Harry Johnston - Salvation - Silverdale II, New South Wales - January, 1994

In this matter of salvation, there were three parts I was thinking about. The first was when Noah and his family were saved from the water. The second was in Moses's day when God delivered His people from Egypt and third was in the New Testament day when Jesus came to this earth to save His people from their sins. For Noah, it was so vital that he obeyed God. God didn't leave it up to any man to decide what to do for salvation. He made all the plans for Noah and Moses and He made the plans for Jesus to save the people from their sins.

Possibly, we could begin with Jesus in the beginning of the New Testament. It would seem almost impossible to bring about the salvation that God promised in the Old Testament, because as far as kings and religious people were concerned in that time, there weren't any that He could really depend on. It is true that it was possibly the quietest time in the known world. There were no wars to speak of when Jesus was here. But that wouldn't make it possible for God to bring about salvation. He just took common, ordinary people and used them to bring about the New Testament, this salvation that we have from our sins, in Jesus.

In Luke 1, Zacharias and Elisabeth were older and when the angel of God spoke to Zacharias, it was in a way that Zacharias couldn't believe and then he couldn't say anything. God has always done that. If we don't believe His word our mouths are closed as far as speaking about the truth and life that He has for us. But when Zacharias could speak again, he talked about God's plan of salvation for all people.

Then God chose Mary and Joseph to be the ones that would be responsible for Jesus, the Son of God. They were just ordinary people in this world. When Jesus was about forty days old His mother could make an offering. That took
place in Jerusalem and Simeon and Anna were there. Simeon saw a little baby but he said, "Lord, now lettest Thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." It seemed very simple and small but to Simeon it was God's salvation. Matthew's Gospel tells of the wise men coming later, and it could have been up to two years later because Herod had destroyed all the little boys up to two years of age.

Herod had said he wanted to worship Him but God was in the picture and those men didn't go back to him. When it came to this matter of salvation, Joseph was awake and alive to it. I sometimes wonder why people in our day are so slow to realize what salvation can mean to them. Mary and Joseph went to Egypt and Jesus was back in Jerusalem when He was twelve years old, though they lived in Nazareth. That was the beginning of God's plan for salvation for humanity.

Sometimes people have asked me, "Did you have any trouble going into the Work?" I knew I had to do something with my life and I began to think about Heaven, and decided that if I was going to make something out of my life, I would have to put God first. I went and asked the older Worker in our state if it would be possible for me to be in the Work. He said, "How old are you?" I said, "I am nineteen." So he said, "You will have to talk it over with your parents first." My father said, "You are nineteen and you have to make your own choices." My mother said, "There are other young men that should go first." But I said, "Mother, if I have to wait for those five young men that you mentioned to go, I may never get to go." None of them went into the Work, but they are very faithful in their place. We cannot be waiting for other people to go. If God has put it into our hearts that it is our responsibility to go, then it is up to us.

Moses was prepared to go. He was raised in Egypt and was considered Pharaoh's daughter's son for forty years and then he decided that he wasn't going to be Pharaoh's daughter's son anymore because he thought about his own people. He had learned how to do things in Egypt; he killed the Egyptian because that was what he had learned to do. But he soon got to understand that this was not the way that things were to be done.

For forty years after that he was not an Egyptian, he was a shepherd. And it took forty years for God to get out of him what Egypt had put into him. Now he was an old man of eighty and God asked him to go and deliver those people from Egypt. They were in bondage so severe that they cried to God all those years. They were already in bondage at the time Moses was born and they had to wait eighty more years until God could have His servant come and help them.

Moses didn't feel he could do it, even objected to going. He had a willingness to see things that were right in the eyes of God. Many times he pleaded for those people, tried to help them understand their situation. But it took so
little for them to be out of sorts with everything. I used to wonder, "Why weren't they different?" They were just human beings, just a nation of people.

There wasn't any change in their hearts. When Moses was gone from them for those forty days, they thought they had to make gods of gold to follow. That was a disappointment to God and to Moses, but He still delivered them. It was marvelous. Here were over 600,000 men who could go to war. Then you include all their families, so there would have been about three million people. This massive group of people didn't have time when they came out of Egypt to bring much with them, so they had nothing to eat and God gave them quails. But that was just death in itself and God gave them manna.

I was in New Mexico for Convention once. In the daytime it was over a hundred degrees F and at night it would freeze. That is the extremes of the desert and I don't think the desert of Sinai is any different. That is why God gave them cloud by day for a cover and fire by night for warmth. And they had the manna every day. That tells us about the things that God has prepared for us in our generation. He has provided protection and food.

Then it tells us that they wore the same clothes that they wore in the beginning. Forty years they wore the same clothes, and that was the way God planned it. He wanted those people to have the testimony that we have. What
was protection in the beginning is going to be our protection all through life. Their clothes and shoes didn't wear out; what a wonderful testimony that God could do something that was impossible as far as man was concerned. I hope we will never get the feeling that this garment of righteousness is wearing out. God wanted to teach them about this matter of being content. Godliness with contentment is great gain. It is a real virtue to be content in whatever state
we are. Discontent will destroy our fellowship as fast as anything.

Maybe now we could go on to Noah's day. Wickedness was in the world and they had some giants in that time. I don't know if they were giant men or just giants by way of being popular. That was the picture and God was very
disappointed. So He was going to destroy the earth by water and He told Noah to build the ark of gopher wood. Gopher wood doesn't swell when it gets wet and it doesn't shrink when it gets dry. That is what the Gospel is like. It doesn't make any difference what the circumstances are the Gospel is always the same. The ark was to be made three hundred cubits long. The ancient cubit was 25.19 inches long and the Roman cubit was 18 inches.

The ark was no small thing. It would have been some 450 feet long if it was a Roman cubit they used, but if it was the ancient cubit, it would have been over 600 feet long and 100 feet wide and 60 feet high. It was a huge project. It
had to have three floors, one door and one window at the top. I don't understand all that but I saw that this is just what the Gospel teaches people. There is only one salvation in this world, in believing in Jesus. If we believe God, we will be following Jesus. I don't follow Jesus just because someone else is but because I chose to do it myself.

Noah never turned around to someone else and said, "Do you think that is all right?" There was no one else but his own family and possibly his own father who died five years before the flood and his grandfather Methuselah, who died
the year of the flood. Noah's father seemed to understand the wisdom of Noah doing what God asked him to do. When Noah was born he said, "This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." Lamech was testifying that this would be possible for a change. So there was a
change.

Noah was not a young man when the flood came. He was six hundred years old and it doesn't make any difference when it comes to serving God. I am glad that I appreciated those older fathers in our fellowship when I was young. Sunday after Sunday they would meet together and always have a thankfulness in their hearts for God being so merciful to them in opening the Scriptures. That is how I looked at it when I was young and now I feel the way they did; so very thankful that in all these years of life I have had a chance to see that God is faithful to His people, and He expects us to be faithful too.

Noah had a great responsibility of getting the animals and birds into the ark, and to get what they needed to eat for over a year. How could he do that? It was only by the help of God. Noah had three married boys and he had to take
care of all the natural side of things, but he found time to fulfill all that God had asked him to do, as big as the project was.

You might wonder how he got all those animals into the ark? They came to him because they weren't afraid of him. Some of those animals are very timid now, but at that time they weren't. There was no fear of man in them. Genesis 6:19, "... two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female..." Everything that was supposed to be in the ark came to Noah.

That reveals something about us in regard to the Lord's coming. When the Lord comes back, He won't have to go looking over everybody to see if they are serving Him or not. There is something in us because we have believed Jesus that when He comes back again, we will awaken and be with Him. Those that are dead in Christ shall rise first and we that are alive shall be caught up to meet Him. So when that trumpet sounds and the voice of the Lord is made known, His own would arise. That was the truth of the matter for those animals. The day they were supposed to be there, they were there. Then God shut the door.

I am always glad that it is up to God to pass judgement. He has the last word. He set the date and He shut the door. In the human side of living, there are many weaknesses, but with God there were no weaknesses. So they were in the ark, with no motor or rudder and it was all left in the hands of God. For seven months, they were on top of that water and the ark came down on Mount Ararat. Noah didn't go out until God asked him to.

We heard about the raven and the dove yesterday and I am so thankful that we have the nature of the dove. We don't want to be out in this world until there is life. The first evidence that the dove got of life was the leaf, and the
next week when Noah sent her out she never came back because there was life. We are not living amongst the dead, we are living amongst the living. We try to live to the things that are right and true.

There were four things that changed after the flood. There was rain, when there had been no rain before. A mist would come up from the earth to water it, so you can understand why those people found it impossible to believe Noah when he said it would rain. Then there was the rainbow, God's covenant. There was no fear of man in the animals before the flood but now God had put the fear of man into them. And the curse that God had cursed the earth with when Adam and Eve disobeyed was taken away. When Noah took the clean animals and birds and made sacrifice, God said He would never again curse the earth and there would always be winter and summer, seed time, and harvest.