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Newtown Bible Church

Eternal Significance of a Right Foundation (Matthew 7:24-27)

The title of the message this morning is “The eternal significance of a right foundation.” The foundation on which we are building our religious life, profession of Christianity, is of the utmost importance, because only the life built on the right foundation will stand through the day of judgement.

 

2 Reasons for self examination, so that you will not be deceived and judged.(1) A religious life, or profession can be a cover up for an empty & disobedient heart; (2) Judgment reveals the truth, but when it is too late to repent.

 

Our Lord continues to lay before His hearers the two realities that lay before all men. (13-14) there are 2 gates, 2 paths, 2 destinies; (15-20) there are 2 trees, 2 fruits, 2 ends; (21-23) 2 types of professors those who say and those who do; (24-27) there are 2 houses, 2 foundations, 2 eternal consequences.

To begin, let’s make a few simple observations regarding the similarities & dissimilarities between the two houses.

Similarities: (a) Both are hearing the words of Jesus; (b) Both are building a house; (c) Both will experience the same storm

Dissimilarities: (a) One is doing the Words of Jesus / one is not; (b) One is like a wise man / one is like a foolish man; (c) One is building on a rock / one on sand; (d) One stands through the storm / one falls.

Now, let’s examine this more closely. First, note …

 

A religious life, or profession can cover up an empty, disobedient heart.

Both structures look identical on the outside and the casual observer may see no difference at all. Both go to the same church, belong to the same denomination, read the same books, like the same music, listen to the same preachers, go to the same events. Yet, only one possesses a heart that seeks to yield to the will of God in every area of life. Only one hears with the intention and desire to obey. The other does not. Point #1 under this heading

 

(A) A Genuine Christian hears the Word of Christ and seeks heart obedience, and hungers after true righteousness.

(1) “Therefore … hears … does” connects with every thing He just said - namely it is not the one who says, but the one who “does the will of My Father in heaven.” Shown by humility before His Word (5:3-12) heart obedience, sincere pursuit of righteousness, not simply external acts (5:21-7:12).

“These words of Mine” - that is, these words just spoken in the Sermon (7:28); but by extension, this would include all the words of Christ (Matt. 28:18). (*FN: strong statement of Deity: to obey Christ is to do the will of the Father).

A paraphrase would be: “The one who hears & considers My teaching on righteousness (5:20), prayerfully examines their own heart, and responds with repenting faith, confession of sin, and pursuit of heart obedience is the one who builds their house upon the rock.”

(2) The truest test of faith, in the kingdom, is obedience (“hears … does”):

This is a repeated them in Scripture: John 14:15 “If you love Me you will keep My commandments”; 1 John 2:3-5 “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.”; James 1:22 “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”; Lk. 11:27-28 “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Thus, the obedient hearer: “shall be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock” - a man builds a house to dwell in, and for safety and protection from the elements; a home is a place of rest; a place to feel secure. It is built for permanence; that is to last into the future. Therefore, it is crucial to make wise decisions when building. Here, the wise man builds on a rock: stable, secure, unmovable.

“Rock” is often used of Scripture to refer to God’s promises, God’s protection and security (Is. 26:3-4), God’s character (Deut. 32:4); 1 Cor. 3:11 Christ is referred to as the only right foundation on which to build. In Matt. 16:18 the profession of Christ is the rock on which Christ will build His church. However, that is not the point here. The imagery of the rock illustrates a life of heart obedience; the pursuit of righteousness.

Lk. 6:46 captures the reality of building in Galilee; it is largely limestone underneath the surface and one would, as they do today, dig down until this rock surface is discovered and so build there. This is the Lord’s point in Matt. 7 - the one who evidences the fruit of repentance, obedience.

Rev. 1:3 “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” To hear, admire, and believe is not enough; it must be attended with obedience.

(1) Obedience does not save, yet the one who is saved will obey the word of God. “Faith without works is dead”; “His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works” - not the sacraments of the church [RCC], but submission to His will as revealed in Scripture alone!

Jesus has already made clear that entrance begin with brokenness over sin; a sense of helplessness before God (5:3-12); that external righteousness is not enough (5:20); standard of righteousness is God Himself (5:48); and the mark of genuine prayer is confession of sin (6:12).

(2) It is important here to make a distinction between simple obedience (doing what we ought to do) & and obedience that is the fruit of righteousness.

Simple obedience says: “I do this because I ought to; because it is the right thing to do; if I do this God will surely accept me; if I do not do this then God will not accept me.”

Obedience that is the fruit of righteousness says: “I am doing it because I want to glorify Jesus Christ with my life; because I love the things that Christ’s love and hate what He hates; because I want my life, heart, thoughts, motives to be pleasing to Him; because I don’t want to sin against my Lord who bought me with His own blood.”

Genuine obedience says with the slave of Luke 17:10 after I look at all I have done in the Name of Christ “I am an unworthy slave, I have only done that which I ought to have done.”

That is “hungering and thirsting after righteousness”; That is the life that will stand on the day of judgement, in the future, when the storm comes, this person will be considered wise because they built on the rock.

In the context of eternity, wisdom is measured by one’s response to the Word of God. It hears these words and takes action.

The one who says: “I know the Bible says that, but …” “I know Jesus said that, but …”; once those words, or thoughts come to you, you have just left the house of wisdom and entered the house of foolishness. You have just walked through the wide gate of the broad path. You have just chosen destruction and death over life.

Thus, the Word of Christ presents each person with choice.

 

“In applying this teaching to ourselves, we need to consider that the Bible is a dangerous book to read, and that the church is a dangerous society to join. For in threading the Bible we hear the words of Christ, and in joining the church we say we believe in Christ. As a result, we belong to the company described by Jesus as both hearing his teaching and calling him Lord. Our membership therefore lays upon us the serious responsibility of ensuring that what we know and what we say Is translated into what we do.”

 

(B) A Self-deceived Christian professor hears the Word of Christ, but rests in knowledge, but does not desire true righteousness.

 

“hearing … not doing… a foolish man … on sand” - Common error of men: Ezek: 33:30-33. ILLUST: Benjamin Franklin listening to George Whitfield “After one of Whitefield's sermons, Franklin noted the: "wonderful...change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seem'd as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro' the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street." *Yet, Franklin himself was unconverted.

Here, the fool is identified as hearing continually, yet not doing. Not taking the Lord’s words to heart; not wrestling through the reality of faith; making broad road assumptions; not concerned with repentance; not paying attention to the heart; not seeing the Lord while He may be found.

Those who hear, but do not manifest a life that desires to obey Christ. Jesus is crying out: “Wake up!” “Consider your way!” *Don’t rest in some superficial commitment to Christianity; Jesus calls for repentance!

“upon the sand” - A very short-sighted man, to say the least. In real life it is hard to imagine that one would be so foolish to build sand, but people do. Even worse, people very often do things foolishly in regard to religion, Christ, and their eternal soul that they would never do in real life.

There are many who will sit under the preaching of the word their whole lives giving some affirmation to its truthfulness, but never have actually obeyed the call of repentance. Sermons are to them something to be admired and critiqued, like a piece of art, but not obeyed as the word of the Lord. They are like those in 2 Tim 3:7 “Always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

This person will grow in their knowledge of the Bible and theology, may grow every more refined in the presence of Christians and in Christian activities, but never have the heart of a disciple of Christ, never know the inward sanctifying power of the Spirit through the Word.

The point is simple, many people call themselves Christians but they do not manifest obedience in their lives. This is self-deception, delusion. The idea of truth has been so perverted and man so exalted and the gospel so misrepresented that this basic truth is hard for many to accept.

“Broad path” - reasoning rest exclusively in grace to forgive, but ignores the necessity of grace to transform. Forgiveness without obedience; to rest solely on grace, but never examine your life for genuine obedience is to build on sand.

This cannot be said enough: to say that submission to Jesus Christ as Lord is separate from the same saving faith that embraces Him as Savior is a lie and damns many to hell. To point people away from obedience to Christ as evidence of salvation is to openly go against the words, teaching, and authority (7:28) of God the Son incarnate. It is to deceive people. Intentional or not (most are not intentionally trying to deceive) that is the way it is. “one who is hearing and not doing these words of mine … (is a) foolish man.”

“foolish” - Jesus does not use this word lightly (5:22); it is one who makes an extremely bad and grievous decision. “Foolish” to have had every privilege, every opportunity to know Christ, to enter into salvation but did not. So, it was with Israel who was continually beckoned and called and cared for by God, but refused to pursue heart repentance and obedience.

 

“The truth on which Jesus is insisting in these final two paragraphs of the Sermon is that neither an intellectual knowledge of him nor a verbal profession, though both are essential in themselves, can ever be a substitute for obedience. The question is not whether we say nice, polite, orthodox, enthusiastic things to or about Jesus; nor whether we hear his words, listening, studying, pondering and memorizing until our minds are stuffed with his teaching; but whether we do what we say and do what we know, in other words whether the lordship of Jesus which we profess is one of our life’s major realities.”

 

(2) Judgment reveals the truth, but when it is too late to repent

Judgement will be a time of revelation (Matt. 10:26; 1 Cor. 4:5). Many will be revealed on the of judgement when we stand before the Lord that are concealed here before men. Though nothing is ever concealed truly before the Lord. He knows the true condition all along.

Many people are wise in the ways of the world, but astoundingly foolish in the things of eternity; in spiritual matters. There are many who are hailed as wise here on earth and honored among men and in this world, who are fools before God; will be shown to be fools before the judgment seat of Christ; and will forever bear the gripping misery of their foolishness in hell. Eternity will be an utter value reversal for many (1 Cor. 1:18-27; 3:18; 4:10).

 

(A) All people and their works will be exposed for what they truly are on the day of judgment when standing before Christ.

“the rain came down and the rivers came and the wind blew” - Sudden and violent storms are not uncommon in that region and often dry river beds (Wadis) can become raging torrents in very short period of time.

A violent storm is not so much a fear here in our time and particularly in our country. However, for Jesus hearers, much of the ancient world, and for many in our world today a violent storm of this nature was absolutely devastating.

Coming from CA this is easy enough picture. Every year with the rain would come the mud slides and homes and lives built at the bottom of a sand hill would be destroyed. It was unexpected and devastating. Nobody expects it, it just happens. Homes are destroyed when built in flood plains. Nobody is expecting their house to be destroyed; and certainly nothing has happened so far, and one house looks just the same as the other.

Some take this as referring to the trials of life, but that doesn’t fit the imagery here: (1) He is looking to a single storm, a single even of evaluation (2) with final consequences; there is finality. Here a picture of the coming judgment of God

What judgment is He speaking of (2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Thess. 1:9-10; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15)?

The imagery captures well the first global judgment of God when He destroyed the world by a flood (Gen. 6), so that was foreshadowing of the even greater destruction coming upon the world (2 Pet. 3; Ezek. 13:10-13).

However, it seems best to see an emphasis on the finality of the judgement of individuals, namely the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15).

“slammed against” - strong term: “beat on” (ESV); “pounded” (HCSB).

What does the judgement reveal? The saved / unsaved; regenerated / unregenerate; wheat / tares; good fish / bad fish; the sayers & hears / the doers; the wise and the foolish.

(1) The wise man’s house “did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock” - When standing before the judgement seat of Christ, the wise person will pass through judgement into eternal glory, because their life will have evidenced having been found on Christ; their righteousness being the righteousness of Christ granted to them; their life bearing the genuine, Spirit produced fruit of righteousness, humble heart obedience through faith in Christ” (cf. Phi. 1 “fruit of righteousness”).

(2) The foolish man’s house: “struck against that house and it fell and great was its fall” - very tragic picture. All the rest, hope, security, and feelings of well being were ill wrought, they were founded on the wrong foundation, and now there is an eternal price to pay. The element of shock is again forcefully brought out. (Prov. 12:7 “The wicked are overthrown and are not more, but the house of the righteous will stand”).

 

(B) All who are exposed as false Christians will be will be horrified to find that it is too late for repentance unto life.

 

“great was its fall” - tragic, terrible, shockingly complete.

Heb. 10:26-31 - continued rejection of genuine repentance builds a hardness of heart that, in turn, brings certain and tragic judgement. “how great” is the fall because it is so shocking, so tragically unnecessary.

It also needs to be mentioned, those in this camp experience the greater judgement; and certainly the echo of this truth is in His words here. Matt. 11:22; Lk. 12:46f (Rev. 20:12,13 “according to their deeds”; cf. Rom. 2:5-7; Ecc. 12:14). Degree of judgement is based on the amount of light sinned against. So there is here an even more intense warning and plea to repentance.

Why do people end up in this position? Is it just that they are ignorant, but would gladly turn?

(1) Ultimately the cause is unbelief (Heb. 3:16-4:6). All who were in the wilderness heard the same message, saw the same wonders, were under the same leader, in the same land, with the same opportunities, following the same prescriptions of the Law, but only a few were saved; only a few are now in heaven; many are in hell. The deciding factor was faith; even below that it was love for God who delivered them, or love for their own wickedness (1 Cor. 10). In either case, the only title that fits is that of fool.

(2) While false teachers play a role,in the end, these simply don’t want to deal with their sin. John 3:19-20, men love the sin of their heart. At the end, on that day, the judgement will not be for ignorance, or confusion but for love of wickedness. Thus, Jesus said to the Pharisees: “You are unwilling to come to Me that you may have life.”

But, there is no need to be self-deceived or judged if you but seek the Lord. God is not playing some cruel game with the eternal souls of men. Jesus Christ, God the Son bore the wrath of God for sinner to be forgiven. He is not hiding His grace - He publicly displayed it before the whole world (Rom. 3:21); He sends His servants at the cost of their own blood to proclaim and plead (2 Cor. 5:20; Matt. 5:10-12) with sinner to repent; in the days of the final judgment on the world, the Tribulation He will send for His angels to proclaim the gospel to all humanity (Rev. ?). God is not hiding but seeks men and desires and provides every encouragement for men to seek Him (“Seek the LORD while He may be found” Is. 55:6f; Acts 17 “That men might seek Him”).

Don’t be counted among the foolish who delude themselves in proud self-righteous hypocrisy; But be wise unto salvation; wise to receive grace; wise to build on the right foundation of repenting faith in Christ.

We are about to remember the Lord’s death & resurrection in communion; therefore this is an appropriate time for fellowship with the Lord, to speak with Him about these things; to remember His grace upon the cross.

The cross ever stands as the testimony of God’s willingness to forgive.

The red stains of blood from the gnarled body of the Son of God that flowed down the crude Roman cross; the nails that pierced His wrist and His ankles; the thorns that stuck into His forehead; the spear that pierced His side; the mocking that entered His ears; the abandonment that grieved His heart; the sin bearing and separation from the Father that horrified His soul and crushed the Holy One and tortured the soul of the sinless Son of God; the anguished cry of despair: “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?”; the limp and lifeless body of the Son of Man; the empty tomb and tender words and faithful promises of the risen, ascended, and glorified Savior were all done for you and your salvation; for your forgiveness; for your reconciliation; for you joy; for your usefulness; for your eternal; and to the praise of the glory of His grace and to bear fruit for the glory of His Name; to see through death the life eternal for His children that will ever be the never ending glory, joy, excitement, glory, satisfaction, and worship of every true, narrow path, heart yielded believer in Christ. It is this we celebrate, remember, and proclaim this morning.

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