Was Noah a "Legalist"?
Sunday, 20 May 2012 00:07 Jonathan L. Perz
Why is it that nobody thinks of Noah as a "legalist"?
Think about it. The Bible tells us that "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen. 6:8). This grace was manifest in a warning about the "end of all flesh." God was planning to destroy the earth and its inhabitants with flood waters (Gen. 6:13-17). Thus, God gives Noah some detailed commands, which include building an ark, and Noah faithfully obeys them. As a result, he and his household were saved.
As the inspired writer of Hebrews recounts it, "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 an heir of the righteousness of which is according to faith" (Heb. 11:7).
Summarizing this in very simple terms: 1) Noah found grace. 2) He responded to God's grace with an obedient faith. 3) He was saved.
If this is so, then why am I referred to as a "legalist" and Noah is not?
I believe that 1) God bestowed His grace upon us by sending His Son as a sacrifice for sin. 2) We must respond with an obedient faith to His Son's teaching. 3) If we do, we will find salvation.
Is it because I believe we must obey to be saved? If Noah had not built the ark (thus disobeyed God), would he have been saved? Would he even have been said to have had faith?
Is it because I view God's instructions as law? The Bible says Noah "moved with godly fear." That seems to suggest that Noah saw God's words as far more than mere guidelines or principles. He saw them as a binding law and acted accordingly. Would Noah have been thought of as "lawless" and practicing "iniquity" if he did not do what God commanded him to do that day?
So, was Noah a "legalist" for obeying God's word in order to be saved? I think not. So, instead of charging those who believe we must obey God's law in order to be saved with "legalism" ... perhaps our detractors would be better to acknowledge it as faithfulness! That is what the Spirit said of Noah's works. Why is the same not said of ours, when they are done by faith (Rom. 10:17)?