FOUNDATION IS EVERYTHING
6/23/2012 12:17:31 PM -
'FOUNDATION IS EVERYTHING'
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against the house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was the fall."
When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes" (NASB).
A very short man wanted to drive a nail in his wall to hang a picture. He stood on a chair, but it was not high enough. His wife placed a box on the chair, but he was still short of his goal. So a stool was piled on top of the box. Balancing himself precariously, the do-it-yourself picture hanger began to tap timidly with his hammer. 'Why don't you hit it hard?' asked the wife. 'You will never drive the nail that way!'
Our hero looked down from his perch to reply, 'How can a man hit anything hard on a shaky foundation like this?'
As we conclude our series on the Sermon on the Mount, I would like us to explore the topic: "Foundation is Everything."
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has covered many subjects and themes pertaining to the Kingdom of God. In conclusion, however, Jesus tells a parable of two builders who build two different houses.
I. THE HOUSE BUILT ON THE ROCK VV. 24-25
It is not by accident that Jesus is called the Master Teacher, because He is able to use ordinary things of life to teach spiritual truths in a way that is very profound. In verses 21-23, Jesus has drawn a contrast between saying and doing. In this passage He draws a contrast between hearing and doing. Hearing is very important. Counselors say that one of the keys to successful marriage is the ability for spouses to listen to each other. I also think that the reason some students do not perform well in school is their refusal to listen to their teachers when they are teaching. I know that some people have 'attention deficiency disorder' but today, thanks to medical science it can be treated with medication. Have you sent a child, a friend, a neighbor, a family member to buy you a specific thing and came back with something else? The bottom line is that the person was not listening to what you were telling him/her to buy for you. Hearing therefore is very important, because until you hear what you are told to do you will do something else. However, Jesus is saying that hearing alone is not enough. You must act on what you hear from Jesus. In this passage, Jesus is not teaching salvation by good works and obedience. On the contrary, Jesus is teaching that those who hear and obey are true disciples of Christ (James 1:22-25).
In order to draw His point home to His disciples and the crowd who heard His message on the mountain that day, and to us who are hearing it today, Jesus tells a parable about two builders, who built on two different foundations. The first builder built his house on the rock. The second builder built his house on the sand. As both builders got on with their building, a casual observer would not have noticed any difference between the two; for the difference was in the foundations, and foundations are not seen. Probably both builders spent a lot of money and time on the building. Both houses looked attractive and substantial. Externally, both houses look erect, firm, and strong. However, internally and structurally, there is a striking difference between the two. How can the difference be known? A time of testing, a time of trial will reveal the difference. Only when a storm breaks out will the difference between the two foundations come out. So the time of testing came to both houses, rain on the roof, river flooding on the foundation, and wind battering the walls with great ferocity and intensity, but the first house did not collapse because it was built on the rock. The foundation of the first house was solid therefore it withstood the rain, the flood, and the stormy wind. Let us see what will happen to the house on the sand.
II. THE HOUSE BUILT ON THE SAND VV. 26-27
Notice that the same natural calamity that hit the building on the rock came to the building that was erected on the sand. However, the building on the sand could not withstand the stormy gale and it collapsed. The house on the sand came crushing down. The second house, though it looked impressive on the outside, it was without foundation, and therefore doomed to destruction.
Anyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ will be tested or tried. As I have always told you if anybody tells you that when you become a Christian nothing bad will happen to you, that person has lied to you. Satan will tempt you repeatedly until Christ comes. God will also allow trials to test your faith whether it is genuine or false. If you study the Bible carefully, God tested the faith of all the men and women He used. God tested Abraham, the father of faith to sacrifice his own son Isaac. God tested the faith of Job when He allowed Satan to inflict calamity in his family and personal life. God tested Paul by allowing Satan to buffet him with a thorn in his flesh. God tested Peter when He stood by and allowed him to be thrown into jail. God permitted His own Son Jesus Christ to be tempted by Satan in the wilderness before He began His public ministry.
If there were no trials and temptations in the Christian life, everyone on earth would become a Christian. Faith would not be faith if there were no challenges to the Christian life. Whether you are a wise believer or foolish, strain comes to all in afflictions, disappointments, losses, temptations, fears in thoughts of dying, and life beyond. How you respond is what matters.
Some athletes can talk a great game, but that tells you nothing about their athletic skills. And not every one who talks about heaven belongs to God's kingdom. Jesus is more concerned about our 'walk' than our 'talk.' Jesus wants you to do right, not just say the right words. Your house, which represents your life, will withstand the storms of life only if you do what is right instead of just talking about it. Some of you wonder if you are really Christians. If that is you, start being one. Give your life to Jesus Christ. Some people talk more about faith if that is you begin showing your faith in faithful living. Practicing obedience builds on the solid foundation of Jesus' words to weather the storms of life.
In this parable, Jesus is not talking about unbelievers who do not profess faith in Him. He is dealing with professing Christians, the genuine and the false who on the surface look alike. You cannot easily tell which is which. Both appear to be building Christian lives. Both are members of the visible Christian community. Both read the Bible, go to church, listen to sermons, and buy Christian literature. The reason you cannot tell the difference between a genuine Christian and a counterfeit one is that the deep foundations of their lives are hidden from view. The fundamental question is not whether they hear Christ's teaching, or even whether they respect or believe it, but whether they do what they hear. Only a storm will reveal the truth. Sometimes a storm of crisis or calamity betrays what manner of persons we are, for true faith is not fully distinguished from its counterfeit till it comes to the trial (1 Peter). Sometimes I wonder why some people do not take time to examine their lives and where they are heading. What amazes me is the carefulness and proper planning, which some people apply to building a house, which is temporary, but the same people ignore the building of their lives, which is eternal. What is life but a 'building up of character, habits, memories, expectations, of powers and weaknesses? Our desire is that what we build should be secure.' Good people, who do not belong to Jesus Christ, appear to build well, and feel that their house is well and wisely built on money, friends, health, successful methods in businessall of which are commendable in themselves but disastrous without a rock foundation.
It is said that the magnitude of the earthquake that hit California some years ago, was similar to the one that hit Iran. However, in California only two or three people died, but in Iran about fifty thousand died. The difference in the lost of lives lies in the foundations of the houses. It is said that when you notice a single crack in your house, you don't have a major problem. You can easily patch up the crack. However, it is a different story when you begin to see a crack here and there at the corners of your house. When there are major cracks in your house there is the likelihood that the foundation of your house is bad. I believe when you are pretending to be a Christian, God has a way of telling you that your faith in Christ is not complete. God does that so that you will faithfully and sincerely give your life to Jesus Christ. Before the great Day of Judgment comes, God allows preliminary crises to reveal authentic and inauthentic spirituality. God allows trials and testing to reveal true Christians and those who are pretending. Those whose faith is built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ will withstand the storms of life, but those who build their lives on the shifting sand of love of praise, power, and respect for custom, money, and fame will be left with a heap of ruins. Storms of life reveal the authenticity of your faith.
The essence of this parable is whether the Lordship of Jesus, which you profess, is your life's major reality. It all boils down to your obedience to Jesus Christ. Verbal profession alone is not enough to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. The apostle John says, 'If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and the truth is not in us' (1 John 1:6). He goes on to say, 'He who says I know Him but disobeys His commandments is a liar' (1 John 2:4).
In applying this teaching of Jesus to your life, you need to consider that the Bible is a dangerous book to read, and that the church is a dangerous society to join. For in reading the Bible you hear the words of Christ, and in joining the church you say you believe in Christ. Consequently, you belong to the company, which Jesus describes as hearing His teaching and calling Him Lord. Your membership in the local church lays upon you the serious responsibility of ensuring that what you know and what you say are translated into what you do. Therefore, professing faith in Jesus Christ and joining His church has many implications. And the primary implication is your obedience to Jesus Christ and what His word teaches. Another implication is that Jesus summons you to renounce the prevailing secular culture in favor of the Christian counter-culture.
III. THE REACTION OF THE CROWD VV. 28-29
What fascinated and struck the crowds, as well as the disciples was the extraordinary authority of Jesus as a teacher. The crowds were astonished or dumbfounded at Jesus' teaching, because He taught them with authority. Jesus amazed His listeners by the substance, the quality, and the manner of His instruction. Of course, there had been great teachers like Moses and others who had preceded Jesus. There were other great teachers who were His contemporaries. What then was so special about Jesus? Jesus assumed the right to teach absolute truth. He was a Jew, but His message was not Jewish. What He had to say was not culturally conditioned in the sense that it was not limited to a particular people (Jews) or a particular place. His message being absolute, it was universal. He spoke as one who knew what He was talking about. He reinterpreted the teachings of Moses. He did not need to quote anyone like the scribes, because He was the original Word (John 1:1). The scribes were retailers merely of what others had said. Jesus' authority is indisputable because He could say, 'You have heard that it was said, but I say to you.' Jesus was more than a prophet, because the prophets could not speak with their own authority. Their favorite phrase was 'Thus Says the LORD' but Jesus spoke with His own authority.
While I admire the amazement of the crowd about the authority of Jesus Christ, they were making the very mistake Jesus' teaching is attempting to correct. The teaching on the Sermon on the Mount is not meant to be admired but to be obeyed. Therefore, Jesus is asking you to make a decision.
1. Those who have not given your life to Jesus Christ there is no need to pretend because Jesus already knows that you have not been saved. There is no need to be ashamed. Come to Him as you are and He will receive you and save you unconditionally.
2. Those that have heard from Jesus but do not follow through what He tells you to do. Jesus requires radical obedience.
3. Those who need to rededicate your lives to Jesus Christ. This is the time to do it.
4. Those who are discouraged in the Christian life. This is a message of hope for you.