Genesis 6:9-9:29 & We Work Out because He Works In

I cannot remember who I heard say something to this effect, “Do not be impressed with the missionary of God but with the God of the missionary.”  Beware of making idols of holy men.  We should have heroes in the faith, but not evangelical superstars.  Noah is a hero, but he is not the star of this account, God is.  Noah is admirable because of how God is glorified in his life.

Noah’s task was daunting.  It was impossible.  We shouldn’t read Genesis 6:19 without Genesis 6:20.  If Noah’s work is read in isolation, with no mention of God’s work, Noah gets all the glory.  He is superhuman.  How could we ever measure up?  But what Noah did was impossible (Matthew 19:26).

Our God is a two handed God.  With His hard hand He comes to us with commands that are impossible, with His soft hand He comes to us with empowering grace.  Augustine said it this way, “Give what you command and command what you will.”  The story of Noah is a story of the fierce terrible wrath of God.  It isn’t flannel graph, nursery décor, kid’s song friendly.  But more than God’s wrath, this is a story of the amazing grace of God.  The account does not neglect that God hates sin, that sin arouses his judgment, nor that all men die, but the narrative is arrested by God’s grace on this one man.  What is astounding as we read this account is not that all humanity is blotted out, but that one man finds grace.  Noah was not favored because he was righteous, he was righteous because he was favored (Genesis 6:8-9).  We work out because He has worked in (Philippians 2:12-13).  We work because He is working (Hebrews 13:20-21).

What emerges again and again is that what he is commanding is a life that displays the worth of his person and the effect of his work.  His intention is that we not disconnect what he commands from who he is and what he has done.  …On the basis of who he was and what he accomplished, Jesus made his demands. The demands cannot be separated from his person and work. The obedience he demands is the fruit of his redeeming work and the display of his personal glory. That is why he came— to create a people who glorify his gracious reign by bearing the fruit of his kingdom (Matt. 21:43).  – John Piper in What Jesus Demands From the World

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