“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7).
NOAH TRUSTED GOD ENOUGH TO TAKE HIM SERIOUSLY, AND HE TOOK HIM SERIOUSLY ENOUGH TO OBEY HIS INSTRUCTIONS. The particular kind of righteousness that Noah demonstrated is the only kind God has ever accepted from human beings: “the righteousness which is according to faith.” And the distinguishing characteristic of this type of righteousness is not that it de-emphasizes obedience but that it produces an obedience based on trust.
We can tell to what extent we trust God by looking at how much risk we’re willing to take in order to obey Him, particularly in situations where God’s instructions go against our instincts. In this respect, there is a difference between “faith” and “trust.” Many people say they have faith, but not many are willing to put their trust where their faith is. James Dobson has illustrated it this way: “Faith in God is like believing a man can walk over Niagara Falls on a tightrope while pushing a wheelbarrow. Trust in God is like getting into the wheelbarrow!”
The “righteousness which is according to faith” is a scary thing. It requires that we cling to God alone and let go of any other means of support or security or safety. It isn’t easy to “get into the wheelbarrow,” and for all those who say they’ve done it, very few actually have. It takes humble, courageous trust to let go of all our self-sufficient safety ropes and let God determine the means by which we’ll get to the other side. It just seems so often that God’s plans for our righteousness involve the possibility of dangerous (and perhaps even embarrassing) consequences!
But if we’re willing to trust God, faith can open a door that must otherwise remain forever closed. Do we wish to please Him? Then faith — the radical trust that will take God seriously and obey Him readily — is the only key that will open that desirable door: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
“The Spirit-filled life is no mystery revealed to a select few, no goal difficult of attainment. To trust and to obey is the substance of the whole matter” (Victor Raymond).