Today we are about to witness these young men and women profess their faith publicly before God and his church. This means that they say yes to God and his promises already given in Baptism, and they commit to build their life upon it. They want to build their house upon the rock? How will they do that? First of all by listening to God, and then carrying out what he desires.
Jesus says, “Everyone then who hears…” Are you listening? In order to hear those words, we need to be listening. We need to quiet the noise in our lives, bring our souls to stillness so that we might hear him loud, and not let the noise of the world drown them out. Are you listening? That is the first question that we all must answer? Are you seeking to hear the words of Christ? These words that we have in the sermon on the mount.
“Everyone who hears these words of mine…” Notice he says these words of mine. Again, he speaks with absolute authority. This is Him we must obey. God in the flesh. He is not just speaking here on behalf of God; he is speaking as God. This alone should instill in us every motivation to listen. Are you listening?
“Everyone then who hears the words of mine and does them…” the final question through is not are you listening, but what are you doing? To do you first need to listen. To listen you need to trust that what someone is saying is worthy of attention. You may listen and think it was great stuff, but your actions speak louder than words. Is the preaching just an hour lecture on a Sunday morning? Is the Bible just a nice book on the shelf that we read occasionally, before we get on with real life? Of course not! The sermon is the workshop of the Triune God where men and women are changed, and conformed.The Word of God is an earth shattering, live changing power that changes the way we live.
There are some that don’t receive the word, others that receive it with excitement, but Monday the cares of the world have turned excitement into cynicism. And others who hear and do. That is the wise man who builds his house. He hears and then goes out and does. Indeed, everyone who hears these words of mine and does them. Every time you are confortned with a sermon, every time you read the word a choice lays before. This is the same way when you are confronted with the world this week.
This sermon is not only something that he is presenting to them, but he is convinced that his word will be the very foundation of their life. “. . .And today these brothers and sisters also which to commit themselves to that. As James says, ‘To be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)
The house on a rock-solid foundations will weather the storm
- The storms
- The foundation
- The house
In Verse 25 and 27 we read about these storms. “The rain fell, and the flood came, and the winds blew and beat against that house. The storms come to us all. But what are these storms?”
They are the storms of live that test whether the house is standing on solid ground. They are equal opportunity storms - they beat against believer and unbeliever alike. For some of us the howling of the wind is constant, the rain does not stop, the floods just seem to be getting higher. Work never seems to be stable, there are always problems arising. Depression is always just at the brink.
For others there are days week or years of sunshine before a great storm befalls us. A once in a lifetime storm. We lose a child, or a spouse. These storms and floods are real. They are not imaginary. They bring real pain, sorrow, and tears. And in a sinful world they affect us all. Sinner and Saint alike. It is not like we are promised smooth sailing. The house of your life will as some point be pounded with the waves of this world. We will grow old. We will experience death of loved ones. We will be disappointed. We may experience job loss, relational loss, or financial hardship. These are things that not only touch unbeliever they touch everyone in the sinful world.
We can just think of how the COVID storm as come over the world. This is a disease that affects all people and brought the globe to a temporary standstill. For those whose foundation was money it washed it away. For those who foundation was health and welling it washed it away. BUT For those whose hope is Christ it strengthened their faith for they realized everything else is shifting sand. He alone is stable.
But these storms are not only financial, and physical, they may also be spiritual. When Satan and your old nature assault you with sin and temptation. With guilt and shame. And say, You are not good enough. God will never accept you.? What is your foundation? Your life? You good deeds. Indeed that would be washed away. Only Jesus and his word remains. The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of endures forever. The one who said, “blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Blessed are they that realize their spiritual bankruptcy! And so they know it well as the Hymn goes,
“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
And final storm that will give the final blow against your home that will utterly crush it, or prove its foundation is the coming wrath of God. The storm of Gods righteous justice that will take place in a person’s life.
What foundation is strong enough so that a life can stay standing through all this. Through the hardships that will inevitably come, through the sins and temptations that will inevitably afflict us, and ultimately before the wrath of a just a righteous God? Where do we turn. We turn to the second point.
Every single person that ever lived needs to find some way to deal with the storms. All of us must one day face the wrath of God. As the scriptures say “it is appointed for all men to die, and then to face judgement.”
And there is one architectural principle that has not changed throughout the generations. Whether you are building a one room hut, or the skyscraper. Foundation matters. No matter where you are living, or who you are. And this is true of life. Your foundation matters.
There are number of reactions that men have thought up to combat the storms. Philosophy is largely a discipline that arose to think through how to live one’s life well in light of these storms. People have used reason as the foundation. Or spirituality. Or religion.
But the storms of time continue to show all these human philosophies or human wisdom for what it is. Foolishness. Not something you want to stake you live on. They have not withstood the test of time.
“Where is the wise man of this age? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand a sign, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ he power of God and the wisdom of God.”
If your life is not built on Jesus and his word, your death will ultimate strip everything away, and you will stand before the judgement seat of God, and indeed the words of the Lord Jesus will come true, “Great was the fall of it.”
So, Build your house on the word of Christ. His promises are steadfast and secure. These are the promises of his word. These are the words of Jesus sealed in his death. Whoever hears these words and puts them into practice is the one who builds his house upon the rock.
The Rock is the word that Jesus speaks. Which means most narrowly, this very sermon wherein we also saw the gospel shine through clearly throughout, particularly in the beatitudes. But more broadly it is the word of God – the Holy Scriptures. Which must form and shape our live. Whereupon we must build our live. This is what we believe therefore we teach the scriptures, preach the scriptures, apply the scriptures, and we have the confessions to keep us true to the scriptures. For we know that in them we find the words eternal in them we find Christ. The one upon whom we can build.
The wise man and the fool
So how is your house doing? Is it steadfast? Is it foundation stable, even as we come through the other side of a pandemic? Or as your life has been rocked, is there unrest in your soul? Is your heart still filled with faith in Christ, a faith that sure and steadfast?
In the Bible the wise man is the one who knows God, who fears him and obeys him, and the fool lives as if there is no God. One live will remain and goodness and mercy will follow him all the days of his life, the other will fall, and great will be its fall.
It speaks of a fall that draws public attention. Its disastrous. Like when a category 5 hurricane goes through a city. I don’t know if you have all seen the pictures of when a hurricane goes through and all the houses are destroyed, and there is amazingly one house standingThose houses that are standing is a public witness to the wisdom of those who built them, and those who fall is a public witness to the foolishness of those who built them.
Are you wise? The wise man knows obeys, serves, and worships the one true and living God. And takes him at word. The fool stays there is no God.
Or has your live fallen apart. Hopelessness has creeped in. Doubts whether all this true. A cynicism, and judgmental spirit. No longer do you feel the love. Look at what you are building on each day. Maybe it is time to get back into the word? Now is the time to hear his word and put it into practice.
Hebrews 4:13 says “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” You can hide your foolishness from man, bit not from God. God knows your heart. This is a demand for radical submission to the exclusive lordship and authority of Jesus Christ of all your life. It is a warning to the disobedient that the alternative to total obedience and true righteousness, and the life in the kingdom is rebellion, self-centeredness and eternal damnation.
And the sermon ends with the powerful words of Matthew 7:28-29, “And when Jesus finished these saying, the crowds were amazed, for he was teaching as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”
This is really important. These words of mine. He did not say here are a list of quotations or so and so said. No, he says, “You have heard it said,” and then quotes scriptures! And then goes on to say, “But I SAY TO YOU!”
Only God Can speak like this. He alone has authority. He alone is the author. He defines what he means by what he says! He speaks as one who has authority, because he is himself God, the author or source of Truth, meaning and reality.
This is one who does not mince words, does not play games with the text of the word of God. Closes every loophole, holds people to the highest standards of righteousness. Unlike the scribes.
Now we tend think of scribes as writers. They were that, but it would be better to describe them as the theological lawyers of the day. They interpreted the law. And where the law was not clear they would define it. They would also use other authorities, to compare and contrast, and find loopholes for people if you wanted to get a divorce, or define your neighbor, or what is a lie, or wanted to disobey roman authority. They would say, this rabbi says this, that rabbi said that.
So, the people were accustomed to religious leaders who said, “yea I know what the bible says, but I will tell you what it really means. It really does not mean what it says.” Jesus said let your yes be yes and no no, and he speaks that way. O dear church. Dear youn men and women. Everytime you hear a sermon through your life, pray for the Holy spirit. For you will always have a choice before you Submit or rebel. I pray that the Spirit of God may cause our necks to bend under his yoke.
So, let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Remain steadfast dear church through all the storms of life, and build your house on the rock. Both now and forever.