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Two Messages, Two Teachers, and Two Followers

May 28, 2017 Speaker: Afshin Ziafat Series: Sermon on the Mount

Passage: Matthew 7:13–7:23




Grab your Bibles and turn with me now to Matthew chapter 7. We now are going to close out our series on the Sermon on the Mount.

By the way, I think it's very fitting that we're going to begin construction this week, as we close out the Sermon on the Mount, looking at a passage where Jesus is gonna talk about building your house on solid rock. And so indeed, our desire is, as we see the changes happening to our building, that we would be praying that God would continue to build us as a spiritual house on the solid rock of Christ; that we would be a church rooted in the gospel and proclaiming the gospel. 

So I want you to see this in Matthew chapter 7. And we're gonna read verses 24-27 to start. Jesus says:

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” 

So here's what I want you to see. So last week, if you remember, we reminded ourselves that the Sermon on the Mount is basically Jesus laying out for us what kingdom life looks like, over and against the culture, and over and against the religious establishment of the Pharisees and scribes. 

And then, if you remember, last week, He went through a series of illustrations: Two messages, two teachers, two followers. Essentially with that He was saying, How do you know if someone is in the kingdom of God? And what He basically is teaching there is, From the outside, you may not be able to tell. You can't judge a book by its cover. And so He says there are two messages. One message on the outside seems like it's leading to life. It's a message that's gonna say, There's a wide gate, there's going to be a life of ease if you follow Christ, and it's going to lead to life, but really, it's leading to destruction. It's a false message.

Then there is the true message, that basically teaches that there is a narrow gate. There's one way to God; it's through Jesus. And following Him does NOT lead to comfort. In fact, you have to give up things to follow Jesus -- give up everything to follow Jesus. And so He's saying that, ironically, that's the way that's going to end up in life.

And then there are two teachers: One that's really a wolf in sheep's clothing who looks like he cares about the sheep, but he doesn't really care about the sheep. He cares about himself. 

Then the true teacher. And you're gonna recognize the true teacher by his fruit.

And thirdly, He talks about two followers: Those who give lip service to Jesus, but they don't really know Him. They'll say, "Lord, Lord, we performed miracles in Your name," and Jesus will say, "Depart from Me; for I never knew you." 

And so we're gonna carry this notion of these two things. And you're gonna see it now with two builders, two foundations, and two outcomes.

So let's look at the two builders first of all. In verses 24-27 you see two builders: A wise and a foolish builder. And what's interesting is for us to note that from the outside, these two builders seem to be doing the same thing. They seem to be building a house, and maybe to the casual observer, they look like similar houses. But the casual observer cannot see the foundation. In the same way, in the church, it's sometimes difficult for the casual observer to see the difference between a true Christ-follower and a nominal Christian. 

You could have quote-unquote, professing Christians, both genuine Christians and false ones, and they often look alike. They appear to be building Christian lives. However, some are not. And this is what many theologians throughout history have referred to, the Visible church vs. the Invisible church. The visible church is the church that we see -- the people who show up on Sundays; they go through the motions of Christianity. 

But the INvisible church, or the true church -- it's invisible to us, but God who sees the heart, it's visible to Him. And those are the ones who truly belong to Jesus. 1 John 2:19 speaks about these two groups when he says that false teachers went out from us, but they were not OF us. "For if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they are not all of us." 

And of course, we saw this last week, again, with the people who would say, "Lord, Lord, we performed miracles in Your name, and He'll say, "Depart from Me; I never knew you." At the end of Matthew you see this. In Matthew 24 He's going to talk about two men in the field; one will be taken, the other left behind. Two women grinding at the mill -- one being taken, one left behind. Or in Matthew 25 where He tells the parable of the ten virgins -- ten bridesmaids who all had the lamps, but only five of them had the oil and were ready for the groom.

So in other words, a lot of people have the lamp -- have the shell of Christianity, but not the substance. Jesus does not truly have a relationship with them. 

So I don't think this is necessarily meant to scare us, but the end of the Sermon on the Mount is trying to press down: Listen! Do you just have the veneer of Christianity, or do you really have the substance? So there's two builders. 

But then there's two foundations. Now any builder will tell you how vital and crucial the foundation is to any home or any building, right? Any mistakes that you make in the foundation will only get worse as you go up. The foundation is critical.

So the wise builder, He says, is the one who builds his house on solid rock. The foolish builder obviously is the one who builds his house on sand. So now as we talk about the rock and the sand, the two foundations, what's the difference? How do you know if you're building your house on rock? And He gives it to us very clearly.

"The one who builds on the rock is the one who hears the words of Christ and DOES them. And the one who builds on sand is the one who hears the Christ and does NOT do them." Now take note that, again, both builders HEAR the words of Jesus. Did you catch that? Again, they both may be part of the Christian community. But, again, you can't see the foundation at first glance. So the foundation they're building on is determined by how they respond to HEARING the word of God. 

So the question, friends, isn't whether they HEAR the word of God. And the question isn't even if they even respect it and believe it to be true. That's not the question! The question is, do they hear it and DO it? Do they put it into action in their life? THAT'S what separates the rock from the sand. 

And so, friends, OBEDIENCE is key. Because it reveals our faith. It reveals our belief in Christ. You cannot claim to believe in Jesus -- I'm not saying you're going to be sinless -- but not live a life that desires obedience, that submits to the word of God, and follows His commands. You see this in the writing of John, in his Gospel. In John 14:15, Jesus says, "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments." In his epistle, in 1 John 2:3 he says, "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments." And then, conversely, he says, "Whoever says, 'I know Him' but does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 

So he gives the positive and the negative. If you really believe in Jesus, you're gonna keep His commands. If you say you believe in Him but don't keep His commands, you're lying. You don't really know Him. The truth is not in you.

Now these verses I've just laid out, and what I'm teaching right now, and what I think this is teaching, is not a salvation that comes from works. That's not what's being taught. Don't misunderstand it. Salvation clearly, scripture says, is by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9, you’re saved by grace through faith, that not of yourselves, it's a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. Salvation isn't from works. 

And listen, friends, any works done without faith in Christ is just empty legalism, self-righteousness, and actually produces further condemnation for us. Did you hear me say that? Any works done apart from faith in Christ is just building self-righteousness and is really garnering for us further condemnation from a holy God.

However -- and by the way, this is scriptural -- in Romans 9:32 Paul speaks of those who pursue faith, but based on their works, and therefore they have stumbled. They are pursuing the law and then pursuing their works.

And so yes, works without faith is just dead legalism and is just garnering more condemnation. But faith without works is no faith at all. And that's what's being taught here. These verses aren't teaching salvation by works. But what they're underscoring is that if you really believe in Jesus, if I really believe in Jesus, I will demonstrate that faith by obedience. And of course, the scripture that ought to pop into your mind if you've studied the Bible, the most clear one is James chapter 2:18, when he says, "You say, you have faith and I have works; show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith BY my works. The first statement, he's saying, there's no way you can show your faith without works. I'm telling you, I'm gonna show you my faith by my works. For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. 

Or as Matt read earlier, in James 1:23-24, he says, If someone looks at the law but does not continue in it, doesn't do it, just hears it, he's like a man looking at his face in a mirror, and walks away and forgets what he looks like. 

And so, friends, this is the consistent teaching throughout the New Testament. It's interesting that a few years ago, there was this "Lordship Salvation" controversy. If you're not familiar with it, basically this idea that you could accept Christ as your Savior, and then at a separate moment, in another experience, then make Him your Lord. 

No! You cannot do that! Scripture does not teach that. You can't accept Jesus as just your Savior and not your Lord. Now listen to me. You may grow in your knowledge, and understand that, man, I haven't fully made Him Lord of every part of my life, and that ought to be increasing. But it doesn't mean He wasn't your Lord at the very beginning. When you accept Him as Savior, He is your Lord. Again, you may grow in that, but you should have a desire to obey His commands, and you should seek to live that out. And many times in scripture, obedience and belief are interchangeable. 

Last week we saw, some are gonna say, "Lord, Lord, I prophesied in your name" and He says that they will not enter the kingdom. But the one who does the will of My Father in Heaven. He didn't say, The one who believes in Me, yes, that's true, but He just goes ahead and tells you what belief looks like, is that you do the will of your Father in Heaven. 

Or how about this one? John 3:36. Look how belief and obedience are interchangeable. Write that down: John 3:36. Look at this: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not OBEY the Son shall not see life." Did you see what He did? He interchanged belief and obedience. Whoever BELIEVES will have life; whoever does not OBEY. Same thing for John. Because belief shows itself in obedience. 

Hebrews 5:8-9 says that Christ has secured for us an eternal salvation to all who OBEY Him. The mission of Paul was to see the "obedience of faith (there it is) among all the nations" (Romans 1:5).

So what Paul was aiming for wasn't for just someone to make Him Savior and then later to make Him Lord. What Paul was aiming for was for people to turn to the obedience of faith. So truejbuilding your house on the rock, it's revealed -- your faith is revealed in obedience. Our worship is revealed, our true worship of God. When Samuel says to Saul that God delights in obedience over sacrifice. 

In other words, you can give your money away, you can come to church and sing praises, but what God is saying is that Your worship is most seen to Me when you are living out obedience to My commands in your life. And this is what God is after, this kind of faith that demonstrates itself in our lives. 

And so there's two builders; there's two foundations; and then, friends, finally, there's two outcomes. 

I want you to see that He says for both of them, storms will come. The wise builder who builds on the rock is going to experience storm; the foolish builder who builds on sand is going to experience storm. Both of them have the rain and the flood and the wind beating against them. 

So, friends, storms come for ALL of us because we live in a broken world. So again, last well-known, last week, that false message of ease. Hear me: Jesus never promised that. In fact, He promised the opposite: In this world you WILL have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world (John 16:33). So what this verse is coming around last week and telling us is this; don't miss this: The storms of life are actually revealing our foundation. They're coming into our life to reveal. And sometimes it's God's gift to reveal whether our lives are built on sand or on the solid rock that is Jesus. 

And you know what? Jesus shares a parable a couple chapters to the right that I think will show us some storms that will come for us. Go to Matthew 13. I want this to guide us in understanding the different storms that will come for us. Go to Matthew 13. It's a very famous parable of Jesus, the parable of the sower with the seeds. I think our children are studying this today, which is awesome. The parable of the sower with the seeds. Look starting at verse 3:

“A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced (fruit). 

Now jump to verse 18. Look at this:

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,21 yet he has no root in himself (the foundation is going to be revealed, look at this--) but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

So, I want to just look at this parable that our children are studying right now also, and I want you to see the different storms that are gonna come for you. And they're going to reveal, are you on the rock or not? The one storm I think we need to know about is the storm of the word of God not really being taken in. Now if you're a Christian, the evil one can't take the word away from you completely, but I want to tell you something: One storm that we experience in Frisco, Texas, is the storm that the enemy sends your way of distraction and of just being busy. So that you don't hear the word of God and take it into your life. Beware this storm.

Another storm that you see very clearly, obviously, is the storm of tribulation. I would call it the storm of pain. The storm of suffering or loss. Because we live in a broken world, there is sickness, friends. There is illness that hits us. There are accidents that buffet us. He may even take away our lives. Again, we saw that with the evil that happened in the UK once again. 

And so, listen, friends. I think the greatest illustration of this (and I know your mind probably goes there), of your foundation being tested when suffering comes, is obviously the book of Job. Everyone knows the story of Job, but what I want to highlight, because I think it really is pertinent to what Jesus is teaching here, is the dialog that the enemy had with God. You remember that dialog? 

So Satan comes before God, and God asks Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is none like him on the earth. He's blameless and upright, and he fears Me and turns away from evil." And what does Satan do? He says, "Well, God--does he fear You for nothing? You've blessed him with so many possessions. You strike him, and I promise that he will curse You to Your face."

And so now the test is on. And God says basically, All right, all that he has is in your hands. Only do not stretch your hand out against him. 

And you know what happens. The enemy takes away his children, all his possessions. Job tears off his clothes, shaves his head, falls on his face, and says, "Naked I came into this world, naked I'm leaving this world. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, but blessed be the name of the Lord." 

And the Bible says at the end of Job 1, "In all this he did not sin, nor did he charge God with any wrong. 

And so, friends, these storms that come are showing us what our foundation really is on. And are you gonna stand when the  suffering comes? There was a couple in our church that I walked with last week as they held their baby who was born for one hour before he went to be with the Lord. And they knew about 5 months ago that this was coming for them. And we did the funeral on Friday. And I read a letter that this couple wrote to their son. And it was the most amazing, doctrinally sound, solid in their faith, letter. I was in tears; I couldn't even get through the letter really. 

And what they were saying in the letter was basically that God has gifted us an eternal perspective. They said to their boy, every moment, every day, those 9 months that we had you here, they were all ordained by God, and you fulfilled the purposes God had for you. And with an eternal perspective, because of the word of God, and basing their life on it, they were able to say, And we know we will see you, just as David said about his deceased son, He will not return to me, but I will go to him. When I was meeting with them in their home, they said, Afshin, I don't know how anyone can go through this if they don't know Jesus. 

So He's the solid rock, that reminds us that this world is not our home. We weren't made for this world. He gives us that kind of eternal perspective. 

Or how about the storm of persecution? That's the next one I see here in this parable of the sower and the seed. Not only tribulation, but persecution may arise. And we talked about this last week. Remember I mentioned when Meredith went to that multi-faith dialog, and the one who stood up and said, there's one way to God, and that's through Jesus, was persecuted. 

And I don't have to tell you: More and more in this community, in Frisco, if we want to be a church that stands for the truth of Jesus, we WILL be persecuted by the world. In fact, here's what's interesting: That storm that comes doesn't just reveal the foundation. Even the storm's coming reveals that we belong to Jesus. If it never comes, you have to wonder. Because Jesus says this: The world WILL hate you because it hated me first. In fact, if the world doesn't hate you, it proves you belong to the world and not to me. But since I called you out of the world, know that the world will hate you (John 15:18-19).

And we are to be a people who know it's coming. And we know persecution in some form is going to come to us. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, I know that you received the gospel, not just in word, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, because you took the word of God with much affliction (1 Thessalonians 1:6). In other words, suffering  came to you, persecution from the churches in Greece came to you Thessalonians, and you kept following the word of God.

So we're to be a people who say, look, every day God gives me here is Jesus. Like Paul said, for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Even if you take my life away from me, that's ultimate gain for me. 

And so, the storm of persecution. Maybe one more I'll hit really quickly: The storm of prosperity. Don't miss it. At the very end of the parable He says that Some seed will fall on the thorns. And those are the ones where the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and prove it unfaithful. 

And, friend, listen to me now. Equally as difficult as persecution or pain is the storm of prosperity. And I'm telling you, it's going sift many in our community. Paul in 1 Timothy 6:9-10 warns Timothy of this. He says that "those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and into a snare, and into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into further ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs."

And so the enemy will send you storms of opportunity to run away from Jesus, and to pursue all your life to building your own kingdom on this earth, storing up treasures here. And He's warning us: It's gonna choke away the word and prove it unfaithful in your life. 

Jesus was tested this way with that storm. Remember in the wilderness when Satan came to Him and said, I'll offer to you all the kingdoms of this world if You bow to me." And again, Jesus, founded on the word of God, turned to him and said, Man shall worship God alone and serve Him alone. 

And so we've got to be ready for these storms. But listen to me, before I come to an end: The greatest storm, going back to Matthew 7 -- what this is all referring to, most of all, isn't just storms that are gonna come in this world -- don't miss this -- I believe Jesus is mostly referring to the coming storm at the day of judgment, that will reveal to us once and for all whether we've really built our life on Christ or on something else -- on ourselves, on our works, or on the world.

That storm, that day is coming for all of us. In 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 it says, "No one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." And then he says, that A day is coming when all our works will be disclosed and revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. That day is coming for us.

And listen to me: The key thing is going to be, again, Did you build it on the rock? You say, What does that mean? Again, were you someone who heard the word of God and you put it into your life, into obedience?

Now I think it's very telling where this is going to end. Now before we close, this is the most important thing. I want you to hear me, and then we're gonna pray. 

There are a lot of people who love this sermon. I'm not talking about my sermon today. I'm talking about this Sermon on the Mount. There are a lot of people who love the Sermon on the Mount. I'm saying people from other religions. I read that there are even Muslims who've read the Sermon on the Mount and had tears and said, This is powerful teaching, if people could live by this. There are people from other religions -- I would even say atheists who would read this sermon, and in some way say, Man, there are some good truths here, that we ought to live by.

You say, Why do you bring that up? Because so many people want Jesus just to be in a box; will take His teaching; will take some of His teaching. But this whole idea of listening to Him and putting it into obedience; making Him our Lord, they're gonna reject. 

You say, Where do you see that? Look at the way this chapter ends. Right after the sermon, look at verses 28 and 29:

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, (and look at verse 29) for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Every eye on me; don't miss this. Look at me now: The people were stunned at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Not just because of the powerful content of the sermon, but that He was teaching as one who had authority.

What made them be in awe was not just what He was teaching them, but who He was claiming to be. He was claiming to be the one who has authority to interpret scripture. The one by which all of us will be judged. The one who can judge all of us. 

You see, He was different from their scribes. The scribes taught derivatively. The referred to authority. They taught BY authority; Jesus taught WITH authority. The scribes based their opinions on the precedents that were laid down by rabbis who came before them, the tradition that was before them.

But Jesus spoke with a  self-authenticating authority. So that's why we saw over and over again in the Sermon on the Mount, "You've heard it said . . . but *I* say to you."

Remember what we said when we were teaching that: Jesus wasn't saying, The Old Testament said this, but now I'm gonna change it and say this. No. He's saying, You heard the scribes interpret the Old Testament THIS way, but I'm telling you, THIS is the way it ought to be interpreted. In other words, Jesus is saying, MY interpretation of Old Testament scripture is the RIGHT one. 

So He's teaching as one who has authority over scripture. And I say that to say this: Jesus' expectations from His listeners on that day when He preached that sermon, was not just that they'd absorb His teaching, but that they would devote their life to Him as their king. That was the expectation Jesus had when He taught this sermon. And these verses we've seen, again, HE is the one who is going to judge who will and won't be saved. He's the one who's gonna say, "I never knew you."

And, by the way, ALL will be judged by how they responded to Him. Did you build your life on Him, or something else? 

Now why is all this important? Again, here's why: Because the Sermon on the Mount leaves no room for you or for anyone to pick and choose, and say I'm gonna take some of these teachings, but I'm gonna go ahead and live my life based on me and what I think is right. You can't do that. The Sermon on the Mount is an incredible declaration that Jesus is God. He is Lord, and He's come to usher in His kingdom, and what He is calling from us is not just to believe that these things are true, but to listen to them and base our life on them. To make Him your King. 

THAT will determine, are you building on rock, or are you building on sand? And those who stand at the day of judgment are not those who are perfect or who have done a bunch of good things. But those who believed in Jesus alone. And that belief demonstrated itself through the fruit of obedience. Not sinlessness, but making Him the Lord of your life and following Him.

So this is a call to every one of us, to look at our hearts. And if you're here, and you've just had the shell of Christianity, look at me: Nominal Christianity is so pathetic. It's like auditing a course. You know, when you audit a course, you go through all the motions, but you never get credit for the course. That's what nominal Christianity is. You go through the motions of going to church, but you're not getting any credit before God. You're actually even more condemned because you've heard the word.

But true Christianity isn't just going through the motions. You devote your life to Jesus as your King. And you get credit, not because of anything you did, but because of what He did for you. Okay? So bow your head with me and let's pray.

Father, we love you. We thank You, Jesus, that You are the precious cornerstone, that You, God, promised to lay. And that we your church are built on the foundation of Christ as a solid rock. And that for some, the stone, as 1 Peter 2 says, will be a stone of stumbling, because some will only want to make Him a good teacher but will not submit their lives to Him. And so, Lord, we turn to You now. Search our hearts. Reveal and show to us: Is our life founded on solid rock? Have we believed in You alone? Have we submitted our life to Your kingship? 

Or are we on sand? On very precarious ground, ready to tumble at any moment and surely be destroyed in the end?

If that's you, friend, maybe you’re here and you’re saying, man, I think I may be in that other boat, and I'm ready. I want to know Jesus.

Just hear me say this: When you submit your life to His ways, it's the way of life. It's the way of blessing. It's not free from heartache. But I'm telling you, He will be with you. His promises, His purposes, will play out in your life. And in the end, you will be full of joy and full of life eternal. So I'm calling you, in the name of Jesus, turn to Him. Quit going into this nominal Christian going-through-the-motions and build your life on Jesus. He is solid rock.

God, we love You. We thank You for the word. We thank You for how clearly You warn us. We thank You for the Sermon on the Mount. May we be a people who demonstrate what it looks like to be Christ-followers to the world around us, again, so that they may see it and put their trust in You. We love You. It's in Christ's name we pray, Amen.

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