Noah was the first evangelist mentioned in the Bible.
Christians have gleaned many valuable lessons from Noah and the Ark. But one fact is often overlooked. He was the first evangelist mentioned in the Bible. Are there any lessons his life can teach us about how to present the gospel? Absolutely!
For one, Noah faced the same circumstances that Christians face today.
“As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:36–39, NKJV).
The analogy is very instructive. Just as most people today do not believe Jesus is coming back at all, let alone soon, the people of Noah’s day did not know when the Flood was going to happen. However, they were informed that there was indeed going to be a Flood. Their information came from several sources:
“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.”
Like people today, almost certainly the people of Noah’s day were busy enjoying the pleasures of life and did not believe or care that judgment was coming.
During the decades of mankind’s last days, Noah was working on the Ark. As it grew, it must have been a potent symbol to those living nearby. One can imagine that Noah was often asked about his construction project. Indeed, it is likely that he was mocked for such an enterprise.
In 2 Peter 2:5, Noah is described as a “preacher of righteousness.” In what way was he a preacher? The Greek word kerux (κηρυξ) refers to a herald, or “one who announces.” Even when he wasn’t saying anything, his labor on the Ark would have been his witness. However, some Jewish scholars maintain that Noah did indeed leave some words, too. John Gill, in chapter 22 of the Pirke R. Eliezer, quotes Noah’s words according to Jewish tradition: “Be ye turned from your evil ways and works, lest the waters of the flood come upon you, and cut off all the seed of the children of men.”
The tradition shows Noah giving both a warning and a means of salvation. If this extrabiblical source has any truth in it, then Noah is asking for people to repent, which would certainly fit with his own source of salvation through Christ. Noah was not saved because of his righteousness—at least not in a worldly sense. Hebrews 11 tells us from where Noah’s righteousness came. The Greek word is dikaiosune (δικαιοσύνη), which refers to a form of righteousness that is unattainable by law or by merit.
Hebrews 11:7 says, “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.”
This sort of righteousness is found only by faith. The Apostle Paul says elsewhere, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NKJV).
This is exactly how Noah was saved. His righteousness was unattainable; so it could only come by God’s grace, through faith. Genesis 6:8 tells us that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (NKJV). Noah’s salvation, like ours, was by grace. He could not do anything to attain righteousness for himself.
When the door to the Ark was shut, there was room for many more people. All they had to do was repent and turn to God. In the same way, salvation is available to “whoever calls on the name of the Lord” (Romans 10:13, NKJV). Notice that the eight occupants of the Ark entered by a door—and there was only one door—which was not closed by Noah, but by God—“the Lord shut him in” (Genesis 7:16, NKJV). Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9, NKJV).
Noah’s Flood teaches us two things about the attitude of God towards us.
Jesus is our Ark of Salvation today. Just as Noah was saved by grace through faith from the destruction of the Flood, we can be saved by grace through faith in Jesus, when we repent and turn to Him.
Learn how you can be a modern-day Noah by sharing your faith with others.