by Jerry Gentry
"But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (2Pet. 3:7).
Faith. What is it? Some people, even some Christians, have the idea that faith is a belief in God, as long as it is the one true God. This idea is correct, but it is deficient. Your ark of faith must extend deeper than mere belief in the one true God, as we learn from the apostle James: "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19).
So what is it about this faith in "one God. . . which the devils also believe," that is deficient? The deficiency is found in the nature of that faith, which is not a yielded, working faith.
Noah was warned of God that the whole earth was coming under judgment. Now "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God" (Gen 6:9). And how is it that "Noah walked with God?"
"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" (Hebr. 11:7).
He "prepared an ark to the saving of his house." Just as the devils, Noah believed in the one true God, all right. But he did more. In a word, Noah believed God, which included a necessary and practical expression of his faith. Simply put, Noah built the ark, in precise detail, exactly as God had commanded him to do. He not only believed in God; he also believed God. Understanding this distinction is a necessary part of building your ark of faith, for every Christian.
You believe in "one God," and you do well. But so do the devils believe in "one God," and "tremble." How is your ark of faith any different than the faith of the devils, whose faith in "one God" is deficient to the point that their end is eternal destruction in the fires of hell? How then must you prepare your ark of faith, even as Noah prepared his ark, even if you already believe in "one God?" It is a sobering question, one that every Christian must squarely face, either now, or during the coming fires of judgment. Truly, "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebr. 10:31).
So, we return to our original question: What is faith? And how must you as an individual build your ark of faith? How will you as a genuine Christian escape the coming fires of judgment, which the devils, though they believe in "one God," will not escape?
The answer to this question is the answer to the greatest mystery of the entire Bible. It is the answer to the mystery of the ages. Men have sought this truth for millennia. Men have approached unto God in every conceivable fashion. Men have prayed. Men have preached. Men have baptized. Men have deprived themselves. Men have called for repentance. Men have received confessions of others. But unless these men can show you clearly how to build your ark of faith, right where you live, right now in the last days of the twentieth century, then their ministries have largely failed the test of their Christian calling.
Noah received a divine blueprint direct from God, whom he believed, for building his physical ark. When that ark was completed, it insured his safety and preservation. He followed this divine blueprint to a "T." God rewarded Noah's working faith with deliverance. Where can you turn to find a divine blueprint, for building your own ark of faith, in these last days? Can you find that blueprint in the church? If so, which pulpit gives all the necessary details for such a blueprint, for surely each church teaches many diverse doctrines on building your ark of faith.
There are churches that tell you, "Just believe, nothing more. You will be raptured "secretly" out of the coming fires of judgment." Are these churches correct? Can you trust in the rapture, or will it rupture under the razor sharp truth of God's two edged sword, which is His Word? There are churches that teach you various formulas, which if performed with diligence, will assure your divine protection always. The most common of these various formulas, is simply that you must be a regular, tithe paying member of a particular church, and then God will protect you. Such churches generally have a view that if you believe in one God, and are a faithful member to their particular denomination, that God will see you through whatever hard times may come your way. Are such churches correct? Does faith in one God and membership in the "right" church assure your deliverance from the wrath of God in the coming fiery judgment?
The Roman Catholic priesthood prior to the protestant reformation, represented the large, establishment church of its day. The priests taught something like this: If you are not a member of the establishment "Catholic" church, then you are a heretic and deserve to die, regardless of how you believe in God. Millions of faithful evangelical believers throughout Europe were tortured and burned as heretics, during hundreds of years of Papal inquisitions, of the middle ages. This exclusive Roman doctrine is still quite popular, splintered into a thousand pieces, and taught in various degrees and ways, by churches across our lands.
You believe in one God and you have your membership carefully placed in the "right" church. Now what? Have you thereby established your ark of faith, that will see you through whatever judgmental fires come your way?
Actually, Christian, you can do both of the above, and still fall victim to God's displeasure. You can believe in the one true God, join the finest church of the land, and still die under the wrath of God in the coming judgment. Now before you cry, "false prophet," read further. Jesus proclaimed: "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). This general promise of perpetuity of Christ's church in the earth is no promise at all that your name is written in heaven. Nor is it a guarantee that you will personally find safety and preservation when He comes "to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people" (Psa. 149:7), when "he shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people" (Psa. 50:4). No organized church has ever preserved a single person in this life.
There are those who will tell you that it is your knowledge of who you are in relation to the one true God, plus membership placed in a particular church, that will see you through, in the coming great tribulation. Nothing could be further from the truth of the Bible. Such a view denies history itself, which is written in the blood of millions of Christian martyrs from Abel to our day, with irrefutable evidence.
What better church members might we find anywhere than the faithful martyrs? If it were true that the church, per se, is your ark of safety, then surely millions of faithful martyrs have died in vain. If it be true that the church is your ark of safety, then pray tell which church? Every organized church, take your pick, that exists today came into being as a body of "believers" at one time or another. And in general, the oldest churches are the most corrupt, the furthest removed from the teachings of the Bible! Witness churches which claim to have origins in the farthest reaches of antiquity. These very churches which boast of great antiquity, and their unreformed daughters, are today dead to Scripture, thoroughly embalmed in the wine of Babylon, lying in their caskets, and awaiting their funeral processions and burial in a fiery furnace of great tribulation. Churches come and churches go. "But the word of our God shall stand for ever" (Isa. 40:8).
These churches represent the heart and core of "Christian" religious Babylon. These would include Roman Catholic, Eastern and Russian Orthodox, and their Anglican and Episcopal daughters, who have remained little reformed. The very heart of these churches contains no life blood at all today. These churches represent nothing at all to your ark of faith. These churches remain only as dead corpses, corruptions and counterfeits of the Church Jesus is building today.
Consider other churches in general, such as Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, fundamental and evangelical Bible churches, and all their splinter groups. Many local churches carrying the above names, will present you with God's simple plan of salvation, which if you believe, you are saved for all eternity, praise God! You will not burn in hell for ever, with the wicked lost. But will you escape the fires of judgment in this world? Do these churches dispense the raw materials for completing your ark of faith, to get you through your life here and now, without invoking God's wrath upon your head in this life?
The answer is no. There is no church on earth today that can do more than preach the gospel, baptize sinners and instruct God's sheep. No one, not even the highest, most pious minister of the land, has any dominion over your personal faith. Neither can any minister dispense faith, as he dispenses the sacraments and other Bible teachings. Your ark of faith is something you must build personally, one on one with God alone. And if you look to a church (even the best church), or to a minister (even the most pious minister) to bring you into your ark of faith, then watch out. You will be disappointed. You will fall victim to your own cultist mentality. "For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God" (Deut. 4:24). "I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another" (Isa. 42:8).
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3). Genuine working faith is a gift of God. It is the one true God alone, who will give you necessary tools and grace to build your ark of faith. But you must be yielded, with a willing heart, having laid aside your own self will. "I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another" (Isa. 42:8).
It is God alone who will take your life and give you knowledge and strength to build your ark of faith in this world. The undergirding timber, for beginning your ark of faith is your trust is Jesus Christ for personal salvation. Every other piece of your ark of faith is tied to the undergirding timber of the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Without that solid timber, which runs the length and breadth of your ark of faith, your ship will break apart and burn to ashes in the coming fires of judgment. Though you cry to your minister, he will be of no help. Though you camp out at your church's door step, there will be no deliverance. The fires of God's final burning fiery furnace will find every nook and cranny of every church in the earth. None will escape those flames. Wherever you are in the earth, it is only when you have built your ark of faith, upon His Word alone, that you will find preservation.
Christian, will your ark of faith burn up, or will your ark of faith endure and live through the flames of God's coming judgment of this earth? That depends upon you and what you have built upon? It depends on how you have yielded to God, and brought forth a working faith in this earth.
And that working faith, like cross members coming off your foundational undergirding of personal faith in Jesus Christ alone, will cause you to follow God wherever He leads you. You may become a martyr. The church cannot save you from martyrdom. But your ark of faith will carry you into eternal life, even if your are martyred in this life. "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28). With Noah, you must build your ark of faith around the very words of your master, Jesus Christ, who said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46).
It is the responsibility of ministers of the church to preach the word, which convicts the hearts of sinners, and sends them to Jesus Christ for personal forgiveness and regeneration. Next, it is the calling of ministers of the church to feed the flock of God. It is from such feeding, and not from mere membership in the flock, that God's sheep receive raw materials from which you must build your ark of faith. Your ark of faith is an active, working faith, not to be equated with any particular church or pulpit or minister. God is working with individuals, which make up his living church, and not the other way around. In other words, the notion that God is building a corporate church body as an ark of safety is wrong. It is individuals, rather than a particular corporate church body, that he has foreordained unto eternal life. It is those individuals, wherever they are, that make up his true church. Men have sometimes redefined the parameters of "the church" to mean the folks who sit in a particular set of pews.
God does nothing for "the church," as an institution of men, otherwise churches would never descend into apostasy and die. God answers the prayers of individuals who yield to Him. It is individuals that God is calling out of religious Babylon, and into His marvellous light of truth. These individuals, wherever they find themselves, make up His church. These individuals are told, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebr. 10:25). These individuals, even if only a hand full strong in one locale, must not forsake "the assembling of ourselves together." Part of building your ark of faith is to meet together for holy convocation, with the saints of God. Such meeting together in formal worship is a command, not an option. If you have no place to meet, then it is God's responsibility to provide you a place. Until he provides, it is your responsibility to pray and to "study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2Tim. 2:15). Ultimately, it is "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).
Christian, how will you build your ark of faith? Will you take up the words of the Psalmist, who boasts: "O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation" (Psa. 95:1). Will you proclaim: "I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee" (Psa. 22:22).
Will you lift up your voice and shout with the prophet: "The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation" (2Sam. 22:47).
Christian, your ark of faith must not be built on "wood, hay, stubble," which will all burn to ashes in the coming fiery judgment. You must "build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones" (1Cor. 3:12), as the prophet Isaiah says: "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir" (Isa. 13:12). That man is Jesus, savior of the world, who yet today seeks his peculiar "treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field" (Matt. 13:44). The field is the world; the treasure is Israel; and the man who sold all, even gave his life a ransom, is Jesus, alleluia!
Will you build your ark of faith today upon that rock called Jesus? Will you build your ark of faith upon the only worthy one, "Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone?" (Eph. 2:20). Of so, then you will build your ark of faith, not on any church, which is a creature of God, subject to falling into much error and apostasy. You will build your ark of faith on the Word himself, which never changes, never fails. For "being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1Pet. 1:23).
"According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon" (1Cor. 3:10).
Christian, will you build your ark of faith on none other than Jesus Christ?
Then with the Psalmist, you will: "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved" (Ps. 55:22).
Praise God today for deliverance from the coming burning fiery furnace, when God pours out His divine wrath upon the earth. Praise God for his Word, which is everlasting, now and for ever. Praise God for that everlasting Word, which is sure as a Rock, upon which you can build your ark of faith.