Matthew 7: 24-29
General Idea: Here Jesus closes the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), His final message for us is that it is useless to call ourselves Christians unless we practice what He has taught us, which we are to believe and also teach.
To achieve more intimacy with and function for our Lord, we must be willing to take a look at ourselves to see where we are and on what foundation our lives are built. This passage tells us where we lay the foundation for our life. What is it that moves, stimulates, and inspires us? Will we be able to weather the storms of life, or will we be washed away? Is our life built on shifting sand, the ways of the world that distract us and lead us away from Him? Does everything we consider to be valuable and important just wash away from the stresses, chaos, misdirected deeds, and bad decisions of life--from SIN? Or, do we build on His foundation, and from the precepts of His Word where we remain steadfast and secure?
When we build on the rock, we are securing a firm foundation with our obedience and trust in what Christ has done, as we put it in all aspects of our life. So, our motivation is based on who we are in Him. This is not done by our proclamations and speeches, it is manifested by taking the knowledge of our Lord and His work, and the relationship we have with Him so it becomes the transforming force to motivate us. If all we have is knowledge, we have nothing. If we do works in His name without the knowledge of who Christ is, we have nothing.
To weather the storms of life and to please and glorify God we must be real, authentic Christians, whose lives are transformed and built on His foundation. As we will be tested in life in preparation for eternity, being only a "fair-weathered" Christian who has never struggled or who has never taken seriously his/her faith may soon find out that he/she had neither faith nor a relationship with Christ as Lord! So, do you?
Look over these key words and ask how do they relate to you?
- Hears… and Does, Obedience is not in words but in deeds that demonstrate our words through practice and action (James 1:22-25)! When we read and/or hear the Word of God, as His elect, we will have the desire and heed the call to put it into action. There will be times we do not feel like it, but our obedience will override our feelings so we do remain steadfast and secure (1 Thess. 2:23).
- Judas was an example of a person who knew about Christ. He had the knowledge and first hand experience that we do not have, yet, he did not put it into practice. When his storm came, he failed, and betrayed his Lord so his house fell away. He knew the Will of God, but he did not obey the Will of God.
- In Jesus' time, the teachers of the Law would debate which was more important, hearing, or doing the Law. Some taught that all you need to do is hear and memorize it, while others held to the fact that you had to do it, too. The argument that won out at the time was that if you did not hear it, you could not do it, so, hearing was more important. Jesus uses their words against them as He did in the other themes of His sermon. As we know from actually reading the Bible and not just debating it, both are necessary. You must first know it, and also apply it, which applies to the Christian, his/her faith, and the Word of God.
- House is the life you build--who you are, and how you respond. The foundation is the thinking, teaching, doctrine, or philosophy to which you subscribe. Jesus' point was to encourage people to get out and do what He was teaching by contrasting the difference between those who are just listeners and not doers.
- We are the builders! The question is whether we will be wise or foolish builders.
- The storms are the tests and situations we will be faced with from illness, loss of loved ones, financial setbacks, our sin, our decisions, or others acting against us.
- Does not do them is a reference to judgment. We all will be ultimately judged, and when we hear and do not obey, there will be trouble. Our deeds will be as worthless as a love song with no love in it (Ezek. 33:30-33).
- Our character development will be the quintessential test of how we weathered the storms and built our foundation (Rom. 2:4-6; 2 Cor. 5:10-11; Heb. 9:27). Will it be "well done, good and faithful servant..." (Matt. 25:21) Or "You wicked and lazy servant..." (Matt. 25:26)?
- Rains descended, Palestine is basically a desert and storms are very infrequent. However, when they do occur, they come up fast without warning and are/were very tremendous (Matt. 8:24-25). Thus, like many poor desert regions today such as in India, people will build shanty homes in flood planes out of desperation or arrogance, thinking they are safe for a time, until the rains come down and their homes are washed away.
When we ignore the Word of the Lord, we will be left out in the storm. The storms come for the foolish, who do as they please, without forethought or faith, and they will face destruction of their houses. All they are and have can be totally annihilated because the ways of the world and its lies will become their refuge, shanty homes built on shifting, foundationless sand in a flood plane (Isa. 28:14-18). You can hide from God and do as you please for a time, but sooner or later the rains will come to you. We must allow God to be our shelter from the storm (Isa. 25:4-5). Like an unscrupulous building contractor who builds on a flood plane, or with shoddy craftsmanship, the storm will reveal the real quality of character (Num. 32:23). Real goodness will outlive and outlast any worldly imitation.
When we hear something from God, we have the responsibility to put it into action by changing our mindset so it affects our behavior, strengthens our faith, and motivates others as well. We can see how serious the Pharisees were about keeping the Law. They wrote down all of the laws, such as the Ten Commandments, then applied layers and layers of duties and commentaries over them, so the original meaning eventually became lost. Thus, when a rabbi wanted to speak on a topic or give a sermon, they went to the Talmud as their first, and sometimes only prime source and not into the actual Word of God. Their authority was tradition, and building more tradition.
Jesus went straight to the Word with Himself/God as the authority, which astounded people (Matt. 5:22,28,32, 34,39,44; 6:1,2,5, 8,19,25; Mark 1:21-22; 6:2).
As a Christian, we are always to teach what the Word of God plainly says, adding none of our false presumptions or traditions. This passage implies the contrast in Proverbs of building a house of wisdom and the folly that destroys it (Prov. 9:1-18; 24:3). We have no teacher in Jewish history who taught with the authority that Jesus did. Authority was reserved for the Law itself, whereas Jesus came to fulfill the Law. Jesus authority is ultimate (Eph. 1:20-22; 1 Tim. 6:14-15; 1 Pet. 3:22) His authority is based on the fact that all things were made by Him, and for Him (Psalm 2:8; John 1:1-3; Heb. 1:2,6; Col. 1:16). He is worthy to be worshiped (Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:5; 5:11-12; 7:9-10). He is our Redeemer, and we are purchased by His blood (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:7; 5:23; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). He is the head of the body of all Christians, of His Church (Col. 1:18). Jesus sent His Spirit to guide us into the truth (John 16:12-13). We are called to teach others to observe all that He commanded (Matt. 28:20; John 13:20).
- How would you describe your personal weather report, clear, cloudy, rain, or storm…?
- How would you describe the characters, and the contrast in this passage?
- What is your foundation?
- What can we do to achieve more intimacy and function with our Lord?
- What is it that moves, stimulates, and inspires you?
- When we hear something from God, why is it important that we take seriously the responsibility to put it into action?
- Will you be able to weather the storms of life, or will you be washed away?
- If your life is built on the shifting sand of the ways of the world? What will happen to you? In contrast, what would happen if you built your life on His foundation, from the precepts of His Word?
- Why do you suppose a "fair-weather" Christian, who has never struggled or taken seriously his/her faith, may soon find out that he/she had neither faith, nor a relationship with Christ as Lord? So, do you?
- Will you be emotionally devastated by your wrong decisions, realizing we all make them from time to time? Or, will you be able to stay strong, willing to carry on without despair?
- How would you describe the quality of your foundation? Is it on stable ground? Why, or why not?
- What gets in the way of the complete practice of Jesus' sermon for most Christians?
- Will you be emotionally devastated when disaster comes knocking at your door?
- Why should we, who read His Word, which He taught, obey what He said?
- What blocks secular people from recognizing Christ's authority?
- Why did Jesus have the authority to speak this way?
- How can you be sure that you have built the right foundation in the right place for your life to withstand the storms?
- What can you do to prepare for that knock/storm?
- How can you speak and model to others so they may be inclined to accept the authority of Jesus Christ?
- What needs to happen in your life to keep your faith real, valuable, practical, and squarely on His solid Rock?
© 2002 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools http://www.discipleshiptools.org/