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
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
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?