Build on the Rock!
A sermon based on Matthew 7:24-27
Sunday, September 2, 2012 – Christian Education Sunday
You're all familiar with the story of the Three Little Pigs right? Remember how it goes? One little pig built his house with straw, another built his house with sticks, and the third built his house with bricks. All seemed to be doing fine and well in their new dwellings, until one day, when the wolf came. Then, when he huffed and he puffed, the quality of home was revealed for what it was.
Jesus actually tells a very similar story in his Sermon on the Mount. He says that the way you build your house is crucial to how well it stands. Of course, Jesus wasn't giving architectural advice, but was speaking about your spiritual house. Jesus encourages all of us today to build our house—our trust, our faith, our lives—on the Rock. The Foundation is Key. The Foundation is Already Laid. Listen now to Jesus' counsel to you, found in Matthew 7:24-27…
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. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 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. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
I. The Foundation is Key
It's sort of ironic, but I haven't heard of any services like this in Alaska where we live in earthquake country, but in Raleigh, I used to hear the ad on the radio a couple of times each week. It used some scare tactics and said that if your house has a crack in the wall, if the windows aren't quite straight, if the floor doesn't quite seem level, you may have a very serious underlying problem. It may be a problem with your foundation. And unless you contact their company immediately, they suggest, your house could quickly become unsafe, even deadly.
But the foundation of a building is crucial, isn't it? No matter how high the quality of building materials, if the foundation on which they rest is broken, the house soon will be too. A weak foundation makes for a weak house. And saints, what's true of the foundation of your physical house is also true of the foundation of your home. What you build your relationship on, what you build your faith on, what you build your life on—that foundation—is key.
Granted, building on sand may be quicker. It may be easier. It may be cheaper. The house built on the sand may appear to be just fine and would be fine… at least in the dry season. But when the rainy season hits, the foundation will quickly be washed away and the house will collapse, leaving the residents, homeless at best, or even worse… dead.
This sand is the foundation the world builds on. It's the security of having enough money in the bank to know you'll be okay no matter what troubles life throws at you. It's the surety that we have what it takes to make it through whatever comes our way. It's the certainty that I'm a good person, better than most anyway. And I deserve good things in life. I deserve good things from God.
And while these may seem to be a fine foundation at first, when a rainy season hits and the troubles and problems of this stormy, sin-filled life hit, what happens to the foundation? When you get laid off and money is scarce, that foundation is washed away. When a fight happens and your marriage may not survive, that foundation is washed away. When those you love are the ones who hurt you most, that foundation might crumble. The streams of trouble rise, the weak foundation is washed away and the wind easily destroys your house with a crash.
And, ultimately, even if your finances, your marriage, your friendships all last without a strong foundation, when the storm of Judgment Day hits, your eternity will be lost forever in hell without a solid foundation, because the problems of this life are like a tiny breeze compared to the hurricane that is to come. If you trust in the foundation of your good works and what a great person you've been, it won't stand—because God demands sinless perfection. Trust in your regular attendance in worship or your constant involvement at church and you won't stand. Trust in the fact that you've always tried your hardest and it won't get you into heaven either because your hardest isn't good enough. In verse 21 Jesus makes that clear. He says, "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."
Now one might assume that to do the will of the Father means to follow his commands. To do all the things Jesus tells us to do in the Sermon on the Mount. But if that's the case it can be pretty unsettling to hear Jesus say, "Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock…" because, let's face it: none of us have perfectly put into practice what Jesus says. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Trust in our efforts and our works and we trust in a foundation of sand.
So what is the will of God? What is the firm foundation? Or really, who is the firm foundation? It's none other than Jesus; the foundation that's already been laid…
II. The Foundation is Already Laid
In John 6:28 the Jews asked Jesus what the will of God was. Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." (John 6:29) Again in John 6:40 he said, "My Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
While we naturally think the will of God is something we do, Jesus says the will of God is to trust the one he sent—to believe in him and his work for us. Jesus took our sins on himself—our sinful neglect of his Word, our rebellion against his commands, our impure thoughts and actions, our unkind words spoken in anger or frustration, our every sin of thought, word or deed, and nailed them to Jesus on the cross. We are forgiven and his perfect life is credited to us. God now looks at us and sees perfect saints who perfectly keep his will.
This is the one firm foundation—Christ the Rock. Every other foundation—anything else in which we place our trust is nothing but sand. That's why Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:11, "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."
Dear friends, it's my encouragement to you and my prayer for you that you build your marriage, your parenting style, your friendships, your work ethic, your hobbies, your schedules, your budgets, and everything that you do on this rock. Build on the rock, not on sand.
When someone hurts you, look to Christ the rock, your firm foundation and forgive just as Christ has forgiven you. When you're tired and worn out after a long day of work or after too many hours of studying, look to the Rock and see how he served you, giving even his life on the cross for you, and long to serve him by serving others. When you're tired and don't feel like reading his Word or going to worship, when another hour of sleep seems so much better than Bible Class, look to the Rock, remember what he's done for you, and long to learn more about his love for you, long to encourage others and be encouraged in the Word.
And keep building. What good is a foundation if that's all that's there? You'd be better off in the woods, where at least there's protection from the wind! Keep building on that foundation! Grow in your faith to strengthen the walls! Build up a storeroom of help by memorizing God's Word. Put up a watch tower to guard against temptation and the devil's seduction. Keep building! Keep fortifying what you have!
Here's my challenge to you: Add one thing to what you're already doing. Are you coming to church monthly? Make a commitment to come twice a month. Are you coming weekly? Make a commitment to read a devotion at home twice a week. Are you studying the Word at home? Try coming to Bible Class on Sunday mornings, just for a month. See if you're not built up! Are you coming to Bible class each week? Try memorizing a chapter of God's Word. Add one thing to what you're already doing to build on the foundation that you have.
And then, dear friends, when the storms of trouble hit your home, when Satan huffs and he puffs, you'll stand firm. Then, when death or Judgment Day comes like a hurricane, you'll be just fine, because you'll be firmly planted on the sure foundation—the Rock of Christ.
Rejoice dear friends, that your solid foundation has already been laid. Now don't be like the foolish man, who heard the Word of God, but refused to put it into practice. Instead, continue to build your home on this Rock so you can stand. Stay in the Word of God to better know his love for you. Gather with your fellow believers to grow in your faith. Share the Word of God with your children. Talk about it at home and in the car, when you lie down and when you get up. (cf. Deuteronomy 6:7-9) Love the Word of God, make it a part of your daily routine and build on this firm foundation. Then, when you're on your deathbed, you can boldly confess:
My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus blood and righteousness; I dare to make no other claim But wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand. Amen.