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Related articles:
"By Faith Only?"
"Faith Only? Consider Noah."
"Proving Our Faith"
"Man's 'Complete Purpose'"
"Persuaded by the Lord?"
"The Lord Saves"

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Adding to Worship
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Once Saved, Always Saved
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Women Preachers
"Faith Only? Consider Noah."

Paul Smithson

God tells us that we must have faith in order to be pleasing to Him (Heb. 11:6). However, He does not leave us wondering what is involved in saving faith. Through examples of faithful individuals of the past, God clothes the concept of faith so we can understand what it involves.

One of the living illustrations of faith we are given is Noah. "By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Heb. 11:7). Through the example of Noah we see that faith involves works of obedience.

When and individual truly has faith in God he will obey without hesitation, regardless of how demanding the task might seem. Consider Noah's work. He was commanded to build an ark 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet tall, a task that took 120 years to complete. Noah could not go down to the shipyard and look at an ark, or order one prefabricated. He did not have a local builders supply where he could buy a saw, a hammer, or wood. In fact, Noah was not even a carpenter. The Scriptures indicate that he was very likely a farmer (Gen. 5:29). Noah could have questioned or hesitated at the enormity of the task. Instead, "Noah did according to all that God had commanded, so he did" (Gen. 6:22) "By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household...." (Heb. 11:7).

This shows us that faith does not come by an overwhelming feeling or by a direct act of the Holy Spirit. As the inspired apostle declared, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). The fact that Noah was "warned by God" indicates that Noah received the word of God and by faith acted upon it. What an application of faith! Faith involves works of obedience; and certainly the building of the ark was a work of great faith.

Those who teach that salvation comes by faith alone need to consider Noah. Noah was saved by faith, but not by faith alone, for as James declares, "Faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself...you see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone" (Jas. 2:17,24). Faith involves more than a mental acknowledgment of the Lord as a personal Savior. One's faith in God must be put into action through obedience. Such works are not works of merit by which one earns salvation, but are works of obedience from the standpoint of an unprofitable servant. Salvation comes only by the grace of God. "For by grace you have been saved though faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). No one ever earns salvation by his works. There is no doubt, however, that salvation by grace is obtained "through faith." And faith, as seen in Noah's example, involves works of obedience.

If the doctrine of salvation by faith alone were true the demons would have salvation, for they "also believe and shudder" (Jas. 2:19). However, Jesus taught that it takes more than just faith alone to be pleasing unto him (Mt. 7:21; Lk. 6:46). Noah could not just believe there was a God and accept Him as the One who would save him, he had to act upon what God commanded by faith.

Using the illustration of Noah's obedient faith, Peter states, "When the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1Pet. 3:21). Just as Noah was commanded by God to build an ark, we are commanded to repent and be baptized in order to be saved (Ac. 2:38). We must act upon our faith by obeying God's commands.

The work of building the ark did not save Noah. God's grace did that. Yet, Noah would have never been saved by the grace of God if he had not put his faith into action by obeying God's commands. In the same way our submitting to God's commands to repent and be baptized are not boastful works of merit by which God owes us salvation, but are rather works of faithful obedience. To become "an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" we, like Noah, must obey.

Noah's faith obeyed God's commands, thus preparing him for the coming judgment. We are warned by Peter, "The world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men" (2Pet. 3:6-7). Is your faith moving you to prepare for the future?

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