Consequences of Living on Sand

indexSecond, your foundation is weak. If you hear but do not obey Jesus’ words, you are like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

Have you ever wondered why the Tower of Pisa is leaning? The Tower of Pisa is a bell tower of the cathedral of Pisa, Italy. The tilt began during construction. It is caused by a foundation too soft on one side to support the tower’s weight. The tower began to tilt after construction began on the second floor in 1178. This was due to a short three-meter foundation on weak, unstable subsoil.

I did some research about the composition of subsoil. Subsoil is the soil layer below the topsoil. It is composed of a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. The leaning Tower of Pisa was built on a weak foundation of sand, silt and clay. Sand is a very unstable foundation to build something.

Have you built a sand castle on the beach? Build a big beautiful sand castle on the beach. Surround it with a wall of thick sand. Put a flag on your sand castle. But when the water comes in, your sand castle will fall on the sand. It falls on the sand because it is built on sand, a weak foundation.

If you live disobeying the rule of God, you live on sand. If you live disregarding the rule of God, you live on sand.

Third, you will fall in the storm of judgment. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matt. 7:27). The words in v. 27 are the same as in v. 24. The rains fell, the floods came, and the winds blew at the house. But in v. 27, Matthew emphasized, “great was the fall of it.” The house built on sand collapsed completely. He who lives his life by disregarding God’s will walks on the wide road to destruction (Matt. 7:13). He will fall on the day of God’s judgment.

Conclusion

Jesus’ Sermon ends with a warning to everyone. We should take His words seriously. We should not only hear Jesus’ words. Rather, we should obey it.

We shall all stand before the Lord someday soon. Where do you build your house today? What kind of foundation are you building your life today?

I urge you to build your life on the rock. Live to obey God’s will. Stand on God’s Word. Then you will be like the wise man who built his house on a rock. The rains fell, the floods came, and the winds blew the house. But it did not fall, because it was built on the rock. When you will face Jesus one day, you will stand.

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To Disobey God’s Will is to Build Your Life on Sand

Jesus said, “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will article-2302018-18FAEEAA000005DC-686_964x632be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matt. 7:26). Jesus talks about everyone who disobeys His words. To disobey the words of Jesus is to disobey the will of God. Jesus is talking about everyone who disobeys God’s will.

Jesus switches from the wise builder to the foolish builder. The wise builder builds his house on the rock. But the foolish builder builds his house on the sand.
Three things will apply to you if you disobey the will of God. First, you are “foolish.” The word, “foolish” is from the Greek, moros, where we get our English word, “moron.” It means “stupid.” (Gingrich)

But Matthew is not talking about mental stupidity. In Matt. 23:17, Matthew writes, “You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?” Here Matthew links the word “blind” with “fools.” He describes the fool as blind. The adjective “blind” (tuphlos) means, “metaphorically, of mental and spiritual blindness, often the result of self-deception, unable to understand (MT 15.14).” (Friberg) Hence, in Matthew, the fool is blind. The fool is stupid, in the sense that he is blind. He is unable to understand. He deceives himself. He thinks he understands the things of God. But actually, he does not.

Thus, if you hear God’s Word today, but you disregard it or you disobey it, you are a foolish person. You are spiritually stupid. You cannot see spiritually. You cannot understand the things of God. To your mind, you think that you are doing the right thing. But you do not really understand the eternal value of obeying God in your life. You fail to see the earth-shaking importance of building your life on the will of God.

The Blessing of Obeying God’s Will

9d760a692222d00c147e1f96d01e50e6Three things will apply to you if you obey God’s will. First, you “will be like a wise man” (Matt. 7:24). Luke has the present tense, “he is like a man” (Lk. 6:48). But Matthew uses the future tense “will be” (homoiothesetai). The reason is that Matthew emphasizes the last judgment. In v. 2, you will be judged as you judge others. In vv. 21-23, false prophets will be judged on the last day. On the final day of judgment, the wise builders and the foolish builders will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ. (Davies/Allison)

Jesus said if you obey His words, you will be like a wise man. The wise man is wise because he obeys God’s will.

Do you want to be a wise person? Then obey the words of Jesus. Obey God’s will. You will be a wise person.

Second, you build your life on a solid foundation. If you obey Jesus’ words, you build your house on the “rock.” The “rock” is the words of Jesus—God’s will. The rock is the will of God in the kingdom of God. To build your house on the rock is to obey God’s will. It is to build your life on God’s will. If you obey God’s will, your life stands on solid ground.

Third, you will stand in the storm of judgment. Jesus said, “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock (Matt. 7:25). In the Near East, storms come in a hot climate. Heavy rains and strong winds produce rivers. The rivers flood formerly dry lands.

In the OT, storms symbolize the judgment of God (Ezek. 13:10-15). Jesus also uses the storm and flood to signify divine judgment. Matthew 24:37-39 reads,

37 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

When Typhoon Yolanda came to Tacloban, it sustained winds of 235 kph. It was the most powerful typhoon in history. It caused a “storm surge” of water as high as 10 feet. It broke coconut trees and knocked down electric poles. It brought in a large boat in downtown Tacloban that is still sitting there.

It completely destroyed many houses except for one building—the Tacloban City Convention Center. The Center suffered some damage to its roof. But it stood its ground. Local media hailed it as “the one building that survived the storm.”[1]

We will all stand before the Lord on the last day. We will give an account of how we lived our lives in this earth. On the last day, the rain of judgment shall fall on everyone. The floods of judgment shall come on everyone. The winds of judgment shall blow on everyone. But if you built your life on the rock of God’s Word, then you will stand in the storm of divine judgment.

[1] Pia Ranada, “Time to make the PH stadium typhoon-proof,” Nov. 16, 2013. Cited October 10, 2015. Online: http://www.rappler.com/nation/43831-typhoon-proof-homes-tacloban-stadium.

To Obey God’s Will is to Build Your Life on the Rock

Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a build-on-the-rockwise man who built his house on the rock (Matt. 7:24). Jesus is calling on everyone who hears “these words of mine.” Jesus refers to “these words” in His Sermon on the Mount. To review, it is His interpretation of the Law of Moses (Matt. 5:17). It is reconciling with your brother (Matt. 5:21-26). It is cutting off your right hand that causes you to sin and throwing it away (Matt. 5:27-30). It means not committing adultery in your heart (Matt. 5:31-32). It means being truthful in your words (Matt. 5:33-37). It is turning the other cheek and going the extra mile (Matt. 5:38-42). It is loving your enemies (Matt. 5:43-48). It is practicing your righteousness in secret (Matt. 6:1-18). It is laying up money in heaven and not on earth (Matt. 6:19-24). It means not worrying about your needs. It means seeking first the rule of God in your life (Matt. 6:25-34). It means to judge yourself first, before you judge others (Matt. 7:1-6). It is to do to others what you want others to do to you (Matt. 7:12).

These are the words of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus. He who hears Jesus’ words and does them will be like a wise man. Note the words, “does them” in v. 24 and “does not do them in v. 26.” Jesus’ emphasis is not on the hearing but on the doing of His words.

A true story is told about a poor Haitian named Miltador. He owned a cow. He got this cow after working for many years for a local farmer without pay. When the cow was just a calf, he fed it until it grew and bred. The farmer paid Miltador a calf after years of work without pay. One day Miltador attended a Bible study in 1 John 3:16-18. John talks about showing your love to a brother in need.

The next week, the Bible study leader asked Miltador about his cow. Miltador said, “I don’t have the cow anymore.”

The man replied, “What happened to the cow?”

Miltador answered, “My brother has been sick and needed to see a doctor. He had no money to pay a doctor. Last week you told us that if we have material possession, and see our brother in need, but don’t help–how could the love of God be in us? So I sold the cow and gave the money to my brother so he could see the doctor.”[1]

You may hear God’s Word and say “Amen” to it. You may clap your hands in approval. You may even cry afterward. Yet Jesus is not looking for hearers, but doers of His word.

In Matthew, doing Jesus’ words is doing the will of God. Jesus said in Matt. 12:50, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” The word of Jesus is the will of God. Thus, he who obeys the words of Jesus obeys the will of God.

[1] Davon Huss, “Selling Your Cow,” Sermoncentral. Cited October 10, 2015. Online: http://www.sermoncentral.com/ illustrations/sermon-illustration-davon-huss-stories-helptheneedy-christiangiving-sharinggodsbounty-83790.asp.

Live on the Rock

main-qimg-57c61d336d880b28a884e1cee6869503Jesus closes His Sermon on the Mount with a last warning. He has already finished teaching about God’s rule in His sermon. He calls on His hearers to choose whether to obey His words or disobey them.

Jesus the carpenter uses a building parable to drive home His point. It is a parable of the wise house builder and the foolish house builder. He who obeys Jesus is like the wise builder who builds his house on the rock. He who ignores Jesus is like the foolish builder who builds his house on the sand.

The main point of Jesus is the prime importance of obeying His words. Jesus is not talking about any other house. He is talking about the house of your life. Specifically, Jesus is talking about the foundation of the house of your life.

What kind of foundation are you building your life today? Are you building your life on the rock of obedience to Jesus’ words? Or are you building your life on the sand of disobedience?

Jesus teaches us two things about obeying and ignoring His words.

Does Jesus Know You?

Pastor Joe McKeever tells of a funeral he attended. 6a00d83451a37369e20133f449abd4970b

    At a funeral I attended, the speakers admitted that the deceased was a hard man. “The most stubborn man most of us have ever met” is how one put it. That about summed it up for me.

However, both the man’s brother and his pastor gave testimony that “he knew the Lord.” One said, “I asked him just a few weeks ago. He assured me that he knew the Lord.”

I certainly hope that’s right.

However, one has to wonder if a more accurate expression might be “whether the Lord knows us.” After all, in our Matthew 7:23 text, the issue is not whether the people claimed to know Jesus, but that He did not know them.[1]

The question is not whether you know Jesus. Rather, the question is whether Jesus knows you. You might say, “Pastor, I know Jesus.” But does Jesus know you? Jesus will say to the false prophets, “I never knew you.”

Then He will say, “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” The word, “lawlessness” (Gk. anomia) means “‘to live as though there were no laws,’ ‘to refuse completely to obey the laws,’ or ‘to live as one who despises all laws.’” (Louw-Nida) Lawlessness then is refusing to submit to the will of the Father. That is the mindset of false prophets. They refuse to obey the rules of God.

They call Jesus, “Lord.” They are sincere. They perform mighty miracles. Yes, they bless people. But they disobey the will of the Father. They live outside of the law of God. They twist the Word of God to their advantage. They use the Word to advance their agenda. They follow their own selfish will. They think like that and live like that. That is why Jesus calls them, “workers of lawlessness.”

Conclusion

Jesus gave this warning to His disciples. Entrance into the kingdom is not by saying the right passwords. It is not by our sincere religiosity. It is not even by performing signs and wonders.

Rather, entrance into the kingdom is by doing the will of the Father. The will of the Father is to trust Jesus as your Savior. It is to obey God’s will as taught by Jesus. To obey the will of the Father is to be known by Jesus. To disobey the will of the Father is to be unrecognized by Jesus. It is a dreadful thing to be rejected by Christ.

[1] Joe McKeever, “So You Know Jesus, Do You?” Cited September 19, 2015. Online: http://joemckeever.com/wp/so-you-know-jesus-do-you/#more-1606.

Signs and Wonders are No Warranty of Kingdom Righteousness

Signs-and-WondersJesus said,

“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:22-23).

Have you been inside a courtroom? I remember when my father brought me with him to court. He is a lawyer. I did not do any wrong. He just brought me with him. It was a boring day for a 10 year old boy. There was this judge wearing a black robe. There were two lawyers. One stood up and said something to the Judge. I felt very sleepy. I closed my eyes and slept inside the courtroom. That was the last time I went inside a courtroom.

On the last day, the false prophets are the defendants. Jesus is the Judge. They stand before Jesus. They plead their case. They ask Jesus to receive them into the kingdom. They cite their signs and wonders as evidence. They point out their miraculous works.

First, they prophesied in Jesus’ name. Actually in the Greek, Matthew puts the words, “in your name,” as the first part of the question. Hence, it reads, “In your name, did we not prophesy, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?” To prophesy in Jesus’ name is to prophesy on Jesus’ authority. To prophesy is to proclaim God’s Word and to predict the future. That is their first plea before Jesus the Judge. They prophesy on the authority of Jesus.

Second, they cast out demons in Jesus’ name. One day they brought a mute man to Jesus. The man couldn’t speak a word. Throughout his life, he was silent. Men, don’t you want a mute wife? Ladies, don’t you want a mute husband? Well, this man was mute because of a demon. He was oppressed by a demon. That day, Jesus cast out the demon. A miracle happened. The mute man spoke. All through his life, he could not speak. He could not hear his own voice. Jesus healed him. Now he spoke.What a joyful thing!

Yet the false prophets cast out demons also in the power of Jesus’ name. They, too, are effective in casting out demons. Hence, they plead their case with Jesus, citing their ministry against demons.

Third, they performed many mighty miracles in Jesus’ name. The Greek word for “mighty works” (ESV) or “wonders” (NKJV) is dunamis, which means, “deed of power, miracle.” (Gingrich) It probably refers to mighty miracles recorded by Matthew, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, and cleansing lepers (Matt. 10:8). The false prophets did many signs and wonders in Jesus’ name. That is their third claim.

Is it possible that unsaved people can do miracles? Yes, the Bible teaches it. Judas cast out demons, but he never trusted Christ (Lk. 10:17). The Antichrist himself will do signs and wonders (1 Thess. 2:9).

But Jesus will tell them, “I never knew you.” The verb “knew” (ginosko) means “recognize.” (Gingrich) They recognized Jesus, but Jesus did not recognize them. It means that they never had any spiritual relation with Christ.

Sincerity is No Assurance of Kingdom Connection

Jesus said, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your 23339name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name’”(Matt. 7:22)? The phrase “on that day” refers to judgment on the last day. In Matt. 25:31-34, we read,

      31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you . . . 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

When Jesus comes, He will sit on his glorious throne in Jerusalem. He will gather all the nations of the earth. Then he will divide all the peoples on a worldwide scale. He will separate the sheep and the goats. The sheep will be on his right; and the goats, on his left. The Lord Jesus will tell the sheep, “Come, inherit the kingdom.” He will tell the goats, including the false prophets, “Get out of my face.”

All the false prophets will stand before Jesus the Judge of the last day. They will say to Jesus, “Lord, Lord.” There is a note of sincerity in their words.

What are they sincere about? First, they sincerely call Jesus, “Lord, Lord.” They believe that calling Jesus, “Lord,” will get them into the kingdom. Though they are sincere, they are sincerely wrong.

Second, they sincerely claim to follow Jesus. To call Jesus, “Lord,” is to claim to follow Jesus. But Jesus will answer them, “I never knew you.”

Third, they sincerely count their miracles as a qualification for entrance into the kingdom. They believe that their works will get them into the kingdom. But Jesus rejects their miracles. He will call them, “workers of lawlessness.”

Are you depending on your good works to gain God’s approval? Are you trusting in your religion to make God accept you?

You will face Jesus the Judge someday soon. Maybe you will say, “Lord, did I not go to church every week?” “Lord, was I not a good friend to many people?” “Lord, did I not give to the poor?” If you count on your good works and your religion, then I regret to say that you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus will answer you, “Did you do the will of my Father? Did you trust me as your Lord? Did you obey God’s will as I have taught you?”

If you honestly answer “no” today, then I’m sorry to say that you will not enter the kingdom of God. Your sincerity is no assurance of entrance into the kingdom. Instead, the key to enter the kingdom is to do the will of God. To do the will of God is to believe in Christ and obey Him.

Spiritual Passwords are No Guarantee of Kingdom Entry

password-securityJesus said, “Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom. The false prophets will use these passwords—“Lord, Lord.” But these passwords will not gain them entry into the kingdom.

To word, “Lord,” is an important word. It is an early confession of faith in Christ—“Jesus is Lord” (Rom. 10:9). But Jesus is not talking about oral faith. Rather, He is talking about obedient faith. In a parallel text in Luke 6:46, Jesus said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” Jesus is not speaking about faith without obedience. Rather, He is speaking about faith with obedience.

That is the big problem of false prophets. They call Jesus, “Lord, Lord.” However, they disobey Him. They do not do the will of the Father in heaven.

What is the will of the Father in heaven? First, the will of the Father is the word of Jesus. (Davies/Allison) In Matthew, Jesus said, “the will of the Father.” In Luke, Jesus said, “what I tell you.” Thus, the will of the Father is what Jesus tells you.

Second, the will of the Father is the teaching of Jesus in the whole Sermon of the Mount. The will of the Father is to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. To exceed their righteousness is to live by the Law of the Lord as interpreted by Jesus. It is praying, fasting, and giving to the poor in secret. It is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. It is to walk on the hard road of suffering for Christ. It is to live with no temporal reward in the present, but expecting eternal rewards in the future. That is the will of the Father.

Third, the will of the Father is that you turn from sin. In Matt. 21:28-32, Jesus tells a parable of two sons.

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.”

The will of the Father is to repent your sin and obey God. To obey God is to obey Christ. The will of the Father is to believe in Christ and to obey Christ.

However, the false prophets do not do the will of the Father. Thus, they will not enter the kingdom of heaven. They may say the same password, “Lord, Lord.” But it will not gain them access into the kingdom.

To enter the kingdom is to be saved on the last day. The false prophets will not enter the kingdom. They will not be saved on the last day. To enter the kingdom is to inherit the kingdom (Matt. 25:34). The false prophets will not inherit the kingdom.

Note the future tense of the verb, “will enter.” The kingdom is here now, spiritually, in the hearts of believers. But the kingdom is yet to come. It is the future millennial kingdom of Christ when He comes. The false prophets will not enter that kingdom.

False Prophets—Beware!

Jesus warned his disciples to watch out for false prophets (Matt. 7:15-20). They sound indexlike sheep outwardly. But they are wolves inwardly. You shall know them by their fruits—their false teachings. They will betray their true nature by their fruits. On the last day, Jesus will judge them.

Jesus adds another warning about false prophets in Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Many believers have misinterpreted these words. They feel that they need to perform a good work to enter the kingdom. But Jesus is not talking about followers of Christ. He is talking about false prophets. In vv. 15-20, Jesus is talking to “you,” the disciples of Christ. But in v. 23, Jesus is talking about “them,” the false prophets.

Jesus is the Judge of false prophets on the last day. On that day, false prophets will not enter the kingdom. He will tell them, “I never knew you. Depart from me.”

Previously, Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets.” Now in vv. 21-23, Jesus seems to be saying, “False prophets—beware!”

We learn three things from Jesus’ words in vv. 21-23.