Personal Sense of Destiny; Inheritance
Genesis Lesson #043
February 25, 2004
Hebrews 11:7, "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."
This verse gives us a glimpse into Noah's spiritual walk. Hebrews 11 gives a clue as to what our focus should be on in the midst of crisis, calamity, and difficulty. Noah lived in a time that none of us has ever lived in, has never faced the kind of devastating trauma that he faced. Nothing that we go through can compare with the kind of crisis in life that Noah went through. We live in a world with the threat of terrorism, with the threat of liberal political terrorism, with the threat of the Sodomite terrorists on the left, and various other terrorists on the left such as judicial terrorists in the courts. We need to realize as believers that our focus is not on what is happening here in this world. What drives us as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is something greater. We have a personal sense of an eternal destiny which becomes the motivation for our living the Christian life today.
Noah became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. This word "inheritance" is only used with reference to Noah and Abraham in this particular passage. In Hebrews 11:7 Noah is focused on his inheritance, and then in 11:8 we are told that "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." So these men lived their life in terms of present time, in terms of certain crises that they faced in life. And Abraham was being called by God to go somewhere, where he knew not, he was just following the Lord's guidance, and his focus was on what the Lord would provide. This is emphasized with Abraham in verse 13, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were assured of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country." In other words, they were living their present life in terms of a future promise and a future hope that they did not see in their temporal life.
In analyzing verse 11 the first thing we should not are the words "By faith." This is the dative case of the noun PISTIS [pistij] which is the word for faith. Faith is the word for trust or reliance. As such this is called a noun of action because you are doing something—believing, relying on something. And faith itself in non-meritorious. That means there is no merit in faith, anybody can exercise faith. That is why in the Lord's table eating the bread and drinking the cup is a perfect picture of faith and accepting or receiving as our savior because anybody can eat and anybody cane drink. The merit is not in the eating or drinking, the merit is in what eating and what drinking symbolizes. The merit is in what you believe, the object of faith. If someone is believing the wrong thing then it has no saving power at all. When you believe in Christ alone He is the perfect object and He performs all the work for our salvation on the cross. Faith is used in two senses in the Scripture. It is used in the active sense of trust and it is also used in the sense of the object of faith or what is believed. In other words, Bible doctrine, what you are trusting in.
When the writer of Hebrews says "By faith," he is referring in context here back to what he introduces in verse one: "Now faith," i.e. the biblical faith that we have, emphasizing content. But you can't talk about content apart from the act of trusting it. The writer here is talking about the fact that each of these heroes in Hebrews 11 are trusting in something, but it is not faith in faith, it is faith in specific revelation from God to them related to specific tasks in their life. These reason for the emphasis on that is that some folks are not real paragons of spiritual living, as for example, in v. 32. "And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets." From the book of Judges we know that some of those men were real losers for about 90 per cent of their spiritual lives, but they came through at key points in relationship to specific revelation that God gave them, and that gives great hope and confidence to the rest of us. We have a tendency to create icons out of these Old Testament heroes, that they somehow had greater spiritual life walks than we do and, of course, that is not true. The Scripture says that John the Baptist was the greatest of the Old Testament saints and that any church age believer has a spiritual life that is far superior to him. But the principle of the faith-rest drill is still foundational to both their spiritual life as well as our spiritual life. Sop Hebrews 11 is really talking about how these individuals utilize the faith-rest drill at key points, at keys times, at crisis points in their spiritual lives, and how that motivated and strengthened them in the midst of that crisis.
So in v. 7 we are told that it was by means of faith, i.e., the doctrine in his soul, trusting in that which God had revealed to him. The means that enabled Noah to live his spiritual life was belief in what God had revealed to him. By application what has God has revealed to us is the completed canon of Scripture. We have over 3000 promises in the Scripture that we can claim. This is the foundation for our spiritual life just as it was the foundation of the spiritual life of these men. We have something they didn't have, and that is all the ministries of God the Holy Spirit to the believer. We were baptized by means of the Holy Spirit so that we are identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We have the ongoing operation of the filling of the Holy Spirit in terms of our sanctification and spiritual growth. And we are sealed by the Spirit.
The next phrase, "being warned by God," is the aorist passive participle of the verb CHREMATIZO, it is nominative masculine singular and it isANARTHAROUS which means it doesn't have an article in the Greek. If it has an article it means it is adjectival; if it doesn't have an article it means it is adverbial, which means you have to go find the main verb because the participles will all determine their action off the main verb. The main verb is found in the next sentence where it says, "he prepared an ark" – KATESKEUAZO which is an aorist active indicative. Participles don't have time, their time is related to the main verb, so an aorist participle and an aorist main verb means that the time of the participle precedes the action of the main verb. So first God warns him, then he prepared an ark. So it should be translated, "By faith Noah after he was warned by God about things not seen." Noah had never before seen a flood and had no idea what it was. He had no idea of what rain was, it was a totally foreign concept to him and yet he was to build this huge boat.
This takes us back to understanding the concept of faith. Too often in modern thought we want to juxtapose faith with knowledge as if they are two different things. Yet, in the Bible faith is simply one way in which we know something to be true. In human viewpoint we want to limit knowledge to rationalism or empiricism—or the wackos on the new age trends want to get into mysticism because they think they can just generate truth out of their own inner being. W have faith versus knowledge, but really faith is one kind of knowledge based on revelation; that God has spoken and we get out knowledge from God's information rather than rationalism, empiricism or mysticism. So Noah has a superior knowledge. Faith is a knowledge that is based on authority.
So Noah is expressing faith toward God and His revelation. God gave him specific prepositional revelation with regard to judgment which would come 120 years later. Noah had that time to preach the gospel and to build the ark. The next phrase translated "in reverence" or "with fear" is the Greek verb EULABEOMAI, an aorist passive participle, so here we have another participle modifying the main verb of how it was built. So before he built he was warned by God, and then he builds in a certain manner. This is an adverbial participle of manner and the verb itself means to show reverent regard for something, or respect. It reminds us of the verse in Proverbs which says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and in that sense fear is respect. We have to realize that God is the ultimate authority in life and so we have to put Him and His revelation first. So what we are told here is that this is the manner in which he built. He is building the ark out of respect for God's revelation. He is not treating God's Word lightly, which is what so many Christians do. They are just too busy to make it to Bible class and they will never make it to spiritual maturity. The main verb here is KATESKEUAZO, it is the aorist active indicative of the verb and the aorist tense is simply the past tense form of the verb, and here it is used in a consummative or culminative sense. It summarizes the action in terms of its conclusion. The word KATESKEUAZO doesn't simply mean prepare, although that is part of the meaning, but it has a better sense in the idea of bringing a structure into building or constructing or creating. So this should be translated, "By means of faith [the doctrine, the belief in God's revelation] Noah, after he was warned by God about things not yet seen, out of respect he constructed an ark for the salvation of his household." This tells us his attitude: respect for the authority of God and the revelation of God. It caused him to do something. So often in human viewpoint people think of faith as some sort of passive mystical thing, but faith has two elements. We talk about the faith-rest drill and that usually in and of itself emphasizes the passive idea, that we are trusting in something. But there is an active sense. We are trusting in a specific prepositional revelation from God, and in the midst of that revelation He may also be telling us to do certain things. He may be telling us to relax: "Be anxious for nothing." We are passive in the sense of trust but active in the sense of I am not going to worry. On the other hand we have the two examples here of Noah and Abraham where they were to positively do something. Noah was to build an ark; Abraham was to take a trip. In other words, trusting God wasn't just sitting with their hands folded saying they were going to trust God, it was actively engaging in the course of action God said to do, despite the fact that their reason, their background, their empirical knowledge may indicate that there was something better, something easier, etc.
The word translated "ark" is the Greek word KIBOTOS and it refers to either a sea-faring vessel or a box like a chest. In the first meaning it refers to the ark Noah built. There are two different words in the Hebrew for the ark of Noah, the basket in the bulrushes that Moses was placed in and the ark of the covenant. But in the Greek, as in English, the same word is utilized. It has the first meaning here that it was a boat. He got into a ship-building operation and he is building a sea-faring vessel under the guidance of the Lord Jesus Christ who gave him the blueprints for the ark.
Then we are told that this was for the purpose of the salvation of his household: the preposition EIS plus the accusative of SOTERIA which means deliverance here, not soul salvation or eternal salvation, but deliverance from this particular cataclysm.
Then we have, "by which he condemned the world" NASB. The Greek indicates it should be "through which," DIA [dia] plus the genitive of the relative pronoun HOS [o(j], and the relative pronoun refers back to his faith. "Ark," KIBOTOS is a feminine noun, so that means it is by which, the construction of the ark, the ark itself condemned the world. The Greek verb here for condemnation is KATAKRINO—an intensified form of the verb KRINO which means to judge or condemn—which means to pronounce a sentence after determination of guilt. This is what happens in a courtroom after the jury comes back with a guilty verdict and the judge pronounces the sentence. So the ark itself pronounced the sentence, it was a visual sentence on the people of the antediluvian period that they would drown in the flood; "the world," the cosmic system of the antediluvian age.
The final statement, "and [he] became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith." This is the important thing to understand as to here this verse is going. "He became" is the aorist middle indicative of GINOMAI, meaning he became something that he was not before. Previously he was not an heir in this sense. When we look back at this verse syntactically we have the first verb "he prepared an ark," then, "and became an heir." Those are viewed as happening simultaneously. So heirship is subsequent to the righteousness which is according to faith. To chart this out: At salvation Noah becomes righteous, just as in Genesis 15:6 where Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness—the imputation at salvation based on faith—and afterward there was blessing. We see the same parallel here. There is an imputation of righteousness in Noah, he was seen by God to be the only one righteous in his generation, and as a result of that there is subsequent blessing which is categorized here as his inheritance. In life we have two categories of inheritance: contingency blessings in time and contingency blessings for eternity. Contingency blessings in time are the various blessings God has for us between the time of our salvation and the time we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord. Contingency blessings in eternity have to do with our rewards and long-term inheritance. The way we should understand Hebrews 11:7 is that Noah has the righteousness which is according to faith, and that is always going to give every believer a certain inheritance. But there is an additional inheritance, those contingency blessings either in time or in eternity that only become ours when we trust God and apply His revelation to our lives and grow to spiritual maturity. And so Noah becomes and heir of the righteousness he already had according to faith but also because he trusts God and acts on God's promise.
The doctrine of inheritance
What drives Noah and Abraham is their vision, their clear focus on what God is doing in their life, where God is taking them in their life. It is their sense of eternal destiny that drives their daily decisions in time. And that is the same thing that should be driving us. We have an inheritance that is contingent upon the decisions that we make in time, and that is related to our own spiritual growth.
1) The word is the noun KLERONOMOS which means an inheritance, a possession, or a property. In many cases the best way to understand this is as a possession, something that we have. An inheritance is related to a reward. Salvation is a gift, not a reward. There are four sense in which this is true. First, we have a possession and inheritance which is a birthright. This is something that one gains by virtue of their sonship—Galatians 4:30; Hebrews 1:4. The second aspect is that it is property received as gift in contrast to reward—Hebrews 1:14; 6:12. The third is a different kind of inheritance, property received on condition of obedience to certain conditions—1 Peter 3:9. The first two categories were unconditional, a birthright that everyone would receive by virtue of sonship and property received as a gift in contrast to reward; but the third is property received on condition of obedience to certain conditions. Fourth, it is a reward based on meeting certain conditions and following certain activities. So it is apparent from its uses that there are two categories of inheritance. One will be common to every believer and the second will be that which is distinct based on fulfilling the conditions of spiritual growth. Certain blessings are not distributed because we don't have the capacity to handle them, and these are those contingent blessings.
2) We have a clear statement in Scripture that Christ is the heir of all things—Hebrews 1:2. Is that in relationship to His humanity or to His deity? That is in relationship to His humanity in hypostatic union. His heirship is related to what He accomplished in the strategic victory on the cross, ending with His ascension into heaven. In His deity He was always in authority over creatures but in His humanity He was elevated over the angels by virtue of His strategic victory on the cross and God's acceptance of that, and He is elevated to the right hand of God the Father, and He is placed in authority over all the angels, principalities and powers in the universe. As a Man He is elevated to that position.
3) Christ's inheritance is based on His successful completion of His strategic victory on the cross. It is only after that that He is elevated in authority over the angels, and it is only after that that He is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Hebrews 1:4, "Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." "Being made" is the aorist middle participle of GINOMAI, and that is important to understand. GINOMAI means to become something you were not before. It is an anartharous participle which means it is adverbial and has a causal sense here: "Because he had become so much better than the angels…" "Sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high," refers to His humanity. Deity doesn't sit. He was already better than the angels in His deity so this has to be focusing on the inheritance He qualified for in His humanity. "…as he has inherited a more excellent name than they." This is a post-resurrection inheritance.
4) How does He qualify for this inheritance? Christ's character in His humanity was developed through learning obedience through the things He suffered—Hebrews 2:10. "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." There we have the verb, translated "to perfect," TELEIOO which means to bring to completion or, bring to maturity. The Lord Jesus Christ in His humanity, in hypostatic union, is matured. He went through the same process of growth to spiritual maturity that you and I go through, and He went through it through suffering. This is the key to understanding his advance. This is also stated in Hebrews 5:8, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him." This is not talking about the suffering on the cross, this is talking about living in a fallen world, living with fallen creatures from the moment He was born, up to the point of the cross. The suffering here wasn't disciplinary suffering as it is with us. He didn't learn obedience because He was disobedient, He learned obedience and was obedient. You don't have to be disobedient to learn obedience. So Jesus advanced spiritually through learning doctrine, living under the filling of the Holy Spirit, and producing capacity righteousness. This is experiential righteousness which becomes the strength of character in any individual. He goes through the same process as we do. He learns doctrine, He has to learn to handle the situations in life, and He grows and matures. He was tested in all points as we are, yet without sin.
5) Christ's character is defined in terms of the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22, 23; Ephesians 5:9. It is the result of the walk in the light and the walk by means of the Spirit.
6) His impeccability: He never sinned. He was tested in all points as we are, yet without sin. So His impeccability qualified Him to go to the cross as our redeemer.
7) Beyond that, His spiritual growth and maturity qualifies Him for his inheritance. Psalm 2:8, "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." Hebrews 1:2, "Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things."
8) Our inheritance is based on adoption and sonship. This is the first category of inheritance, it is a positional truth inheritance, Galatians 3:29; 4:1; Romans 8:16-17. If we follow Him in the same pattern of suffering, i.e. if we handle the difficulties in our life by means of the filling of the Spirit and application of doctrine, then we will qualify for inheritance just as He qualified for an inheritance. That inheritance has to do with His future reign in the Millennial kingdom. Our qualification for inheritance has to do with the same thing: to be qualified to rule and reign with Him in the Millennial kingdom.
9) There are two classifications of inheritance: being an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ.
10) The condition for being a joint heir with Christ is suffering with Him—the normal process of living in a fallen world with fallen people, where there is temptation and testing, and where we take the path of application under the filling of the Holy Spirit.