"These are the generations of Noah. Noah was
a righteous man, and perfect in his generations: Noah walked with God" (Gen.
"God... spared not the ancient world, but
preserved Noah with seven others" (2 Pet. 2:5).
In the way of life by the Cross, we have before
us at this time, Noah. I am assuming that you are fitting what is said into the
diagram in front of the book
(click here for diagram),
I am not turning to explain it, it is self-explanatory.
You can clearly perceive the two ways: the way
of the natural man who repudiates God's verdict and seeks to enlarge himself in
independence of God, but ever and anon meets God's verdict all the same. I think
that has been perfectly patent in what we have already said. And the way of the
spiritual man who does accept God's verdict and goes right on... the way of the
Cross reaching right back to the very beginning of things in human history,
saying from the beginning to the natural man that his destiny is zero, an end,
death. The Cross reaches back to the beginning, saying that it is the way of
life for those who accept its verdict, and that way is focused down, as you see,
to a line which represents the links of a chain from Abel to Christ. The red
line of the Cross followed a long succession through past generations,
centuries, but it is the way that goes right through.
The Completion of a Cycle of
We come to this link in the chain represented
by Noah, and with Noah we come to the completion of a cycle of human history.
Both in fact and in figure, Noah represents that. I suppose if anybody should be
asked, "What do you know about Noah?" the answer would undoubtedly be, "Well, he
built an ark." That is about all that you would say. There are other things
about him, but that is how it is summed up - Noah's ark. We always link the two
together. They are associated, and in a sense quite rightly so, because as I
have said, here we come to the completion of a cycle of human history. The flood
ended the first cycle of human history. The Lord Jesus in the first instance
linked Noah's days with the day of His own coming, "As were the days of Noah,
so shall be the coming of the Son of man" (Matt. 24:37). And Peter makes
that perfectly clear by linking Noah and Noah's day with the Day of Judgment, so
that it was a figure of a cycle; the end of a cycle of human history but a much
greater, fuller end than ever Noah's was.
Someone has said that prophecy is history
written beforehand, and there is very little doubt about it that there is a
prophetic element in the story of Noah. It is history written beforehand. It is
that history culminating in the great deluge, not of water, but of fire to which
Peter refers when he says, "These things are... all to be dissolved... the
heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with
fervent heat" (2 Pet. 3:11,12). That is the final flood to which Noah points
The Full Growth and
Development of Cain
Well, when we come to the days of Noah, what do
we see? We just have the full growth and development of Cain. We saw Cain and
what he represented: the man who, ignoring the great verdict of God that the
door was closed upon all of Adam's race, that death by one man had passed upon
all, assumed that by his own works and efforts - the embodiment of the best in
himself in the fruit that he produced - assumed that he could get through with
God. He came up against the fact that the door was firmly closed and
there was no way through. In the individual, right at the beginning (of greater
significance in this than I have time to stay with) in a single man, all the
elements of that vast history of man's pride, man's self-assurance, man's
self-sufficiency, man's conceit, man's self-righteousness, man's unwillingness
to accept the verdict of Calvary; in a single man all that was summed up.
Cain went out from the presence of God
unrepentant, although God had pointed out the way and said, 'Yes, but even for
you, Cain, if you will have it, the sin offering is at the door.' But he refused
God's way and went out from the presence of God unrepentant, bitter, resentful,
rebellious, recalcitrant. "Am I my brother's keeper?" he insolently
answered God. He went out like that. Anything like that just leads to the
abandoning of God - choosing a course of independence and abandonment to selfish
gratification and pleasure. That was the history of Cain as you follow it, and
of his civilisation.
Reaching the days of Noah some hundreds of
years afterwards, that is found in full development. The whole world is a
collective embodiment and expression of what was resident in one man at the
beginning. The spirit of Noah's day was that of just flouting God, indifference
to anything that would in any way interfere with their self-interest or their
own natural pursuits; just indifference to it. There is the collective
expression of Cain, and this is our point for the moment. When you come to Noah,
you get a collective expression of Abel.
The Collective Principle of
the Cross in Noah
In Noah you have the collective principle of
the Cross represented. It may be comparatively small... seeing the great, great
world that will not have it. That is why we read the fragment from 2 Pet. 2:5 -
"Noah and seven others". I am not going to make anything of the number at
the moment. There may be something in it. Seven and one, and seven in one. You
can make of that what you like, but you know quite well that these numbers in
Scripture do not stand for nothing, they are always significant, and here is
something which represents a complete spiritual testimony in a corporate way.
And it is that which, resting upon the Cross, goes through at the end. Oh, how
much is wrapped up in that statement!
I cannot expect you to be in my head, but I am
seeing a very great deal in that simple statement - a collective testimony to
the Cross going through at the end. That sums up the book of the Revelation
which is the end. The end-time situation with Noah was an almost universal
repudiation of the principle of the Cross. It was not just drift: it was
deliberate in the face of a testimony which was present long enough and was
practical enough to challenge everybody. Noah's testimony covered a long time
and Noah's work was a very tangible form of testimony. It was very concrete; it
was no mere doctrine or theory. This is something present in a practical and
tangible and palpable form, and it was present throughout that long time. And in
the face of it, in spite of it, the repudiation was well-nigh universal which,
of course, led to a well-nigh universal engulfing and involving in judgment in
the verdict of God which had already been pronounced in Adam upon all such.
It is not difficult to see, standing alongside
of Noah in his day, our own day and the end of this dispensation. Say what we
will, and let men say what they do about the good in human nature and in
mankind, the fact is that God does not judge upon a comparative basis at all of
more or less good in men. God judges upon an absolute basis, and God's absolute
basis is: 'What is your attitude toward the Cross of Jesus Christ? What have you
done with the Lamb of God? It is not whether you are more or less good, whether
you are very bad naturally, or, as men would account, very good. That is not the
ground of judgment at all. It is that there is the Cross standing right at the
centre of history, the testimony of God; holding in it God's verdict upon the
whole world: "As in Adam all die." What is your attitude towards that?'
It is not difficult to see that when it comes
really to the acceptance of God's verdict that all men without any exception at
all are dead so far as God is concerned, lying under judgment, and have no way
with God apart from the Cross; how many of the entire human race accept it and believe it? There is a well-nigh universal ignoring or repudiating of it. It is
true. I say 'well-nigh' because in that we have the exception. Noah and seven
others - they represent the exception. In them the principle of the Cross is
found to be accepted and capitulated to. Noah and the seven others would have
been drowned with all the rest if they had not accepted God's verdict upon the
race and taken God's only way through.
That opens up another subject, that of their
faith. Hebrews 11, "By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not
seen as yet... prepared an ark." We are not dealing with that at the moment.
We are keeping to this single principle of the Cross as the only way of life.
These eight accepted the principle of the Cross, that is, the closed door except
by one way: God's provided way. And it was a collective thing, it was a
collective testimony. It was a corporate thing that was there. The eight
represented collective salvation, and that is a point that has been seriously
overlooked. The sooner we recover that, get that back and get that established,
the better. With God, while salvation reaches the individual and becomes a
personal and individual thing, with God salvation is collective. God is saving a
people, not just individuals, and what I do want to impress upon you is this:
that the very fact of salvation means that you are not saved alone, you are
saved in a related way.
You are saved in connection with something more
than yourself. It is in salvation, collective salvation. Salvation is a
collective thing, and you deny the very element of salvation when you allow
division to come between you and other children of God or another child of God.
You deny your very salvation. You know that word translated into our English –
'together'. Now, you have a look at 'together' in the New Testament: "We were
planted together in the likeness of his death" (Rom. 6:5). "Made us alive
together with Christ" (Eph. 2:5). "We are seated together with Him in the
heavenlies" and so on. That word "together" is the figure of the human body
being made a corporate organic whole by sinews and tissues.
Together - A Body
From God's standpoint ours is a "together" salvation. It is a collective or
together life. God's life is not broken up into fragments. The testimony of the
Lord's people is not that there are as many lives as there are Christians. There
is one life, a together life.
They were to give, in that collective
testimony, that the Cross - the acceptance of God's verdict, the acceptance of
death - is the way out of death when the death is that of a substitute. I am not
staying with the typology of the ark as symbolising Christ in Whom we are
sheltered from judgment, safe from death; but they entered together into the
ark. That is the point: it was a together testimony.
And it was a collective or together victory.
You have moved on from the individual, from Cain, and Abel, to that which is
collective when you come to Noah.
Now, that is very important. It is a tremendous
thing, and it carries with it quite a lot of very practical values. Was it
collective? Well, it says "Noah with seven others". At any rate, they
were at close quarters for forty days and forty nights and could not get away
from it. No, you see the very law of their being together in that ark was the
law that they had to learn (if they had not already done so) to live together
and to live at close quarters, and their salvation depended upon it. If one of
them flew out of the door, they were lost! If one said, 'I have had enough of
this, I am going', where would that one have gone? If one had broken away, you
see, well, the thing is obvious. Their salvation was collective, there was no
getting away from it: they had to settle down to it. Their settling down to the
collective, corporate life was the way of life for them. It was the practical
application of the principle of the Cross.
Dear friends, it takes us a long time to learn
the ABC's of corporate life. Plenty there are who have the teaching, the doctrine
and tell you all about the church, the Body of Christ. They give long
dissertations and addresses upon it. They have all the theory. Many there are
who are very zealous to have the New Testament order set up with all its
technique, and many who have all that knowledge and zeal have not learned the
ABC's of corporate life.
Now, that is not said carelessly. It is said
from much observation, and not a little experience. It is a tremendous thing in
the purpose of God to learn that lesson as soon as you can, that your full
salvation is a related thing. You may have salvation in bits, in the parts,
partially, but you will never get full salvation as any individual, nor as any
number of individuals. Fulness of salvation relates to this corporate Body of
Christ. It is to be "glory in the church by Christ Jesus unto all ages for
ever and ever" (Eph. 3:21). You have heard that so often, but this message
of Noah comes with tremendous importance and emphasis just now.
You are tired of hearing such words as
independence, unrelatedness, and so on, but you know that is one of the things
which fundamentally needs the Cross as much as anything else. It comes out, it
just comes out all the time in different ways and different forms. We 'fly off
the handle' because of some provocation, because of the rub of related life. We
want to get away out of it and throw it all up; we cannot bear this corporate
life. Yes, it is the most difficult thing to the flesh that you can imagine.
That proves that the Cross is very much needed, and this individualistic element
in us comes up in numerous ways all the way along.
The Cross in Relation to
It not only comes up in our Christian
relationships, it comes up in our work; our Christian work, our ministry,
and jealousies over other ministries and what not. Oh, it is the awful thing
that is in Christianity. I remember Dr. Meyer once told me that he had a
terrible battle right on the Keswick platform. He was well known, he had a large
and foremost place in Christian ministry, and he was invited to the Keswick
Convention to speak. And then other men of less fame and importance and
reputation were put in front of him. He said, 'I had my first Keswick battle
actually on the Keswick platform where I had to learn the Cross in relation to
ministry.' Oh, could we cover the whole ground if we tried? But there it is. It
is this Self in one form or another of its countless forms. You cannot compass
all the fibres of this root of Self, from one extreme of self-assertiveness and
self-importance and self-advertising, to the other extreme of self-pity. There
is a lot between the two! It is still Self. Oh, that we could forget ourselves:
"Oh, to be saved from myself,
Oh, to be lost in Thee!
Oh, that it may be no more I,
But Christ Who lives in me."
How can it be done? It can only be done by the
revelation to us that our salvation, our life, our testimony and our work, is
corporate; it is related. That means that in every phase and aspect of our
Christian life we are depending upon others. We are not the whole thing by any
means. Our growth depends upon others, our life depends upon others, and our
fulness depends upon others.
You see, it is all there: life, light, love,
liberty, purity, power, purpose, prospect, and glory. It is all collective; it
is all corporate. It is the church. You can test it. Your life... what do you
owe to others for your spiritual life? Do you mean to say that you have got it
all firsthand, independently, unrelatedly? You have not got very much, if you
have any at all. Our light... what do we owe to others for the light that has
come to us? Light is a related thing. And so right the way through it is like that.
That is the emphasis.
I repeat, so much time is taken in learning
just the ABC's of corporate life, and until we have done so, there is limitation
and there is defeat. It is true. Noah and seven others... You and all the rest
in Christ, and for that life, for that testimony, for that victory, we need one
another. We cannot do without one another, and in order to have it, some deep
work of the Cross has got to be done in us. Let Cain into this, and it spoils
the whole thing. Independence - "I can get through on my own, by myself, I do
not need any help" - that is Cain. "Am I my brother's keeper?" What is
corporate about repudiating any responsibility for your brother? Let Cain in,
and the whole thing is spoiled. Let the Cross in - that is Abel, the principle
of the Cross - and you have a collective life and a collective testimony and
right through to a collective victory and collective glory, and it is full!
The Difficulty of Corporate
What is it that emerges from this nucleus, from
this 'togetherness'? A new world.
The word to Noah afterward was "Be fruitful
and multiply", the same words as addressed to Adam and Eve before the fall:
"Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth." New prospects, new
vocation, new fulnesses, a new world, a new creation that opens up to those who
have learned the meaning of the Cross together in a practical way.
Now do not be misunderstanding me in this
matter. I think I hardly need to stress it at all. This kind of life together
with Christians is not always an easy thing. You say, 'That is a terrible thing
to say! Not easy for Christians to live together?' Difficulty over Christians
living together! It sounds terrible, does it not? Of course you know it is true.
Is it true? But why is it true? Because it is Christians in whom the truth is
being made manifest.
You see, a lot of worldly people can get on
together very much better than a lot of Christians can sometimes, and that is a
thing you cannot understand, and that offends you. You say, 'Well, it is better
to be out in the world. There is really good comradeship out there; we get on
fine together out in the world. But look at these Christians! It is so difficult
to live with these Christians!' Yes, quite true. But recognize the meaning of
that. It is in Christians that there is being made manifest the need of the
We are no better in ourselves than the world. The same is in us as is in the world: a human nature. This has to be made manifest in order that the
victory of the Cross should be a practical thing, not a theoretical thing. And
if you get men and women who are of the same infirmities as anybody else, who
have just the same human nature, the same Adam inheritance as all the rest, and
you get them together, that is a testimony. That says something for the Cross of
the Lord Jesus. You see, this matter of a testimony is a very practical matter.
Oh, I beg of you to be careful how you use that phrase, 'the testimony'. My soul
is sick to death of people talking about "the testimony", meaning some teaching,
some form of doctrine, some system of truth, something that you stand for as a
statement. That is not the testimony.
The testimony is this: that there, in you with
others, there is a work of the Cross done that absolutely overcomes what is true
of nature where you are concerned. It is like that: that is the testimony -
something that can be seen in a company of people, in a number of people. God
has done something there. Now you take those people, two, three or more, and
look at them naturally and see whether under all the strain and the pressure
that is brought to bear upon them, they would naturally go on together. Not a
bit of it! You know many of you, that your going on with others is all a matter
of the grace of God, and a lot of grace, and that is only another way of saying
a deep work of the Cross.
An End-time Thing
This is the important thing I want to say: this
is an end-time thing. It was in Noah's case, the testimony was collective at the
end of that first cycle of human history. You turn to the book of the
Revelation, and you find it is like that. The end is near, the tremendous
universal cataclysm. Judgment is about to fall, all heaven is in ferment and
agitation, the climax is in view. "And they overcame him because of the blood
of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony" (Rev. 12:11). And
when you look to see who the 'they' is, it is plural. The 'they' is called a
son, a man-child. It is a plural. It is a company who have entered so deeply
into the meaning of the Cross that they in the end, with all this tremendous
upheaval in heaven and earth, go through in absolute victory. They go through,
they do not succumb. It is a 'they', mark you.
Now, if the great dragon is going to have any
success at all, or if he hopes for any success, it lies in one direction and he
will concentrate all his force upon that point: the mutual love of the Lord's
people and the corporate life of the Lord's people. He will stop at nothing. If
he cannot make a true cause for division - something that is real and that is
positive and that is actual to bring about a break in relationship - then he
will create phantoms and ideas and suggestions and smoke and fog and lies and
misrepresentation to make you feel separated, that there is something between
you. It is in the atmosphere, you can feel it all the time; something trying to
get in and make you feel that other people do not want you, to isolate you in
spirit, anything! And it is a tremendous working up of that thing at the end, to
break up this corporate life because it is a 'they' that will overcome him. It
is a 'they', and they is - forgive my bad grammar - they is so corporate that it
is represented by one name, a man-child, as though it were one individual. So
one that it is like one individual. Satan's hopes are lost if that can be
And how can that be? "They overcame because of
the Blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony, and they loved not their
life even unto death." Is not that the Cross? You see, the Cross is not just
something at the beginning of the Christian life. It comes right out at the end.
The final phase of the church's pilgrimage on this earth, and warfare in the
heavenlies, is marked by the Cross and the Cross runs all the way through.
But here in this message it is the Cross as
this collective aspect which is something which we must take note of, we really
must. Ask the Lord to teach you, to reveal to you and teach you the meaning of
corporate life, and strengthen you and gird you to resist everything that works
Oh, it is an awful battle! I know of no battle
more terrible than that battle for the relationships between us as the Lord's
people, because the methods of the enemy are so subtle and so varied, so
numerous, and his pressure is so terrible and intense in this matter that he
will not stop until he has divided the last two of God's people, if he can.
Well, let us ask the Lord to very definitely
cover us, and cover His word, and to get all that He is aiming at getting at
this time. This is not just teaching, not just Bible truth. These are grim
realities. Terrible issues, but glorious issues hang upon this - the testimony
of Noah and seven others at the end of a dispensation.