The Grace of God in this present age

Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 28 Jun 2015

Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us

We preachers should revive each other so that the Gospel can go forth. Islamists like Gadaffi had said that they will take Europe simply by having more children, while Africa will become Islamic. We Christians should stop betray the Lord like Judas. We must remember who the real enemy, satan is.

We find the grace of God first mentioned in the time of Noah, in Gen 6:8, “Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord”. Way back then Noah found grace in God’s eyes. Jesus said in the last days will be a time like the time of Noah. There was sexual immorality and flirting around between boys and girls. And it’s the same today. It reminds one of the large ship built in Britain, the Titanic. After the construction of that ship, which was at that time the largest ship of its time, one of the builders commented that even God cannot sink it. Many booked for its maiden voyage. It traveled through an area full of icebergs, struck one and sank. Most people on the Titanic drowned. At the moment when it struck the iceberg there was a party going on, but when the news spread that it had struck an iceberg, they changed the music to “nearer my God to Thee”.

So it was also in the time of Noah, where they were busy with their parties, marrying and giving in marriage. Peter also speaks about this. There’s even a mention of the sons of God marrying the sons of men, even though the Bible does say that angels do not get married. But it could be rather a reference that children of God marry worldly people. In the Living Translation it puts it this way that young men simply chose the ones they wanted to get married to. There was no desiring God’s will. They simply married whomever they wanted. And it’s the same today.

Only Noah and his family were true believers. Even though Noah’s generation prior to that had great men of God, it seems that in Noah’s day that faith was cast aside. It’s terrible when people can forget God so quickly. In the whole world there was only Noah and his family and their children that still feared God. How terrible that today, instead of like Noah who could keep his family in the Lord, one finds parents losing their children to the world. But Noah found grace in God’s eyes, even while others lived their lives in sin and drugs. Noah was perfect and walked with God. Without anybody having to instruct Noah to do what’s right and avoid what’s wrong, He walked with God. In Hebrews we read of the heroes of faith, and one of them is Noah. Today one finds people instead boasting of their sins, like drinking and boozing and sexual immorality, but where are those who can boast in the Lord?

God instructed Noah to build the ark and when to enter into the ark. Noah obeyed the instructions exactly as God instructed him. Although there was a river nearby where he built the ark, there were no boats comparable to what he was building. He built the ark on dry land. The Bible says that fearing the Lord he built the ark. Recently we were near the mountains where the ark rested. It was found in 1945. And there were various sightings before that, like Russian pilots that saw the huge ark resting on the mountains of Ararat. The Russian regime forced total silence that nobody could hear about it, and the area was cordoned off that nobody could get there. We were there in Armenia these days and from our hotel room we could see the mountains of Ararat. Although it was shrouded in mist, it’s higher than most mountains in Europe at 17,000 feet.

God spoke to Noah that He would destroy the whole world because of the wickedness of man, and only save him and his family, his three sons and their wives. The civilisation before then was very advanced. The names of the cities of that time are known and have been excavated. Archeologists are still discovering these places that have long since been buried under the mud of the flood. They found chariots pulled by horses at that time. They found pots and vases painted at that time, as well as the makeup that was used by girls of the time. Women were using makeup at that time already. Once again it’s the same in our time. They were all busy with their own things. Nobody was seeking God’s will anymore.

But Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives served the Lord. The ark, though it was so huge, only had one door. And so too, Jesus is the only door to God and eternal life. The ark had many rooms and three levels. Over 7,000 animals could enter in. God made a difference between clean and unclean animals; only a pair of the unclean entered while seven pairs of the clean animals entered the ark. It’s also recorded that when the ark settled and they disembarked, Noah made an altar and offered animals to God.

The ark was 450 ft long, 75 ft wide and 45 ft high, like a 3-story building. The Bible refers to Noah as a chieftain of that area. In the building of the huge ark he made use of and paid many labourers. He built it exactly as God instructed, just as we must order our lives exactly as God instructs. God was the architect of that boat, and Noah followed God’s instructions exactly. Even modern boats are built with the same ratios as the ark, although the shape might differ for speed. But Noah’s ark was built for stability, to float upright. Noah and his family refused to be influenced by the mockery of those around them, during the time they built the ark. If you decide for the Lord and go back to the life of sin afterwards, your mockery is deserved. Methuselah, an ancestor of Noah, and Enoch, his grandfather, were men of God. The animals entering the ark were better than the people who mocked, for they obeyed and entered the ark. They were all inside the ark for 7 days and nothing happened. But after 7 days it grew black and for 40 days it poured, there was water from above and below and the whole earth was covered. And so the mockery came to an end. The people climbed on the highest hills, but to no avail. They cried to Noah to open the door, but God had locked the door. Noah was in the ark for a year and 10 days, till the waters subsided. At first he released a crow, but it never returned, most probably settling on the carcases and having a feast. He also released a dove, which returned with a fig leave in its beak, which showed Noah that the plants have started to grow again. When Noah came out of the ark, the first thing he did was to build an altar to God to thank Him for His salvation. God put a rainbow in the sky as a sign that He would not destroy the world by water again. But it will one day be destroyed by fire.

As time went on the three sons of Noah populated the whole earth. Jesus said that His return will be like in the days of Noah, where they remained in their sins until the sudden event of judgement. But Noah was righteous in the sight of God. Not the sight of men, because they are like the grass, which blossom one day and perishes the next. But Noah walked with God and was righteous in His eyes.

How is it with you? Will you escape God’s judgement? Woe if that day of judgement arrives and you are outside the ark, Jesus. We are bought not with silver or gold, but we’ve been redeemed from our futile sinful ways, by the precious Blood of Jesus. We take it so lightly. But it’s not a small thing. Jesus was the son of man and the Son of God. He is known as the son of man because of being born from Mary. But He is the Son of God, because the Holy Spirit came on Mary. We should never trample His Blood underfoot. Let the one who is redeemed, whether from prostitution or whatever other sin, realise it is by the precious Blood of Jesus. If you’re not yet washed then come quickly to be washed from your sins by His precious Blood.

German translation