“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
When we read the Bible with eyes of faith, we can see so many forefathers of faith listed in it. And I would like to introduce one of them, namely, Noah.
What Kind of Faith Had Noah Lived out until He Went to God?
It is said that by faith Noah, being warned of God of things yet not seen, prepared an ark for the saving of his household. What are the things that our eyes cannot see yet? God had warned that He would cover the earth with water and sweep all His creatures away from the face of the earth. By faith, Noah believed this warning which did not yet take place. By believing in this Word from God, Noah built the ark and thus saved his family. He warned people that those who distrusted God’s Word were completely wrong. This is how he became heir of the righteousness by faith.
Today’s message is based on only one verse from chapter 11 of the Book of Hebrews, which teaches us how we can live by faith as Noah did. By faith, Noah prepared an ark with godly fear for the things that he could not yet see, having previously been warned by God. And the people then who lived by faith all lived as Noah did. We, too, trust and obey things that we cannot yet see, just because God says so. Noah feared God as much as he admired Him, so he obeyed the command of God and built the ark.
Not only did he build that big ark for the saving of his household, but he also condemned the people in his time by saying to them, “You have committed a great sin, which is rejecting and not believing what God said He would do. God said, ‘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.’ But you are not prepared with faith for this single reason, that being, you have not seen such things with your naked eyes. Disobeying God’s Word despite His warnings is a sin that will lead you to your destruction. You are committing a terrible sin that will put you in hell. You will surely be destroyed.” God said that He would destroy this world, but He also promised that the people of Noah’s days would be saved if they just built an ark and got inside of it.
Noah had clearly warned them of their unbelief, saying, “And don’t you think you are wrong not to believe that God will surely destroy this world? It is not I but you who are wrong in the eyes of God. I may seem crazy but you are seriously wrong in God’s sight. It is you who are crazy. You are trying very hard to be killed and to be destroyed. You are no better than animals. You are just like mere cows and pigs that perish. You will be slaughtered one day after you eat like beasts. You will be completely destroyed; your head will be split open by an axe; your body will be cut into pieces. You are absolutely wrong.” Noah condemned the world in this manner. And He saved his family.
According to the Bible, people who lived by faith, trusted and obeyed God’s Word completely. Regardless of time and place, people of faith lead their lives as Noah did; they make no doubt of God’s Word and believe firmly in it in any situation just as Noah did.
God said that He would destroy the world. He had promised to destroy the original heavens and earth and create the new heavens and earth. God actually carried this out just as He had promised. Then He sent us the Savior. He sent the Savior for those of us who were bound to be destroyed. God said, “You will be saved if you believe in the work of salvation the Savior Jesus Christ had done for us, that is, the righteous work that He had saved us by the water and the Spirit. Put your faith in My Word so that you may be delivered, be adopted as My children, given eternal life and placed in the new heavens and the new earth forever.”
But people did not believe in God’s Word because they could not find any sign of such a Word in their fleshly eyes. They said, “How can this world end? The world has existed for billions of years, and it still exists. Many people say that the world will end, but where is this end? We are living in the era of science and technology. We are at the point of conquering the whole universe. We are even at the point of making an artificial sun. Thus, what kind of an ‘end’ are you talking about?” People in this world doubt and disbelieve what the righteous say to them. They insist by saying, “This is complete nonsense! This is only what certain religious sects say. We may die from our old age or illness, but the world will exist forever.” Like this, unbelievers laugh and jeer at believers. They do not believe Jesus as their Savior; nor do they believe that they are heading for hell. They do not believe in any warnings from God. This is the reason why they are going to be destroyed. They deserve this.
We constantly warn people in this world that they will perish unless they believe in God and His Word, saying, “You are heading for hell. What can make you obedient to God when you have already made up your mind to go to hell? What can you not do when you are willing to be destroyed? What can you possibly not do when you are ready for physical and spiritual condemnation? You refuse to believe that you will surely be destroyed. Let’s then wait and see.” Although we cannot see the end result in advance, we still believe that everything will unfold just as God had said because the Bible tells us so. This is the same faith that Noah had.
Noah, with fear, believed God’s Word even though he could not see such things with his naked eyes. He trusted in and prepared for these warnings, for he feared and worshiped God. Following God’s instructions, he prepared an ark and saved his family. He also tried desperately to save people in the world, but they did not believe in any of his words. Noah told them they were completely wrong. It is said that he condemned the world for their disbelief.
People in this world say that the world will last forever, but this notion is baseless. This world will see its end one day in the near future. We will see the sun dimming and we will also see people getting burned up by the scorching sun. Westerners, especially Americans, build their houses with timber rather than brick and cement. So hurricanes can turn their homes and towns into ash. Even the United States, the world's best superpower, cannot prevent natural disasters such as hurricanes and vast tidal waves.
Our country Korea has also gone through many climatical changes. Fortunately, there have not been many great calamities. We should be thankful for this. I heard that some countries are losing their land to the sea as the sea level rises because of global warming. For example, Venice in Italy, a well-known city for its film festivals, is sinking under the sea. The Maldives Islands, which are often called ‘the Last Paradise,’ are experiencing the same fate. We cannot count all the earthquakes and huge tidal waves all around the world that is taking place. This phenomenon will get worse, not better. Wars will break out and people will become even more violent. Then, they will be followed up by God’s judgment. The sun will dim and will also get extremely hot to the extent of burning people.
Nonetheless, people do not realize that such natural disasters are the signs of the end. One certain thing is that before long, the end of the world will be upon us. However, no one can tell the exact date and time of the world’s end. It may come after I die, or it may come during our days. But it is sure to happen in the near future. In an age like this, we urge people to believe in the authentic gospel of the Water and the Spirit, but people refuse. They not only disbelieve this blessed gospel, but they also regard us as heretics. This is so ridiculous. It is just like that of Noah who also received such jeers and mockery. God told Noah to build an ark, for the condemnation was close at hand. Noah trusted in God and built an ark. He warned people that there would be total condemnation. But even as he preached, people did not believe his words, but instead laughed and ridiculed him. In Noah’s mind, he might have had this line of thought: “You, who do not realize your upcoming deaths, but laugh and mock me, deserve to go to hell.”
Is it not strange even today that people are not afraid in going to hell? They think, “Everyone is going to hell; why not me? Are there not numerous people going to hell? So then I won’t be lonely in hell. How could I bear the boredom of Heaven?” This notion may be reasonable from man’s perspective. But just how ignorant they are by not knowing just how painful this place hell really is. You might have seen a huge chunk of meat being barbecued over fire coals. You might have also seen a live octopus being cooked in boiling water. Don’t we put a lively octopus into our seafood soup? What then happens to the octopus? Does it not twist and turn desperately until it is dies? Well, the Bible tells us that humans won’t die in hell.
People in this world consider our words as fairy tales. They think it is a funny fiction story. But the truth is that it is the very Word of God. We must believe in the Word of God. He is not a liar. There is only one thing God cannot do, and that is to lie. God cannot lie. They may talk back to us, saying, “How can you prove that?” Physically speaking, we have nothing to say. However, according to the Word of God, we can find that He cannot lie. We know this by believing in the Word of God. God always keeps His Word, and He never says anything that He will not achieve. He speaks to us individually, to a nation and to the entire universe; He speaks about this present world and to the world to come. God always fulfills what He says He will do.
God said, “As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). When people die, they stand before God for trial; once they are condemned for their sins, they go straight to hell. This is why people should make haste and receive the remission of their sins before expiring; otherwise, they will most certainly go to hell. Some people including Catholics insist that there should be a purgatory. They say, “Won’t God give us another chance for salvation?” Who decided this absurdity? Purgatory is quite an absurd thing that stems from an arbitrary interpretation of God’s Word.
Did I not address that you should not interpret the Bible just as you like? We find a similar warning in 2 Peter, chapter 3. It says, “Some things are hard to understand, but untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16). The Lord comes to save us when we are under condemnation and are bound to hell. He does so before we face our deaths. What kind of people then go to hell after dying? They are those who have never received the remission of sins during their lives. They are sentenced to go to hell for not receiving the remission of sins. Sinners must be cast into hell, but the Lord does not visit them in hell. He does not show Himself up in hell saying, “Hey, I am your Savior. Raise your hand if you believe in Me. If you do believe in Me even now, you will go to Heaven.” However, some people say that they can still be saved from hell. They are completely insane. They are out of their minds. This cannot be the case and will never be true. Fundamentally speaking, we were disobedient to God and we were bound to be condemned before God. Nonetheless, the Lord came to us and saved us by the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
God Did the Righteous Work through Noah
Noah believed God’s promise and preached it to the people. He indeed preached the gospel. Thanks to Noah, you and I are now living in this new world. The people in Noah’s time had all died. Only Noah’s eight family members survived. They multiplied and now 6.6 billion people are living on this planet.
Will the sinners of this age then not be destroyed in the same way the people in Noah’s days were? In our days, therefore, we believe in and preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Those who accept the gospel will receive salvation, but those who do not will be put to their eternal deaths. For this reason, we condemn those who do not believe: “If you don’t believe the gospel we preach and live without faith, you will surely go to hell.” But people ignore our warnings and refuse to put their faith in the true gospel.
Unfortunately, the truth be told, this world will turn into what we have predicted. God will build the new heavens and the new earth through us, just as He did through Noah. God will re-create the world and provide a place for us in this new world. God has already built the new heavens and new earth and lets us enjoy the glory and splendor of the new world. We are heirs of righteousness. Our Lord Himself has fulfilled the righteous work, and we have become heirs of righteousness by believing in God. We preach the Word of God to everyone in this world and we warn them that they will be condemned for their sins if they don’t put their faith in His Word. We, hereafter, have become heirs of the righteousness. In other words, we became heirs of the righteousness by doing the righteous work to the very end.
Noah worked by faith. You and I also are working by faith. No one can do the work of righteousness without faith. Without faith, we cannot be the servants of God; without faith we are not even saints; without faith we cannot do even the work of righteousness. We cannot do anything without faith.
Some of our ministry workers have left God’s Church complaining that they could not endure hardships anymore. As they leave, they say, “Isn’t this the only place where I can work? I can make four thousand dollars a month easily. It is their mistake that they haven’t recognized my capability.” What is the use of making money without a righteous cause? Can someone do the work of righteousness while they are making so much money? No, they can’t. To make that much money, they have to slave away for their lives, and therefore, they will not be able to do the righteous work. What is worse, earning four thousand dollars a month is not that easy. Nonetheless, quite a few ministry workers feel offended for not being recognized, and they quit God’s Church abandoning the work of righteousness. I hear that one of them is working as a deliveryman and earns 700 dollars a month at the best. But, he still has a stiff neck and looks down on our pastors.
A man cannot do both a worldly job and the work of righteousness. If he or she is holding down two jobs, they will surely die from stress. Some people, who had once abandoned God’s Church, came back asking for forgiveness and acceptance, acknowledging that they were better off while they were in the Church. They wanted to work with us again, since they realized that their dwelling place was in the Church and that such a life had been a real blessing from God. But we refused to accept them because their minds were still chasing after the world. What can we do with such people? How can we work with someone so selfish?
The words ‘heir of righteousness’ refers to someone who does God’s work. The Lord has saved us from all our sins with His righteous work. And to those of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, He entrusted the work of God, the soul-saving work and the preaching of His Word. God has made us serve the gospel. Can just anybody do this work? Only those who have the right heart before God can do it. God’s workers should have faith and keep their hearts faithful to God. There is a popular hit song here in Korea, which goes, “Can anybody love?” Likewise, can anybody serve the gospel? Those who tightly hold on to their selfish desires cannot serve the gospel. In the book of Proverbs, it is said that a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire (Proverbs 18:1). Those who seek their own desires cannot be a partaker of God’s work. They cannot preach the gospel. On the other hand, those who can give up their own desires, and those who realize that their desires mean nothing can do the work of God.
Dear fellow Christians, we should understand that preaching the gospel is the most worthwhile and rewarding thing we can do. We should realize that serving the gospel is obeying the command of God, and it is the most wonderful thing we can do in our lives. Only then can we do the work of God. Only those who appreciate the work of God can do His work. For this reason, those who are doing the work of God are truly great.
I cannot imagine what I would be like if I had not met the Lord and received the remission of all my sins. I might have died early if I had not done the work of God. I would have died while wandering all over the town with two bottles of alcohol. I cannot live without doing the righteous work of God, because any life without doing this work is meaningless. It is too stifling to lead such a worthless life for 60 or 70 years. It is better to die than to live a meaningless life doing nothing righteous.
But for the calling of God, some of you would have been conning people; and others would have become playboys; and still others would have become beggars. Did I not exactly pinpoint out what would have happened to us? Are we not leading worthwhile lives because the Lord has met us and allowed us to receive the remission of sins? Are we not at least surviving because the Lord gave us a righteous heart to serve the gospel? Are we who are so lacking, able to do the work of God without worrying about anything just because we believe in God?
Dear fellow Christians, try doing some righteous work while living in this world. Can you do it by yourselves? No, you can’t. We can’t do the righteous work alone, even if we had ten able bodies. Don’t you realize just how hard it is to do the right thing? Unless God permits, no one can do it. We should be thankful. We should feel so grateful for having so many dedicated co-workers who are doing the work of righteousness that we want to give thanksgiving offering right away. How gratifying is this? How grateful is it for God to use us, we who would have become either philanderers or conmen? If you don’t realize this, please stop being so stupid. We should thank God for using us in the work of righteousness.
Noah condemned the world and so do we. Who do we condemn? We condemn people in this world, saying, “You are a sinner. You are wrong. You are going to hell.” When we go to a graveyard, we feel sorry for the people in the graves for they must have gone to hell. There are so many graves with a cross inscribed in its tombstones, and this means that the number of people who will end up in hell after believing in Jesus is still very large. What good is it to be called ‘pastor’ if he or she is in hell? What good is it to have the title of a deacon if that person is in hell? The pastor in this grave and the deacon in that grave are in hell. Then how many people from this graveyard are not in hell?
A few years ago, Deacon Myungchan Kim, sister Jihye’s father, passed away and we had him inhumed in a nearby graveyard. And we set up a gravestone that reads, “A righteous man, Deacon Myungchan Kim fell asleep here waiting for the return of Christ Jesus.” This is what is written on the tombstone of the late Deacon Kim. People who read this inscription want to copy it. They just copy most part of the inscription except for the words ‘a righteous man.’ For example, I could find a tombstone that read, “Deaconess So-and-so fell asleep here waiting for the return of Christ Jesus.” It was so funny to see so many inscriptions who copied the inscription on Deacon Kim’s tombstone when we visited the graveyard a year later. Although they copied most of its words, they could not put words like ‘a righteous man’ on their tombstones.
When I die, please write on my tombstone like: “Pastor Jong, a righteous man, was so impatient that he hurried to meet the Lord,” or “Pastor Jong, a righteous man, was so short-tempered that he went first to meet the Lord because he couldn’t wait until the Lord’s coming.” If you cannot write all of these words on the front, then use the back too. You may add some lies such as, “Pastor Jong had a bad temper and was impatient. He had many problems with his nervous system and blood circulation, etc.” But one certain thing you must inscribe on my tombstone is these words, “He trusted in the Lord without any sin in his heart; but He anxiously hurried to meet the Lord despite the fact that he had so much work to do.”
People who trust the Word of God always have a heart-to-heart talk with each other. You and I do the same. What we say by faith makes sense but what we say without faith doesn’t make much sense.
Noah’s children heard the Word of God through Noah. What do you think Noah’s children said to the people? “My father said that there would be rain on the earth. God said that the earth is filled with wickedness and violence so that He will destroy the world with water. He told my father to build a huge ark. My father said that whoever comes into this ark will be saved.”
From the world’s perspective, Noah’s children were not normal. How do you think people treated them? “You are all empty-headed. Your father must be crazy. Your father seems to be a lunatic and so are you! Like father like sons.” How much would they have laughed and jeered them? If we don’t look at them with the eyes of faith, Noah’s family was all loony in the head.
We don’t know where Noah built the ark. There is no specific verse mentioning whether he built the ark on a mountain or at the beach. Even though we don’t know for sure, I am sure that the ark was built on a mountain. Why do I think so? Because this is where many gopher trees would naturally grow. We cannot use any freshly cut gopher wood. It takes at least about a year for the sap to dry out. When the wood is dry, it becomes much lighter and workable. Then how could they have carried all the logs even if they had dried out all the wood? Don’t you think they needed a large quantity of gopher wood to build the ark? Even when we disregard this fact, a beach is not the right place to get that kind of wood. The soil near salt water is not good for trees like gopher trees. This is what the experts say.
Anyway, Noah just did something that the whole world would swear at them for, saying, “You have created enough doom and gloom. Do you expect us to believe that? Look at the sky. Does it look like it’s going to rain?” People must have criticized them. How long ago is it? Back then there was no air pollution, so how clear must the sky have been? “Did you say God would send rain and cover the mountains with water in this fine weather? Jeez, you told us enough lies.” From the world’s perspective Noah’s family must have been ridiculed and treated as if they had been insane.
Despite all this, Noah, in godly fear, still prepared the ark, saved his family, condemned the world and became heir of righteousness. He did everything by faith. However, we should not be like Noah. You may be taken aback by what I have just said. You may think I just slipped my tongue. But, from now on please listen carefully to what I say.
How is the world we are living in today? Nowadays, it is quite challenging to do what Noah did. And if you believe the way Noah did, you may end up in hell after losing even your own faith. If you say things the way Noah did, you will be slapped on your cheeks everyday. As you preach the gospel to people, do not say so easily, “You are going to hell.” When someone hears this, they may come back at you growling, “What! Am I going to hell? Then I will kill you on my way!” This could pose a big problem.
Then how do you tell people the truth? When you meet some people, ask them if they are Christian believers. If they say they are, you should praise them for their good choice of religion and then pose the next question, “May I ask you a question, do you have sins in your heart?” They will in most instances tell you that they do. Then you need to ask them more intense questions as follows: “How can you still have sins after all these years of believing in Jesus? It sounds to me that you have been very sincere in your religious life, but how come you still harbor sins in your heart?” You should focus on this matter and start “cooking” them slowly. The moment they start looking convicted of their sins, you should then preach the gospel to them. “What did God say? Did He not say that sins will lead you to hell? There is one thing you don’t know. You have not realized that our Lord removed all the sins of the world away.” Then at this time you need to share the gospel of the water and the Spirit in detail with them.
Humans are all born sinners. Therefore, as we share the gospel, we cannot help but say, “Sinners go to hell.” However, when we say this, many people who hear it will hit the ceiling in anger. They will not listen anymore and will turn their backs against us. At this moment we should quit preaching the gospel. We should give up preaching to them for today. You will be beaten to death, if you don’t give up at this point, but instead go on to say, “What did God say in the book of Revelations? Did He not say that you will be put in the fiery hell if your name is not written in the book of Life? This is called the second death. You must have forgotten this, but you must know it.” Do you really want to be a martyr? If you get beaten up to death by disbelievers like this, then your death would be meaningless. So don’t do it. There is no need to do this for we need to be wise.
You Are Now Living in the Same World That Noah Had Lived in
We work by faith. We preach the gospel all around the world by faith. Do not ever think in terms of the flesh. To be carnally minded is death. It is not worth it. This is nothing. We should think everything through wisely and spiritually. At the same time we need to be sincere and pure.
As the holiday season is approaching, your family may complain about you not calling or giving them any allowance. Then you need to say kindly to them, “I am so sorry. But, in this destitute world, I am just also surviving.” If they keep harassing you even after you said these things in such a polite way, you should then diligently help them with their house chores. Do the dishes and mop the floors. No matter how mad you get, do not say, “How rude! You are only mere sinners!” Even if they are, you should bow your head to your elders. You need not be loathed by them for acting so arrogantly. Once they start hating you, they will no longer listen to your words. That is why you need to say kind words to them, such as, “I am sorry. I am somewhat dumb and the world is too tough for me to live through.” I believe you will do well in such situations.
I am worried about our married sisters in our Church. Brothers tend to have no problems with their family members. Women often lose their tempers all of sudden. Dear sisters, please do not get back at your estranged family members. You will be in bigger trouble when you lose your credit. Do you remember a Korean saying that goes, “A well-said word can pay off thousands of dollars in debt.” Dear fellow saints, you can at least be gentle with your words.
How do you see me? I do spiritual things clearly by faith but at the same time I try to be humane in earthly affairs. However, I cannot stand it when someone says anything bad about the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then I put that relationship with that offender to an end. I cannot forgive such a person. Nevertheless, I do my basic duties as a human being. We, the born-again Christians, are the most blessed people in this world. So we should be tolerant and wise with sinners.
I wondered why people hustle and bustle about, but I found out this holiday season which starts this Friday is very long. We will take a long break from Friday through to next Wednesday. How much money do you think they will spend in amusing themselves for 6 days? “Have fun, fun, fun while you can, before you are too old to have fun ♪” Have you ever heard this song? I am not sure who wrote this song, but obviously he didn’t think about money being spent to have fun. You should work hard while you are young and able; you should not have fun without any plans. But I do agree that we can’t have fun when we get too old.
When I hear people say that I am old, I get stressed. I worked hard when I was young, and I will continue to work hard even when I get old. I will still work on my bed. Come and check for yourself. If anyone comes to talk to me while I am on my bed all day, I will share fellowship with that person in Christ. No matter how other people convince me not to do anything further, I will do the work of the Lord until my very last moment. In the meantime, our Lord will come without delay, for He never procrastinates.