I was just remembering many years ago when my son and I enjoyed building ourselves a little sand island on a beach and watching the tide come in around us. It was a really fun thing to do with my child, to see how long it took for the sea to demolish our little building upon the sand – and it wasn’t very long, I can tell you!
Recently however, this has given me cause to consider Jesus’ teaching regarding the wise and foolish men who built their respective houses upon rock or upon sand. This is of course, a basic Bible story that is recorded in the gospels of both Matthew and Luke. This is often taught as a children’s story (with simple songs) but it was initially spoken to adults as the culmination to the Lord’s first publicly recorded sermon – the one frequently referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. As such, I believe that it is certainly worthy of our time in considering once again what the true meaning of this sermon ending could teach us today.
Taking A Closer Look at the Wise & Foolish Builders
The old phrase, “Time and tide wait for no man,” also came to my mind. I thought that as “the sands of time” are slipping by it may be a good idea to periodically take stock of what we are doing with our lives. An occasional spiritual check-up doesn’t go amiss if it drives us to our knees in seeking the Lord’s view of our lives. So, let’s do a “building inspection” and ask ourselves – Are we building upon sand or rock? Will we ultimately hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” or will we hear, “Depart from Me, I never knew you”? Crucial questions indeed, as Jesus taught that there are only two types of foundation materials and two kinds of heavenly responses to what we have built. There are no grey areas; no sandy rock or rocky sand in His stories!
Until my recent delving into this study, if you had asked me the meaning of “the wise man who built his house upon the rock and the foolish man who built his house upon the sand,” I would probably have said the rock was salvation and the sand was a lack of salvation. I think that this may be a common misconception about this little parable, as in other places in the Bible Jesus is referred to as “the rock” (e.g, 1 Corinthians 10:4, Psalm 95:1). But of course, we must always read Bible texts carefully and thoroughly in their full context to glean the true meaning of any scripture. So, let’s read the two passages concerned now.
1st is in Matthew 7:24-27
“Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them,
I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house;
and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them,
will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:
and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.
And great was its fall.”
2nd is in Luke 6:46-49
“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?
Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them,
I will show you whom he is like:
He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.
But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell.
And the ruin of that house was great.”
And that is the final sentence that Jesus spoke from His Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in the gospels. What a warning! Let’s therefore look a bit closer at what it require of us.
Clearly Jesus told the meaning was simply hearing and DOING His will as opposed to hearing and NOT doing His will. We can see that both types of hearers had a storm to endure but only the ones who DO actually carry out and follow the commandments of the Lord Jesus will not be shaken and will not fall. Obedience to Christ does not mean you will not get rained on! Anyone who tells you that the Christian life is all sunshine and happiness has deceived you. Remember it is the storms that test us to strengthen our faith.
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3
“…though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” 1Pe 1:7
IMPORTANT NOTE –
Before I speak further about these matters I want to say very clearly that I believe in salvation by faith alone. Our initial process of being “born-again of the Spirit” is as stated in Ephesians 2:8-9;
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
The working out of our lives of faith after that “born-again of the Spirit” event is what is in question in this article. So let’s now look at the similarities and differences of these two men and their houses.
|Wise Man with Rock||Foolish Man with Sand,|
|Or deep, foundations||Or no, foundations|
|Comes to Jesus||Comes to Jesus|
|Hears words of Jesus||Hears words of Jesus|
|DOES Jesus’ commands||DOES NOT DO Jesus’ commands|
|House Not shaken in storm||House falls and destroyed in storm|
Both men come and hear and both men have to go through the storm – no one is spared the storm – but it is how we go through it that shows the foundations of the life we have built.
Building foundations are not obviously visible to all and sundry, being hidden and underground, but the Lord will certainly reveal faulty foundations when He wishes to.
Ultimately, He will reveal them at judgement day and then it is too late to start any re-digging of foundations. Remember, you will not be rewarded in heaven for what you heard and esteemed, only for what you did. This is borne out by reading the letters to the churches/assemblies in the book of Revelation, where the Lord commends or rebukes people for their works:–
Ephesus – “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.” Rev: 2:5
Smyrna – “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” Rev 2:9
Sardis – “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.” Rev 3:1-2
Laodicea – “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” Rev 3:15-16
Here are a few other scriptures which also confirm to us that it is the DOING of the Bible teachings that is important.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22
Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” John 15:14
Also, there is another parable that tells us the same meaning in the tale of the two sons that Jesus spoke to the unbelieving Pharisees who were testing Him and questioning His authority.
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Matthew 21:28-31
It is possible that you can hear all of Jesus’ words and know them like the back of your hand, but if you don’t do what He says, you aren’t building on the right, enduring foundation. It’s easier to just show up for a church service for an hour or so a week than it is to develop true, deep spiritual roots or foundations. The Lord’s teachings will only, however, have value for your eternal soul if you ACT upon them. Real service not lip-service is required for Godly foundations. The storms will come – whether in this life or in the final judgement – there will come a revealing of your foundations. Please consider, while you still have time, if a bit of digging deeper (or re-digging) your foundations is required.
Jesus’ Last words of warning of the Sermon on the Mount
This parable is directly linked to the passage before it in the Bible and only looking at it in its fuller, proper context can we truly discern what the Lord was intending here. Should we do so, we would see that it comes directly after Jesus’ warnings of a broad versus a narrow way and then warnings about false prophets. It certainly wasn’t intended to be reduced merely to a twee kid’s bible story and song, that’s for sure.
The Lord had in fact just said: –
“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matt 7:19-23
Now this feel less like a kid’s Bible class and has a real serious tone to it, don’t you think? These are the exact words that Jesus said before He said,
“Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock…”
I can remember a time in my Christian life, many years ago, when I couldn’t comprehend these verses at all. I thought, how could a person prophecy, cast out demons and do wonders in the name of Jesus, when they weren’t even known by Him? I was perplexed as I didn’t understand how false teachers operate using the name of Jesus. Gradually over many years I have built up my knowledge and understanding of these sad matters. I now feel that many that call themselves Christian are very likely to be in this category of “practicing lawlessness” that Jesus warned about. I write this blog in the hope that some of the readers that happen to read this will start the journey of understanding the times we live in and the sad state of the sphere that is Churchianity today. Also, that those who know about these things may feel encouraged that you are not alone (as Elijah thought) but that the Lord still has His body learning and discerning, watching and praying, as He told us to do.
This is a most serious allegation by Jesus and so we must prayerfully consider what He means by this phrase and passage if we are not to be thus castigated ourselves. No one in their right mind would want to hear such a rebuke from the Lord.
In the KJV Bible the phrase “work iniquity” is used in Matthew 7:23 but it is translated as “lawlessness” in the NKJV and in the YLT. It is the Greek word “anomia” (Strong’s 458). Strong’s says;
“This refers not to one living without law, but to one who acts contrary to law.
It also mean’s unrighteousness.”
So, it seems that people who are calling Jesus “Lord,” can appear to do “wonders in His name,” yet actually be LAWLESS, UNRIGHTEOUS or WORKING INIQUITY. These are the ones building on sand who Jesus clearly states are FOOLS, whose foundations are non-existent. These are the ones who “enter via the broad gate and continue on the broad road” who Jesus calls “BAD TREES,” “FALSE PROPHETS” and “RAVENOUS WOLVES!” These are the people who Jesus says He NEVER KNEW. Ouch!! Serious warnings here then. And these warnings are the summation on the wonderful Sermon on the Mount.
I have noticed also that a similar warning was given by the Lord when His disciples asked Him to tell them the signs of His second coming and of the end of the age.
“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” Matthew 24:3-5
We have thus been clearly warned that great levels of deception within and amongst “Christianity” will be the sign that we are living in the Last Days prior to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. As I look around and ponder the state of churchianity and those claiming to do miracles and healings in the name of Jesus then I see that the bud is on the tree and that His return is at hand. I perceive much that is religious without obedience to Christ within the walls of Christendom. I see the following scriptures are very relevant to our day and age.
Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13 in Mark 7:6-7
“He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
“‘This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
“An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power;
And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 5:30-31
Paul warns the Corinthian early church of another Jesus, a different spirit and different gospel.
“For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:4 & 13-15
“But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honour, and immortality;
but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honour, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 2:5-10
Doing God’s Will
It is no good being like the Pharisee in Jesus’ tale in Luke 18:9-14.
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’”
That is also part of being foolish and building on the sand. His deeds were not “done in the Lord” or done with a right and humble spirit. His prayers were not heard or answered because he was just religious and trusting in himself.
Then there will be the Word Faith crowd that say they have “prophesied and done wonders in His name” and they too will find that their sandy foundations of lawlessness will be swept away, and their houses built on such sand will ultimately collapse.
Then there will be the “Toronto blessing” crowds that say, “haven’t we shown power in Your name?” and the Lord will say, “Depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!”
Do you not know that “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account?” Hebrews 4:13
Do you not know that the Lord taught His disciples to pray as follows?
“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come.
Your will be DONE on earth as it is in heaven.”
“For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:20-21
Building our Houses
Although the people around us cannot see our foundations, rather they may only see what is above ground. They see perhaps a “religious life” of much church-going activity, as this is the house we have built, piece by piece, and day after day.
However, we must keep at the forefront of our minds that the Almighty God has eyes to see EVERYTHING about us. He sees our motives and our hearts; He sees the humility or the pride; He sees the power-hungry, money motives or the lowly, rejected, dying-to-self, despised and lonely believers walking the narrow path.
What will He see when He examines your life? Will your foundations hold up to the storm test that the Lord Jesus spoke of? Are they of an eternal and enduring quality that will receive that most wonderful response from the Lord Jesus Christ of, “Well done, good and faithful servant?”
“Blessed are those who do His commandments,
that they may have the right to the tree of life,
and may enter through the gates into the city?”
When the books are finally opened in heaven, will your house still be standing? Having started your Christian life firmly on the ROCK that is Christ Jesus, have you also continued to dig deep foundations of total obedience to Him and His teachings and commandments? Will you learn to discern the true from the false; the good tree from the bad tree; the narrow way from the broad way; the true shepherds from the ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing? Do you know who the “lawless ones are?” Do you know that their houses will not stand when those books are opened in heaven unless they truly repent now, in this life? Do you want your house to collapse in a great heap alongside theirs? If not, then now is the time to disassociate yourself from them and ask God’s forgiveness for believing and practicing unrighteous or lawlessness. I know I had to do that myself when I became aware (due to the mercy of the Lord) that various things were not right within Christendom.
We have many parables and warnings in scripture along these same lines. However, there is a certain stark finality to the words in Revelation 22:11 that states;
“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”
I beseech you therefore to wake up from your slumber now, take heed to the serious warnings of scripture and do as the Lord commanded when he said;
“Watch therefore, and pray always
that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass,
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Finally, The Key Is…
You cannot be lazy in your faith if you want to “stand,” as you have to both “watch and pray” as well as “doing” the will of God. This is an active faith, one that chooses to turn from a life of self-pleasure and to seek out truth. If you were to read the whole of the Sermon on the Mount, you would see lots of things that you must do and lots of teaching on the right heart attitude for the doing of such things. And DOING the commandments of Jesus in the right manner is the ultimate key to a Storm-proofed Christian Life, that is built firmly on the rock.
I hope this has been of some help to you.
May God bless you as you seek to build on an enduring foundation,
For further study on the Lawless ones you can go to the following discernment websites. May the Lord enlighten your eyes to His truths and lead you ever more on His narrow and difficult path that leads to eternal life with Him.
False-teachers.com which has lots info on various people
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