Author: Ron Graham
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He and his family were saved by grace from the flood that killed everyone else. Was there anything about Noah that caused God to choose him for grace?
We ask the question: WHY did God destroy all flesh but make Noah an exception? The Bible’s answer is quite simple and clear. Unfortunately this simple answer doesn't agree with popular theories about grace.
So WHY DID God say, “I will destroy man whom I created” (Genesis 6:7). This is the reason given: “The wickedness of man was great in the earth” (Genesis 6:5). “The earth was corrupt before God” (Genesis 6:11).
Again God states his intention and reason in one simple sentence: “The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is filled with violence through them” (Genesis 6:13).
On that basis, we would make a natural inference: Noah was excepted from this destruction, because he himself was an exception to the sinful condition of mankind. Noah was not wicked. He was not corrupt or violent. Like his ancestor Enoch, Noah walked with God. He did not live as a rebel against God.
And that's exactly what we are told: “Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). That comes straight after the statement, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:8).
It is held by some that People find grace, but not because they are righteous, or because of anything good that they do. That theory not only defies the natural inference from the scripture, but it contradicts God who said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation” (Genesis 7:1).
But when God looked upon the earth, he did not see anyone else who was righteous. Yet everyone else on earth could have been as righteous as Noah, but they refused.
It is a strange theory that (1) Noah was corrupt like everyone else; (2) nevertheless God by grace, regardless of what Noah did, SAW him as righteous; (3) God chose him unconditionally for salvation; and (4) God did not extend this grace to the rest of mankind. This is not the way the story of Noah is told.
Note:— Mind you, we do not assume that Noah never sinned. But if he did sin, he brought his guilt to God and sought forgiveness. By faith he offered the proper sacrifice foreshadowing the cross of Christ. So by grace, through faith, he was forgiven, and truly declared righteous. The rest of the world had the same opportunity, but rejected it.
It is a timeless principle that “The righteous shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). Again, “Each one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
“Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job, were in a sinful land, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the LORD God.” (Ezekiel 14:14).
Noah and his family were saved “by their righteousness”. The rest of the world perished for the lack of righteousness. Had they followed the path of Noah, and “walked with God”, they too would have been saved by grace like Noah and the seven others with him in the ark.
When people claim that we are saved by grace alone, and by nothing else, they are really saying that keeping the commandments of God is not necessary to salvation. But what does the scripture say?
“Thus Noah did: according to all that God commanded him, so he did... Noah did according to all that the LORD had commanded him” (Genesis 6:22; 7:5,9). What if he hadn't? Would he have been saved?
“By faith Noah, being warned by God 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 righteousness by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
Noah knew by faith that if he didn't get that ark built, he and his family would surely perish in the coming flood. Obeying God was a condition of, and essential to, salvation from the flood.
Now you might say, “That applied only to salvation from the flood. It doesn't apply to eternal salvation.” How can you rightly say that? Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. This grace by which Noah was saved from the flood is the same grace by which we are saved from condemnation in the coming judgment.
Peter mentions how the world was disobedient in the days of Noah, and how God in his grace was longsuffering. He granted them time while Noah prepared the ark. But in that ark only “eight souls were saved through water” (1Peter 3:20).
Peter saw a correlation between the salvation of those eight souls and eternal salvation. “There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism... the answer of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1Peter 3:21).
People receive God’s grace by being obedient in faith. That applies to preparing an ark to escape the flood. It also applies to obeying the commands of Christ for salvation by his death and resurrection. Believers and obeyers find grace in the eyes of the LORD. That's how true grace works.
The story of Noah is not complete without telling what happened when he came out of the ark. What was the first thing he did? “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD ...and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (Genesis 8:18-20).
This act of Noah showed what came first in his heart and life: the grace of God. He was thankful to God; he worshiped God; and acknowledged his need of God. The sacrifice he offered symbolised the sacrifice that Jesus would one day make for all the world, even for Noah.
In a sense Noah and his household saved themselves. A huge amount of work went into the ark. If that work had not been done, there would have been no salvation. But Noah didn't congratulate himself. He honoured and praised God, because he knew he had found grace in the eyes of the LORD.