************ Sermon on Matthew 7:24-27 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 30, 2001
"Building on the Rock"
Old Year's Service - 2001
Topic: ChristThe Lord Jesus is telling us on this last Sunday night of 2001 that many a life, if examined, would be found to have just as flimsy a foundation.
Title: Hahn Hi-Boy
During summers when I was in college I operated a Hahn Hi-Boy – a three-wheeled sprayer with a platform 7-8 feet above the ground. I was able to drive between the rows of the crops in order to spray for weeds and bugs. You need to know that the three-wheeled model easily tips over. A couple of times when I was spraying a field on the side of a hill I had to stand over the high wheel to keep it on the ground while going down the row. One time, while spraying on the side of a hill with a full tank, I heard an ominous cracking noise. I stopped in the row, carefully stepped off the sprayer, and looked things over. You know what I found? The low wheel was in the process of breaking off its rim. If I had gone any further, the low wheel would have broken off, and the sprayer would have rolled over with me on it. Most of the weight of the sprayer and its 120 gallons of water and chemical was resting on a wheel about to break off.
Why is Jesus telling us this? He is telling us this so we can tell the difference between the true and the false Christian. Jesus is telling us this so that on this last Sunday night of the year we will 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.
B Secondly, we need to note the dissimilarities or the differences between the two houses and two men.
An obvious difference between the two men is that one is called foolish whereas the other is called wise.
As we look at the foolish man we see that he 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 foolish 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 foolish 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 foolish man certainly repeated history's mistakes. If he had asked first, he would have learned how the placid river 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 wise man, of course, is a complete contrast to the foolish 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.
II Lessons for Us
A On this last Sunday night of the year, 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: ChristIn the same way, the secret to the true Christian's faith is the foundation upon which he or she is built.
Title: Building on Quick Sand
A couple of churches ago we built our own house on land we purchased from a man in the church. He warned us ahead of time that about 5 feet below the surface the dirt turned into a kind of heavy quick-sand. To build our house on this kind of soil we had to dig a deep hole, fill it with five feet of gravel, run two layers of tile through it, and install a submersible sump pump. Without this kind of foundation the house could sink or suffer water damage. The right kind of foundation was the key to building our house on that land.
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.
During 2001 what was the foundation you were building your life upon? And parents, during 2001 what was the foundation you were providing for your children or your grandchildren? Were you building upon Christ? Was He your starting point? Or, was the foundation of your life such things as greed, materialism, pleasure, money, fine arts, technology, work, drugs, alcohol, sports, recreation, or family?
Topic: RichesTo build your life or the life of your children on anything but Christ is to flirt with disaster. For when the storms or earthquakes or volcanic eruptions or terrorist attacks come, as surely they will, what you have built will be washed away if you are not built upon the Rock that is Christ.
Title: Unwise Investments
Several years ago, construction workers were laying a foundation for a building outside the city of Pompeii. They found the corpse of a woman who must have been fleeing from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius but was caught in the rain of hot ashes. The woman's hands clutched jewels, which were preserved in excellent condition. She had the jewels, but death had stolen it all. It is supposed that when the volcano first erupted she grabbed what was most valuable to her. Or, even worse, she went back for what was most valuable to her. But it did her no good.. That's the bottom line in life. Worldly treasure is not a good foundation because it doesn't prepare you for eternity.
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 what Jesus says about this in the three verses before our Scripture reading for this evening. He 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.
On this last Sunday night of 2001 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.
So what do we look for in the life of the true Christian? On this last Sunday night of 2001 what do you look for in your heart? Listen to what Jesus says:
(Mt 7:24) Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.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.
(Mt 7:26) But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
(Mt 7:21) 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.
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?
C One last lesson that Jesus wants to teach us is that we should not live just for the present. The foolish man was that way. He considered only the present. He didn't look to the future. He didn't build for the future. So he was unprepared when the storms and the water came.
So many people today live only for the present. They never give a thought to the future. They never think of eternity. They eat, drink, party, work, and amass worldly treasure without realizing that someday all this will be burned with fire and that they will have to stand before the Judgment Throne of God.
The wise man, on the other hand, lived in the present but prepared for the future. He considered the future. That's why he made sure he had the right foundation.
Let me ask you, do you live only for the present or do you keep the future in mind? Do you live knowing that someday the Judgment will come and that you will be standing before the Throne of God?
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.
During this last Sunday night of 2001 the Lord asks us all to look at ourselves, to look deeply, to look carefully. Now tell me, which kind are you: the wise or the foolish?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page