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The Parable of the Two Builders - Part 2

Tom Pennington • Matthew 7:24-27

  • 2014-03-09 AM
  • The Sermon on the Mount
  • Sermons


In September of 2011 we began our journey through the Sermon on the Mount. Today, after two and a half years, we finish our verse by verse study. Although I do think I'm going to do an overview, one message that sort of flies over the top of everything we learned, and sort of put it back together for us, before we leave this and move on to the book of Romans.

This wonderful sermon ends with a text that has great significance in my own life. If you've been a part of our church any time at all, you know that I was raised in a Christian home. My dad, before I was born, was saved out of the life of the nightclub. He was a nightclub entertainer, played the bass fiddle for a big band era nightclub group. The Lord saved him so that by the time I came along ours was a Christian home, committed to Christ. We were in church every time the doors were open. My dad was a music director. He took his musical conservatory degree and used it in ministry in the church after he came to Christ. That's the context in which I grew up.

I was five when I first remember hearing the gospel. I know I'd heard it prior to that, but it's the first time I remember hearing it. And that's when I made my first profession of faith in Christ. Praying the sinner's prayer with my mother. I was five, it was the summer, I was about to go off to first grade, and in her concern for my soul she wanted to make sure I understood the gospel, and wanted as best she could to make sure I had responded to it.

A couple of years later when I was seven, I was baptized and gave a public testimony of faith in Christ. Eight years after the first profession, when I was 13 years of age, my conscience was increasingly troubled by a growing pattern, actually growing patterns, of sin in my young adolescent life. It was at that point, at 13, that I made a second profession of faith in Christ, and a week later I was baptized a second time.

To every adult who knew me during those years, and frankly even for most of my peers, I gave every appearance of being a genuine Christian. I was involved in the life of the church. I was extremely active in my youth group. I knew the Bible better than most of my friends. I wasn't openly rebellious to my parents. I was a nice, polite, respectful kid. I sang in the youth choir. I was involved in door to door and street evangelism. I even, during those teenage years, preached my first sermon, at the local rescue mission. It was supposed to have been 20 minutes, and when I sat down and looked at my watch it had been five minutes, and that's the last time that's ever happened.

Apart from a few nagging doubts during those years, you know after I had heard an especially convicting message, or when I lay awake on my bed occasionally at night thinking about the reality of God and eternity, my own sin. Apart from a few moments like that, a few nagging doubts, for the most part day to day, I really believed I was a Christian. After all, I had prayed the sinner's prayer. I'd been baptized. Twice. And I was a pretty good kid overall, certainly as I compared myself to my peers.

But it was not until the age of 18 that I genuinely came to faith in Christ. And once I was truly converted I could look back over that time period and see that for over 12 years I had lived in self-deception, even though I had built what appeared to me, and to many others, to be a real Christian life. That's why this passage at the end of the Sermon on the Mount is so important to me. In fact, when I was in college I was given the opportunity to preach one message to the entire student body, all the faculty and staff, and it was this passage that I chose.

And so I'm glad to preach this text to you this morning, because of the difference it has made in my own understanding, in my own life, and because I am convinced in my heart of hearts that there are people here this morning who are just like I was. Who have made some profession, prayed some prayer, but live in self-deception because there isn't a heart that loves Christ and longs to obey Him.

Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount as you are now aware, as we've seen for a number of weeks, with three great warnings. There's the danger of finding the wrong entrance, in verses 13 to 14, the wrong way of salvation. There's the danger of false prophets in verses 15 to 20, who point you to that wrong entrance. And the third great danger is perhaps the greatest danger of all. It is the danger of a false profession. It is the danger of understanding the true Christ, and the true gospel, confessing Him, and living in self-deception because you're not really His.

We're studying this final warning together, let me read again for you this paragraph, Matthew chapter 7, beginning in verse 21.

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.' Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall."

This paragraph has two very distinct parts. As we noted, verses 21 to 23 contain the warning itself. The warning against self-deception. The warning against making a false profession of faith in Christ. And then beginning in verse 24, down through verse 27, Jesus gives us an illustration of that same danger. The illustration is a parable. It's a story of two builders.

Now, as we seek to understand what our Lord means in this amazing story, we began last week by trying to understand the simple story of the two builders. It's important first to come to an understanding of the simple story of the two builders. We looked first at the wise builder, just at the story level at this point. Jesus calls the first man in the story "wise." He's a man of insight, a man of understanding. He's prudent. And the reason why Jesus calls him wise is because of how he chose to build his family's home.

Notice verse 24, he "built his house on the rock." As we discovered last week, this man dug down through the sandy soil of Galilee until he hit limestone bedrock. It was a lot of effort, a lot of work. Sometimes that bedrock can be a long way down and he dug until he got to bedrock, and then he began to erect those stone walls of his home on that bedrock foundation. At some point after he finished building, his home was complete, he and his family and had enjoyed it together, his work was tested by a massive storm. Notice verse 25, "And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house."

During one especially bad rainy season there in Palestine, as they are want to do even to this day, a massive storm came howling in off the Mediterranean where the weather patterns come during the rainy season, and this storm vented its full fury on Galilee. The torrential rains were unable to penetrate the hard, dry ground after months of no rain. And instead, the water, as it fell in torrents, just began to run to the lowest level and find the dry creek beds and the dry riverbeds and the wadis and the ravines, and suddenly they began to flow with water, and then they began to swell and crest their banks and become these raging torrents. The water level continued to rise until eventually the raging water of what had once been a dry riverbed was slamming against the walls of this man's home, and he watched from inside with fear. Verse 25 says, "and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock." Luke puts it this way, in Luke 6:48, "the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built."

This wise man had a neighbor who was also building his house next door at the same time. Jesus calls this man the "foolish builder." In the Greek text, literally moros, from which we get the word moron. He was a fool who utterly lacks all foresight, all wisdom. And the reason Jesus calls him a fool is because of how he chose to build his family's home. Notice verse 26, he "built his house on the sand." Luke explains to us in more detail what Jesus meant by this. Luke 6:49 says, he "built his house on the ground, without any foundation." It was the dry season when he was building. The ground was hard as a rock. He thought, "Why expend all the effort to dig down to limestone like my neighbor? This ground is plenty hard to support my house. And so, it'll save a lot of time, a lot of work, a lot of effort, I'll just level the ground until it's a good bed for me to erect the walls and then I'll begin to put the stone walls up and put the roof on with the mud on top to keep the water out, and it will be a wonderful home." And so that's what he did.

But, at some point, maybe not the year he built, maybe it was some future year when it was an especially bad rainy season, the same massive storm that had endangered his neighbors home, tested this foolish man's building methods as well. Notice verse 27, "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house." The same raging flood waters that had reached his neighbor's house, and he'd watched his neighbor's house stand, reached his house as well and slammed into the walls of his home. But with a totally different outcome, verse 27 says, "and it fell – and great was its fall." Luke 6:49 says "the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great."

You can picture the scene unfolding as the water, the raging water, hits the wall. Of course, the stone walls can fend for themselves, even against a lot of water. But then what began to happen is the swirling eddies of water would begin to whip up around the base of those stone walls and against that ground that had been hard as a rock. It now becomes soft and the sand begins to be carried away from under those heavy stones, and the weight of the building itself soon cannot be supported and the whole house just collapses in on itself. The man and his family are killed.

That's where we left off last time, with an understanding of the simple story. Now let's consider secondly today, applying the spiritual lesson of the two builders. It's important to begin with just the basic elements of this story. The basic elements of the story are clear because of the context in which they occur. Notice verse 24 begins with the word "therefore." This links the parable, links the story, back to the warning about false profession in the previous verses. So Jesus is still talking in this story about the same danger. The danger of making a profession of faith in Christ that isn't genuine. So then, it becomes clear. The wise careful builder is a genuine Christian. The foolish builder is a false disciple of Jesus Christ, someone who's made a profession of faith in Christ, but in whom there is no reality. He doesn't really know Jesus. And the two similar first century homes, they represent the external lives of two professing Christians that without careful inspection seem, to the casual observer, to be almost identical. That's the meaning of the basic elements of this story.

But as we seek to apply the spiritual lesson that's here, let me, using the imagery of the story itself, say we need to dig a little deeper. So let's consider the striking similarities between these two men and their houses. As I read it, as you read along with me, you noted that as Jesus described these two men and their houses, He intentionally chose almost identical language to describe them. That's because it's crucial to His main point, for us to see and to understand what these two men and their houses have in common. That's true at the story level. Clearly, He intends for us to picture two largely identical houses standing next to each other in the same community, side-by-side, threatened by the same storm.

But it's also true at the spiritual level of the story as well. I want us to note several remarkable spiritual similarities between this wise man and this foolish man. Let's note these similarities together. First of all, and jot these down because I think these are important for you to understand. First of all, both men attach themselves to Christ. Both men were attracted to Jesus. Keep your finger here, but turn over to Luke's parallel passage, Luke chapter 6. Notice verse 47, here's how Jesus describes these two men: "Everyone who comes to Me," that's His description not only of the wise man but also of the fool. So the picture is that both of these men were attracted to Jesus; they attached themselves to Christ. While we're here, let me note a second similarity, and that is that both men heard the true gospel from Jesus Himself. They listened to Jesus, both of them. They heard the true gospel and no one could have made it clearer than our Lord. They knew the gospel, both of them.

Thirdly, both men made a profession of faith in Jesus as Lord. Both of them professed Jesus as Lord. Notice verse 46 of Luke 6, "'Why do you call Me, "Lord, Lord,"'" this is what initiated this whole warning. "'Why do you call Me, "Lord, Lord," and do not do what I say?'" Jesus recognized there were people who had attached to Him, who had heard the gospel from Him, who had professed Him as Lord, who weren't doing what He commanded, and that's what initiated this whole warning. And so understand then that both of these men had made a profession of faith. Turn back to Matthew 7. This is reiterated there in verse 21, "'Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord,"'" He pictures two different kinds, a true disciple and a false disciple, but both saying "Lord, Lord." They both profess Jesus as Lord. Verse 22, even at the judgment the false disciples will continue to confess Jesus as Lord. So both of these men then had made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. They claimed to be His.

Number four, both men heard and apparently enjoyed listening to Jesus' teaching. Notice verse 24, "everyone who hears these words of Mine, … may be compared to a wise man." Verse 26, "Everyone who hears these words of Mine, … will be like a foolish man." So understand that they are similar in that both of them listen to and enjoyed listening to Jesus teach. A person who is self-deceived as well as a true disciple, both of them can enjoy hearing Jesus. They can enjoy studying the Bible. They can enjoy listening to sermons about the Bible.

One of the most biblically knowledgeable men I ever met, I met when I was a seminary student doing jail work in South Carolina. He was in prison for murder. I have in my library commentaries that were written by unbelieving academics who devoted their life to studying the Bible in the way other scholars devote themselves to studying Shakespeare. Clearly, both of these men enjoyed Jesus' teaching. They enjoyed the Bible. They enjoyed scripture.

There's a fifth similarity between these men. Both men built ostensibly Christian lives that looked the same externally. They built a house that looked like a Christian life. Both of them did. I mean, clearly in the story these men built houses that in their culture would have appeared largely the same. They were next to each other in the same location. They were probably similar in size. They were certainly similar in appearance. They used the same building materials, stone, plaster, the same roofing materials, there was much that these two houses had in common.

You see, Jesus' point is that the difference between a true disciple and a false disciple is not always easy to spot. John Stott describes it very well in these words, he says "Professing Christians, both the genuine and the spurious, often look alike. You cannot easily tell which is which. Both appear to be building Christian lives, both are members of the visible Christian community, both read the Bible, go to church, listen to sermons, and buy Christian literature. The reason you cannot tell the difference between them is that the deep foundations of their lives are hidden from view." He goes on to say, "The real question is not whether they hear Christ's teaching, nor even whether they respect or believe it, but whether they do what they hear. Neither an intellectual knowledge of Him, nor a verbal profession, though both essential in themselves, can ever be a substitute for obedience. The question is not whether we say nice, polite, orthodox, enthusiastic things to or about Jesus, nor whether we hear His words, listening, studying, pondering, and memorizing until our minds are stuffed with His teaching, but whether we do what we say, and do what we know. In other words," he says, "whether the lordship of Jesus which we profess is one of our life's major realities."

We understand this on an everyday basis. Many of us either live in or we certainly drive past communities that are made of tract homes. You drive down the street and they all look exactly the same. Imagine if several of those homes, the builder decided to save a little money, and he didn't pour a foundation, he just leveled the ground and built the home on the ground itself. Driving past you wouldn't recognize, you wouldn't see that. They would all look exactly the same.

Our communities are filled with people who have built what appear to be Christian lives, but many of them lack a foundation. It looks great on the outside, but recognize, that's a point of similarity between a false disciple and a true disciple. They build what looks like an external Christian life and they look largely the same.

There's a sixth spiritual similarity between these two men. The real nature of both men's lives will be revealed at the judgment. That's what the storm in Jesus' story represents. Now, some have argued that the storm described in the story refers primarily to the storms of this life. They say the trials and pressures of this life ultimately destroy a false profession, and of course, in some cases that's true. You remember the parable of the soils, the one who appears to believe, but is the rocky soil." And then because of persecution, Jesus says, he believes for a while, or appears to believe, and then he bolts. So, it's true, some false professions are destroyed by the storms of this life.

But the storm here, in this case, represents the storm of God's final judgment. For a couple of reasons. First of all, on just a technicality of language, normally, Jesus when He uses these parables and He says "it's like this," or "it can be compared to this," He uses the present tense in the Greek text. But in verse 24 and verse 26, when He uses those expressions, He uses the future tense, which is very unusual for Him. So in these verses Jesus is pointing to the future. He's saying at some point in the future these men will be like either a wise man or a foolish man. He's using a picture that points to the future judgment. In addition, Jesus has been talking about the future judgment just before this in verses 21 to 23, when they appear before Him. There's no reason to believe that He's changed in verses 24 to 27. Also, in the Old Testament storms are often used to picture God's judgment, even His final, coming judgment.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Turn back to Jeremiah 23:19.

"Behold, the storm of the Lord has gone forth in wrath,
Even a whirling tempest;
It will swirl down on the head of the wicked.
The anger of the Lord will not turn back
Until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart;
In the last days you will clearly understand it."

Jeremiah says, as he talks about false teachers and false prophets, there is coming a day when God will unleash His fury and wrath and it will be like a hurricane has been unleashed on planet earth. A massive storm of cosmic proportions. Turn over to Jeremiah 30. He comes back to this same image. Jeremiah 30:23.

"Behold, the tempest of the Lord!
Wrath has gone forth,
A sweeping tempest;
It will burst on the head of the wicked.
The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back
Until He has performed and until He has accomplished
The intent of His heart;
In the latter days you will understand this."

Jeremiah, the prophet, says there's coming a day when God will unleash His anger and wrath against sinners, against the wicked, and it will be like a storm.

So understand then that the storm in the parable represents the final storm of God's judgment. Think of it like this. At the judgment Jesus will subject the profession of those who claim Him as Lord to the storm of His penetrating presence and omniscience. And the one without a foundation, that life will be completely destroyed.

So there are six striking similarities between these men, but Jesus' main point here is not what these men and their houses have in common. The real point of the story is to highlight the profound differences between these two men and their houses. Now, the most obvious difference between these two men is that they have different foundations. The wise man built his life on bedrock, on a solid foundation, but the foolish man built his life, his Christian life, without a foundation. Here are two men with two different houses that look very similar. With careful inspection you can see that their houses were built on two entirely different foundations. So they had different foundations.

The other, second, profound difference between these two men, is different destinies. These two men face tragically different eternities. The professing Christian who has built his life upon a foundation of rock will endure the judgment. He will prove to be a genuine disciple of Christ and he will enter into Christ's kingdom. On the other hand, the professing Christian whose life is not built on bedrock will prove to be a false disciple at the judgment and the Christian facade that he has built will collapse into rubble. And in verse 23 of Matthew 7, Jesus will say to him, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you worker of lawlessness."

He will send him to the place prepared for the devil and his angels, a place Jesus consistently referred to as Hell. He describes it in Mark 9:47-48, this way, they will

"be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched."

So the key question then, is this– as you look at this story, what is the foundation? Because the one with it will survive the judgment and the one without it will not. Now, you ask the average Christian what the foundation represents, what the rock is in this parable, and what will he say? The rock is Christ. And it is true that in various places in scripture Christ is presented as a rock. In other contexts, for example, 1 Corinthians 10:4, speaking of the Israelites in the Old Testament wilderness wanderings, "all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ."

We also sing a great hymn, I love it, that talks about Christ as the rock in the sense that everything is because of what He did. Our, confidence is in Christ alone, in His work and not our own, so we sing "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." I love that hymn. It borrows from this parable, but it's not the point of this parable.

The rock in this parable, the foundation on which the wise man builds his life, is more specific than that. It's Christ, yes, but with some explanation. Look again at verse 24, "everyone who hears these words of Mine," underline this, "and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock." Look at verse 26, "Everyone who hears these words of mine," underline this, "and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand." Now by "these words of mine" in both cases, Jesus obviously means His teaching in this sermon. But by implication He means, of course, everything He taught.

Both of these men heard Jesus' teaching but the key difference between them is that one acted on Jesus' words and the other did not. Look at verse 24, you see that expression, "acts on them"? You'll notice in the marginal reference it says literally "does" because "acts on them" is simply the present tense of the normal Greek verb for do. Literally it says, "everyone hearing these words of Mine and doing them." Everyone who hears my teaching and as a pattern of life is seeking to do them.

Now this has always been the difference between true and false believers. It's always been true. Even in Old Testament times this was the standard between true and false believers. Turn back with me to the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel chapter 33:30. God here is speaking to the prophet Ezekiel, and He says to him, "'But as for you, son of man, your fellow citizens who talk about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses,'" in other words, Ezekiel was the subject of a lot of conversation around the city, "'speak to one another, each to his brother, saying, "Come now and hear what the message is which comes forth from the Lord."'" Let's go listen to Ezekiel! "'They come to you as people come and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain.'" Oh, but they loved Ezekiel. They loved hearing him teach. Notice verse 32, "'Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument.'" Wow, did you hear Ezekiel today? That was great, wasn't it? What a great message. "'But they hear your words but they do not practice them.'" "'So when it'" and in context here the word "it" refers to judgment. When judgment "'comes to pass - as surely it will - then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst.'"

These people weren't believers. God was going to bring His wrath and His judgment on them, but they sat there and listened as if they were really God's people. This has always been the mark, the distinction between the true and the false. The true hear the words of God and do them. It's not that a true believer perfectly keeps God's word, perfectly keeps Jesus' commands, remember even in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught His true disciples that every day they were going to have to pray, "Father forgive us for our debts." Of course we sin, and we sin every day. But a true believer's life is marked by a pattern of heart submission to Jesus and His teaching.

The foundation that distinguishes a genuine Christian from a false Christian is not saying 'Jesus is Lord.' It's not having the right doctrine – as these people did. It's not having spiritual zeal and fervency – as these did. It's not serving in some ministry as they did. It's not listening to Jesus' words – they did. It's not even building what looks like a Christian life – they did. Listen very carefully, the foundation is a heart that bows completely to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. You must hear His words and consistently seek to do them.

Look at Luke chapter 6. This is, I read it to you a moment ago, this is what initiated this warning from our Lord. I want you to see it again. Luke 6:46, "'Why do you call Me, "Lord, Lord," and do not do what I say?'" You see the foundation of sand is when a false disciple hears Jesus' teaching and doesn't consistently attempt to do what he's been commanded. The foundation of rock is when a genuine disciple hears Jesus' teaching and does what Jesus has commanded.

Now don't misunderstand, it's not that we are saved by our obedience. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone. But, when there is genuine faith in Christ, it will always produce, after conversion, true obedience to Jesus Christ. That's the point our Lord is making here. D.A. Carson writes, "The sermon ends with what has been implicit throughout it, the demand for radical submission to the exclusive Lordship of Jesus."

You know, we live in an age when people give cheap grace and its promises to people. Listen, you want to get out of hell? You want to be saved from God's coming wrath? Then just believe in Jesus as Savior. Who wouldn't want that? No one who believes that there is a God, and there is Christ, and there is a heaven and a hell, no one wants to go to hell who has any sense. And so, of course, people respond to that. But you can't just have Jesus as Savior. Doesn't work like that. Charles Spurgeon, who saw this beginning in his own lifetime, said this, he says, "You cannot have Christ for your Savior unless you also have Him as Lord." Christ comes as a package deal. You can't segment Him into two parts. Oh, yeah, I want that salvation part, but I don't want that day to day obeying what He said. I want to reign and rule in my own life. It doesn't work like that; it's a package deal. He is Savior and Lord. And if you haven't come to Him like that, you haven't come to Him.

Think about it. The first instinct of a truly redeemed person is to fall at the feet of Jesus Christ and to say to Him, I belong to you. I belong only to you. I belong completely to you. I belong forever to you. What do want me to do? That's how a redeemed person responds to his Lord and Savior.

The Sermon on the Mount begins with a series of blessings on Jesus' true disciples, but Jesus ends His most famous sermon with the threat of judgment on those who will not bow to His Lordship. They will, in the words of one author, "find their lives shattered, pulverized, and swept away by a vicious storm." Again, I like the way Stott ends this portion of his commentary. He says, "The Bible is a dangerous book to read. And the church is a dangerous society to join. For in reading the Bible we hear the words of Christ, and in joining the church we say we believe in Christ. As a result we belong to the company described by Jesus as both hearing His teaching and calling Him Lord. Our membership, therefore, lays upon us the serious responsibility of insuring that what we know and what we say is translated into what we do."

Although this sermon ends with a very sober warning for those who will not bow to Jesus Christ as Lord, at the same time it ends with hope and forgiveness, a message of hope and forgiveness, for those who will. You see, I love this, and this is just like our Lord, included in this parable, in this warning, is also an invitation, it's an invitation to every false disciple to truly repent and to truly believe. You still live in a day of grace. The storm of God's judgment has not yet come. There is still hope for you. What do you do?

Well, you being where this sermon began. Go back to Matthew 5:3. "Blessed," oh, to be envied, happy "are the poor in spirit," the beggars in spirit. This is where you start. You come to God as a beggar. You come acknowledging you have nothing He wants, you have nothing that will please Him, nothing that will satisfy Him; you are nothing, you have done nothing, that could ever merit His relationship, His forgiveness, and you come begging. "God be merciful to me the sinner. God I deserve nothing from you. Forgive me for Jesus sake. Make me new. Give me the capacity to obey you. Make me a true follower of Jesus Christ, and not a false one. Change me oh God, at the heart level." You come to God on your knees, begging. You have to humble yourself, give up your pride, give up your rebellion, and find yourself on your face before God your Creator, begging for Him to receive you.

But how can someone who is a beggar, who has nothing, who has no merits, no pattern of obedience, how can somebody like that get into Jesus' kingdom? How can He just let us in like that? Well, Gabriel explained how to Joseph earlier in this very book. Turn back to Matthew 1:21. Here's how it happens. Speaking about the child that Mary would bear, "'She will bear a Son; and you will call His name Jesus,'" Yeshua, "Yahweh saves," "Yahweh rescues." Why would you call Him that? "'For He,'" that is Jesus, "'will rescue His people from their sins.'"

How would He do that? Well, as Matthew unfolds we find that He would do it by becoming a curse for them. By dying in the place, bearing the wrath of God against every sin of every sinner who would ever believe in Him. If you will humble yourself as a beggar. If you will fall before God your Creator, acknowledge that you are nothing, you have nothing, and your only hope is that He will be gracious and merciful to you for Christ's sake, He will extend mercy and grace to you, solely because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He will make you a new person. It's called regeneration in the New Testament. He's not going to just change you a little. He's going to radically change you. Where you have new desires. You love new things and you hate the things you used to love. He's going to change you. He's going to declare you to be righteous in His sight. He's going to forgive your sin. He's going to make you His child.

You're faced with a simple choice. You can be wise by acknowledging that you've been a fool. That you've been a false disciple. And you can bow to His Lordship and truly know Him as Savior and Lord. Or, you can continue to play the part of the fool, claiming Him as Lord, but refusing to obey Him as Lord. Just know this, and I say this with the deepest concern in my heart, if you take that second option, someday you will stand face to face with Jesus Christ and it will not be as your Savior but as your judge and executioner. That's what He describes in Matthew 7. Those are your only two options. If you claim to know Jesus Christ, if you profess faith in Jesus Christ, you are either the wise man or the fool. Let's pray together.

Father, I pray that you would use this text in all of our lives; may Your Holy Spirit apply it to each heart. Father, I pray for those here this morning who are living in self-deception as I did for so many years. Father, remove the blinders from their eyes. Help them to see themselves, by the work of Your Spirit, in the light of this text. May they see their lives swept away before their eyes at the judgment, and may they give up their pride, give up their sin, give up their rebellion, and fall before Christ as Lord.

Father, I pray for those of us who are in Christ, use this passage to motivate us, to remind us, what we already know, and what we've already experienced– that we serve a Master and we must do His will. Spur us on to greater obedience, a greater love for Christ, a greater desire to follow Him and be His disciple, to spend our lives and to be spent in things that matter to Him, rather than ourselves. We pray this in Jesus' name, amen.

The Sermon on the Mount