Noah Went Out

“So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark” (Gen. 8:18–19).

- Genesis 8:18–19

Continuing our examination of grace as evident in the story of Noah, we will today highlight what is called God’s “common grace.” Common grace encompasses those benefits bestowed upon all men, whether or not they have faith. These blessings include being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–27), rain (Matt. 5:45b), and other good things men receive, including the gift of life itself (Acts 17:28). These blessing are real, but not salvific (John 3:5; Rom. 10:14).

One common favor the Lord provides through His people is the outward call to faith. Jesus orders us to preach the message of salvation to all nations (Matt. 28:18–20). Some who are evangelized will not believe because God has not transformed them by the effectual call of His Spirit (John 6:44). Nevertheless, we preach the Gospel to all men, realizing that, from our perspective, anyone could be elect. Only the Lord knows who His people will be before they repent.

Each time this common grace is extended, there will be one of three results. In the first place, a person may deny the Savior and never believe. Secondly, a person may place real faith in Jesus, confessing Him in word then in deed. This person is a member of the invisible church, which consists of all those with true faith (Matt. 13:24–30). Third, a person might join the visible church alone.

The visible church is the institutional church now manifest to us; it contains all who profess Christ’s name. This body includes believers and all who confess Christ without following Him. As Calvin says, “in this church are mingled many hypocrites who have nothing of Christ but the name and outward appearance” (Institutes 4.1.7).

Noah’s son Ham is an example of the benefits common grace may bring to those in covenant with God. He may not have been a believer, as the curse upon his line may indicate (Gen. 9:24–27). However, he did visibly identify with Noah’s faith in God and entered the ark, where he was rescued from the flood (7:13; 8:18). Similarly, those without saving faith will enjoy certain blessings if they join the visible church (Heb. 6:4–8). Yet these gifts are only temporary; eternal salvation comes only to the followers of Christ (Matt. 7:21–23).

Coram Deo

In our day, there are many people in Christian churches who confess Christ but have not trusted Him or followed His way. Even some who read this devotional today may not be in the heavenly kingdom. If you have never trusted in Jesus, do so today. If you are a Christian, know that many in your congregation probably do not have true faith. Endeavor to remind others of their need to possess faith as you execute the ministry to which the Lord has called you.

Passages for Further Study

Ezra 9–10
Isaiah 61
1 Corinthians 9:16, 19–23
2 Timothy. 4:1–5

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.