Date: May 20, 2018 Audio: Transcript:
“The Wise Man Built His House upon the Rock” song…..
When I was growing up, that was my favorite Sunday School song. Fifty some years later, I still think of that song when I read our text today.
Friends, our journey through Luke’s gospel brings us to 6:46-49 (Page 863 in the pew Bibles). This is the story on which that little song is based, but this passage is much more than the basis for a cute song. I think this is a story, not just for children, but for everyone in this room. Let’s pause and pray the Lord would enable us to hear and heed what he is saying to us today.
Let’s begin by reading the text:
Luke 6:46-49: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord, and don’t do the things I say? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great.”
Friends, throughout most of this chapter, Jesus has directed his message primarily to Pharisees and their followers, to people not really sympathetic to Jesus’ ministry and who are skeptical of almost anything Jesus says.
However, in verse 46, Jesus shifts the focus to a different group, to those who call Jesus, “Lord.” These people claim to acknowledge his authority. They consider themselves followers of Jesus; or we might say, “Christians.”
Yet, Jesus says there is a problem. Not everyone who calls Jesus, “Lord” (or even, “Lord, Lord”) means those words. People can claim to trust and follow Jesus, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily doing that. They are following their own path as they do things their own way, rather than Jesus’ way.
So, the reality is this: Some people who call Jesus “Lord” claim to follow him and really do. These are true disciples, people who truly belong to the Lord Jesus.
Then there are those who call him “Lord,” who maybe claim to follow him, but really don’t. They are not true disciples. They are not genuine believers. And the story Jesus tells helps us understand both a little better.
The story is pretty simple. There are two men. I will call them Bill and Bob. (Joe is on vacation this week.) Bill, the first man, starts by making a good foundation.
Luke 6:48a – He…dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.
Now, some of you know a lot more about building than I do. Yet, even 2,000 years ago it was common knowledge that it was good to have a solid foundation.
However, Bob (the second fellow), decides he is going to take a little shortcut in his construction. He is not going to spend all that money and time on a foundation. Bob decides to build his house on top of the ground. And back then, Bob didn’t have to worry about any building inspector telling him he could not do that.
Now, in Matthew 7, Jesus tells a similar story. There we have a contrast between a man who builds his house on a rock and the other who builds on sand. Here the difference is between one who has a foundation and one who doesn’t. Matthew and Luke are reporting two different occasions when Jesus was teaching, so Jesus apparently tells slightly different stories.
Anyway, Jesus says Bill and Bob represent two kinds of people. Bill represents:
Luke 6:47b – Someone…who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them.
This is a person who truly trusts and follows Jesus. A real disciple. This is someone who has dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock, the Rock of ages.
Bob, however, represents someone who claims to be a disciple of Jesus, but really is not. He doesn’t really trust or follow Jesus.
Luke 6:49a – But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.
Now, I think it is important to note that when the two houses are built, they probably look very similar. A foundation is pretty much underground and may not even be noticed when someone is looking at the house. In fact, because Bob doesn’t spend money on a foundation, he might be able to make his house look more attractive than Bill’s. He maybe puts in some bay windows and an extra fireplace.
This is a reminder that we usually cannot distinguish between a true and false disciple just by looking at someone. In fact, on the surface, a false disciple may even seem more religious or more zealous than a true disciple.
For example, I think of Marjoe Gortner (his parents named him after Mary and Joseph). He was ordained as a pastor back in 1948, when he was 4 years old. His parents taught him how to be a Pentecostal preacher, and he spoke at revival meetings across the United States.
By the time he was 16, his ministry had brought in about $3 million. And that was in 1960, when money was worth a lot more than it is now. His father then took that money and abandoned his family.
At that point, Marjoe quit preaching and became a hippie. Yet, a few years later, he was out of money and he started preaching again. Then, after about five years, Marjoe decided he could make more money by exposing the fraud that he and his family had been conducting. So, he became an actor and starred in the movie about his fake ministry, called “Marjoe.” It was then that he admitted he never really believed any of the things he had preached, but had just done so to make money for himself and his family.
Now, I first heard about that movie when I was in high school. At the time, it upset me. I thought the film portrayed Christians as fakes. I now realize that was nothing to be upset about; because some so-called Christians are, indeed, fakes.
Of course, the real troubling thing is that people I know, even some who have been a part of this church for a while, now appear to want nothing to do with the Lord Jesus. They may even claim to be an atheist now, or maybe they embrace another religion like Buddhism or Islam. At one time, they appeared to be a Christian, but it seems there was no foundation to their faith. It was not real. Oh, maybe it looked real from the outside, but it was never real on the inside.
Friends, this is an important topic, so I want to try and be very clear about what I am saying. Let me read something Jesus says:
Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
There are two points that Jesus makes in this verse that we need to grasp.
#1 Obedience to God, doing the will of the Father, is not the basis of salvation, but it is evidence of that salvation.
I think this is clearly taught throughout the Bible, and this verse is consistent with that. The basis of our salvation is not anything we do, but what Jesus has done for us, through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. This salvation is experienced or received by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ alone.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT – God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Our salvation does not depend on any act of obedience on our part, but simply on our trust, our belief in Jesus’ perfect obedience to God, the Father. That is why the Apostle Paul told the Philippian jailer, and we can tell any human being:
Acts 16:31 – “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”
So, why then does Jesus say the only ones who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do the will of the Father? Well, an important part of doing God’s will is believing in Jesus. Yet, much more is also included.
God’s will involves all the things that express love for God and for other people. Remember, those are the two great commands. Again, our obedience to God is not the basis for our salvation, but is a result of that salvation. When we trust in the Lord Jesus, not only does God forgive us and declare us righteous, but he gives us the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who enables us to become righteous in our character and live in a way that pleases the Lord. The Bible calls that sanctification. That is why I say obedience to God is evidence that someone has experienced God’s salvation and is truly a believer in Jesus.
Now, this evidence is not intended to be used in labeling some people true Christian believers and others fake Christians. We had a sermon about the folly of judging others last Sunday. Obedience to God is often like an iceberg, where 90% of it is below the surface. Obedience is often more about motives and attitudes than it is about actions.
Thus, it is God alone who sees true obedience. God alone knows who is truly saved and who isn’t. Yes, he desires those of us who are trusting in Jesus to have assurance of our salvation. However, I fear there are plenty of people who are not truly saved, who are not really Christians, who for some reason feel confident they will end up in heaven.
That brings us to our second point:
#2 Not all who profess faith, possess faith.
Not everyone who claims to be a Christian, truly is. Or as Jesus put it:
Matthew 7:21 – Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.
One of the questions Christians have discussed and argued about for a long time is this: Is it possible for a Christian to lose his/her salvation?
Friends, I think the Bible’s answer to that question is pretty clear. No, a Christian cannot lose his/her salvation. Someone who is truly saved, will be eternally saved. I think in the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul makes it very clear that justification cannot be undone. Romans 8:30 tells us that those who have been justified will be inevitably glorified, meaning they will be in heaven.
However, when someone who at one time professed to be a Christian, now is no longer believing in or following Jesus, it is an indication that the original profession was very possibly not genuine. This is what the Apostle John describes:
1 John 2:19 NLT – These people left us, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.
Now, I believe that there are genuine Christians who temporarily and partially abandon their faith. These folks are like Peter who denied Jesus the night of his arrest, but not like Judas who totally betrayed him. And I also believe that neither I nor anyone else will always be able to tell whether someone’s denial of the Lord is temporary or permanent.
In other words, we don’t know whether someone is a Peter or a Judas. Oh, I may have an opinion about whether or not someone’s faith is genuine, about whether or not there is a foundation under someone’s profession of faith. Yet, my opinion doesn’t really matter. God’s opinion is the only one that counts. And he knows whether or not someone’s profession of faith is genuine.
Jesus’ point in our text is that the storms of life often reveal the true nature of someone’s faith. The difference between Bill and Bob’s houses will become obvious when a storm strikes. For Bill’s house, the one with the foundation:
Luke 6:48b – When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built.
But, Bob’s house, the one without the foundation:
Luke 6:49b – The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great.
Crisis and adversity have a way of revealing the true nature and quality of faith. Those who truly trust and follow Jesus may feel very discouraged and confused. There may even be times of panic. Yet, because the Holy Spirit dwells inside, because he has caused every believer in Jesus to be born again and given us a new nature, I believe we will eventually find the strength and peace we need in him. That is why the Apostle Paul said:
Philippians 1:6 NLT – And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
That is why C.S. Lewis said we should not be surprised that God allows Christians to experience more adversity in life than others, because we are the only ones who have the resources to handle it.
Yet, I don’t think the flood Jesus is talking about happens in this life. The big flood occurs when each of us stands before God on the Day of Judgment. I love the revision of this parable written by John Duckworth:
Two men, Bill and Bob, each build a house – Bill’s with a foundation and Bob’s without. Yet, it never rains. There is never any flood. Eventually, it does rain, but it only rains on Bill’s house with the foundation, not on Bob’s. Bob continues to take it easy, and sits in the sun, sipping lemonade. Finally, Bill leaves his house and moves in with Bob. And then it rains and does not stop. The flood comes, and Bob’s house without that foundation is destroyed. Bill’s house, with the foundation, stands firm, but there is no one home to enjoy its protection.
Friends, this is a reminder that even though it may seem to take a long time, one day the flood, judgment, will come. Ultimately, those who are not truly trusting in Jesus will suffer great loss. Yet, those who truly know him will receive a great reward.
So, when it seems that folks around you who are not Christians are always doing better than you, they are getting promoted, driving the expensive SUV, making the “A” honor roll, or playing on the championship team, be patient. One day, you will receive your reward. You will be very glad that you have Jesus Christ as the foundation for your life.
Yet, for those who profess, but don’t really trust or follow Jesus, this is a clear warning. Even if you make it through life without ever having any storms hit, even if you don’t really face any tragedy, you are still in deep trouble. You will not be able to sneak past God. When you stand before him on the Day of Judgment without Jesus Christ as your foundation, everything you have accomplished or anything you have obtained will mean absolutely nothing. Those things will all be swept away by the flood of God’s judgment. And you will be left naked, facing God’s eternal wrath, a.k.a. “Hell.”
Friends, the obvious question this morning is this: Is Jesus Christ your foundation? Are you truly trusting and following the Lord Jesus?
Yes, almost all of you in this room profess faith. You say you believe in Jesus. My great fear, however, is that some of you are Christians on the outside, but not on the inside. I can’t tell who is in that boat. I can’t, at least with any certainty, discern who is a genuine believer in Jesus and who is not.
However, if you are honest with yourself, you know. You know whether or not you have built your house and lived your life with Jesus Christ as the foundation. Oh, I’m not talking about living some perfect life and never committing sin. Having Jesus as your foundation means you are trusting in his righteousness, not your own. It means you have repented from that self-righteousness and self-reliance to which we are naturally inclined and instead are trusting in the Lord Jesus to save you.
And friend, if by God’s grace you have done that, Jesus Christ is indeed your foundation. And if you have not, the good news is that it is not too late. As God enables, you can start fresh today. You can build a new house, a new life, and this time with the Lord Jesus as your foundation.
I want to make sure each of us understands what this means. Jesus says that obedience to his commands is the key to being a true disciple, a real follower of Jesus. That is true.
However, it is important to realize that the first and most important step in obedience is trusting in the Lord Jesus as your Savior. It is futile to go out and try to obey the rest of Jesus’ commands until we are first trusting in Him.
Jesus, like the Apostle Paul, the Apostle James and all the Old Testament and New Testament writers, are in agreement that salvation comes by grace through faith, and that faith then leads to obedience. Paul calls it “the obedience of faith.”
Without faith in Jesus, there will be no true obedience; and with faith in Jesus, obedience will follow. Our experience of God’s salvation will cause us to be grateful. That gratitude will grow into love for God. And people who love him, keep his commands. Those who love the Lord obey him. Grace, gratitude, love, obedience – that is what enables us to trust and follow Jesus and be his true disciples.
Friends, is Jesus Christ the foundation of your life? If not, I urge you to make him that foundation by trusting in him and receiving his grace and salvation today. If you are not sure what that means, or not sure you are doing that, please talk to me or Pastor Mark today or give us a call this week.
Friend, this stuff is way too important to ignore or even postpone. When the storms hit, either in this life or the next, you don’t want to be caught without Jesus as your foundation.
On the other hand, if the Lord Jesus is your foundation, if your life is built, not on what you have accomplished, but on what he has accomplished for you; then my friend, you have a reason to celebrate! This is what we are going to do as we sing our closing song…..“In Christ Alone.”