Build Your House on the Rock
Passage: Matthew 7:24–7:29
Grab your Bible and turn to Matthew 7. We now are going to close out the series on The Sermon on the Mount. It's very fitting, with the beginning of construction on our church building, that we close out the Sermon on the Mount looking at a passage where Jesus is going to talk about building your house on solid rock. Indeed, our desire, as we see the changes happening to our building, we will 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! Reading Matthew 7:24-27--
"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 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. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 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."
Last week we saw how the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus laying out for us what Kingdom life looks like against the culture, as well as against the religious establishment of the Pharisees and Scribes. Last week we also saw how He went over a series of illustrations; two messages; two teachers; two followers. And essentially HE was saying, "How do you know if someone is in the Kingdom of God?" He's basically teaching, "From the outside you may not be able to tell." You can't judge a book by its cover.
Now, we will see similar kinds of illustrations. Two builders; two foundations and two consequences. In verses 24-27 you see two builders; a wise builder and a foolish builder. We should note that from the outside these two builders seem to be doing the same thing. 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 to see the difference between a true Christ-follower and a nominal Christian. You can have professing Christians (genuine Christians) and false ones, and they often look alike. They appear to be building Christian lives. However, some are not.
Many theologians throughout history have referred to this as the visible church and the invisible church. The visible church is what we see; those we see on Sundays going through the motions and activities of Christianity.
But the invisible church, or the true church, is made up of individuals seen in their hearts by God, visible to HIM. And those are the ones that truly belong to Jesus. 1 John 2:19 speaks about these two groups when it 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 of us."
And as we said last week, people would say, "Lord, Lord, we performed miracles in your name." And then He would say, "Depart from me, I never KNEW you!" And at the end of Matthew 24 we see, "Two men in a field, one will be taken and the other left behind! Two women grinding in the mill, one will be taken and one left behind."
Or in Matthew 25: He tells the parable of the ten bridesmaids who each have a lamp but only five have enough oil, and were ready for the groom. In other words, a lot of people have the lamp, the show of Christianity, but not the substance. Jesus does not truly have a relationship with them. I don't think it's 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." That's the two builders.
Now, the two foundations. Any builder will tell you how vital and crucial the foundation is to any home or any building! Any mistakes made in the foundation will only get worse as it is built up! The foundation is critical! The wise builder, He said, is the one who builds on a rock, solid rock. The foolish builder, obviously, is the one who builds his house on sand.
So, now He talks 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 tells 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 words of Christ and does NOT DO them.
Now, take note, both builders hear the words of Jesus. And both may be part of the Christian community. But we can't see their foundation at first glance. So, their foundation is determined by how they respond to hearing the Word of God. So, the question isn't whether or not they hear the Word of God. Nor is the question whether or not they respect it and believe it to be true.
The question is, after hearing it, are they doing it? Do they put it into action in their lives. That's what separates the rock from the sand. Obedience is key! It reveals our faith! It reveals our belief in Christ! I'm not saying you should be sinless, but you cannot claim to believe in Jesus and not desire obedience, submitting to the Word of God and following His commands.
We see this in the writings of John in his gospel, John 14, "if you love me you will keep my commandments." Then in 1 John 2, "by this we know that we have come to know Him if we keep his commandments.” 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 are going to 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 really in you.
Now these verses I 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 here. Don't misunderstand it. Salvation, clearly Scripture says, is by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 "by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
Salvation isn't from works. Any works done without faith in Christ is just empty legalism, self-righteousness, and actually produces further condemnation for us. Let me repeat that! Any works done apart from faith in Christ is just building self-righteousness and is really garnering for us further condemnation before a Holy God!
However, in Romans 9 Paul speaks of those who pursue faith but based on their works. Therefore, they stumble. They're pursuing the law, as they're pursuing their works. So, again, works without faith is dead legalism.
But, faith without works is no faith at all. And that's what's being taught here. These verses are not teaching salvation by works! But what they're underscoring is if we really believe in Jesus, we will demonstrate that faith by obedience! And, of course, if one has studied the Bible, the verse that pops into your mind is James 2:18, “But someone will 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 thing this is saying; there's no way one can show faith without works. But, I'm going to show you my faith by my works. Just as the body apart from the Spirit is dead, so also, faith apart from works is dead.
As Matt read earlier in James 1, he said, "if someone looks at the law but does not continue in it, doesn't do it but just hears it, he's like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and walks away and forgets what he looks like." This is the consistent teaching throughout the New Testament.
It's interesting that a few years ago, there was this "Lordship Salvation" controversy. Basically, this idea that one can accept Christ as his SAVIOR, and then at a separate time, another experiential-decision, make Him your LORD. NO!!! We do not do that! Scripture does not teach that! You can't accept Jesus as just your Savior and not your Lord. Now, you may grow in your knowledge and understand and realize you haven't made him LORD of every part of your life. And that should be increasing; but it doesn't mean He wasn't your LORD at the very beginning. When we accept Him as Savior he is also our LORD!
Again, you may grow in that, but you should also have a desire to obey His commands and seek to live that out. And many times in Scripture, obedience and belief are interchangeable. Again, last week we saw, some are going to say, "Lord, Lord, I prophesied in your name." And they will not enter the Kingdom except the one who does the will of the Father in Heaven. He didn't say the one who believes in me, but He goes ahead and tells us what that looks like: if you do the will of the Father in Heaven.
And also, John 3:36. Look how belief and obedience are interchangeable. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." He interchanged belief and obedience. Whoever believes will have life; whoever does not obey does not have life. 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 among all the nations. So, what Paul is aiming for wasn't a system that, today they will accept Him as savior, and then one day in the future make Him Lord. What Paul was aiming for was to have people turn to the obedience of faith.
The true building of one's house on a rock is to reveal one's faith through obedience. Our true worship of God is revealed. Samuel says to Saul that God delights in obedience over sacrifice. One can give his money away, he can come to church and sing praises. But what God is saying, your worship is most seen by Me when you are living out obedience to My commands in your life. This is the kind of Faith God is after in us; the demonstration of itself in our lives.
Now, there's two outcomes. He says for both of them, storms will come. The wise builder who builds on the rock is going to experience storms. The foolish builder that builds upon the sand is going to experience storms. Both will have rain and the wind beating against them. So, storms come for all of us because we live in a broken world.
So, again, that false message of ease. 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." What this verse is telling us is 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. There is a parable that Jesus shares in Matthew 13:3-8,
"A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 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, but when the sun rose they were scorched. and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain . . ."
Now look at verses 18-23, same chapter.
"Hear then the parable of the sower: 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. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 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. 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."
I want you to see the different storms that will come for you. And they are going to reveal whether or not you are on the Rock. One storm we should know about is the Word of God not really being taken in. Now if you're a Christian, the evil one cannot take the Word from you completely.
But, I want to warn you of one storm that we experience; the storm of distraction and being beaten spiritually, so that you don't hear the Word of God and take it into your life. Be aware of this storm!
Another storm that you see very clearly here is the storm of tribulation. I would say the storm of pain, or the storm of suffering, or the storm of loss. Again, because we live in a broken world, there is sickness. There are illnesses. There are accidents that buffet us, and maybe even take our lives. We saw that with the evil that happened in Britain recently.
Now, as you will agree, the greatest Biblical illustration of this is the book of Job. What needs to be highlighted with Job is what I think Jesus is teaching here. The dialogue the enemy had with God. Satan comes before God and God asks Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There's none like him on the earth. He's blameless and upright and he fears me and turns away from evil." How does Satan respond? "Well God, does he fear You for nothing? You've blessed him with so many possessions. You strike him and I promise you he will curse you to your face."
So now the test is on. And God says, "All right, all that he has is in your hands. Only do not stretch out your hand against him." We know what happens. The enemy takes away all his children, all his possessions. He tears off his clothes, shaves his head, and falls on his face. Then he says, "Naked I came into this world, and naked I'm leaving this world. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. But blessed be the name of the Lord." At the end of Job the Bible tells us that in all of this Job did not sin or charge God with any wrong. These storms that come are showing us upon what our foundation is really built. And are you going to stand when the suffering comes?
There is a couple in our church. Last week I held their baby who was born for one hour before their baby went to be with the Lord. And they knew about five months ago that this was coming for them. And we did the funeral on Friday. 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.
And what they were saying in the letter was, basically, that God has gifted them with an eternal perspective, that said to their son "every moment of every day 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." And just as David said about his deceased son, "he will not return to me but I will go to him." While in their home they confessed to me, "Afshin, I don't know how anyone can go through this if they don't know Jesus." Because He's the solid rock. This reminds us that this world is not our home. We weren't made for this world. With this story, I had to give us this eternal perspective.
Or how about the storm of persecution? That's the next one here in the parable of the sower and the seed. Persecution may arise! Let me remind you, I mentioned last week about Meredith going to that multi-faith dialog, and the one lady who stood up and said there's one way to God, and that's through Jesus. We're persecuted. Let me tell you, guys, in this community, in Frisco, if we want to be a church that stands for the truth of Jesus, we will, we will be persecuted by the world!
In fact, what's interesting, the storm that comes, it'll simply reveal the foundation. Even the storms 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 that proves you belong to the world and not to me. But since I called you out of the world, know 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 in I Thessalonians 1, "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." In other words, "Suffering came to you; persecution from the churches in Greece came to you. And you kept following the Word of God." So, we're to be a people that say, "Everyday God gives me here on earth is Jesus." Like Paul said, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Even if you take my life away from me, that's ultimate gain for me.
So, now, the storm of prosperity. At the very end of the parable, He said that some seed will fall on the thorns. Those are the ones that the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and prove it unfaithful. Friend, equally, as difficult as persecution or pain is, so also is the storm of prosperity. It will sift many in our community.
Paul in 1 Timothy 6:9-10 warns Timothy of this. He said, "Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, 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 of all kinds of evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains." So, the enemy will send you storms of opportunity to run away from Jesus and pursue for your life to build your own kingdom on this earth. And he's warning us too. These will choke away the word and prove it unfaithful in your life.
Jesus was tested this way also, with that storm. While in the wilderness, when Satan came to Him, and said, "Look, I'll offer to you all the kingdoms of this world if you bow down to me." And Jesus, again, founded on the Word of God, turned to him and said, "Man should worship God alone and serve Him alone." So, we've got to be ready for these storms!
The greatest storm, back in Matthew 7, what this is all referring to most of all, not just the storms here on earth that we face physically; but I think Jesus is referring to the storm of the day of the coming judgement. This, revealing to us, once and for all, whether we really built our life on Christ, or on something else. On ourselves? On our works? On the world? That storm, that day is coming for all of us.
1 Corinthians 3 says, "No one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." And he says, "A day is coming that all of 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. The key thing is going to be, did you build it on the rock? What does that mean? Were you someone who heard the word of God and you put it into your life as obedience?
I think this is very telling where this is going to end! This is the most important!!! There are a lot of people who love this Sermon on the Mount. Even those from other religions. I've read that Muslims, after having read this sermon, had tears and have said that this is powerful teaching if people could live by this. I believe there are atheists that after reading this Sermon on the Mount would say there are some good truths here that we should live by.
You may ask, "Why are you bringing that up?" Because so many people want Jesus to be in a box and take some of His teaching, but this idea of listening to Him and then putting it into obedience, making Him our LORD, they're going to reject. You may ask, "Where do you see that?" Look at the way this chapter ends. Right after the sermon, look at verses 28 and 29. "And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes."
Don't miss this. 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 as He was teaching. He was claiming to be THE ONE who had the authority to interpret scripture! The ONE by Whom all of us will be judged! He was noticeably different than the Scribes! The Scribes taught derivatively. They 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 that came before them; traditions that were before them. But Jesus spoke with a self-authenticating authority. That's why He would teach them, "You've heard it said . . . But I say to you!" He's saying, "You heard the Scribes teach the Old Testament this way, but I'm telling you this is the way it should be interpreted." Jesus is saying, "My interpretation of the word of God, the Old Testament Scripture, is the right one." Because Jesus does have authority over Scripture!
Jesus' expectations from His listeners on that day when He preached that sermon, was not that they would simply absorb His teaching, but that they would devote their life to Him. These verses point to Him as the one who will judge who will be saved and who won't be saved. He's the one who will say, "I never knew you." And all will be judged by how they respond to Him. Did you devote your life to Him or something else? Now, why is all this important? Here's why. Because the Sermon on the Mount leaves no room for you or for anyone to pick and choose some of these teachings and live their life based on yourself and what you think is right. We can't do that!
The Sermon on the Mount is an incredible declaration that Jesus is God, He is LORD! And He comes to usher in His Kingdom. And what He is calling from us isn't just to believe these things are true, but to base our life on them after listening to them; to make Him your KING! That will determine whether you're building on rock or are you building on sand. And those who stand on the day of Judgement are not those who are PERFECT, and did 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 LORD of your life!
So this is a call to every one of us to look at our hearts. If you're here and you just have the shell of Christianity; nominal Christianity is so pathetic! It's like auditing 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 heard the Word. But true Christianity, while going through the motions, you've devoted your life to Jesus as your KING. And you get credit, not for anything you did, but because of what He did for you.