Why an Evangelistic Ark?

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This week I wanted to share something very different with you. I want to take you “inside” one of the exhibits within the life-size Noah’s Ark we are building in Northern Kentucky. I’d like to show you how our Ark guests will be engaged as they walk through this world-class themed attraction south of Cincinnati.

At Answers in Genesis, we really see no point in having people believing in just creation, the Flood, or even whether the Ark was real. What’s the point of people believing in these accounts in the Bible if they have not trusted Christ for their salvation? In all we do at Answers in Genesis, whether through the Creation Museum, websites, resources, seminars, radio/TV programs, and so on, we never separate the Word of God and its life-changing gospel message from what we teach.

“Removing the Stone”

I’m often reminded of the Scripture that declares, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), as well as this one: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword . . . and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

I’ve often likened what we do at Answers in Genesis to what happened in the account of Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus told people to move the stone, and then He commanded Lazarus to come forth. In other words, Jesus told people to do what they humanly could, and then He did what humans couldn’t: raise the dead.

Our AiG ministry is akin to “removing the stone”—doing what we can to remove stumbling blocks from people’s thinking that might stop them listening to and accepting the Word of God. That’s what apologetics is really all about. But as we “remove the stones,” we are always mindful to point people to the Word of God and the gospel.

The Ark Encounter is no exception. Yes, it will be a world-class themed attraction. The Ark itself is an attraction—an architectural and engineering wonder. National research shows that hundreds of thousands of non-Christians will travel to see it. Inside the Ark there will be captivating, unique exhibits (in the 132 Ark bays). They will cover aspects of Noah’s life, the building of the Ark, care of the animals, and other intriguing topics.

On the third deck, we are building an exhibit entitled “Why the Bible Is True.” It’s where the gospel will be presented clearly and tastefully, and in a way that’s understandable to our secularized culture.

We’ve never hidden the fact at AiG that our main purpose as a ministry is to present the truth of God’s Word. We have never been ashamed of the fact that we boldly proclaim the gospel. Of course, we are not forcing it on people. AiG just presents the clear gospel message. We try very hard at the Creation Museum and now the Ark to make sure that no person leaves without having heard the good news of salvation in Christ.

The previous governor of Kentucky, his former Secretary of Tourism, and their attorney used the fact that we will present the gospel at the Ark as a way to try to stop AiG from receiving a tax incentive once we opened. As you may know, a federal judge—on the basis of the First Amendment and its guarantee of the free exercise of religion—ruled last January that the Ark Encounter could not be discriminated against because it presents a Christian message. It was wonderful news in defense of religious liberty!

Just so you can see how blatant the former governor was in his religious discrimination (the new governor Matt Bevin, by the way, supports the judge’s ruling in favor of AiG’s free exercise of religion), here are excerpts from a letter written to us by the former administration. It explained why the governor was not allowing our application for the tax incentive to move forward to final approval. These excerpts acknowledge what we have always declared: this Ark will be an evangelistic outreach!

Mr. Ham described how the Ark was designed . . . To have an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ . . . the new Ark Encounter would save people to Jesus just as the original Ark saved Noah, his family and the animals . . . The Ark Encounter will present an evangelical, yet entertaining, Gospel message, and that the project is really about evangelism to the unchurched.

Well, I couldn’t have described it much better—but then again, the state did use many of our own words from Ark promotional material!

A Sneak Peek

So now let’s take a sneak peek inside the “Why the Bible Is True” exhibit.

“Why the Bible Is True” is a large exhibit. The storyline will follow three college students around their campus. “Andre” is a Christian believer who witnesses to the other two students, “Gabriela” and “Ryo.” Gabriela was raised in the church, but when tragedy struck, she walked away from the church while in her teens. Ryo thinks all religions are essentially the same, so if there is a God and as long as someone is sincere about their beliefs, he believes they will go to heaven.

Each of the eleven major scenes in this impressive exhibit will use a powerful, realistic, graphic-novel style of art to convey the necessary drama and emotion. The discussions between the students about whether the Bible is true will drive the narrative, while the primary teaching content will be interwoven and displayed in a cutting-edge manner. Visitors will feel like they are walking through the pages of a book as they go from one panel to another. As the drama unfolds, the experience will be very captivating.

In the opening scenes, Ark guests are introduced to our characters and then follow them into one of their classes. In the classroom, the Bible is derided. The professor’s barbs set up the rest of the storyline, as Gabriela and Ryo respectfully question Andre about his faith in Christianity and the Bible. Andre answers their questions and introduces the students to a website where they can find answers on their own.

Gabriela and Ryo

Over the next several scenes in this striking exhibit, we see Gabriela and Ryo searching for answers to many of the attacks on Scripture. They will discover:

  • The Bible’s inspiration, inerrancy, and authority, as well as its uniqueness and unity
  • The supernatural origin of God’s Word, revealed through presenting specific prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus Christ
  • That the Bible has been faithfully passed down to us
  • That the reliability of Bible translations did not obscure the Bible’s meaning
  • The answer to the question, how could a loving God allow so much suffering?
  • The evidence from geology that is consistent with the Flood account
  • The archaeological confirmation for the Bible’s people, places, events

In scenes 7–9, guests will see Gabriela and Ryo make some poor choices. The two of them land in the hospital. When Andre checks up on them, Ryo vents his frustrations and peppers him with several more questions about the Bible. It includes an attack on the Flood account in Genesis. Andre wisely recognizes that answering all of Ryo’s questions will not truly address the most important matter: Ryo’s heart of unbelief. So he deftly shifts the conversation to present the gospel of Christ, since it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).

Beginning with the door of the Ark, Andre shares the life-saving gospel. He explains a number of doors that are mentioned in the Bible. This approach anchors the gospel message in real history and ties the message of the Ark to the gospel. Here are the doors:

  • The Ark Door: Noah and his family went through it for physical safety from the Flood. Everyone else died. This door reminds us of salvation and judgment.
  • The Passover Door: The blood on the doorposts and lintel shows the importance of sacrifice, reminds us that death is the penalty for sin, and points to something far greater.
  • The Door to the Holy of Holies: This door is closed because no one can enter (except the ceremonially clean high priest each year). It emphasizes God’s holiness and our separation from Him because of our sinfulness.
  • The Door of the Sheepfold: Jesus said, “I am the door of the sheep.” The shepherd actually was the door to the sheep pen. This door highlights the truth that Jesus is the only way in to salvation and that He would lay down His life for the sheep.
  • The Ultimate Passover Lamb: Though not specifically a door, the lamb example will show that Jesus was our Passover Lamb and He bore our sins on the Cross.
  • The Door of the Empty Tomb: This will highlight the Lord’s power over death as Jesus rose from the dead. He is alive and forever intercedes for us.
  • The Wide Gate and the Narrow Gate: One door leads to eternal judgment and the other leads to eternal life. This is Andre’s invitation to both Ryo and Gabriela.

The drama ends with a compelling invitation to our unsaved Ark guest: Will you enter the door that leads to life?

Now, to find out how Gabriela and Ryo answer that question, I will have to leave you hanging! Make plans to visit the Ark this summer to hear the rest of the story!

One of the Greatest Evangelistic Outreaches of this Era

Well, that’s just a sneak peek at one section of the world-class exhibits that will fill the 132 bays in the Ark. With all of the other exhibits, and the huge Ark itself, I truly believe it’s going to be one of the greatest evangelistic outreaches of this era.

I hope you now have a better feel for the evangelistic nature of this exhibit. It will powerfully challenge people concerning “the door” they need to go through to be saved.

It’s remarkable how the Lord has brought highly talented artists, sculptors, fabricators, and others to work on the Ark exhibits. When people from the secular world who work in museums and attractions see the Ark exhibits, they find it incredulous that we have created them on such a small budget! But we are on a mission and have standards higher than the world’s, and can accomplish our vision for a fraction of the cost.

As I shared with you last month, we have added an enhancement to the first phase of our Ark Encounter theme park. It includes a separate 800-seat multi-purpose theater for speaker presentations, live animal programs, and, most importantly, to regularly present a powerful presentation of the gospel in a stunning film. It will be another effective way to reach as many souls as we can with the salvation message!

This great evangelistic outreach will open in about three months (July 7)—and we appreciate all your prayers and support along the way.

I hope you are as excited as I am about the prospect of millions of guests walking through the life-size Ark and taking in the engaging, gospel-presenting exhibits, like the “Why the Bible Is True” display! Giving answers and presenting the life-changing gospel message in a powerful way—that’s what we do every day at Answers in Genesis!

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