacrifice for our sin that provides forgiveness.
Old Testament believers were saved through faith in the promised Messiah who would come. New Testament believers are saved through faith in the promised Messiah who has come - Jesus.
For New Testament believers, salvation is like a gift certificate: it's already paid for, we just need to accept it and cash in on it. For Old Testament believers, salvation was like credit - they received it before it was paid for.
Old Testament believers were pointed to the cross through what was foretold (Genesis 3:15) and foreshadowed (animal sacrifices & the law). New Testament believers are pointed to the cross through what we are told in the New Testament and the historical reality of Jesus. Old Testament believers were saved by looking forward to the cross, while New Testament believers are saved by looking back to the cross.
Old Testament believers were assured of their salvation by virtue of the promise of God's Word (Joel 2:32). New Testament believers are
Noah was saved by grace through faith, just as we are today. Now, one might expect this to be the case because of Noah's family tree. Some of his forefathers were great believers like Methuselah and Enoch, who is said to have walked with God. Enosh, the grandson of Adam didn't die until Noah was over eighty. This was passed down to Noah, as to everyone else, but it didn't benefit anyone, including Noah, until they chose to personally place their faith in God's promise of salvation.
It's been said: "God doesn't have any grand-children." That is, one does not inherit saving faith. It must be a decision made in response to God's truth that you own personally. Noah had a personal faith.
2. Noah had a practiced faith - v. 9
A. Which brought transformation to his life.
To be righteous means to be right. God calls us to apply our faith to ourselves and correct what is wrong about us with that which is right.
Perhaps you've heard the quote from English novelist, Charles Reade:
"Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny."
Now, this quote is neutral. However, notice what happens when we start with a wrong thought: