Greg Laurie — The World Changer at the End of the World
Grab your Bibles and turn to Hebrews 11 and Genesis 6. The title of my message is, "The world changer at the end of the world". We are back in our world changers series. Have you ever been in a really dark place and noticed what happens when a light goes on. Like a movie theater. Doesn't it drive you crazy when you are in a theater and it is a crucial scene on the film and someone pulls their phone out to check Instagram or whatever. Man a little light goes a long way.
We are going to look at a time historically now when the world was very dark. In fact it is the darkest the world has ever been. Yet not as dark as it is still will be. In the midst of this very dark backdrop shined a very bright light. A true world changer and his name was Noah. We are in a series right now that we are calling world changers and you might ask why do you call it that. What is a world changer? I am glad you asked. A world changer is a person that does not accept the status quo. World changers don't March in lockstep with current culture.
In fact a world changer is a person who changes the culture. World changers think for themselves. They do what is right. World changers are followers of Jesus Christ and in fact they affect their surroundings more than their surroundings affect them. Remember I pointed out world changers are thermostats not thermometers. A thermometer merely reflects the temperature. A thermostat controls the temperature. I asked you the question are you a thermostat or are you a thermometer. Are you being influenced or are you influencing? Are you changing the world or is the world changing you.
Of course the secret to being a world changer is being a man or a woman of faith. That brings us to Hebrews 11. It is sometimes called the heroes hall of faith. These are courageous men and women all in the New Testament who made a big difference. What was their secret? Was it because they were great people. No. Not at all. It was because they had faith in a great God. They were ordinary people. They were people like you and me. In fact they failed often. Even the character we are going to be looking at, as we will see next time, had his own epic failure. But the fact of the matter is these people applied faith.
Remember we told you according to Hebrews 11:1 faith defined is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen. Faith moves. Faith is active. Faith does things. Faith is a lot like a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it becomes. The less you use it the weaker it becomes. If you neglect it altogether it will atrophy. God has given us faith. If we want to be a world changer we need to apply our faith. We have already looked at two world changers. Abel and Enoch. Now we are going to look at the world changer who lived at the end of the world. I am talking about Noah now. When I say the end of the world I mean the time before the flood. In effect Noah was a last day's believer living in his last days before God judged the earth and brought the flood upon it. He was a man that stood his ground and did what God told him to do. By the way the door of the ark remained open and God wanted people to come in. It is just that nobody wanted to go in.
Here is the thing. God comes to Noah and in so many words says I want you to build a really big boat because it is going to rain really hard. Understand it had never rained before up to this point. So Noah builds a big ark. Over in Kentucky they have recreated the ark that Noah built. A ministry called answers in Genesis. This is a true size ark that they have just completed. Look at that thing. You get a sense of how big it is. Imagine this. Noah didn't have the sophisticated tools and resources that they would use to build this ark. He and his family did this. Let's try to identify some principles as to why Noah was a world changer. If you are taking notes here is principle 1. God revealed secrets to Noah. Look at verse 7 of Hebrews 11 again. It says Noah was divinely warned. So the Lord spoke to his servant. He told him what was coming down. He told him what was about to happen.
The Bible says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God". Hey has God spoken to you lately? How does God speak you ask. Well first of all he speaks primarily through his word. Right. When you open up the word of God you will hear the voice of God. Sometimes God will speak through a preacher. Sometimes God will speak through a friend. Often God speaks through your wife. Rarely through the husband. No. I am joking. He speaks through both. Sometimes God will speak through circumstances. Sometimes God will speak in the stillness of your heart. God rarely speaks audibly so don't be listening for voices. But he does speak often.
Hey how bad were things when God spoke to Noah? As bad as they possibly could be. As bad as it has ever been, but as I said, not as bad as it is still will be. That is why Noah was a last day's believer. Here is what he shows us. He shows us you can live a godly life in an ungodly world. You think things are bad where you are right now. You have no idea how bad it was where Noah was. How bad was it? Now go to Genesis 6. Let's read about it. Starting in verse 5. It was so bad why was God sorry he made mankind? Because verse 5 says, "God saw the wickedness of man was great and every intent of his thoughts of his heart was only evil continually". It was only evil. Not occasionally evil. Only evil. There weren't even occasional good thoughts that gripped them. It was just evil layered upon evil layered upon evil. In fact the phrase that is used here could be translated that wickedness had reached a high degree or the highest pitch.
We read that God was grieved that he had made mankind. Verse 6. Grieved. Listen. You only grieve for those you love. In other words if a stranger insults you it is like idiot. Whatever. You don't grieve over it. You are just ticked off by it. But when someone you love insults you, when a family member disappoints you, or when someone you care about does something bad you grieve. Because you grieve when you love someone. God says this makes me so angry and I am grieving because I love these people. But they have pushed the envelope so far and now God says I am going to bring judgment on the earth.
Sometimes we hear that and say that doesn't make sense. Why would a loving God bring judgment? Because God is not only loving. He is also just. As Abraham said rightly in Genesis 18:25, "Shall not the judge of the earth do right". Listen. If man can flagrantly and continually break God's laws and murder and destroy and pervert everything that is right, is it good for God to turn away and do nothing? Actually it makes no sense. God is good. God is loving. God is righteous. God is just. Let's say that your little toddler was playing in the backyard and all of a sudden a wolf jumped over your fence and was coming toward your child with his teeth showing what would you do? I would like love the wolf. No. Kill the wolf. Why? Because you love the child so you kill the wolf.
In many ways this is like evil. God is going to deal with it appropriately and judgment is going to come. By the way, the Lord takes no joy in bringing judgment. In fact God says in Ezekiel 33:11, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked would turn from his way and live and turn from their evil ways. Why should you die o house of Israel"? God is saying I don't want to do this to you. But if you don't repent it is going to happen. In effect you are bringing it upon yourself. I am a just God and I keep my word. When I say I will do something, I am going to do it. But I love you. I don't want to do it. But I am just and I keep my word so I will do it. Of course judgment was about to come. But here is this man Noah living a godly life in an ungodly place. Shining as a bright light in the darkest circumstances imaginable. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Genesis 6:8 says that. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Does this mean that God had grace upon Noah because he lived a righteous life? No. The very opposite. Noah lived a righteous life because God had grace on him. What is grace? It has been defined as God's unmerited favor. Because he found grace, or grace found him, Noah lived a righteous life. Listen to this. God does not love us for what we have or haven't done. Nor does God love us for what we are or are not. God loves us and extends grace toward us because he chooses to. Just because he loves you. And so he extended his grace to Noah. Noah responded appropriately to that grace and was a world changer. He obeyed God and honored the Lord. Noah walked with God when no one else did.
Verse 9 says, "Noah walked with God". Like his great grandfather Enoch Noah responded to God's grace and walked with him. By the way, it is only said of two people in the Bible that they walked with God. Not that others didn't. But it specifically said of two people they walked with God. One is Noah. The other is who? Enoch. We talked about him. He too was a world changer remember we gave a key as to what it means to walk with God. Amos 3:3 says, "Can two walk together unless they be agreed"? The idea conveyed there unless they are in harmony moving together to walk with God. It means I get in step with God. It means I conform my will toward God's will. It means that I honor him. Here is Noah who walked with God when no one else did.
Do you ever feel like you are the only person walking with the Lord? That is one of the reasons I love our crusades. Because thousands of Christians gather together and worship God. You remember hey I am not the only one. Because sometimes we feel like a minority. That is because in many ways we are. I love it that we can all come together and honor the Lord. Some critics have said of the crusades they are attended primarily by Christians. Yeah. So. What is wrong with that? Is that a bad thing for thousands of Christians to get together and pray and worship God? Hey I think it is a wonderful thing. And you know what? A lot of those Christians bring nonbelievers with them and those nonbelievers respond as we have seen over the years because it is a powerful thing when a non-Christian walks into a stadium full of 38,000 people or more praising Jesus. They say wow. It is a great moment.
The door was open to the ark. Genesis 7:1 says, "The Lord said to Noah, 'come into the ark. You and all of your household because I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.'" the door of the ark stood open. Anyone could have gone into the ark. Noah wasn't killing them gladiator style. They just didn't want to go in. Notice that the Lord said, "Come into the ark". Not go into the ark. Come in. Implying that he is there. If I am at my house I say come in. God says here I am in the ark. Come in here. In the same way Jesus Christ says, "Come unto me all of you who are laboring and are heavy laden and I will give you rest".
A lot of times people don't have time for God until crisis hits. Remember the aftermath of 9/11. Remember how churches were filled to overflowing. Everybody wanted a spiritual perspective on what just happened in our country. All of those people killed. There were prayer vigils on street corners. Remember those. Remember when congress spontaneously broke into God bless America on the capitol steps. It was almost like a revival was beginning. And then it ended as quickly as it started. We went back to New York a few months later and you would never know that horrible event happened. People were back to their normal busyness. That happens in our lives. There might be a crisis and we call out to God. He is so gracious. He hears us. How easily he could say forget you about you man. You didn't call out to me any other time. I don't have time for you. You didn't have time for me. I am too busy for you. That is not what God says. He says, "Call upon me and I will answer you" says the Lord. He is waiting for us to call upon him.
Maybe something has happened in your life that has gotten you thinking about the brevity of life. It has got you thinking about the afterlife. It has got you thinking about the meaning of your life. Well you have come to the right place. Because Jesus says, "Come to me". He will give you the answers you are looking for. He can give you the hope that you will go to heaven when you die. He will forgive you of all of your sin. But you must come into the ark. The door was open. Jesus said, "I am the door. If anyone enters in by me he will be saved". He is the door. Walk in the door. You want to go in. Walk in. Those people didn't want to go in. Then the rain began to fall. The door was shut and it was too late.
Listen. There is going to come a moment when the door is shut. There is going to come a moment in everyone's life when it is too late. I don't know if we are the generation that will see the return of Jesus. We will talk about that next time. I think we could be. Because Jesus said, "As it was in the days of Noah so also will it be before the son of man returns again". We could be that generation. But even if he doesn't come in our lifetime I know one thing. The end of everyone's world is going to come. The end of your world and the end of mine. Then there is the next world. Then there is the afterlife. My question to you is are you ready for the afterlife? Do you have the hope of heaven?