************ Sermon on Luke 6:46-49 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 21, 2001
"Build on the Rock"
Cadet Sunday 2001
Topic: LifeCadets, the Lord Jesus wants you to check out your foundation. He wants you to check that in your life you not only hear His Word but also do His Word.
Subtopic: Tested by the Lord
When workmen began to renovate Theatre London in London, Ontario, they were determined to save the theatre's greatest glory -- a proscenium (pr s n m) arch. This splendid arch, separating the stage from the audience, was covered with hand-painted murals of frolicking nymphs. During the project's early stages they discovered that one side of the arch was supported by nothing more than a broken brick standing on loose sand. A steel support was hastily erected before the arch collapsed!
Why is Jesus telling us this? He is telling us this so we can tell the difference between the true and the false profession of Christianity; the difference between the Christian and the seeming Christian; the difference between the person who really is born again and is a child of God, and the person who only thinks he or she is. On a more personal note, Jesus is telling us this so we can look within our own heart and honestly assess our own spiritual condition – whether we are a true or a false Christian.
In order to bring out this distinction our Lord presents us with a comparison – a double comparison – between two men and two houses. He wants us to notice the similarities and the differences between them.
I Similarities and Dissimilarities
A What are the similarities between the two men and the two houses?
To begin with, both men had the same desire. They both desired to build a house, a home in which they could live with their families, be at ease, and enjoy themselves. They wanted the same thing, they thought about the same thing, and they were interested in the same thing. Furthermore, they both wanted to build a house in the same neighborhood and along the banks of the same river. As the two houses were subjected to precisely the same tests and stresses we can only suppose that they were built side-by-side. One last point: they both decided to build the same kind of house; they must have been using the same blueprint or maybe they both hired the same contractor. I say this because our Lord indicates that the only difference between the two houses was the foundation. In other words, from the outside, at least, the two houses, looked exactly the same: the doors, windows, and chimneys were in the same place; the roof line was exactly the same; perhaps they even had the same landscaping.
Now, a small but important detail: when I say the two men built their house alongside a river, I don't mean some big river like the Mississippi or the Colorado. Most rivers and streams in Palestine are like the rivers and streams of our San Joaquin Valley – most of the year they are nothing but dry creek-beds or what those in the Middle East call wadis.
B Secondly, we need to note the dissimilarities or the differences between the two houses and two men.
The most obvious difference is that the one man built his house with a foundation on rock whereas the other man built his house without a foundation on sand.
When we look at the second man we see a man who was interested in short cuts and quick results, in instant gratification. So he did not take the time, the trouble, or the expense to build his house on a foundation.
Don't forget, we are talking about true and false Christians. Too often many so-called Christians take the second man's approach to building their faith: they go for short-cuts and quick results and instant gratification. Instead of building their faith by means of regular attendance at worship, by a constant pattern of Bible reading and prayer, by a steady diet of Bible study, they try to get by with a quick prayer two or three times a week.
As we look at the second man we also see that he did not stop to consider the possibilities and consequences of building without a foundation. He was very short-sighted. He saw only the moment, only the present. He did not consider what could happen in the future by learning from the past. In a spiritual sense, he was not interested in learning from Church history or Bible history. And those who don't know history, are bound to repeat history's mistakes. Well, the second man certainly repeated history's mistakes. If he had asked first, he would have learned how the dry creek bed or wadi he was building beside sometimes became a raging torrent that swept away everything not securely anchored. But he didn't ask, he didn't want to know, he didn't want to learn, so he repeated the mistake of those before him who had also built without a foundation along the river or stream.
The first man, of course, is a complete contrast to the second man. He was not interested in short-cuts, in quick results, in instant gratification. He wanted to build durably. He wanted to build for the future. He wanted to build something that would endure the storms and the raging torrent that time would bring. Furthermore, he considered what could happen in the future by learning from the past. So he built his house upon a foundation laid on rock.
Now, when I say the first man built his house upon a foundation laid on rock, a specific image comes to mind. An image that was brought home to me when I was looking at pictures that Jennifer Griffin took while she was in Israel last year. What struck me was pictures that Jennifer took of Masada. Masada is a mesa on the western shore of the Dead Sea. Its four sides of sheer rock cliff rise about 820 feet above the valley floor. King Herod built a fortress palace on top of Masada at the time of Jesus. This was a house built with foundations laid on rock. Masada was a safe place, a secure place, a place where neither floods nor enemy could pose a threat. The only way to the top was by way of a narrow footpath that a single soldier armed with sword and spear could defend against an entire army. The Tenth Roman Legion found this out when the Jewish nation rebelled against Roman rule in A.D 68 and zealots took over Masada. To get at the zealots the Romans had to build a long earthen ramp all the way to the top. And once they finally did get to the top and broke through the walls they were greeted with the bodies of over 900 men, women, and children – all of them victims of a suicide pact to keep the Romans from taking them as prisoners.
II Lessons for Us
A On this Cadet Sunday what are the lessons for us in this parable of the Lord?
Jesus reminds us that the most important and vital thing in the life of a Christian is the foundation. The foundation seems so insignificant and unimportant because it is out of sight. But if the foundation is wrong, then nothing lasting can be built. If the foundation is wrong, then the structure will surely be destroyed.
Topic: LoveIn the same way, the secret to the true Christian's faith is the foundation upon which he or she is built.
Subtopic: Examples of Mothers' Love
Earl Palmer in his book The Enormous Exception wrote the following about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which is built directly upon the San Andreas fault:
The secret to its durability is its (foundation). By design, all the parts of the bridge -- its concrete roadway, its steel railings, its cross beams -- are inevitably related from one welded joint to the other up through the vast cable system to two great towers ... The towers bear most of the weight, and they are deeply imbedded into the rock foundation beneath the sea. In other words, the bridge is totally preoccupied with its foundation. This is its secret! Its foundation.
When it comes to faith and spirituality and religion the true Christian can never afford to take short-cuts. Rather, he or she must always make sure that they are building upon the proper foundation.
We all know what that foundation is, don't we? When it comes to faith and spirituality and religion the only foundation which we can build upon is Christ Jesus. This is Paul's great argument in 1 Corinthians 3. He writes,
(1Cor 3:10b,11) ... each one should be careful how he builds (11) For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Tell me, Cadets: is Christ the foundation you are building upon? Tell me, parents, what is the foundation you are providing for the faith, the spirituality, and the religion of your children or your grandchildren? Are you building upon Christ? Is He your starting point? Or, is the foundation of your life such things as greed, materialism, pleasure, money, fine arts, technology, work, drugs, alcohol, sports, recreation, or family? To build your life or the life of your children on anything but Christ is to flirt with disaster. For when the storms come, as surely they will, what you have built will be washed away if you are not built upon the Rock that is Christ.
B A second lesson that Jesus gives to us is that the difference between the true Christian and the false Christian is not always obvious. Now, I say that for a reason. Many Christians think that the difference between the true Christian and the false Christian is always clear and obvious. One of our Lord's points with the two men and two houses, however, is that the difference is not so clear and obvious. And furthermore, a spirit of discernment is needed to tell the difference.
Look at the two men and the two houses. From the outside, at least, there is very little difference between them. Now, look at the true Christian and the false Christian. From the outside, at least, there is very little difference between them too. You can find them both in the Church, as members together, enjoying each other's fellowship. They sit and listen to the same Gospel. They are both involved in the life and ministry of the church. It is hard to tell them apart.
I am always alarmed when I read Matthew's version of this parable. There Jesus says,
(Mt 7:21-23) "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' (23) Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'Did you catch that? The false Christians confess Christ and call Him "Lord, Lord." And, in Jesus' name they prophesy and drive out demons and perform many miracles. It would appear from this that they think of themselves as Christian. They are sure of their salvation. They believe they are forgiven. They seem to be at peace with God. They enjoy spiritual power. In other words, they look and sound and think exactly like the true Christian.
Our Lord makes this point in other places too. Remember what He said about false prophets? They are dressed in sheep's clothing. The false prophet does not necessarily deny God's existence, or claim the Bible is a product of human reasoning, or disbelieve miracles. So on the surface, at least, they often look and sound exactly the same as true prophets. The false prophet can be detected only when you examine him or her very carefully with a spirit of discernment. The difference between the true and false prophet is not obvious. In the same way, the difference between the two houses and the two men of our parable is also not obvious. But, with a spirit of discernment, you are able to tell the difference between the two. And, in the same way, the difference between the true and false Christian is also not immediately obvious. To tell the difference between the two you need to exercise a spirit of discernment.
I want you to look into your heart. What do you see there? Tell me, do you see a true Christian or a false Christian? Don't answer too quickly for, as I already said, they can look so much alike. And, as I already said, a spirit of discernment is needed to distinguish between the two, to distinguish between the true and the false Christian.
So what do we look for in the life of the true Christian? What do you look for in your heart? When it comes right down to it, the true Christian hears Jesus and obeys Jesus whereas the false Christian hears Jesus but does not obey Him. Listen to what Jesus says:
(Lk 6:46-47) "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? (47) I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice ...Do you see where Jesus puts the emphasis? True believers, true Christians, are those who hear Jesus, who call Him Lord, and who do what He says.
Let me explain this by asking you a series of questions. When you look into you heart, my brothers and sisters, do you see a spirit of obedience? Do you see faith working itself out in love? Do you see the salvation that God has worked within you being worked out in your life? Do you see the fruit and gifts of the Spirit in abundance? Do you see an eagerness to obey God and love God and serve God?
Jesus is not teaching a sinless perfection here. Nor is He teaching a justification by works. Rather, He is teaching a faith that strives to show itself in all of life. He is teaching a faith that claims all of life for the Lord. He is teaching a faith that wants to turn everything over to the control of King Jesus.
Back to the picture of our parable. Within the church of Jesus there are wise builders and foolish builders. There are those who build upon the Rock called Christ and put His words into practice. And, there are those who are build upon some other foundation and fail to live out the words of Christ.
Look at yourself, look deeply, look carefully. What do you see? Do you see someone who builds on the rock that is Christ?
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