How to Avoid Sudden Destruction
Intro –Joanna Kirchmeier, of London, arrived home one evening to find her husband, Helmut, standing in front of a mirror staring at himself, completely non-responsive. Helmut, a newly trained hypnotist, had accidentally hypnotized himself and had been standing in front of the mirror for 5 hours completely oblivious! Imagine? I suppose some of you wives are thinking, “Well, that explains a lot!” It reminded me of spiritually hypnotized people – oblivious to their danger, thinking they are okay because they once prayed a certain prayer or went through a certain ritual. Jesus hits this life-and-death issue head-on at the conclusion of His Sermon on the Plain as He pleads in plain, blunt language for careful self-examination by His listeners.
There is no more important subject in the world than this. What must I do to be saved? Did you think of Rom 10:9, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” To be saved? Confess that Jesus is Lord, right?
BUT turn to Matt 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” So what gives? One verse says confess Him as Lord and be saved. The other says that many will call Him Lord and will not be saved. What gives? And the answer is, there is a vast, in fact, eternal difference between calling Him Lord and confessing Him as Lord.
Most of us here profess faith in Christ. We call Him Lord. But have we confessed Him as Lord? You can call Him Lord and go on living just like before. But to confess Him as Lord demands change! Commentator Robt Mounce says, “Those who come to Christ by faith are acknowledging that they have placed themselves entirely and without reserve under his authority to carry out without hesitation whatever he may choose for them to do. There is no such thing as salvation apart from lordship. . . . Those who say that they intend to have a good time on earth and take a back seat in heaven do not realize that there are no “back seats” for those who approach salvation with this attitude.” So do we merely call Jesus, Lord – or have we confessed Him as Lord? Jesus’ parable is intended to sort out the difference. Two men built identical houses -- meaning both claimed Christ. This isn’t contrasting a scoundrel with a believer as usually taught. Both claim Christ. But there was a fundamental difference. One was merely calling Jesus Lord. The other was confessing Jesus as Lord. Which are we? It’s check-up time.
Vv. 46-48: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Israelis typically build in summer. Rains come in the winter and occasionally snow. Building is easier in summer.
But there is a downside. During summer, the high clay content soil is “like bronze” in the words of Lev 26:19. A novice builder might decide the hard clay is sufficient for a one-story building. It is backbreaking work to dig to the bedrock which is a few inches to 10 feet below the surface. In summer, the clay feels solid. But it is illusion. The Oct 4, 1991 issue of the In Jerusalem weekly reported that a third of an apartment complex had collapsed, forcing evacuation of 28 families. A sewer line had leaked water under the collapsed 1/3 of the building which was built on the clay rather than “on the bedrock as is accepted practice.” Interior walls buckled. A 4th floor bathtub fell to the 3rd floor. The paper reported, “The destruction is massive and resembles that of a major earthquake.” Modern illustration of Jesus’ parable.
Parable Elements – Let’s look at the parable elements. The house? It stands for the life of a person. All of us is building a life, analogous to building a house. Paul similarly illustrates in I Cor 3:12, “12 Now if anyone builds [a life] on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw.” The deeds of our lives are building materials. Some are lasting; some temporary; some good; some bad, but in total, they represent our life.
What about the foundation? This is where the houses differ. The right foundation is Christ. Paul agrees in I Cor 3:11, “11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” When living for Christ by His words, we build on a solid foundation. But to build without Him is to build on the clay soil of men’s philosophy, religion, naturalism or any ism that ignores Jesus. It may look good, but sooner or later it will be washed away. In this regard I always think of the final words of the great 20th century philosopher, Bertrand Russell who said at age 94, after a lifetime dedicated to the philosophy of atheism and naturalism: “Philosophy has been a total washout for me.” The flood hit, and his house could not stand.
That leaves on element – the flood. What is the flood? Many commentators have missed the point here. They identify this flood as the trials of life. And those do have secondary relevance. But this parable talks about one flood – a single event. You don’t have to go far in the Bible to see what floods represent. The great flood of Gen 6-8 was God’s judgment on a world that had rejected Him. The flood showed that tho He is slow to wrath and not willing that any should perish, judgment eventually falls – and so it will be in every life. Daily trials are just a reminder that a final judgment is coming when every person will give account. The point of the parable is clear. Every person is building a life. Ultimately each life will be judged, and the only life that will stand is that life which has Jesus as its foundation. The fate of life without Him is found in v. 49, “When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Eternal consequences attach to making sure we have the right foundation – the foundation of Jesus Christ.
Jesus here is contrasting two people, each building a life that they believe will stand in the final judgment. Each claims a relationship with God. These aren’t atheists. But only one is real! One is calling Him Lord – the other is confessing Him as Lord. So, what’s the difference? Which are we this morning, and how do we know? Back up to v. 46-47, ““Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them.” Calling Him Lord is not enough. One must confess Him, own Him as Lord! How? The heart of the passage -- V. 47, “ Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them.” How? Come, hear, obey!
I. Come to Jesus
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus claims the exclusive right to be the foundation for people’s lives? Jesus never gave the slightest hint that there was some other way to God. He never said, “Everyone who comes to me – or Buddha,” He said, “Everyone who comes to me.” That would be a weird statement if he was just a prophet! Jesus said in John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” He didn’t say, “The work of the Father is that you believe in me or Confucius” – no, the path to God, is to believe in Him – Him alone. Jesus did not tell Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him – or Vishnu or Zarathustra or Zoroaster – he said, whoever believes in me shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus doesn’t do double-occupancy! He claims the exclusive right to be the foundation for people’s lives and their only avenue to the Father. There is just one way, Beloved. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” I am the truth – not Mohammad or Freud or Joseph Smith or Oprah! Contrary to PC assertions, there are not multiple ways to God – there is one. There are not multiple truths, there is one truth. There are not multiple Saviors, there is one Savior. God help you if you are a “buffet religionist” like Frank McCourt– selecting a little from Christianity, a little from Budhhism, a little from Islam, a little of this and a little of that. That precisely describes the broad waythat leads to destruction. It proves there are multiple ways to be one’s own god, but only one way to the true God. “Come to me” says Jesus.
The apostles understood the message. When the Jewish religious leaders forbade Peter to preach Jesus he replied, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). When asked by the Philippian jailer how he might be saved Paul replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” If your life is chaos without Christ now, I can tell you it is only a small preview of what is coming when you face the final judgment without Him. He is the only foundation and the only way to the Father. We come thru Him.
I went to seminary with Louis Lapides, a completed Jew who had a long journey chronicled later by Lee Strobel in The Case for Christ. Louis was one of thousands who returned from Vietnam confused and disillusioned. He was looking for answers: "I went to Buddhist meetings, but that was empty. Chinese Buddhism was atheistic, Japanese Buddhism worshiped statues of Buddha; the Zen Buddhism was too elusive. I went to Scientology meetings, but they were too manipulative and controlling. Hinduism believed that all these crazy orgies that the gods would have ended in gods who were blue elephants. None of it made any sense; none of it was satisfying." One night on the streets of Hollywood, Louis ran into a street evangelist peaching Jesus. Louis resisted because of his Jewish background. He didn’t believe in Jesus. The pastor challenged him with OT prophecies of Jesus that he began to read. It so clearly pointed to Jesus that he thought he was being scammed. He went to his grandmother to get a Jewish OT and found it said the same thing. With trepidation, he began to read the NT and couldn’t believe how Jesus fulfilled one after another the OT prophecies of Messiah. After a prolonged struggle he finally prayed his way: “God, I accept Jesus into my life. I don't understand what I'm supposed to do with him, but I want him. I've made a mess of my life; I need you to change me.” Louis came to Jesus and got eternal life.
II. Hear Jesus
Back to v. 47, “ Everyone who comes to me and hears my words.” Do you claim a relationship with Him? Well, He gives us a test. He says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” It’s hard to keep them if we don’t know them, isn’t it? And so we must hear His Words if He is to form the foundation for our life.
Jesus taught contrary to the religionists. They said, “Do this and you will enter the kingdom of God.” Jesus said, “Repent, and you have the kingdom of God.” Most people refuse the narrow gate. They do not like repentance. They prefer to stay on the broad road, offering their own deeds. But Jesus says that broad way leads to destruction. When the storm of judgment hits, they will be destroyed. Suddenly the good life will be revealed in all its ugliness. The ugly selfishness behind the good deeds will be highlighted. The clean living will be seen as a cover for the heart and mind that harbored huge quantities of ill-will toward others, anger at every slight, the unfaithfulness of a persistently lustful heart. Man’s goodness will be seen as filthy rags after all.
Followers of Jesus must hear Him when He says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt 5:8). We must hear Him when He says, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matt 15:8). We must hear Matt 15:18, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” We must realize we have a heart problem that we cannot fix ourselves no matter how hard we try. So what is the solution? John 7:38, “ Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” We must hear Jesus when He says, “Believe in me. Accept me. Trust in me. Put your faith in me.”
Most of us are still standing in front of the mirror, far too absorbed with self to hear Jesus. The word “hear” is used 589 times in the Bible as God tries to break the spell. Listen to me. But all we see is self. And we excuse anything that does get through. I heard of someone recently who said, “Well, there are many interpretations to the Bible.” Yes, but there is only one right interpretation. And we are responsible to get it. Like the young ruler we will meet in Luke 18 who wants eternal life. But when Jesus sees through to his greedy, selfish heart and demands that he sell all he has and give to the poor, he goes away sorrowful. His heart desired his worldly treats more than Jesus, so he would not listen to Him. To be a follower of Jesus was must come to Him and we must hear Him. But there is one more step!
III. Obey Jesus
V. 47, “ Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them.” Having a relationship with Jesus is not about stockpiling information. You don’t get married by knowing that the girl was born in Colorado, went to school at CU, stands 5’-6” tall, has a job in real estate and cries at chick flicks. That may all be true and you may know it perfectly well, but that doesn’t make her your wife. She becomes your wife when you say, “I do.” And we have a relationship with Jesus when we say, “I do.” That’s commitment. It’s not complicated, Beloved. He’s either our Lord, meaning we hear and do -- or He’s just a convenience to whom you never intend to say, “I do.”
You say, “Isn’t that salvation by works!” No, Beloved, it is not. But it is salvation that results in works which is the only kind there is. That’s why James says, “ But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (1:22). That’s why Jesus says just prior in v. 46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” Does the doing make Him your Lord? No – but it demonstrates He is your Lord. Do you see? James says, “Faith without works is dead.” Obedience demonstrates the reality of the faith and authenticates the relationship. And so Jesus says the person who has a foundation that will withstand the storm of God’s judgment is the one who comes, hears and does. He has said, “I do” and meant it. To think you have a saving relationship with Jesus and to live your life as though He does not matter or exist is to fool yourself right into hell. You’ve hypnotized yourself. Put in the simplest terms possible: If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it!
Conc -- A woman called her health club and said, “I got a renewal notice, but as much as I love to work out, I think I’ll pass this time.” The man at the club said, “Fine, just fill out the forms to resign next time you’re in.” There was pause before the woman said, “Umm, Okay. Now where exactly are you located?” If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it. What does your life show? Are you a doer or a pretender? A professor or a possessor? Have you said, “I do” to Jesus and meant it? Those who have confessed Christ have come to Jesus, heard Jesus and are obeying Jesus. Are you hypnotized, or are you real? Let’s pray.