When interested souls receive Bible studies but the teaching is seen as nice information and theory, without effect on the mind and lifestyle of the student, what conclusion can one draw? If time is given for reflection but there is still no spiritual interest and no experiences of faith are made, what should one think? If the students remain spectators who enjoy hearing nice music and then go away and forget everything that was presented, will they receive any benefit? Is a tree that produces no fruit of any value? What has to happen in a seed before it can produce fruit? What is the spiritual power that makes it possible for someone to have wonderful spiritual experiences with God and man?
The Holy Scriptures refer to faith–living faith–and state that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. In our spiritual life, “without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6.
“Sincere faith in Christ is that alone which can secure for us an entrance into the city of God. Faith in Christ, expressed in the life and character, revealed in love for God and for our brethren, makes the human agent a power in the world and in the church. I am made sad to see that many have not this faith and love; for these are the signs of our Christianity, the witness that we are the children of God. True faith in Christ will recover the backslider from the entanglements of the world, and engage him from day to day in service, that will keep his brethren from backsliding. This is the work that God requires of every soul.” –Lake Union Herald, November 17, 1909.
But as precious as it is in the eyes of the Lord, true faith is becoming increasingly rare as the end of this world approaches. Jesus knew this would happen, and one day He asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8. This means that the more time passes, the less faith there is, for people go astray without it. 1 Timothy 6:10, 21; 4:1. Therefore, let us not forget that faith is more precious than gold that perishes (1 Peter 1:7) and that what we need more than anything else is genuine faith–”faith which worketh by love.” Galatians 5:6. “When faith takes hold of the blessing, there comes rich spiritual good…. We need an enlarged conception in order to comprehend its value.” –Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 284.
Just hearing the message without it being transformed into a living experience has little meaning. The Lord invites us to make His divine message effective in our lives by faith. He said: “Whosoever cometh to Me, and heareth My sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:47-49.
The lessons for this quarter have to do with precious faith–first, as trust in the Lord and His promises, and, second, as a living experience. As we study each lesson, we will see that men and women living in different times, having different educations and cultures, have their lives completely changed to health, salvation, and victory. Men and women just like us, with similar weaknesses and needs, despite various backgrounds, all made experiences of faith–blessed experiences that impacted their lives forever.
“Genuine faith is the faith that works by love, and purifies the soul. A living faith will be a working faith. Should we go into the garden and find that there was no sap in the plants, no freshness in the leaves, no bursting buds or blooming flowers, no signs of life in stalk or branches, we would say, ‘The plants are dead. Uproot them from the garden; for they are a deformity to the beds.’ So it is with those who profess Christianity, and have no spirituality. If there are no signs of religious vigor, if there is no doing of the commandments of the Lord, it is evident that there is no abiding in Christ, the living vine.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 71.
“It is essential to have faith in Jesus, and to believe you are saved through Him…. Faith and works go together, believing and doing are blended.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 373.
“When faith lays hold upon Christ, the truth will bring delight to the soul…. Daily you will have a rich experience as you practice the Christianity you profess.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 437.
When faith is living, fruits appear and grow! “Religion consists in doing the words of Christ; not doing to earn God’s favor, but because, all undeserving, we have received the gift of His love. Christ places the salvation of man, not upon profession merely, but upon faith that is made manifest in works of righteousness. Doing, not saying merely, is expected of the followers of Christ. It is through action that character is built. ‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.’ Romans 8:14. Not those whose hearts are touched by the Spirit, not those who now and then yield to its power, but they that are led by the Spirit, are the sons of God.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 149, 150.
May the Lord bless us to see the importance of faith–living faith. May our faith grow through love and lead us to trust more and more in Him so that, as those individuals who are presented as examples, we will learn to put our lives completely in the hands of the Lord and make experiences as did they.
–The brethren of the General Conference Ministerial Department
Sabbath, October 4, 2014
“God in His providence set forth Noah as a representative of what true faith would do. The Lord designed that Noah in his life and character should present before the antediluvian world a marked example of the results of believing the word of God. He did not walk in sparks of his own kindling. He obtained all his discernment, all his power, all his strength, from the source of all light; for he held communion with God. It was because he had faith in God, because he was a man of prayer, that he was a man of power. He kindled his taper at the divine altar, that he might be a light to the world. He had a message intrusted to him from God.” –Signs of the Times, April 18, 1895.
Conditions in the antediluvian world
1. What was the moral and spiritual condition of mankind at the time of Noah? What resolution did the Lord come to in response to the widespread violence, depravity, and rebellion?
Genesis 6:3, 5, 11 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years…. 5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…. 11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
Matthew 24:37, 38 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark.
“The world was in its infancy; yet iniquity had become so deep and widespread that God could no longer bear with it; and He said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.’ He declared that His Spirit should not always strive with the guilty race. If they did not cease to pollute with their sins the world and its rich treasures, He would blot them from His creation, and would destroy the things with which He had delighted to bless them; He would sweep away the beasts of the field, and the vegetation which furnished such an abundant supply of food, and would transform the fair earth into one vast scene of desolation and ruin.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 92.
Light in the darkness
2. Unlike the society around him, what is reported about Noah? Being receptive to the influence of the Holy Spirit, how was he seen by the Lord?
Genesis 6:8, 9 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. 9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
“Noah had faith in God. His position was a trying one; he had to fight the good fight of faith at every step. One hundred and twenty years of probation was granted to the inhabitants of the world, and Noah was to live through that generation. Everything around him was in confusion. On all sides was sin and wickedness, disregard of God and his holy law; but he was to live among men, and not be a partaker of their wicked works, but to be an example of righteousness, and faith, and entire obedience to God. Amid worldwide contempt of God, he was a faithful preacher of righteousness, exemplifying to the world what a man’s life could be by reposing confidence in the sure word of God, by rendering obedience to all His commandments. Nearly the whole world was against Noah; yet there were many who had not had light in regard to the redemption that had been promised to our first parents.” –Signs of the Times, April 18, 1895.
3. What message did the Lord give to Noah regarding the earth and its inhabitants? What special task was he given to protect his family and himself?
Genesis 6:13, 14, first part, 17, 18 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood;… 17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. 18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.
“The inhabitants of the antediluvian world had the warning given them prior to their overthrow; but the warning was not heeded. They refused to listen to the words of Noah; they mocked at his message. Righteous men lived in that generation. Before the destruction of the antediluvian world, Enoch bore his testimony unflinchingly. And in prophetic vision he saw the condition of the world at the present time. He said: ‘Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ ” –Review and Herald, August 2, 1898.
A man of faith and action
4. Did Noah firmly believe what the Lord told him? Did he waver in the face of the enormous undertaking that required all of his time, energy, and means?
Genesis 6:22; 7:1, 2 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he…. 7:1 And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. 2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.
“ ‘By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.’ Hebrews 11:7. While Noah was giving his warning message to the world, his works testified of his sincerity. It was thus that his faith was perfected and made evident. He gave the world an example of believing just what God says. All that he possessed, he invested in the ark. As he began to construct that immense boat on dry ground, multitudes came from every direction to see the strange sight and to hear the earnest, fervent words of the singular preacher. Every blow struck upon the ark was a witness to the people.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 95.
5. Since for decades there was no sign of a flood, did he waste time, or did he devote his full energy to completing the life-saving ark? In addition to the construction work, what other mission did he pursue?
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.
“The wickedness of men was very great, yet there was hope for them if they would turn from their wickedness, and the Lord made Noah His messenger to proclaim to the inhabitants of the Old World their sins, and to set before them wherein they had provoked the wrath of God. He told them what God proposed to do in the world.” –Signs of the Times, April 18, 1895.
Active even in advanced age
6. How old was Noah when he began building the ark? Did his advanced age keep him from fulfilling the Lord’s will?
Genesis 7:4-7 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. 5 And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him. 6 And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. 7 And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
“But Noah stood like a rock amid the tempest. He was surrounded by every species of wickedness and moral corruption; but amid popular contempt and ridicule, amid universal wickedness and disobedience, he distinguished himself by His holy integrity and unwavering faithfulness. While the world around him were disregarding God, and were indulging in all manner of extravagant dissipation which led to violence and crimes of every kind, the faithful preacher of righteousness declared to that generation that a flood of water was to deluge the world because of the unsurpassed wickedness of its inhabitants. He warned them to repent and believe, and find refuge in the ark.” –Reflecting Christ, p. 322.
Salvation and gratitude
7. When the flood was over and Noah’s family was graciously preserved, how did this servant of God express his gratitude?
Genesis 8:18, 20, 21 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him:… 20 And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
“Noah did not forget God who had so graciously preserved them, but immediately [on coming out of the ark] erected an altar and … offered burnt offerings on the altar, showing his faith in Christ the great sacrifice, and manifesting his gratitude to God for their wonderful preservation. The offering of Noah came up before God like a sweet savor. He accepted the offering, and blessed Noah and his family….” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 132.
8. What precious lessons can we learn from this event?
Matthew 24:38, 39, 42, 44 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be…. 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come…. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
“The warning message is to be given to the world in these last days, and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many waxeth cold. The question is asked, When the Lord cometh, will He find faith on the earth? The warning is given, ‘Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh….’ Matthew 24:42-44.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, p. 388.
“As the time of Christ’s second appearing draws near, the Lord sends His servants with a warning to the world to prepare for that great event. Multitudes have been living in transgression of God’s law, and now He in mercy calls them to obey its sacred precepts. All who will put away their sins by repentance toward God and faith in Christ are offered pardon.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 102.
- If you had lived in the time of Noah, do you think you would have been as trusting and obedient to all that the Lord commanded as he was?
- Since our days are similar to those of Noah, what should we firmly believe?
- How should we act to escape what is coming and to offer salvation to others as he did?
For further study
“This is the day of the Lord’s preparation. He says: ‘Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.’ The great work from which the mind should not be diverted, is the consideration of our safety in the sight of God. The storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it? Are our feet on the Rock of Ages? Are we one with Christ, as He is one with the Father?” –Review and Herald, December 27, 1898.