Safe and Secure

This was a short message I gave in church on Sunday before the sermon. It was from Matthew chapter 7, focusing on the parable Jesus told about building one's house on the rock.

Matthew 7:12-29 (ESV):

12 "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

13 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

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.'

24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 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. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 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."

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

Jesus was teaching people about who would enter the kingdom of heaven, and how they must live in this present world (Matthew chapters 5-7). At the last section of his speech (Matthew chapter 7), Jesus warned of the importance of entering by the “strait gate” (i.e., the narrow gate). He tells them that there are many people who go through the wide gate and the broad way, which ultimately ends in destruction. Many people in our world are happy with the easy way out of getting things done. How many of you here have tried to do something in a way that you thought was easier than the correct way, but later found out you did it wrong and actually made it worse than what you thought would be hard? Well, Jesus warned these people in the Sermon on the Mount about following the way that seems wide, seems broad, seems to be the easy way, because it is wrong, and it leads to ruin and destruction.

Instead, Jesus exhorted the people to enter the way that is strait (meaning “narrow” and “hard”, not “straight”). It is narrow, which means that it is a more difficult gate to enter and a harder path to follow. He told them this is the way that leads to life, meaning eternal life, but that only a few find it. Enter by this gate, Jesus says.

Next, Jesus warned the people of false prophets, those who would try to keep them from entering the narrow path by telling them things that are untrue and deceitful concerning the kingdom of heaven. He warned them that they could tell them by their fruits, that is, by the results of their teaching and lifestyle. Those who teach false doctrine and live contrary to the Word of God, are evidently false prophets. They are the people on the broad way, leading others to destruction, and ultimately being rejected from entering the kingdom of heaven themselves.

Jesus also revealed in verses 21-23 that many people who professed him as their Lord, will not be allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven, because Jesus did not know them and they were workers of iniquity (lawlessness).

After thoroughly warning his listeners of the judgment to come, and of the importance of having a genuine, good, and fruit-bearing life of doing the will of His Father in heaven, Jesus then told them one of the most memorable parables ever.

In verses 24-27, he made it clear that those who build their house on the rock will be the only ones left standing after the storm of judgment when it passes by. Those who build their house on the wrong foundation of sand will be destroyed when the storm of judgment comes. So let’s consider, what does Jesus want people (including us here today) to rest the foundation of their lives on? It is actually quite simple. He tells us. (But I must warn you, it is hard, it is narrow, it is difficult, and very few people actually do it.) What is it?

Well, look at verse 24... Jesus wants people to rest the foundation of their lives on... what?... on his words. He wants people, including us, to actually do what he said, to put his teachings into practice. This is the only sure and certain way to be unmoved, safe and secure from the storm of judgment.

Jesus said it was hard, and that few find it, but there it is, given to us in a parable that concludes all of what he had been teaching during the Sermon on the Mount. A parable that tells of a wise man and a foolish man. A man who built his house on the rock, practicing the words of Jesus, and a man who built his house on the sand, hearing but not doing what Jesus had said. One was swept away in the storm, the other was left standing sturdy and strong.

How many of us will take this teaching of Jesus seriously? How many of us will not just listen to what Jesus has to say, but will actually do what he said? How many of us will diligently read the Bible and seek to put it into practice with wisdom?

Let me add that Jesus never taught people that their good works would get them into heaven. He always taught this: ”The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; [therefore] repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15). Jesus wanted people to follow him, to listen to him, to believe in him and to obey him. In one word, we call that “faith.” Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for all who trust in him. He went to the cross, carried our sins and our sorrows, suffered the extreme punishment for sin, and rose again from the grave on the third day. Because of this we are justified by faith alone in him. But if we have been justified by faith alone in Christ Jesus, and if he truly is our Lord, as we call him, then let us show our faith by our works, and prayerfully seek to do exactly what our Father wants us to do, putting into practice all that Jesus taught.

We need the Holy Spirit to do that, and we need God’s grace, but nevertheless, that is what Jesus said, and that is what we must strive to do. Let us not take confidence in our works, but in our Savior, and let us show our love toward our Savior by our works, by carefully listening, studying, and putting the words of Christ into practice. In this way, we show that we are resting on the right foundation, the foundation laid down for us by the one who has taken away our sins with his own blood, and provided eternal righteousness and life for us who believe by his resurrection from the dead.

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