WE WHICH HAVE BELIEVED DO ENTER INTO REST
Mr. V. Farley
9th March, 1962
“In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark.”Â—Genesis 7. 13.
Some will remember that my closing remarks at our last meeting contained a reference to faith, with a particular exhortation to study what the Word of God says about it. This evening I would pick up the thread again, for this reason; the blessing of forgiveness is intertwined with the grace and exercise of faith. So much so, that it is impossible for any one to enjoy that blessing without it. How important it is in the economy of God’s salvation! First I might mention the words of Joseph Hart,
“Not every one in like degree
The Spirit of God receives;
The Christian often cannot see
His faith, and yet believes.”
That may well be the case with some here this evening. Hagar, you remember, in Genesis 21.16 was very sad; she was weeping over the apparent loss of her dear child, but the angel came and said, “What aileth thee Hagar?” and opened her eyes to discover a well of water close by. I should be very happy to discover to you the well of salvation and to uncover precious faith, which the Spirit has laid in your soul.
We find that the exercise of faith in the Word of God is expressed variously. Faith is that grace which believes and trusts. Those are the two most prominent words, and then scattered throughout the Bible we hear of fleeing, sheltering, building, and resting, to quote but a few, to show you that the same grace is expressed and exercised in different ways. This evening the view of faith in our subject is that of fleeing, sheltering, being covered, entering in. Now faith does not stand alone; it has relation to an object, and for seeking souls there is no more glorious object than the Lord Jesus. When forgiveness comes to your soul, it will come through the door of faith in Jesus. That is why it will be so important for you to think and pray along these lines: Â—
“Faith in the bleeding Lamb,
O what a gift is this!
Hope of salvation in His name,
How comfortable ’tis!” J. Hart.
So we have before us in type and shadow a believing, a fleeing for refuge and finding it. Here is the ark; here is Noah; here is a little crew. It sets before us that which portrays the soul fleeing for refuge, entering into Christ and finding there all it needs, all it wants. Precious faith is the way into Christ experimentally, whether you consider Him as the Ark, or as a City of Refuge, whether you consider Him as the Sprinkled Blood of the Passover, or the Scarlet Thread which Rahab and her family were saved by. There is only one way, namely, by the exercise of faith. The question is, at what time and in what way does faith bring the soul into Christ? The New Testament tells us plainly and unmistakably, it is the time when the sinner, forsaking every other refuge, every other foundation, believes on or believes in the Lord Jesus. Its hope and expectation rest absolutely upon Him.
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” E. Mote.
When that is sincere, where that is the true feeling of the heart, when that comes to the soul for the first time, that is an entering into Christ. I am not alone in this view; Joseph Hart writes:Â—
“So souls that into Christ believe,
Quickened by vital faith,
Eternal life at once receive,
And never shall see death.”
There is a time to enter experimentally into Him; it is the time of believing; whether you can exactly locate it in your soul’s experience or not, there is a time, and that is the time. Before that time you are out of Christ, in an experimental sense. Paul speaks of some in the 16th Romans who were in Christ before him, that means in the order of experience. True, they were in Him from eternity in the purposes of God, but there was a time of unregeneracy when they ran wild, and a time when they were called by
grace; a time also when this precious faith was drawn forth to centre and fix in Jesus, and that is what we have before us in type; precious souls running into Christ. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” (Proverbs 18, 10) Here are Noah and his family warned by God of the wrath to come; they have entered into the ark, and the Lord has shut them in. If the Lord will help me, I would draw some useful points from this. You will notice that upon the first entering of Noah and his family into the ark, they immediately experienced a state of complete safety. Moreover, it continued, and that in spite of any change which might take place in their feelings during the days that ensued. Mark that, seeking souls, believers! Faith in the Lord Jesus secures to you from that moment onwards a firm, abiding and an unchanging salvation. It is more than likely that Noah, being a man like ourselves, under those circumstancesÂ—the flood of wrath being poured outÂ—trembled, though he was safe. It is more than likely the good man experienced many changes in his feelings subsequent to that first entering in, but it did not alter his safety in the slightest degree, as you know from the narrative. So a believer, though subject to variable feelings, has an invariable salvation. Do carry away that thought about faith.
Study the New Testament and see if this is so. “He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life.” When? Where? At the moment of believing, not before, and “has passed from death unto life.” When? In the hour of believing, not before. “He shall not come into condemnation.” These are the words of Christ. (John 5,24) That is the first lesson as it respects Noah himself, an unfailing, unchanging, consistent salvation from the outset, quite apart from his inward feelings.
The second thing now is just a thought upon the relationship between faith and sense, faith and assurance. There is a distinctionÂ—I want to show it to you. Faith was the instrument which put these worthies into the ark. They had feelings, doubtless, of various kinds, but there was order. God’s order. Now mark it. The feeling of comfort and security did not come first. Supposing each one had stood outside the ark door arguing like this, ‘I see those clouds that are to come; I see that wrath to be poured out; I wish I felt secure, comfortable and restful in my soul, and then I would go into this ark; I wish I felt better first.’ Well, you say, it sounds utterly contrary to sense as well as religion. It is contrary, unreasonable, and yet that is precisely the way that poor sinners do argue. They are Thomas-like. “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Who is not guilty? You see what is happening, we are reversing God’s order; we are saying, ‘I want to feel safe, secure, restful in my soul, then I will believe everything,’ but that is not the order of God. You may see this truth in John 11 where the Lord Jesus said to Martha and Mary, “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” Seeking soul, waiting soul, mark it. God’s order is this, joy
and peace in believing, or if you will, in trusting, in entering. The glory of Noah’s faith was his obedience to God’s order. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Hebrews 11, 7) Now mark how they all went into the ark in response to that command, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee I have seen righteous before Me in this generation.” Faith first, the obedience of faith, of which you read so much in the Word, then the feeling of comfort will follow, being in its right place. If you reverse God’s order, well then, if you are His, He will keep you waiting for the consolations until you are made willing to believe in Jesus, to trust wholly upon Him, to relax your hold upon other consolations. Let go then, and find rest in Christ. Do remember it is God’s order; faith, then joy; faith, then rest. Paul says, “For we which have believed, do enter into rest.” (Hebrews 4, 3)
Now another thought respecting the variety of characters that entered into this ark. Take just the humans, the eight, they each took that typical step of faith in entering into the ark. Bearing this in mind we will now compare one believer with another. It is not difficult to suppose that Noah was a man of strong faith. The other seven might well have had variable temperaments, being of different ages, and some would not doubt be very fearful, while others were less so; they would be a very mixed company anyway. But did that alter their security? Did their personal constitution, their fear, their trembling, their experience, whether long or short, impair in the least their security? Not at all. So you see first there was an immediate salvation for each and every one; there was a uniform salvation for them, not more so for Noah than the others; not less so for the weak than for the strong; but uniform through that typical act of faith. And then, not only immediate and uniform, but consistent throughout the whole period; not at one time more than another or less than another, and thus you see what sort of salvation it is that faith brings into the soul; immediate, uniform, consistent; not for one hundred and fifty days, but for ever. Bear it in mind. It is so important, and you know we sing at times, very rightly: Â—
“To Him the weakest is dear as the strong.” J. Hart.
The strength of Noah’s faith did not secure to him a better salvation, and the weakness of any member of his family did not bring an inferior salvation; God has one salvation for all His dear people; they are all believers, and the strength of their faith does not enter into the question of their security. It does matter in another way, as we shall see later.
Another point about faith is set out here. Let us suppose that in approaching the door of the ark there were several steps to be takenÂ—there might have been a dozen; there might have been a hundredÂ—I do not know. There were several steps to be taken in order to enter. Which step was it that finished the matter? It was that one step into the ark that ended the traverse, was it not? There
are other steps which set a sinner in motion toward Christ that are important, but woe unto you and me if our experience does not bring us into Christ. Convictions, prayers, tears, confessions, providential leadings, repentance are all good and necessary links; the steps between. In Acts 20 you find mentioned “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now some people’s repentance does not go far enough to bring them right into Christ. They repent of their repentance and they come short. See then whether your experience has brought you right through the Door, Christ Jesus, by that step of faith so vital for salvation. It is not “blessed is he that repenteth” only, but “he that believeth”, because faith is that grace which takes us into Christ. When you trust in the Lord Jesus, His finished work. His precious blood. His glorious righteousness, that is an entering into Christ. Such a one is safe forever. Do mark those steps toward Christ, and that vital step of faith which crowns all. See to it that your repentance has faith with it; repentance and faith, those two that go hand in hand, and bring eternal salvation.
Now a thought or two in respect of the strength of faith. Here we have the distinction between a faith that will save you, and a faith that will comfort you. Let us assume, as we may indeed, that Noah being the leader here, was a man of strong faith, and that he would be more free from fear and trembling than anyone, under the circumstances. What is the secret of this assurance? You will find if you meditate in the Scriptures that it hinges upon knowledge. “Add to your faith knowledge.” (II Peter 1. 5) Knowledge comes before it; knowledge enriches it. Noah was a man who knew his God; he was preserved calm amidst the tempest, and saw a happy issue to the turmoil. Here is another thing then to remember, although the weakest believer is already saved, it is not good to remain weak, because that weak faith is likely to be assailed, battered, tempted, tried, and brought into darkness. It is good, therefore, and most desirable that your faith should grow. But remember if you do get strong faith, if you are blessed with assurance, if you are favoured with a clear view of your interest in Jesus, it will not make you an atom safer than the weakest. It will make you much happier, however, as it did the apostle Paul, who said, “I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (II Timothy 1. 12)
I hope enough has been said to show you those vital aspects of the life of faith, and how this blessing of sheltering in Jesus is to be known, if known at all; it is by and through the exercise of God-given faith. While it is perfectly true that all is revealed by the Spirit, and Christ is the Author and Finisher of it, yet faith comes by hearing and reading, by diligent meditation, and by gathering in precious spiritual knowledge of the Holy Trinity. If you are waiting and longing for these things, while you pray, as you should, do not omit diligence in the Word of God; it is the word of faith, and whilst you are favoured with your full faculties, and are neither blind nor
deaf, seek to apply to the Word of God for gracious knowledge, and do not expect God will work miracles, that you may sit down, and one day a full assurance will drop around you like the manna in the wilderness. That was a miracle for a special time, but when the Israelites came to the Promised Land they were to plough, labour, sow and sweat for their corn. You are not to expect sudden miraculous visions to drop around you. Now keep a right balance. We do not gain blessings for our labour. It is not a legal matter, but “in the keeping of His commandments there is great reward.” Look around God’s creation, in the fields and woods. There is one thing you must observe. He is glorified by activity, and not stagnation. In the world of the flowers and the trees, you find wonderful activity, and everything has its place in which to glorify the Creator. Take the creatures the world over, great and small, they all have their own instincts, the ant for instance, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise”, and shall God’s people sit and wait, and do nothing? I told you on my last visit to be like that labouring husbandman; he waits, indeed, as he must; but he does not lie in bed, nor does he expect a miracle. If he expects his corn, he must sow it, watch it and tend it. True it is, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase,” yet diligence is commanded.
Just let me leave this with you; when you go home, consider what Peter has to say to the babes in grace, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby,” (I Peter 2, 2), but especially what he writes in II Peter 1, 1-4 about the excellence of knowledgeÂ—how it feeds and clarifies faith, it is so important that it cannot be ignored. You know full well in natural things that you do not trust a person unknown to you; you want to know credentials, qualifications, etc., then you will be prepared to trust him with your interests, and not before. Shall you be less, or more particular in the things which are divine? This gracious knowledge is to be had: it is not hidden in a comer, but proclaimed freely in the Holy Scripture, as we read in Proverbs 8, “Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.”
The Lord bless you with precious faith, which brings divine forgiveness.