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If someone asked you, who was Noah? What would you say? He lived long ago, he was married, had 3 sons and was a ship builder. But I want to look at the most important thing about Noah, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8). That, in a sense, is Noah in a nutshell.
That’s the first time, in Genesis 6:8, that the word grace appears in the pages of scriptures. Grace is at the very heart of the message of the Bible. Grace is woven into the very fabric of scripture. The Bible is from the beginning to the end, the story of God’s grace towards human beings. The Bible is a story; one, unified, developing, growing story of God’s grace through Jesus Christ to human beings. If you’re a Christian, if you don’t get excited about grace, you need a renewing of your heart. Every hymn is a celebration of God’s grace. Every hymn is a response for us to God’s grace. Grace is the beating heart of the church’s hymnary.
What is grace?
First of all, grace is not an object. It’s an attitude. We don’t receive grace, we are shown grace. It describes the way somebody thinks about us, the way somebody relates to us and the way that somebody acts towards us. To receive grace from God means to receive something we don’t deserve, something we have no right expect. It is something we have no claim upon. Grace is unmerited kindness, something which hasn’t been bought, something which hasn’t been worked for but has been gladly, freely, lavishly shown. That is how God dealt with Noah.
God gave Noah something he didn’t deserve, something he wasn’t entitled to, something that if God has acted purely in justice, he would never have received. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8).
God was gracious to Noah. We forget that Noah, by nature, was no different to other people that lived. We almost think here the world was in a terrible mess, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” (Genesis 8:5) but that Noah was a shining light whom God rewarded for his inherent godliness. It’s not that at all. Noah, by nature, deserved to perish with everyone in the flood, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). There’s no exception clause for Abraham, Moses, David and others. All those great men of the Bible were not great by nature. They were sinners by choice. Noah began life in the same boat as his contemporaries. He was under God’s condemnation.
How is it that Noah ended up on the ark? God was going to save Noah, “17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark – you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.”. Genesis 6:17-18).
God marks Noah out. Why? What was there about Noah that led God to treat him in this remarkable way? Nothing! “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8). There was nothing about Noah that he could bring before God and say, ‘Lord, you can’t do that to me.’ Noah found grace. He didn’t deserve it, he wasn’t entitled to it. He hadn’t bought it, he couldn’t claim it, he hadn’t worked for it, he was simply shown it.
God shows Noah grace. Why? Because He chose to. Because God, in His heart, provided a way of escape from His judgement, a way of rescue. Noah didn’t deserve it but God choose to be gracious and merciful, generous and kind to him. It’s a wonderful act of a large heart that God has.
“Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9b). Perfect means blameless, he wasn’t guilty of great public sin. He was perfect in his generation and walked with God. Hang on! Noah was a godly man, so he did deserve a place on the ark. No. He didn’t begin like that. Noah found grace – that’s the foundation (verse 8). But in verse 9 we have the fruit of grace, “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9b). Noah was what he was in verse 9 because God had first shown him grace.
God’s grace to Noah is seen in two things:
- Before the flood waters were ever mentioned, God was gracious to Noah and gave Noah a new heart. There became a point in Noah’s life when he became a different man. When other people were hating God, he began to love God. Once Noah had shown no interest in relating to God, now he wanted to walk with God. He reaches out to God. He looks to Him. He longs for Him. He listens and speaks to Him. He fellowships with Him. Why is he so different? “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8).
- God gave Noah what he didn’t deserve in the form of safety from judgement. Noah’s story was a story of receiving that to which he had no claim: a new nature and a Saviour.
We are dealing with historical facts here but what happened in those days was a warning, a warning given by God to the whole of the human race. What happened in Noah’s day was a foretaste, a glimpse of a day yet to come. The flood was an expression of God’s wrath against sin and against sinners. We see the consequences of sin, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5). The destruction that comes on the Earth is a settled, judicial response to man’s sin. “And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:13). Because of sin, God is bringing this judgement, “And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.” (Genesis 6:17). It was a deliberate, decisive, purposeful act of God – judgement upon Man’s sin.
God doesn’t always act in that cataclysmic way to deal with Man’s sin, but there are occasions in scripture where He does that. Sodom and Gomorrah is an example of a dramatic way in which God pours out His wrath upon sin. Sometimes, God needs to make an example of somebody, or a generation, as a warning for others.
On occasion, God, in His grace to us, shows us what sin will bring about if it is not dealt with, not repented of. The flood was God speaking to us today saying sin is serious, it’s not to be taken lightly. Sin grieves God, “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (Genesis 6:6). God was wounded to see His creation so reject Him. It’s almost as if He wept over Man’s rebellion against Him. It brings down God’s wrath. Paul tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
In grace, God issues warnings. The warning is that what happened in those days is a glimpse of the Day ahead, the Day of the Lord. This is the day when God’s wrath will be poured out. As sinners, we store up judgement for the day of God’s wrath. God acted in Noah’s day there and then to deal with their sins.
Generally, God holds off, He waits. He has already appointed a particular day in history, which hasn’t come yet, when He will call all men and women to account. We will have to appear before Him to answer for our rejection of Him. That day is coming. The judgement poured out on that day will make the flood waters seem like a bath, when we will be cut off from the presence of God forever. We will experience throughout eternity no trace of God’s mercy, no trace of God’s grace, no trace of God’s kindness, only his righteous wrath upon us.
That day is coming. God has appointed that day. He has appointed the judge. We are moving closer and closer to it. Through a chapter like this God, in His grace, comes to us today, comes to Roch today through you bringing the message out, saying the day is coming, flee from it.
If you are a Christian, like Noah, it’s a reminder that on that day when Christ returns, when judgement comes, you will have nothing to fear. Nothing. The flood would have been an horrific experience for the people, but Noah wouldn’t have been perturbed at all because God had already, in grace, provided a way of safety for him. The day of the Lord will be a terrifying day for those who have rejected the gracious offer of God in Jesus Christ. But the astonishing thing is that although it will be terrifying, for Christians it will not be terrifying at all. It will be a day of joy and celebration. It will be a day when we will go to be with Christ.
How will it be a very different day for you than for others? Will you not be judged because you don’t deserve to be judged because you decided to turn over a new leaf? No. You will have nothing to fear for one reason, and one reason only, because you will have found grace in the eyes of the Lord. You don’t deserve that, you have no claim to it, but that will be you experience. Because just like with Noah, God graciously provided you with a way of escape in Jesus Christ, and God graciously, by His Spirit, provided you with a new nature.
Your story here today is that you are somebody who has found grace in the eyes of the Lord. People might ask, ‘Who are you? Tell me something about yourself.’ We think about where we were born, what we do for a job, what family we have, where we live and our hobbies. But friends, surely our first response should be, ‘I am somebody who has found grace in the eyes of the Lord.’ That is our story. That is who we are. Our epitaph includes our name, but it would be wonderful to have engraved, “He/She found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” What do you want people to know about you? What is your legacy? What is your testimony? It is that you found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
This is our story, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Sometimes, people tell us we need to forget the past, but sometimes, as believers, it is good to remember the past. It is good to remember where we came from, how we began. Then we marvel at where we are and who has brought us there. Paul says,”Let me remind you of how you once were, “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2). You began dead to righteousness. You were under the power of Satan, a child of disobedience. In verse 3 the great apostle Paul says he was like that. By nature, we are no different to everyone else in this world. On that last day you won’t be safe because of anything you’ve done. Christians here in Roch this morning, by nature you are no different to anyone else in this world. On that last day you will not be saved because of anything you have done.
In verse 4 Paul says, ‘But.’ Something has happened, “But God.” We are immediately taken away from ourselves. Paul begins by saying this is where you were, but something happened. God! “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” (Ephesians 2-5). ‘But’ says Paul. God, who is rich in mercy and love made us alive. He raised us from the dead. By grace you have been saved. You didn’t do anything. God, in His rich mercy and great love did something. He made us alive. He raised us from the dead.
In the ages to come God is going to showcase the exceeding riches of His grace. How? “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:7-8). How is God going to show the exceeding riches of His grace? In His kindness toward us kin Christ Jesus.
If you want to know how gracious God is, look at His church. Look at how He’s dealt with sinners. Look at the transformation He’s brought about in the life of sinners. Look at what divine grace can produce. We are trophies of grace. It is all from Him. He has lavished something on us which we don’t deserve: a new nature, a Saviour, a new life, eternity. It is all from Him. Everything you have is a gracious gift from God.
Paul reminds Titus to tell the people he is pastoring now, “To be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. Paul is basically saying, ‘Don’t go round condemning people, tutting and shaking your head.’ We do that as Christians. We see the government passing a new legislation, a new law, and we see the sin there is repulsive. But let’s not go condemning people about how awful they are. Paul reminds us, “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3)
Paul says, ‘Here we are, the church of God, this is what we like to begin with. But there’s been a change. What have we done? Nothing.“ 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 34-7). Look at what we were. Look at what we are. What produces this astonishing change? The kindness, the grace, the love, the mercy of God toward us.
“11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” (Titus 3:11-14).
There, but for the grace of God, go I. It is only the grace of God that put you in the community of the redeemed today. If you have a love for the Bible, God gave it to you. If you have a love for God, God gave it to you. If you have a hatred for sin, God gave it to you. It’s all of Him.
God is most wonderfully gracious. We read of an abundant God, a lavish God, an exceedingly rich God. God, in His grace today, warns you if you do not know Him, of the day of judgement that is coming. He urges you, He pleads with you to come to Him, to climb on the ark that He has provided – the ark that is His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you are a believer here today, let us never forget what we have been shown. Let us never find grace to be something common. Something incredible has happened to us. God lavished upon us the riches of His kindness. That’s our story. Don’t you want to go out and tell somebody that you have found grace in the sight of the Lord? To tell them, ‘Let me tell you what I was, let me tell you what I am. Let me tell you what I would be if it wasn’t for the grace of God.’
That’s your message to Roch. We are a people who have found grace in the eyes of the Lord. We are different. We are what we are because of God’s grace. We want you to experience that and enjoy it too.
We want to celebrate, we want to praise God, but remember, as Paul says, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.“ (Romans 12:1b) Everything you have, devote it to the service, worship and praise of God. Lay it all on the altar before God. Serve Him. But Paul doesn’t begin there. Before that he says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,” (Romans 12:1a). In other words, Paul says first of all, before I give you any command or instruction, I encourage you to think on the mercies of God. Think of what God has done for you. Think of how God has dealt with you. Think on your salvation. This will let you offer your body as a living sacrifice, as you serve Him.