The following is a sermon transcription that help us understand why there is only one ark. Read on to find out what is the significance of only one ark and the way to enter into this assembly to be saved.
Why Only One Ark?
(adapted from a sermon by Pr Peter Shee)
Why was there Only One Ark during Noah’s Time/Lessons from the One Ark during Noah’s Time
Ever heard the joke about the Christian who was trapped in a flood? In faith, he prayed to God for deliverance. Help came three times, but he flatly rejected them thrice because ‘he was waiting for God to save him’. After he died, in heaven he asked God why his prayers were not answered. God replied that He had sent help only to be rejected each time!
This joke may be familiar to us. However there is no such thing as three chances to be saved. Once you miss the boat, you miss your chance of salvation.
Long ago when God destroyed the earth by flood, Noah and his family were saved through one ark. Are there lessons to be learned from this?
The One Ark points to the One God who is able to take away our sins
God chose to use an ark to save. He could have used other methods, but He chose to save Noah through one physical ark. The ark points us to Christ. Although Salvation is spiritual, God had to come in the flesh to die a physical death, shedding blood to pay the price for our sins.
Why did God need to come in the flesh to save us?
Hebrews 10:4-5, 11-12 tells us that the numerous animal sacrifices the Israelites made could not take away their sins. The ‘body’ in verse 5 refers to the physical body of Jesus Christ. He was nailed on the cross to become the perfect sacrifice, taking away mankind’s sins once and for all. No other sacrifice can atone for mankind’s sins.
We must believe in Jesus to be saved
From the bible, we know that there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10) and Saviour (Isaiah 45:21).
However, it does not mean that whoever believes there is one God, will be saved or can have their sins forgiven by calling on God’s name. After Jesus ascended to Heaven, His disciples had difficulty convincing their fellow Jews that unless they believed Jesus was God in the flesh; their sins would not be forgiven. In Acts 4, the persecuted Christians boldly proclaimed: “there is no other name under heaven except the name of Jesus which you will be saved.” Whilst the Jews were God’s chosen people and given the Mosaic Law, yet they would not receive salvation if they refused to believe Jesus was God.
The ark was the only way to salvation during the flood. Likewise, Jesus is the only way to salvation because only His sacrifice is effective in washing away our sins. The single ark points to salvation only through Jesus Christ.
One Assembly of People was saved through the Ark.
2nd Peter clearly draws the link between the events of Noah’s time and the end of the world.
“For this they wilfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly man” (2Pet 3:5-7)
We know an exclusive group of eight (Noah and his family) were saved through the ark. There was no second ark and everyone else was destroyed. Likewise a day will come when this world will end and a select group will be saved.
Notice that ‘new heavens’ in 2Peter 3: 12-13 is plural, but there is only one ‘new earth’. They are not physical because anything physical will melt away. This new earth refers to people. There will be one group whom God will preserve because they believe in Jesus Christ. They will form one new earth, one new human race, and are one body. Ultimately there will be one people, just like how God created one human race. Eph 2:14-16 shares a similar concept
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”
‘One new man’ and ‘new earth’ both refer to the Church.
The word ‘Church’ means ‘assembly’, an assembly of people. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were God’s assembly. When Jesus came however, He declared: “…on this rock I will build My church (assembly), and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Unless we enter into His Church, and become part of Christ’s assembly, we will not escape the gates of Hades. The gates of Hades will not prevail against the Church of Christ. Thus Jew or not, we must become part of His assembly.
The ark also refers to this new community that Jesus founded. There was One Ark meant to save one group of people. Likewise the Church is this group of people who are saved, and therefore we need to enter into this assembly to be saved.
THE WAY to enter into the assembly
Since the one way to enter into this assembly is to be born again, it is very important for us to understand what being ‘born again’ is.
“… Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
To be born of water is to receive baptism. To be born of the Spirit is to receive the Holy Spirit. This is the way of the ‘new birth’ and is the only way to enter into God’s assembly.
Jesus through supernatural birth became flesh and therefore can identify with us in the flesh. The reverse is true in baptism: we identify ourselves with Jesus in the spirit. Romans 6:3-6 tells us we can unite with Him through baptism, in the likeness of His death. The effect is that we share in the newness of life and are raised to a new life.
BAPTISM IS FAITH NOT WORKS
Sadly many Christians today bear the misconception that baptism is redundant since one is saved by faith. They claim baptism is a ‘work’. While the bible declares circumcision and sacrifices as works, it does not categorize baptism as a work. Let us use Noah’s ark to demonstrate this point.
“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.” (Hebrews 11:7)
It is abundantly clear. “By faith” Noah prepared an ark, and therefore his righteousness was by faith not works. Noah could have believed with all his heart, but without building the ark and entering it, he would not be saved.
Noah’s salvation through the ark prefigures baptism. Similarly today we are baptized into salvation, and that is not works but faith. Baptism now saves us (1 Peter 3:21).
Paul agrees with this. Galatians 3:26-27 tell us we become children of God by faith through baptism, God gives us a promise of the Holy Spirit.
Born of the Spirit: Receiving the Holy Spirit
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He commanded his disciples to wait for the Promise of the Father: The Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4, 8).
The question is: what must we do to receive the Holy Spirit?
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)
Just as Noah built the ark in the way prescribed by God, everyone who desires to receive baptism has to do so in the manner prescribed by the Bible. Only then are we promised the Holy Spirit which is the guarantee of eternal life. (Eph 1:13-14)
We must receive the Holy Spirit in the same way as the apostles. Firstly they spoke in tongues when they received the Holy Spirit. Secondly they had to pray to receive Him.
On the Day of Pentecost, (Acts 2) the disciples were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:33 says that the Holy Spirit can both be been seen and heard. This was the way the apostles determined if one had the Holy Spirit. This is why Peter was so sure that the Samaritans had not received the Holy Spirit in Acts 8.
Later on, the gospel was also preached to non-Jews. When we read of how Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit, it was specially mentioned in 3 separate instances (Acts 10:47, 11:15, 15:8) that they received the Holy Spirit just as the apostles had.
Then Peter answered “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47)
Secondly, the apostles had to pray to receive the Holy Spirit. When Paul met some people in Ephesus, he asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” If one received the Holy Spirit by believing, this would be a redundant question.
When the Ephesians replied, “We have not even heard there is a Holy Spirit”, immediately Paul asked them, how and what kind of baptism they received. Therefore baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit must be in accordance with the scriptures.
Now if we say we have the Holy Spirit but no one can see or hear, then it differs from the apostolic experience. Have we received the Holy Spirit in the same apostolic pattern? Have we been truly born of water and of the Spirit?
GOD Completes the Work of Salvation
John 1:12- 13 tells us that when we are born of God, it is not the will of man. Being born of God, we become His children. This birth is not physical but God’s work. Man cannot do it.
Similarly Noah built the ark with his own effort, but one point is seldom noticed. God instructed Noah to waterproof the ark with pitch, but he could not have coated the outside of the door with pitch after he had shut his family, the animals and himself in.
“So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.” (Genesis 7:16)
The Lord completed the work by shutting them in. Human effort and obedience were important, but Noah could not do everything required to save himself. Indeed had others made an exact same ark, it would not have saved them if God did not shut them in. The ark preserved life because Noah followed God’s instructions, but more importantly because God shut the door. Thus salvation is by God’s grace. Similarly today if God does not work, baptism would be merely taking a dip in water and prayers for the Holy Spirit would be empty. However because He is working, we can be born again to receive salvation.
Today, God works in us, making us willing to do His will. As we do the work, God will help us as He helped Noah. Phil 1:6 tells us “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ.” Today His will for those who are saved is to build His church up. The church is the spiritual ark of the last days that will save and we need to build it together with God. However, we must always remember that ultimately it is God must complete this work.
In conclusion, the story of Noah’s ark is a picture of our salvation. Just like Noah, we need to work out our own salvation (Phil 2:12-13). This means we have to take proactive steps to believe in Jesus, be born again and build up the ark so that we can receive salvation on the last day.