Why The Story of the Ark Matters

flood-1.pngIn a somewhat surprising turn of events, sectors of the Christian world are teaching that the great Flood of Genesis is a poetic story. Because the story does not coincide with Darwinian evolution, theologians have found the historicity of the story to be problematic. Now modern thinkers are calling on all Christians to embrace their viewpoint. Because, “The exact nature or date of this historical flood is not important to the meaning of the Genesis account” the creators of the website Biologos believe Christians should move on and claim the academic high-ground of science.

By writing off Noah as a fantasy, theologians believe they are strengthening the Christian faith.  The co-producer and director of the Russel’ Crowe’s Noah, Darren Aronofsky said, “If you look at it as poetry and myth and legend, then you can actually use it to understand your world and who you are.”  Doctor Joel S. Baden agreed writing that, “The power of the Flood story…is in what it tells us about humanity’s relationship with God.”

The beauty of Noah is not found in the historical story but in modern man’s interpretation of the story. By leaving the history of the story behind, theologians, producers, and academics are not strengthening the Bible, they undermining its very foundation. The theologian that can freely deny the flood can and will freely deny the power of the cross. The salvation depicted in Genesis parallels the salvation depicted in Matthew. If one has to be jettisoned for moderns to find the Bible useful, then the other will quickly follow.

When the history of the Bible sinks beneath the surface, people can draw any and ever conclusion from the Noah narrative. They are free to paint happy pictures of salvation complete with cute giraffes poking their heads out of the Ark. They are also free to create storylines from the narrative that demonize humanity complete with images of Noah doing drugs.

Instead of casting off the historicity of the Bible, Christians should embrace the Genesis account as historical fact. Ken Ham has recently demonstrated with the creation of the Ark Encounter that Noah cold have built and survived a worldwide flood on an ark built according to the dimensions of Genesis. Moreover, Christ pointed to Genesis as historical fact in Matthew 24:37-39. Christians must follow their savior. They must embrace the Ark narrative as true because it proclaims the gospel.

The Bad News

Creation-Museum-Joel-KramerWe must affirm the story of the Ark because the story proclaims that all men and women are evil sinners worthy of judgement. The story of Noah begins with a great sense of foreboding.

After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden,  humanity devolved into chaos. Men and women went from lying to murdering and then to boasting of their murders. The great grandson of Cain boasts , “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me” (Gen 4:23). Not surprisingly God looks down and declares,

“I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and bird of the heavens for I am sorry that I have made them.” And a little later on God tells Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them.” (Gen 6:5-13).

Humanity divorced from God is not evolving. Society is devolving into a violent chaos and deserves death. The story clearly proclaims that the wages of sin is death. Men and women are not autonomous. They are not self-sufficient. The people in Noah’s day perished for their sins.

But modern men and women should not suppose that they have evolved past the evils of Noah. Jesus tells his audience in Mathew 24:37-39

 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,  and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

The hard hearts that were present in Noah’s day are present now and will be present when Christ returns. According to 2 Peter 2:5, Noah preached the gospel just as Jesus did and as thousands of faithful men and women continue to do. People reject God not because they lacked access to truth. They rejected God because they did not want to follow him.

Modern people find the doctrine of sin and judgement troubling. Commenting on the story of Noah and on the Ark Encounter, blogger Alexis Misra wrote,

I do not believe that the story of Noah’s ark happened as depicted in the Bible, but even so, the story makes me almost nauseous. The staggering death toll that occurred according to the Bible was enough to make me, a certified skeptic, ill.

She finds the Ark troubling because she cannot imagine why God would subject the world to this holocaust like event. Consequently, she must deny the Ark because she wishes to affirm the goodness of humanity. To admit that God was a righteous judge would be to admit that humanity is sinful and in need of saving. She denies the flood as fact because she denies the gospel.

As redeemed sinners, Christians must affirm the truthfulness of the Flood account because the Gospel is true. Jesus has come, died, and risen. Noah built an Ark, the flood came, and Noah walked out on dry land. If we deny the Flood, we justify sinfulness.

The Good News

c0a361a96c4cbbd694dd6b8ebd76ef193b5370c25b58574185d4c0fe.jpg.404x268_q85Thankfully, Christians do not have to do this. They do not have to be ashamed of the story of Noah’s Flood. The narrative does not begin with sin and end with death. The story is not defined by images of “desperation and horror.” The great news of the Noah account is that God made a way of escape for his people. God created a covenant with Noah. God told Noah to build an Ark (Gen 6:14-18). He provided Noah with the dimensions and with the animals necessary to preserve life on earth. God saved humanity.

The specifics of the plan reveal that God did not view the Ark to be metaphorical. God judged real men and women and saved real men and women and animals on a real boat. God saved Noah faults and all because his son would one day perish for Noah.

Although Noah was a righteous man who faithfully followed God even when the whole world was quite literally against him, Noah was not the perfect savior that humanity needed.

Shortly after God sets the rainbow in the sky, Noah gets drunk (Gen 9:13-23). Noah fell into sin. He is not alone; his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and so one continue to make a mess of things. Sin once again begins to dominate the world. Although humanity is perilously undependable, God is faithful. He never reneges on his promise to flood the world again. Rather, he does an even greater thing. He sends his son.

Jesus comes as the perfect savior to rescue us from our sins. Though we deserve to die in the floodwaters of eternal judgement, Jesus dies in our place. He goes to the cross; he jumps out of the Ark and takes our place in the waters of death so that we might have life in the kingdom of God. This is the great news of the gospel and of Noah: God saves. The salvation that was available to Noah is available to all of us because God has paid for our sin.

Final Thoughts

If Christians write off the Ark as a fanciful tale for children, they will essentially write of the gospel. They will deny the reality of humankind’s sinfulness and of God’s free offer of salvation based on Jesus’s work on the cross. A humankind that did not perish in the flood is a humankind that is still self-sufficient, that is still able to work their way to heaven, and that is still free from submission to their creator. But this is not the message of the gospel. To maintain the integrity of the Bible, we must believe that Genesis is a true historical book. There is no other way forward.

Are you ready to stand by the Ark revealed in scripture?

Why The Ark Encounter Matters

ark-encounter-1The Ark Encounter was amazing. And this is saying something.

I often tend to shy away from historical conjecture. I am not a huge fan of most historical films because producers, directors, and scriptwriters frequently insert historical anachronism into the heart of the story. Perhaps the most famous example of such a blunder is Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. At the very crux of the plot, Brutus hears a clock chiming in the background. The Romans had no Big Ben towering offer their market squares.

Picture2When people encounter such errors, they are often worse for the wear. Occasionally people assume the historical liberties taken by movies such as the 300 are fact. As a result, they are prone to drawing false conclusions about the ancient world which is also the world of the Bible. When these conclusions filter into sermons and Bible studies, the credibility of the Bible takes a hit because the speaker has mixed error with truth.

But the Ark Encounter is not a deviation from the true history. Rather, it is an exercise in experimental archaeology placed within the trappings of a colorful museum. As such, it is worth a visit. 

But it is not the first ancient boat to be created in recent times. In 1987, experimental archaeology made some noise with the creation of another boat. That year, Greece launched the Olympias, a replica fifth century BC trireme. As the 70-ton boat sailed around Euripe’s shores, historians gained insights into ancient naval tactics. This group of sailors was not alone. Experimental archaeologists have been testing everything from the levy systems needed to quarry stone to steam powered cannons. In ever instance, these archaeologists have used ancient texts as a guide for recreating items from the ancient world. They have then gone on to use their creations to gain insights into the how ancient world operated.

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The Ark Encounter is another such grand archaeological endeavor. But instead of seeking to better understand the ancient secular world, Ken Ham and his team attempted to shed light on the history of the Bible. Ken Ham designed the Ark Encounter according to the text of Genesis. Then, he went on to replicate cages, water filtration systems, and many other things to help Christians understand how Noah and his family could have carried out God’s commands. By recreating the Ark, Ken Ham and his team have discovered that Noah could have cared for the hundreds of animals on the Ark by storing 1.5 years worth of food in 15,000 storage containers. Ken Ham and his Answer in Genesis cohorts have not placed modern thinking back into the Bible. They have faithfully tried to recreate the world of Noah by studying the text and time of the Scriptures.

(For more informationon this topic visit the Ark Encounter or grab a copy of A Flood of Evidence.)

Ken Ham and the team at Answers In Genesis has accomplished their task with excellence. The Ark is filled with models, lifelike animals, and, and interactive video presentations that bring the ancient world of the Bible to life. They have turned experimental archaeology into a gorgeous museum that engages all of its visitors from the moment they arrive until the hop on a bus to leave.

ark 3Admittedly, the Ark Encounter will not save anyone. The giant landlocked boat will also probably not convince many skeptics to embrace Genesis as fact. Bill Nigh is still not a fan. 

At the end of the day, Ken Ham’s ideas and experiments are not definitive. As he likes to say, “Where you there?” The answer for him and us is, “No.” Like the experimental archaeologists before him, Ken Ham cannot be a hundred percent certain that his explanations perfectly match history.  Consequently,  those who want to disavow the Bible will be able to find escape holes when they visit the Ark Encounter. They will be able to justify their unbelief.

And, they must find such justifications. The Ark Encounter is not just an archaeological experiment. It is a theological statement. If God truly closed the door of the Ark, then there is only one way to heaven, Jesus Christ. To affirm the Ark as history, one is not just denying a belief in the eternal dirt ball of evolution. They are denying the idea of their autonomy. To affirm the Ark, one must embrace the God of the Ark. As in Noah’s day, this is a hard pill for men and women to swallow.

But that same pill is medicine for the believer. In a world where Christianity is constantly maligned, Christians will find the 510 foot Ark replica to be beautiful solace of truth.

If you haven’t gone, I encourage you to go. The door to this Ark is open. Are you ready to go in?

Should Kids Go To Big Church

Do We Really Want Kids In Church?

Do kids belong in church? It’s a simple, straight forward question that has existed even before the first church was launched at Pentecost.   Remember back to Mathew 19. Jesus had to tell his disciples to, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (vs. 14).  Speed forward a couple of thousand years and we find the evangelical church once again asking, “do children belong in church today?” Do they belong in our sanctuaries and services? Sadly, many evangelicals say, “No.”

should kids go to churchNow there are some pockets of old fogies who all but recite the disciples’ mantra. They diligently strive to keep those “darn” kids in the colorfully painted rooms in the basement through ugly looks and cruel comments. Most  of these people have no clue about what the four gospels teach. They happily go on church sponsored sightseeing trips, unaware that Christ welcomed children and rejected the self-righteous who boasted in their fat wallets and moralistic programs (Mathew 19:13-23).

 But the majority of Bible believing Christians who devalue kids are actually well meaning adults found swirling around the children’s department. Their catchphrases go something like this, “I can’t come to church if I have to watch my child; children’s ministry should be about giving parents a well-deserved break; children really need activities they can handle; big church is well, big church.” Once these phrases become a church’s ministry philosophy, the congregation will most likely cease to be a place where families come together to experience the community of Christ through worship and fellowship. Although we may have given the kids their own snazzy wing of the church, we have restricted their access to community of Christ.

Being smart, our children quickly pickup on the messages we are sending. They understand that big church is not for them. If anything, they know that they are a bother or hindrance to the rest of the church community.  Most of our kids will reconcile themselves to the idea the church consists of nothing more than eating crackers, drinking apple juice, and playing a few cool games. The glories of communing with the people of God is just not reality. Not surprisingly, the children who regularly attended all these cool kid based programs are the most likely to leave the church when grown (Ham, Beemer, & Hillard, p. 38).

To reach the next generation for Christ, we as parents need to once again embrace a church paradigm that welcomes children into the body of Christ. Regardless of how gifted a Sunday school teacher is or how loving a nursery worker is, parents are called by God to connect their children to the church. So how do we do this?

Five Ways To Get Ready Kids For Church

 

1. We worship at home.

I suspect that many children stress their parents out at church because they’ve never encountered formal Bible teaching at home.  We cannot and should not expect our children to calmly sit through a sermon if they have never learned how to handle a five minute devotion. Such expectations are unfair. Naturally, parents often try to compensate by handing off their child to church volunteers. At the very least, parents think they’ve kept their child from disrupting the service and they hopeful junior even learn a thing or two about the Bible. Let’s not abdicate our calling. Its hard, but discipling our children at home is essential to our kids spiritual well being. Let’s help them see that God is hugely important and worthy of respect and attention (Duet. 6)

2. Pray with our children.

Ask God to give them us patience. Ask God to give our kids a love for his word and his people. Ask God to give you wisdom to reach your children with the gospel.

3. Be in involved with your kids at church.

Find opportunities to serve with and around your child. Teach a Sunday school class, be a substitute, or sit in and see what they are learning. Be excited when you drop them off and be excited to pick them up. Ask them about what they learned in Sunday school.

4. Bring church home.

Before you go into the service tell your kids that you expect them to tell you two things that they have learned. Have realistic expectations. Do not expect your 5-year-old to be able to list all of the pastor’s five points. But your child should be able to tell you if the sermon was about Jesus or Moses. And then talk about the sermon after church. Help your children find ways to apply the sermon to their hearts. Pray through your pastor’s application points, asking God to make your family more like Christ. 

5. Be loving.

Children will make mistakes and will at times be a distraction. Instead of giving the mother with a crying baby a dirty look and pointing them to the nursery, lovingly smile and offer to help the young mother. And remember when we see children squirming in the seats, it’s possible they find our church services boring because we have made them boring. As the Charles Spurgeon noticed, “when children are not quiet in a meeting, it is often as much as our fault as theirs” (2011, p. 132). Let’s be sure to get the log out of our own eye before we make a big deal about the speck in the eye of the child sitting next to us. Let’s make sure our services represent that awesome glory of Christ. God is not lame and our services should not be lame.  Let’s resolve to be like Christ and welcome children into the churches!

Don’t Give Up!

The best place for children to learn about God is at the feet of their parents. As parents, we alone have the ability to connect church life into the home, reinforcing the lessons learned through discipline, prayer, and conversations all week long. We alone have the power to create a family culture with God at the center. If we punt our responsibility to connect children to Christ, we will teach our children to value personal comfort more than the commands of God. Raising a family is hard work. My four siblings and I definitely put my parents through the ringer at times. My son often causes me to wonder, “What am I doing?” And, I’ve seen the tired looks on the faces of moms as the walk into our church. But, we can do it! Another generation for Christ can be reached. Your sowing will not be in vain! “The one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal 6:8b-9).

Works Cited

Ham, K., Beemer, B., & Hillard, T. (2012). Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What you can do to Stop it. Green Forest: Master Books .

Spurgeon, C. (2011). Lectures To My Students. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers.