The Situation We’re Living In: As in the Days of Noah
It would be an understatement to say that there are problems all around us. Iniquity is increasing, and although the humanist would try to convince us otherwise, people are not getting any better; they are getting worse. It seems that everywhere “the love of many has grown cold.” Perilous times are upon us, and men are lovers of self; lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. And as far as the religious community is concerned, there is an abounding form of godliness that denies the power thereof. Baby murder is rampant; hatred and partiality rule the political and social realm; sodomy is widely accepted as natural, and its victims are celebrated as heroes; sexual immorality is ravaging the nation; drug addiction is at an all time high; covetousness and consumerism are hidden behind the facade of the “American Dream;” and in the middle of it all there are people who call themselves people of God who stand idly without any sense of urgency. Paul wrote in Romans 13:11 that (in his day, mind you) it is “high time to awake out of sleep.” It’s later now than it’s ever been before. The late Leonard Ravenhill said, “the world isn’t in need of a new definition of Christianity, it’s in need of a new demonstration of Christianity.” It’s high time for the people of God to wake up, for prophets of God to rise up, and for the Church of Jesus Christ to push back at the gates of hell.
Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 24:37-39 (NASB), “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. I suppose that Noah was dealing with a similar moral and spiritual climate that we are dealing with today. Mankind had become increasingly wicked, and every intent of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually. They were consumed with their own lives and livelihood; eating, and drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage. People were living with no regard for God, and with no regard for eternity, with no urgency, and with no concern for the impending judgement of God. I don’t think that it’s a stretch to say that in Noah’s day the people were calling good evil, and they were calling evil good. It was a backwards society that emphasized pleasure over righteousness. And in the middle of it all there was one righteous man who walked with God. In fact, Peter writes in 2 Peter 2:5 that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness.” He was a preacher that spoke on behalf of the living God, and declared the justice and judgement of God. The whole story of Noah and the ark speaks to God’s holiness, His hatred for sin, His desire to vindicate the righteous, and the greatness of His wonderful mercy.
What We’re in Need Of: Noah was a Preacher of Righteousness
Noah was a preacher of righteousness in that He faithfully kept to the work that God called him to do in spite of the opposition of the culture that surrounded him. It may be that Noah stood on a pile of lumber and declared God’s truth, but it was Noah’s relentless, and radical obedience toward God in building the ark that ultimately served as the testimony that condemned the world, thus making him heir to the righteousness which is by faith (Heb. 11:7). Noah was a man that feared God; he had utmost and respect for his Maker, and he uncompromisingly followed every minute command that God gave Him. Why? Because Noah knew God; he walked with God; he lived ever before his God, and he was surrendered to God’s divine will. What the world needs today are preachers of righteousness who walk with God. The world needs men and women who know God, and who fear God, and who hold the words of God in higher esteem than they do the thoughts, philosophies, worldviews, and demands of a godless culture. Try to imagine the perseverance of Noah. For seventy five to one hundred years he likely had to endure mockery, and snide comments from scoffing men who made it a point to ridicule and object to Noah’s building of the ark. Wherever the word of the Lord is being proclaimed there will be opposition; maybe there were other voices that countered Noah, claiming that a loving God would never destroy His own creation with a flood. However, in spite of it all, Noah remained faithful to the word that God had given Him; and he was faithful to keep the word of God because he knew the God of the word.
Noah was faithful to God, and he demonstrated that faithfulness by embracing every word of God. Genesis 6:13 says, “And God said unto Noah,” followed by God’s command for Noah to build an ark. Plainly, the will of God is discovered through the word of God, it always has been, and it always will be. Noah trusted God, and He took every word of God seriously, even to the point that it made him look like a fool and a fanatic. Ephesians 5:15-17 (NASB) reads, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Quite frankly there’s a whole generation of so called preachers who are oblivious to what the will of the Lord is because they have refused to embrace God’s word(s) as being infallible, inerrant, inspired, and entirely authoritative, and all of that for fear of being called a fundamentalist, a legalist, or a radical. Noah, once he received God’s divine directive, did not falter from striving to accomplish every command of God, and because he obeyed the Lord so radically, he and his family were delivered from the awful judgement of God. The stakes are high if you’re going to be a preacher of righteousness. You’re going to be unpopular, you’re going to make goats mad, and you’re certainly going to have to fend off the fiery darts of the wicked, but don’t lose heart: Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.
What is the Message of the Preacher of Righteousness?
The message of the preacher of righteousness is always a message that builds up Christ. I can see Noah now, wiping the sweat from his brow as he labored to cut every board, to drive every nail, to situate every part of the enormous structure; he worked tirelessly to build the ark. The ark is considered a type of Christ; Noah was building up the ark, the mechanism by which the world could be saved if they would turn from their wickedness and enter in. Today, the preacher of righteousness is the preacher that builds up Christ. Warn of the impending judgement, talk about eternity, talk about the brevity of life, and the reality of heaven and hell, talk about the end of the world and the lake of fire, but in all of your preaching - preacher of righteousness - don’t neglect to build up Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life; He is the hope of glory; He is the King of kings; He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world; He is the one who holds the keys of hell and of death. Preacher! Point sinful men to Christ. The great hymn writer Charles Wesley once wrote, “My heart is full of Christ, and longs this glorious matter to declare.” Preach full salvation, and don’t be distracted by any man or devil that will try to convince you to preach otherwise. In the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 1, speaking of those who preach any other gospel than the true gospel, “Let them be accursed,”
Salvation does not come by any other means than Christ alone. The duty of Noah was to build the ark, to furnish the ark, and to build up the ark that would serve as a testimony to the world that God is holy. The ark that Noah built was reproving in and of itself, in that it held men accountable to the truth - it was a righteous testimony of salvation, but it was equally a testimony of impending judgement. The message of a preacher of righteousness is a message that reveals Christ, and consequently exposes sin. If the preaching of Christ in our churches does not bring people to a place where they are at odds with their sin and their self, then we are probably not preaching Christ. In the same way that the ark was a righteous testimony of salvation, and a testimony of impending judgement, so is Christ: to the one who accepts Christ as Lord, He is their salvation, but to the one who rejects Christ as Lord, He is their judgement. If the message of the Church moves away from the epicenter of Christ, that’s evidence that the church has lost its way. Make every effort to build up Christ; devote your life to the cause of Christ; work tirelessly to magnify Christ and to testify to the world that He is Lord.
Don’t Neglect the Urgency of the Hour
There was one duty that the Lord reserved for Himself: He was in charge of shutting the door. I have tried many times to envision the scene when the mighty hand of God reached down to shut the door of the ark. The image that comes to my mind is a group of people, maybe emerging from a tree line and running as hard as they can away from the flood of waters, or maybe wading as quickly as they can through the water that’d already accumulated on the ground. Just as they reach the place where the ark sat, they fall to the ground in sorrow and fearful dread, weeping and wailing with their arms in the air as the door of the ark, without the help of any man, shuts. It’s awful to try to imagine. The reality of final judgement is a tough pill to swallow, but that doesn’t make it any less real. A.W. Pink once wrote that “eternal decisions are made in time,” and time is running out. All roads lead to the judgment seat of Christ, and before the judgement seat there will be no U-turns. The urgency of the message of the preacher of righteousness is at an all time high. You may not be the most qualified, or the most dignified, but that’s not what God is looking for. He’s looking for holy men that will walk with Him. He’s looking for people who will proclaim the truth in the face of lies, and shine a light in the deepest dark.
No doubt there are a lot of educated people in the ministry. However, a lot of times what we call intelligence, God calls pride. Anybody with a degree can stand and say a few things in a pulpit on a stage, but only a preacher of righteousness, ordained by God, with the fiery words of God flowing from his heart can turn the world upside down, educated or not. The world and its church may wish to waste time trying to figure out how they can keep sinning and still go to heaven, or how they can reconcile sodomy and holiness, or how they can fix society through means of social and political action, but the Church of Jesus Christ has a mission far more important than any of that. The world is dying without Jesus, and it’s gonna take more than a stimulus check, a new president, or green energy to save them. The world needs Jesus, and God has ordained the foolishness of preaching to save those that believe. Preacher, reconcile to be a preacher of righteousness, to preach the full counsel of God, to swim upstream while the dead fish float downstream, and to be a man of God, who walks with God, no matter the cost.