“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. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.’”
Looking at the faithless generation that did not believe in God’s righteousness, our Lord said that He would wipe out this world. When we look at today’s reality, we can clearly see that this world is heading toward its destruction. Although most people are waiting for Utopia to come to this world, it will never get any better. This world will not turn into a paradise on earth, but instead it will turn into a garbage dump, and after then the Millennial Kingdom and the New Heavens and the New Earth will come to the righteous.
While we don’t know exactly how long this world would last, what is clear is that its end is not too far away. Today’s Scripture reading describes that in the days of Noah, the earth was also filled with the wickedness of man. Like in Noah’s time, this present age is also filled with the wickedness of man. In particular, false beliefs are plaguing today’s Christian faith. These days Christians who have not been born again of water and the Spirit are adhering to mistaken beliefs all to challenge the righteousness of God, which is what actually brings salvation to us.
But despite this scenario, even if this planet were to end tomorrow, we must still preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Indeed in this age when the end of the world is near, it is even more urgent for us to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit that saves people from sin. While we do not know exactly when our Lord would return, we do know that it is not too far away, and therefore we should preach the gospel of Truth entrusted to us even more urgently. The Lord said that to Him a thousand years is like a day and a day is like a thousand years. But we only live for 70 or 80 years at the most. So rather than thinking about the end of the world according to our own thoughts, we should think of it according to the Word of the Lord and be ready for it with our faith.
Let us all turn in our Bibles to Genesis 6:14: “Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.” By this passage God is telling us to build the Church with His unchanging Word. Noah had one thing that he absolutely had to do on this earth, and it was to build God’s Church. We can live only if we build Gods’ Church by placing our faith in the never-changing Word of God. We should therefore abide in God’s Church for our own sake.
God Commands Us to Build a Spiritual Ark and Save Souls from Sin
God told Noah to build an ark. Thanks to this ark, Noah’s family of eight was saved. For today’s people to escape from their sins and including God’s judgment there can be no other way but to find refuge in a spiritual ark. The single most indispensable work that we must do in this age now is to preach the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit, and to build Gods’ Church by believing in this gospel of Truth with our hearts. None other than this is building a spiritual ark. The only way for us to be saved from God’s judgment is to place our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Just as Noah built an ark in his time, must we also build God’s Church together with our fellow believers in the Word of God, and thereby save all sinners from their sins. By us building this spiritual ark and leading everyone to be made sinless so as to avoid the condemnation of sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit — is what we must infallibly do right now.
God told Noah to build an ark of gopherwood. Of the countless trees in this world, why did God specifically instruct Noah to build the ark with gopherwood? The meaning of the Hebrew word gopher in this context is unknown, so the King James Version and most other translations leave it simply as gopher and added the word wood to it. Several guesses as to the nature of gopher wood have been made, the most common of which is the cypress. Adam Clarke, a famous Bible commentator cited the Greek word for cypress, kuparisson, and the resemblance of this word's base, kupar to the Hebrew word gophar. From this we can understand that gopher wood probably is a kind of evergreen tree such as fir trees or cypress that grows upright to a great size.
Spiritually, gopherwood implies the unchanging Word of God. God’s Word is always unchanging and upright; and its trunks never bend and its leaves never turn yellow under any circumstances. What is absolutely indispensable for us to do is to believe in God’s Word that has saved us under all circumstances, and to build God’s Church with this faith. God told Noah to build the Church, and if Noah had not built the ark despite finding the grace of the remission of sins—that is, if he had not done God’s work—then he would have been judged by God. At that time, even though Noah was living in a world filled with iniquities, he was saved from sin and built the spiritual ark by faith. Finding grace in God’s eyes, he became a just man, perfect in his generations.
That is why God commanded Noah, a spiritual man to build His ark. Obeying the Word of God, we must labor to build His Church, and we must always preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We cannot stop this work. Building God’s Church by faith was only for the sake of Noah, and it was also to save this world. When the righteous preach the Word of God, they must explain the gospel of the water and the Spirit exactly as it is. And the righteous must also live by faith, and this also requires training.
It is our duty to blot out people’s sins with the Word of God and make them righteous. It is also our duty when we preach that we mention that the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the gospel of power that remits away all our sins. This gospel is the gospel that makes us sinless, and it makes us work to build God’s Church by faith. By believing in the Word of God and preaching it, we are sanctifying the world.
If you believe in God’s Word, you can also receive the remission of your sins and be sanctified. The gospel of the water and the Spirit, that is, the Word of God will enter into your heart and blot out all your filthy sins, sanctifying you and glorifying you. Just as Noah became a just man by finding grace from God, we have become sinless people through God’s grace of salvation by believing in the pure Word of God. From time to time we the righteous get visited by those who have as yet not been born again, and whenever we deal with these people, we must remember that we ourselves have already been cleansed by the Word of God, and we must always abide in our faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Whenever we meditate on the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit we can discover that we have already been sanctified. On outside appearances, those who have received the remission of their sins are not any different from those who have not been born again, but if there is one thing that is very different, it is that there is no sin in the hearts of these born-again believers.
Just as Noah worked for a hundred years to build the ark, we too must build God’s Church by preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit until the Lord’s return. When Noah built the ark with gopherwood, he cut off the useless branches. Back then, the climate was quite different from today, and so trees grew very large and sturdy. Noah cut down these huge gopherwood trees and then cut these trees to shape them into the ark. This tells us clearly that if we fail to carry out God’s work and just rest on our laurels because we have received the remission of our sins, we will be destroyed. Even though we have received the remission of our sins, unless we abide in God’s Church, our shortcomings and weaknesses will prevent our hearts from keeping God’s righteousness. So we must cut off our fleshly thoughts stemming from our shortcomings and weaknesses lest we be tempted and captured by Satan. Just as Noah had pruned the gopherwood trees, must we also continue to prune our fleshly thoughts by confirming the gospel of the water and the Spirit inside God’s Church. And we should devote ourselves fully to the building of God’s Church by preaching the genuine gospel of righteousness just as Noah did. We must carry out this task endlessly to defend our sanctified hearts.
The Righteous Must Defend Their Faith in the Righteousness of God
The Bible says that “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations,” and that he “found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” In other words, Noah had become a righteous man by the grace of God. Why did God tell Noah, who had already become a just man to build the ark, and why did He tell him to build it for himself? This means that God is telling you and me to build an ark for none other than ourselves. It’s absolutely indispensable for us to build the ark for ourselves by believing in the Word of God.
Through the Word of God we have found grace and received the remission of our sins. But despite this we are still living in a world that’s so evil and filthy. Therefore, even the righteous may become defiled by sin, and so the only way we the righteous can avoid the judgment of God is to abide in His Church and always meditate on the gospel of the water and the Spirit, thus affirming that our hearts are indeed sinless. When filthy lust and carnal desires arise up in our hearts, how can our hearts be justified and cleansed from such things? We can be cleansed only by placing our faith in the gospel Word of the water and the Spirit that has remitted away all our sins. There is no other way but to stand by faith on the unshakable Word of God.
When God told Noah to build the ark and cover it with pitch on the inside and outside, it was done like this to enable us to avoid the condemnation of sin completely and perfectly. In other words, God had ensured that not a drop of the water of judgment would seep into the ark. In this age, what we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit must do before God is to also build His Church like Noah did. If you have indeed received the remission of your sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then you must build the ark in your heart, which is a shadow of God’s Church. If you are unable to build a proper ark even as you profess to believe in Jesus, then you cannot be saved from your sins. After gathering construction materials and cutting down gopherwood, you cannot claim to have finished building the ark just in words. Likewise, you must receive the proper remission of your sins by believing in God’s Word of Truth with your heart. In other words, just as the ark is built only if you trim what needs to be trimmed, nail and bolt all the boards together, and cover it with pitch inside and outside, and making sure that there is no leak in your ark; if this is not done properly even though you have received the remission of your sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, you will be destroyed. In short, as someone who has received the remission of sins by believing in the gospel of Truth, you must defend your heart from all the false Christian doctrines that try to deceive you. You can do this by thoroughly sealing any cracks in your faith with the Word of God inside and outside.
Even after receiving the remission of our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, it is still possible for us to be spiritually corrupted. Unless we come into the ark, we might feel as if we once again have sin. Satan accuses us continually of our human weaknesses and tries to make us fall into perdition. Because Satan is someone who accuses and condemns everyone, he keeps shaking even the born-again souls with his deceptive words by saying, “You have sinned again and again, right? So how can you say that you have no sin, when you have committed sin ceaselessly? You are still way too insufficient!” As you hear these words time after time, it’s very much possible for you to be spiritually deceived and end up saying, “Yes, you are right. I am still sinful.” If you don’t keep the evidence of the perfect remission of sins from the Word in your hearts and based in your consciences, you will start thinking, “Right, I think I still have my sins all intact.”
It is a critically important truth that God has told us to build His spiritual Church by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The gathering of the sinless saints in this world is called God’s Church. This place called God’s Church is the place where those whose hearts have become completely sinless by them believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are gathered here together to carry out God’s work. God has commanded us to build His Church. Whenever Satan attacks you, God teaches you with His Word through His servants abiding in His Church. We must be made into the perfect people of faith through the Word of God, and this is only possible by the grace of God.
However, anyone with sin in his heart can never achieve this, no matter how hard they try, how devotedly they lead their lives, and how much they try not to commit any sin. Such religionists have as yet not been sanctified, but they are pious only in their outside appearance like a whitewashed tomb, while their inside remains filthy. These kinds of people are all hypocrites. On the other hand, while the born-again may not be so impressive in their acts, at least their insides are spotlessly clean.
Anyone whose sins have disappeared by believing in the Word of God (the gospel of the water and the Spirit) is a born-again person. But although you are now clean inside, your acts are still not holy, and that is why you must remember that you have been made perfect by your faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and you must build your house of faith with the Word of God.
Religionists are “speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2). “Having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” means that one does not even sense his own sins. To someone who feels no guilt whatsoever inside even after committing wrongdoings, we say that his “conscience is seared with a hot iron.” We often tend to have hardened criminals in mind when we think of someone whose conscience is seared with a hot iron, but they are not the ones whose conscience are seared, but it’s someone else. It’s among the religionists of this world who are pretending to live a godly life that we find many whose consciences have being seared with a hot iron. In contrast to them, many hardened criminals actually admit their evil selves and are truly remorseful of their crimes, shedding tears of remorse, even though they may seem brutish when looking at their outside appearance. Furthermore, most religious leaders don’t believe in the Word of God even as they should know it, and they point their fingers at someone else, pretending to be holier than anyone else. It is these very people whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.
No matter how virtuous and righteous these hypocrites lead their lives in front of others, if they have sin then they will all be condemned by God. The Bible tells us clearly about these very people, “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24). Just like this, even though they ask for God’s forgiveness for small sins they commit, they do not actually reveal their great sins in their prayers to God. When we look at Christians who have as yet not been born again, we see them bringing many small sins and praying to God, “Lord, please forgive my sins,” but did they really commit only such minor sins? When we see anyone who hides his great sins and asks the Lord to forgive only his small sins, we can realize that he is a full blown hypocrite.
God said, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). This means that we should not treat God lightly. It means that we should never regard Him like any creature. Do you think that you can hide your sins from God? Just because people bring their small sins to God, does He approve them by saying, “Well done; I see that you have only committed these small sins”? No. It is God who created mankind, and it is God who reigns over the whole history of this universe. Would such a God who is all knowing not know about us? No, He knows all about us. He knows everything about the nature of the human heart, and He knows mankind’s every little act as well. Yet even so, people still bring only their small sins and ask God to forgive them in tears. Far from forgiving them, God tells them sternly, “You swallow anything whole if it’s in your interest, regardless of how evil it is, and yet you bring only your small mistakes that you deem to be okay for others to see, asking for My forgiveness. You are better off not coming to Me at all. I would be much happier if you would just close down your church.” This is what God says to those religious leaders whose only interest is to rake in as much money as possible and build bigger, taller, church edifices.
The ultimate truth behind these false prophets is to just rob their congregations in exchange for handing out elderships and deaconships randomly. If they were true leaders, they would teach their followers how to blot out their hearts’ sins and escape from the condemnation of sin. But instead, they only hand out church offices to their congregation, making them pious only on the outside like them. And they compel their elders and deacons to faithfully give tithes, and in their sermons they bind their congregation under the yoke of the Law, and just preach repentance. But do anyone’s sins disappear just by giving prayers of repentance, no matter how ardently they do this? No, daily sins will still remain intact, and that is because they do not or refuse to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
Let’s turn now to Genesis 6:14 and take a closer look at this passage: “Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.” Another thing that we must keep in mind is that it is in our own interest to keep our holiness in the Word of God. Once we receive the remission of our sins, we have to focus our attention on defending our holiness. By defending with the Word of God our belief that we are now sinless is in fact building the ark.
Satan says to countless people that they are sinful. Deceived by such evil wiles of the Devil, many people become trapped in sin, and as they continue being ignorant of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, they are unable to call themselves righteous people. While no one can be perfect in his acts, everyone can have faith and say with confidence, “Because Jesus Christ bore all my sins by being baptized, I have no more sin.” However, to prevent people from having this true faith, Satan attacks them relentlessly. But those Christians who don’t have faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can only say in their confessions: “I am a just man with many shortcomings, a righteous man with many sins.”
But when Noah built the ark, he made sure that no water would ever seep into it. This tells us that whoever has come into the salvation of God has been made a perfectly righteous man who will never turn into a sinner again. Therefore, if someone has no sin one minute but has sin the next, then he is not a truly righteous person. Those who have no faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit go back and forth between being sinful and righteous, being sinners at one moment, and righteous people the next. That is definitely not the right faith.
In contrast, Noah found the grace of salvation from God. In worldly churches, anyone can be ordained as a pastor or appointed as an elder without even finding the grace of salvation from God. Because such Christians do not have the perfect faith, they cannot dare to say that they have no sin. Yet how is it possible for any Christian to say that he has no sin, even as he professes to believe in Jesus? If you were treated at a hospital by a competent doctor, you should make a full recovery or at least see some improvement. But despite all of this, should your condition worsen, would it make any sense at all? If a treatable illness only turns worse, then the doctor who treated you must be a false doctor. Like this, people come to church agonized by their sins, and yet there are too many pastors who just turn them into even worse sinners. These pastors are spiritual quacks. If you believe in Jesus, you should be made a righteous person then and there, then how it is possible for you to become even more of a sinner? Yet because these false so-called servants of God are oblivious to the gospel proclaiming that Jesus blotted out every sin, they are just turning their congregation into worse sinners. In addition, they say to those who have been born again through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, “How can you be so arrogant to say that you have no sin?” But if you should see their true colors, you will realize that they are spiritually blind, and that they do not abide in the true faith. Referring to them, the Bible tells us, “They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:14).
Because we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we must abide in faith. To do so, we must endlessly wage spiritual battles. God has blotted out all our sins perfectly once and for all. Just as Noah built the ark with gopherwood to perfection, so must we also be born again perfectly and completely through the upright, pure Word of God’s Truth. God placed our sins on the Lord through John the Baptist, the Lord was condemned for us perfectly and completely, and He has saved us to absolute perfection. So how can you still have sin? Yet the Devil deceives people endlessly by whispering in their ears, “How can you have no sin? It’s arrogant to say that you are sinless.”
When God told Noah to build the ark, He was also commanding us to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and explained how we should live after being born again. We must keep our holiness. It is not by our acts that we can keep our holiness. Rather, under all circumstances, it is by affirming beyond all doubts that Jesus has indeed blotted out all our sins, and by confessing this faith of ours, that we must free ourselves from the words of deception and delusion that try to deceive us into thinking that we still remain sinful.
By believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, the unchanging Word of God, we have received the remission of our sins. Unless we continue to defend this faith, that we have now been made sinless by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, our ark of faith will flounder and sink. Our hearts must keep the faith that has brought the remission of our sins. We are the spiritual Noah’s today, and once we have found the grace of salvation, there is only one way that can lead our ark to become shipwrecked: It is to say that there still is sin in our hearts even as we believe in Jesus. Even though Noah found God’s grace and was perfect in his generations, but if we succumb to the deception of Satan who keeps pointing out the insufficiencies of our acts and keeps on accusing us of being sinful, and if we succumb to the Devil conceding that we indeed have sin, then our arks of faith will for sure be shipwrecked. Therefore we must defend our faith at all costs, for if we should succumb to the Devil, we will lose our status as new creatures and turn back into the old creatures, who are destined for hell. As Satan attacks us by blaming our shortcomings and weaknesses, we must fight back by our faith. Without faith, we can never bear the brunt of Satan’s attacks. No matter what happens, we must defend the faith that the Lord has blotted out all our sins. And we must also remember that it is this faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that keeps us holy.
My fellow believers, our spiritual battles will not end. Satan must have attacked Noah countless times through his minions, provoking him, “Even if you build this stupid looking ark, water will seep right through when it rains, and so what’s the use? You are just wasting your time with this whole project.” If Noah had fallen into despair from all these words, he would have not been able to complete the ark, nor would he have been saved.
We are now working hard to build each one’s respective ark. Each of you is an ark. It is when you are armed with faith that your salvation is completed. The greatest ark is Jesus Christ. God said there is no condemnation whatsoever for you and me who now abide in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1). In other words, because we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we are completely and absolutely sinless, and we have no condemnation whatsoever, but only holiness. This is the very faith that all of us must have and defend.
The Word of God is not so flexible that you can slap it on wherever you want to make your own claim. Is it right for you to say, all according to your own man-made thoughts, “Jesus took away my original sin on the Cross, but I have to receive the remission of my personal sins on a daily basis”? Are you made righteous by being remitted from your sins one moment, only to turn into a sinner again the next moment you commit another sin? No, this is not the case. Such a false doctrine is uttered only by the servants of the Devil.
I led a religious life for 10 long years before I was saved from all my sins, and during all that time, I had offered prayers of repentance every single day, as my pastors had taught me to do. It was such a struggle for me. I used to stay up all night repenting from my sins, and when this did not suffice, I fasted while praying. Yet in just a few days, I found myself committing sin again, and I had to once again offer prayers of repentance while fasting. It was so hard on me. I was so despondent that I almost committed suicide, all from listening to my pastors urging me to repent and desperately trying to meet their demands by offering prayers of repentance so diligently. I came very close to committing suicide, reaching a point where I said to myself, “No matter how I offer prayers of repentance, my sins just will not disappear! Would they not disappear if I were dead?”
But when I turned to the Word of God again, I found out that prayers of repentance were no solution for my sins. So I asked my senior pastor, “This is what the Word of God says here, but how come you have never told me about this?” I then asked the pastor, “Reverend, do you have sin?” to which he said, “No, I have no sin.” I asked him again, “If you should commit sin, then would you have sin, or would you be still sinless?” The pastor answered and said, “I will then have sin.” So I said to him, “It would have been better if I had not learned from you. If I had just taken a nap during all those hours and read the Bible by myself, I would have reached the right faith sooner. Let’s stop serving God together from now on.” I left this church immediately never to return. Even those who called themselves pastors were shaken from the lack of perfect faith.
By believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we have been born again from our sins and sanctified perfectly. We must defend this holy faith by continuing to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must keep our faith in the Truth that Jesus has forever blotted out all our sins. If we fail to keep this faith, our ark will flounder and sink.
Where there is no sin, where a sinner can receive the remission of his sin upon entering — is the Church. Satan always tries to defeat true faith. Deceiving people little by little, he tries to undermine their faith. We must form a gathering of those who have received the remission of sins through the Word of God. Each and every one of us must be made into a child of God. That is the responsibility of the crews aboard the ark of salvation.
Until the day everyone in this world is made sinless, the gospel must continue to be preached. Believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and uniting together, let us proclaim this gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole world until the day the Lord returns.