Reminding the World of What They Willfully Forgot

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One of the most tragic statements ever made by a man is recorded for us in Genesis 3:10. Adam answers God’s question, “Where are you?” with these words: “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” The advent of sin in the heart of mankind brought into crystal-clear focus the reality that God’s holiness is now a threat to us. Men in their sinful rebellion have been hiding from God ever since. Holiness is the attribute of God which poses the greatest threat to sinners. It is God’s holiness that made the bitter Cross of the Lord Jesus a necessity if sinners were to be saved from the wrath of God.

The love of God is seen in that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, into the world to suffer and die in the place of sinners (Romans 3:24ff; Galatians 3:10; 1 Peter 2:24; and others). The holiness and justice of God are seen in the unspeakable agony He suffered on the Cross in their place to pay for their sins. In order for people to understand their need for God’s love and grace in Christ, they must first understand who God is and that they have offended His holiness by their sin.

This beautiful and terrifying attribute of the holiness of God has long been lost in the minds of most Americans, and even in the minds of most American churchgoers.

This beautiful and terrifying attribute of the holiness of God has long been lost in the minds of most Americans, and even in the minds of most American churchgoers. Even as our culture descends farther into the abyss of degradation in the forms of sexual immorality, abortion, homosexual marriage, financial corruption, family collapse, and idolatry in all its forms, there is a haunting reminder in the Word of God that the cup of God’s patience toward men in their rebellion does indeed have a tipping point. That reminder is the global Flood of Noah’s day. Second Peter 3:6 tells us of this event which men willfully forget: “the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.” God’s holiness is immutable and still stands as the greatest threat imaginable to sinners who love their sin.

Two of the holiest men who ever lived, Job and Isaiah, discovered this when they had a close encounter with the very presence of God. Job’s response is candid: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5–6). Isaiah’s reaction was very similar: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). The Bible records several other incidents of acute fear and intense awareness of personal sin on the part of people who had similar experiences with God’s holy presence.1

Noah’s Flood and Evangelism

If there is one great truth that men must first see clearly before the gospel of Jesus Christ will have any context in which it can make sense to them, it is that God is holy. Because of His holiness, He has wrath and anger against human sinfulness. Sin is a word whose meaning has been long forgotten. The biblical terms for sin refer to “missing the mark” of God’s law, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments. Many people flatter themselves by comparing the lives they live to notorious criminals or “bad guys” from history such as Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan. Compared to such individuals nearly everyone would appear to be “good” or at least “better.” But the standard God will use to judge us is His own perfect holiness reflected in His own perfect law. Every unchaste and lustful thought is the same as adultery in God’s eyes (Matthew 5:28). Every hateful intention toward another human being is the same as murder (Matthew 5:22). Every time we fail to conform the entirety of our lives in thought, word, intention, and deed to God’s law, we find ourselves under God’s curse and anger (Galatians 3:10). God requires that we “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven in perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The Scriptures are clear that, “there is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). Thus, all men everywhere must repent and believe in Jesus or else die in their sins and face the terrible judgment of the Holy God whose standard of righteousness is fixed and unchanging. What a calamity indeed would it be for sinners to appear before Him on the Day of Judgment dressed in the tattered filth of their own sinfulness! And the Bible is so very clear on this matter: “For in Your sight, no one living is righteous” (Psalm 143:2).

The onslaught of evolutionary thinking, an earth billions of years old, and an ever-increasing hostile secularism in American culture has caused most theologically conservative Christians to shy away from a very potent evangelistic tool given to us in God’s Word. That evangelistic tool is the global Flood of Noah’s day. The fact that the prevailing worldview around us sees this historic earth-shattering event as a fable makes reminding them of what provoked it all the more needed. While God has covenanted never to destroy the world again with a flood (Genesis 9:11), there is still a dreaded Day of Judgment on the horizon. It is very helpful to be able to quote 2 Peter 3:4–7 from memory.

If men have one basic truth they will work long and labor hard to suppress, it is that God is going to judge them for all their lawless deeds.

Walking unbelievers through these verses can be very effective because this 2,000-year-old passage from the Bible speaks in detail of the rise of uniformitarian dogma.2 Notice that verses 3 and 4 speak of scoffers who walk in their lusts mocking the idea of the Second Coming of Christ. These scoffers also assert confidently that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” By this statement they are denying explicitly that there has ever been any kind of ancient global catastrophe. Why do they do this? They do it because they cannot tolerate the idea that their Creator has wrath against their sin. If men have one basic truth they will work long and labor hard to suppress, it is that God is going to judge them for all their lawless deeds. Make no mistake in your reasoning here. Unbelief has nothing to do with facts or evidence. All of creation and our consciences bear witness to the existence of the God who created and has absolute authority over us. But men are actively engaged in the sinful and rebellious suppression of that truth (Romans 1:18–32; cf. Psalm 19:1–3). Men reject Jesus Christ because they are evil and love their wickedness, not because of a lack of evidence. Recall Jesus’s own words about the nature of unbelief:

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (John 3:19–20)
We must recognize that mankind’s slavery to sin and their rebellion against God is what really stands behind their refusal to repent and believe.

Though various scientific disagreements about fossils and starlight can be launching points for apologetic discussions and evangelism, they are not the real reason people embrace false philosophies. Why do men embrace uniformitarianism? Why do men willfully forget the global Flood? Ultimately, it has nothing to do with fossils, radiometric dating, or distant star light. It is because “they love darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Since all evidence is God’s evidence, we must continue to demonstrate that all science, all facts, and all of reality confirms and is perfectly consistent with the biblical worldview. But we must recognize that mankind’s slavery to sin and their rebellion against God is what really stands behind their refusal to repent and believe. Men will believe anything, no matter how unscientific or absurd, to keep from having to bow their knee to the supremacy of God in their lives. All men know God and their obligation to obey Him, but they love their sin more and thus they willfully refuse to repent. The global Flood of Noah’s day that killed every man, woman, and child on Earth along with every air-breathing creature except for the eight people and animals in the Ark is a powerful reminder to the unbeliever of what they know in their heart of hearts already. There is a God. He is holy. He is gravely offended by their sin. And “the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” We call men to repent that they might be spared not from a temporal judgment of water, but the eternal judgment of hell fire. Jesus Christ is the new Ark. And all who are in Him have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

Patrick Hines serves as as pastor of Bridwell Heights Presbyterian Church in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Footnotes

  1. Genesis 32:30 (Jacob); Deuteronomy 5:24–26 (Israel); Judges 6:22 (Gideon), 13:22 (Samson’s parents); Daniel 10:7–8 (Daniel); Luke 5:8 (Peter); Revelation 1:17 (John).
  2. As it relates to geology, uniformitarianism is the belief that the geological past needs to be understood in light of present conditions and processes.

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