TITLE: ARE YOU IN CHRIST, OR JUST TRYING TO HANG ON?
Subtitle: Noah’s Ark Did Not Have A Waiting Room!
The New Testament contains many verses of Scripture that refer to God’s children as being in Christ. What does the expression "in Christ" mean? Rather than just giving a theological textbook answer, or definition, allow me to try to explain it by means of a biblical illustration. Although I referred to Noah’s ark in a recent article, I want to use it again—but from a different perspective.
In the Book of Genesis, chapters six, seven, and eight, we find the account given of God’s judgment upon the earth—a worldwide flood that destroyed every living thing on earth (that lived on land), except Noah and his family and the animals that were on the ark with them. We find the reason for this judgment given in verse 5 of chapter six:
"The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
Many Bible commentators today teach that the reason mankind had reached such a sorry state of affairs was due to fallen angels (referred to as "sons of God") cohabiting with humans, thereby corrupting the "gene pool" of man (verses 1and 2, chapter 6). They believe that this was a ploy of Satan to thwart God’s plan of sending His "Messiah"—Jesus Christ—to Israel. Satan is not God and therefore is limited in his knowledge, but he obviously knew enough to realize that the Messiah would have to be a sinless human to fulfill God’s master plan for redeeming mankind. By creating a race of "giants" (vs.4)—half human and half spirit being—Satan hoped to circumvent God’s plan. But God’s answer to this scheme was to destroy all of those who were thus corrupted. To show how close Satan came to succeeding in his evil plan, only 8 humans (Noah and his three sons along with their respective wives) were spared. This was out of the entire antediluvian (pre-flood) population estimated by some experts to be as high as 2 billion people!
In verses 13 and 14 of chapter six, God informs Noah of two things: (1) that He is going to destroy mankind and (2) that in order to save himself and his family, he must build an ark of gopher wood. Modern ship-builders tell us that the barge-type design and dimensions that God gave Noah were perfect for its intended purpose. Obviously the overall size of the vessel was huge and a daunting task to build, but Noah obediently got to work on it. Bible scholars believe that it took Noah about 120 years to complete the ark and provision it with sufficient food and supplies for him and his family plus all the animals.
Now that we have this background information established, I want us to use our "sanctified imaginations" as we consider what may have happened on that fateful day in the distant past. And as we do so, I want us to remember that Noah and his family were already in the ark—and had been there a full seven days. (7:10). God had given them the order to go aboard and then had shut the door and sealed them in Himself. (7:16). While the Bible does not say so, I am convinced in my own mind that Noah’s neighbors—long since believing that he was crazy—were gathered outside in what amounted to a carnival atmosphere. Perhaps they were teasing Noah and talking to him as he peered out of the 18 inch window (6:16) which apparently ran the length of both sides of the ark to provide needed ventilation. Noah probably bantered back and forth with them in a good-natured manner while they waited—yet with a heavy heart, because he knew what was coming. You see Noah knew that it was already too late for these people. Judgment was coming and the ark was "the only game in town!" He had been preaching to and warning that civilization for 120 years—while the ark was being built—that this day was going to come, but they would not listen. Now the time had finally arrived and they were on the brink of disaster, still joking and making light of his warnings.
Remember, these people had never seen rain fall from the sky before, because God had chosen to water the Earth with a mist coming up from the Earth. Therefore, these people committed the fatal error of laughing at and making fun of, that which they did not understand. A lot of people are doing that today, even as the End Time Judgment of God bears down upon them!
If I know human nature like I think I do, it is pretty safe to assume that some of those people who were laughing at and taunting Noah had a "plan B" in mind. Their thinking went something like this: "Everybody knows that old Noah is as crazy as a loon, but hey, if this ‘flood’ does by chance happen—I can always climb on top of his ark and save myself." Then putting such ridiculous thoughts out of their minds, they continued to enjoy themselves at Noah’s expense. Passing the bottle around, they soon lapsed into a comfortable drunken stupor and sat down in small groups to discuss how much fun they would have with Noah after the deadline had passed. But suddenly, and without any warning, droplets of water began falling from the sky! In amazement they watched as this continued, slowly at first and then harder and harder until they were drenched to the skin.
Lightning and thunder terrified them because this too was totally new to them. In just a short time the water on the ground around them began to get deeper and in panic they climbed on top of anything they could find and under any available shelter. Before long some of those who had formulated "plan B" began to pound on the door of the ark, pleading with Noah to open it—not knowing that God had sealed the door shut. Others climbed trees or ran to where they knew they could find higher ground. All the while the rain just intensified and the floodwaters continued to rise. Struggling mightily, quite a few men and women managed to climb aboard the flat top of the ark where they huddled in sodden misery, silently congratulating themselves on being wise enough to climb aboard. Still others cried out in desperation as they lost their grip on the wooden sides of the huge boat and were washed away when it began to float. Minutes became hours and hours became days and still the rain came pouring down—adding to the misery of those clinging to the outside. Cold, wet, and desperately hungry, they tried to exhort one another—"Just hang on, surely this can’t last much longer!" But they just did not understand the true nature of their plight. God’s plan was that the rain was not going to cease until after a full forty days and nights! One by one, in their weakened condition, each eventually succumbed to the wind and waves and drowned. As it turns out, their "if all else fails" strategy managed to prolong their lives for a few days—but because they were on the ark and not in it, they all wound up dead. Meanwhile inside Noah, his family, and the animals rode out the storm and the subsequent floodwaters for over a year!
It is very troubling to me to see great masses of humanity today clinging to the exterior of God’s ark, Jesus Christ. Tenaciously they hold on to a false sense of security—a "fire escape from hell," as it were—betting their eternal lives on the external trappings of Christendom. They congratulate themselves on their spiritual wisdom and superstitiously "cover all of the bases" by occasionally going to church and praying—their version of "plan B." And just like those of Noah’s day, when the inevitable judgment of God comes, they will be swept away right along with those who make no pretense of spirituality.
O.K., so it is obvious that being in the ark is the preferred place to be—and this pictures being "in" Christ—but what does it really mean? How in the name of reason can one be in Him? Climbing in an ark made of wood is one thing, but this is ridiculous! My answer to you is that it is not as ridiculous as it sounds.
We find the answer to this puzzling term in 2 Corinthians chapter five. Starting in verse 17 we read:
"Therefore if any person is (in-grafted) in Christ, the Messiah, he is (a new creature altogether,) a new creation; the old (previous moral and spiritual condition) has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself (received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself) and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation—that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him. It was God (personally present) in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world in favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but canceling them]; and committing to us the message of reconciliation—of the restoration to favor. So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of the divine favor [now offered you] and be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as in and examples of] the righteousness of God—what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness" (2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).
In the mind of God the Father, all saved individuals—the saints—of all time were both crucified with Christ and resurrected with Him! Therefore to be "in Christ" means that you have been regenerated by God—been "born again"—given eternal life and made a member of "the body of Christ", His Church. You died with Christ, therefore you are safe in His loving arms as was Noah in the ark. This shared death with Christ is presented by the apostle Paul in Galatians chapter 2:
"I have been crucified with Christ—[in Him] I have shared His crucifixion; it is no longer I who live, but Christ, the Messiah, lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith—by adherence to and reliance on and [complete] trust—in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, emphasis mine).
Do you adhere to, rely upon, and completely trust Jesus Christ for your salvation? Did you die with Him on that cross at Calvary? Or would you have to admit that you have been hanging onto the outside of the ark with "plan B" in mind? To be in Christ is not a club that one may join. You are not born into His family by virtue of your parents’ (or anyone else’s) relationship with Him. Church membership, faithful attendance, baptism, and all of the good works in the world have no bearing upon salvation. It all comes down to whether you truly believe or not and have had an intensely personal, life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us this in the Book of Romans, chapter 10:
"Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses—declares openly and speaks out freely his faith—and confirms [his] salvation" (Romans 10:9-10, Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).
Now lest you be fooled into thinking that this is easy, let me caution you! Belief in Jesus Christ that leads to salvation is not mere intellectual assent to facts as presented. No, quite the contrary! The Greek word translated "believe" is "pisteuo" and is impossible to translate with just one equivalent English word. A portion of the foreword to the "Amplified Bible" makes this clear:
"…It means to ‘adhere to, cleave to; to trust, to have faith in; to rely on.’ Consequently, the words, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…’ really mean to have an absolute personal reliance upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour…"
Additionally, belief must be accompanied by personal repentance—the brokenhearted admission and expression of one’s shame for his sin and the desire to be forgiven and cleansed (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38, 17:30). Anything short of genuine repentance and belief is to remain on the outside of the ark! Where do you stand today? Has there been a time in your life when you saw yourself as God did—a sinner, condemned and unclean—and headed for an eternity in hell? Did you then repent of your sins, pouring out your heart to God in prayer and asking for forgiveness—believing and trusting in Him with all of your soul to save you and place you in Christ? If this has not been your experience, it is my God-given responsibility to inform you that, according to the Scriptures, you are still in your sins and standing outside the ark where it is beginning to rain! Wont you please consider the condition of your eternal soul and come in out of the rain—to Christ in faith believing? I have never in my entire life met anyone (or know of anyone) who has expressed any sorrow or regret for having done so.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have come to realize His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to accept His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you accept Him as Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
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