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Obedience: Evidence of a Strong Foundation
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Obedience: Evidence of a Strong Foundation

From Series: A Christian Manifesto

Luke 6:46-49  (ID: 2115)

Like weathering a storm in a house without a foundation, facing eternity without obeying Jesus’ commands is foolish and dangerous. Countering this kind of superficial Christianity, Alistair Begg points out that saying the right religious words, being highly gifted, or even performing miracles won’t win us entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Instead, our lives must bear the fruit of Christ’s lordship.


Sermon Transcript:

Father, now, with our Bibles open before us, we pray that you, by the Spirit, will be our teacher. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Let me summarize the instruction of these few verses in just a sentence: it is as foolish and dangerous to hear the teaching of Jesus without obeying it as it is to build a house minus foundations. It is as foolish and dangerous to hear the teaching of Jesus without obeying it as it is to build a house minus foundations.

For a number of weeks, now, we have been searched by the instruction of Jesus contained for us in this sermon, which Luke records for us from the beginning of the twentieth verse of the chapter. In the few verses preceding the twentieth verse, Luke has identified for us the nature of Jesus’ congregation in the delivering of this message. And I want to remind you of the fact that those who were listening to Jesus comprised, according to verse 17 of the chapter, first of all, a “large crowd of his disciples,” and then, accompanying them, “a great number of people … who had come to hear him,” and with the expectation that they would “be healed of their diseases.”[1]

So, in other words, Jesus was addressing a group who might largely and somewhat loosely be described as “followers.” If we had said, “Why are you people here and listening?” they would have said, “Well, we have begun to follow; we follow along, and that is why we are here listening to the sermon.” In other words, it is fair to say that the crowds of people that gathered on that occasion to listen to Jesus preach were not dissimilar to the average Sunday congregation at Parkside Church. It was made up of those who were interested, some who were particularly eager, the intrigued, the expectant, the confused, and the faithful—just the great cross section of humanity that is to be found in the sweep of life and personality and background that is before me in these moments of my address.

And what was it, then, that Jesus did when he had these followers before him? Well, he essentially explained to them the basis upon which men and women might justifiably refer to Jesus as their “Lord and Master.” He wanted them to be in no doubt whatsoever what it meant not simply to say that Jesus is Lord, but also to make much of that in their lifestyle, too. And so, in the course of the sermon, he has provided a number of characteristics that will be emblematic of those who are able with integrity to declare the lordship of Jesus Christ.

To bow beneath Jesus’ lordship is to prize what the world thinks pitiable and to question what the world deems desirable.

Let me remind you of them again, purposefully, for emphasis: To bow beneath his lordship is, as we have seen, to embrace the reversal of values which are prominent in our culture. It is to prize what the world thinks pitiable and to question what the world deems desirable.  In other words, there will be a sense of dissonance in the child of God with so much that flushes over that individual out of the culture of our day. Whether it is in terms of a worldview, or in terms of language, or in terms of emphasis, or in terms of the degeneration of moral values and absolutes, the child of God who is able to say with clarity and conviction, “Jesus Christ is Lord to me,” will know in their lives not one-hundred-percent success, but a growing awareness of the fact, “I am different from this. I used to be happy to go along with this. I used to be able to speak in this way. I used to be able to laugh at these jokes. I used to be able to listen to this filth. But now something has happened, and I believe that Jesus is Lord of my life”—a reversal of values.

Those who are able to justifiably declare the lordship of Jesus will also display a love that is quite exceptional: not the kind of love relationship that is found in the average PTA meeting, a kind of “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine,” the common courtesies of interaction; not the kind of relationships that can be found at the local bar or pub; not the kind of thing that you find in the fraternal relationships of people who enjoy sporting events together. “If that is all you know,” said Jesus, “then there is no credit whatsoever in that. Pagans are able to relate to one another in that way.”[2] But “No,” he says, “the love that you will manifest is the love of my Father, who is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. And therefore, those who declare my lordship and know it to be true will be those who are the very embodiment of an increased understanding of kindness and forgiveness.”[3]

At the same time, it will be marked by an integrity which recognizes that only good fruit comes from good trees and bad trees produce bad fruit, and which is prepared to face up to the challenge that “[out] of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speak[s].”[4] And it will, as we see now in these concluding verses of the chapter, be made perfectly plain in a life of genuine obedience.

Now, I want also to remind you of one other thing in leading into this, and that is of what we’ve seen of Jesus in the early studies in the earlier chapters. And I’m referring particularly to what was said and recorded in the thirty-fourth verse of chapter 2, in the blessing of Simeon. You remember when Mary and Joseph take Jesus into the temple, as Luke records it in the second chapter, and “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.’”[5] In other words, “This little boy,” says Simeon, “is going to grow up to represent a crossroads in the lives of men and women. There will be those who, in responding to him, will rise to all that ‘eternal life’ may mean, and there will be others who, in rejecting him, will fall into the awful emptiness of eternity without God.”

When John the Baptist stands on the stage and points the way to Jesus, you find in the seventeenth verse of chapter 3 that he makes essentially the same point. Speaking of the one who will come and “baptize [them] with the Holy Spirit and with fire,”[6] he says of Jesus, “His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Now, these are the great absolutes of heaven and hell that are being referred to. And Jesus, says John, and says Simeon, and says the Bible, stands, as it were, as a crossroads in the face of eternity, and in a moment in time commends himself to the minds of his listeners and says to them, “If you will bow beneath my lordship, then I will gather you up as the very wheat, and you will live in eternity with me. If you refuse to bow to my lordship, then I will cast you aside as the chaff, and you will spend eternity without me.” And indeed, all of the message of this sermon is cast within the immensity of that eternal perspective.

Gathering with the “Jesus crowd,” being able to say all the “Jesus words,” singing all the “Jesus songs” is no ticket of admission into heaven. That’s what we’re going to see. And it is that fact which gives this closing paragraph its most chilling impact.

A Concise Question

Now, what I want to do is notice the question, and then the illustration, and then a word of application. First of all, you will notice the question which Jesus asks is concise. Verse 46: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Now, which part of that is difficult to understand? Luke 6:46: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” What a warning this contains, what an investigation it conducts, what an examination it demands! This is like going through a biblical CAT scan. And the contrast, you will notice, is between our lips and our lives. It is between saying and doing. It has been between the individual who is able to call him Lord, and yet at the same time does not do what a profession of lordship demands. It is whether a verbal profession is accompanied by moral obedience.

Now, the striking nature of this contrast is borne out in another section of the New Testament, in Matthew’s Gospel and in chapter 7, when Jesus, preaching a sermon there, actually used more than the language that he employs on this occasion in delivering this sermon. And it is a correlative and helpful to turn to, and so turn back a couple of books to Matthew 7:21, and notice how Jesus applies the notion on this occasion that Matthew records for us.

“Not everyone,” he says, “who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Well, then the people would have said, “Well, who is going to enter the kingdom of heaven? If it’s not the people who say, ‘Lord, Lord’—because though it was important to say, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and we’ve been saying, ‘Lord, Lord’—if it’s not the ‘Lord, Lord’ group that goes into heaven, who goes into heaven?” “Well,” says Jesus, “the only people that go into heaven are the ones who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. In fact,” he says, “I want you to understand that on that day—that is, the day when we stand before the bar of his judgment—many people—many people—will say, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’”[7]—in other words, “Lord, we were at the very forefront of ministry, we were involved in giftedness, we were able to do all kinds of things in your name, Lord. We said, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and we always said it in your name”—“[And] then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”[8]

It is distinctly possible to make a verbal profession which is unreal—even a particularly striking verbal profession.

Now, let’s lay down as foundational what we, I think, understand as a congregation—namely, the importance of making a verbal profession of faith. Clearly, the Bible teaches that. For example, if we had nothing other than Romans 10:9, we would know that Paul says to the church at Rome, “If you confess with your mouth [that] ‘Jesus is Lord’”—in other words, if you give a verbal profession of the lordship of Jesus—“and believe in your heart that God [has] raised him from the dead, [then] you will be saved.” When he writes to the Corinthian believers, he points out that it is impossible to say, “Jesus is Lord,” with any sense of reality and integrity, except by the enabling of the Spirit of God. “No one,” he says, “can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ [but] by the Holy Spirit.”[9] So the words of Jesus here are not setting aside in any aspect the importance—indeed, the necessity—of our being able to make a verbal profession of our faith and trust in Jesus and to declare with our lips that Jesus is Lord. However, what Jesus is saying is this: it is distinctly possible to make a verbal profession which is unreal—even a particularly striking verbal profession .

 Notice, here in Matthew 7, that these individuals were declaring the lordship of Jesus Christ in a way that was, first of all, gracious—gracious. The word “Lord” itself was an expression of grace and of courtesy. It was also an expression that was orthodox, because they referred to him as Lord at least in a fledgling awareness of the fact that this Jesus was more than a man—that he was actually the Messiah come. Also, they expressed his lordship in a way that was enthusiastic. In fact, Jesus says, “There will be plenty of people who say in that day, ‘Lord, Lord!’”[10] In other words, they didn’t just say it once, they said it twice; and they said it for emphasis, because they were enthusiastic in saying, “You’re Lord! You’re Lord!”

Also you will notice that their statements were public, because they were able to make it in a way that people understood what they were saying. And furthermore, it is clear that their declaration of the lordship of Christ was not only public, but it was dramatic: “We prophesied in your name. We drove out demons in your name. We performed miracles.” Now, here: Is it possible for somebody to perform miracles, and drive out demons, and do all these things, and then to hear Jesus say, “Depart from me; I don’t have a clue who you are. You come from the department of evildoers”?[11] Yes! Yes!

This is the answer to much that we see around us: the people coming and saying, you know, “These people must be orthodox, because look at the dramatic things they’re doing, look at the incredible claims they’re making.” Should we be unsettled by this? Should we be surprised by this? Should we seek to overturn it? No, because Jesus made it perfectly clear that the signs and wonders would be done by false Christs. If you question that, you can read Jesus’ words himself in Matthew 24:24: “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible”; he says, “See, I … told you ahead of time.”[12]

“Don’t be dim-witted,” he said. “Don’t think that giftedness equals an understanding of lordship. Don’t think that because a man is a tremendous preacher that he is necessarily living under the lordship of Christ”—that’s what he’s saying. “Don’t you, if God has apparently gifted you—although the source of the gift may be somewhere else completely—don’t you try and adjudicate on yourself on the strength of the dramatic things you’re able to do, because,” says Jesus, “on the day of judgment, there will be people who stand up and say, ‘Oh, Jesus, I know I’m coming into your kingdom, because after all, I said, “Lord, Lord,” and I did this and this. I was, in my profession, absolutely clear. I was orthodox.’”

And Paul, when he concerns himself with it, in writing to the Thessalonians, he makes the same thing absolutely clear. In 2 Thessalonians 2:9–10, the same emphasis—an overlooked emphasis in our day, I warrant you, but nevertheless a biblical emphasis: “The coming of the lawless one,” he says, “will be”—in reference to the Antichrist—“in [accord] with the work of Satan.” And how will the work of Satan be “displayed”? Answer: “In all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.”

That’s why the emphasis on the Bible, both for the individual in examining our lives before God and in assessing the effectiveness and the import of ministry as it is exercised by others, is directly related to the holiness of our lives and to the obedience of our hearts, and not to the apparent exceptional nature of our gifts. Isn’t this what he’s saying? “There will be people on that day who say to me, ‘We said this, and we did this,’ and I’ll say, ‘Sorry, I don’t have you on my list. Sorry, your name isn’t in here.’”

John Stott, in his masterfully concise manner, says this: “What better Christian profession could be given [than this]? Here are people who call Jesus ‘Lord’ with courtesy, orthodoxy, and enthusiasm, in private devotion and in public ministry. What can be wrong with this? In itself nothing. And yet everything is wrong because it is talk without truth, profession without reality. It will not save them on the day of judgment.”[13]

No apparently mighty works of ministry, or no jumbling up and accumulating religious and ‘Jesus’ language, will be able to disguise the private behavior of our lives.

So the question is clear: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” No apparently mighty works of ministry, or no jumbling up and accumulating religious and “Jesus” language, will be able to disguise the private behavior of our lives . For the real test of those “who [name] the name of the Lord,”[14] says Paul—and let us not evade for one instant the chilling demand of this—the real evidence of those “who [name] the name of the Lord” is what? That they “depart from iniquity.”[15] That’s the evidence! Now, it is not that they live perfect lives, but that it is when they are confronted by the peculiar clutches that make demands upon them, they say, “Oh, no!” Why not? Because of the lordship of Christ. Not a moralism that is external, but that a power that rises up from within them. One-hundred-percent success? No. Disappointments? Yes. Declensions? Yes. Falterings, bumblings? Yes. A long way from what we need to be? Yes. But a long way from what we were? Yes. But we have “turned … from idols to serve the living and [the] true God.”[16] We’re different. That’s the question, and it’s clear.

A Clear Illustration

I spent longer on that than I should have, but it’s no surprise. Notice, then, the illustration. The question is concise; the illustration is clear. And when you come to this illustration that Jesus gives, you will notice that he changes the contrast. The contrast in the question is between saying and doing; the contrast in the illustration is between hearing and doing. “Why do you say this, and don’t do this?”; and then he says, “Let me give you an illustration of the person who hears but who doesn’t do, or the person who hears and who does.” And he illustrates it in the familiar story of the two builders.

Now, there are a number of builders here this morning, and I have to be very careful, lest I betray my ignorance of any nature of building by seeking to delve into an illustration that you would be better able to use than I. However, I think it’s safe to say that if we had gone down the road and seen these two homes under construction, at least once they had begun to bear testimony to their frame or to the structures of the walls, we would not have been aware of any difference between the two structures. We might have wondered at why it was that, in the earlier days before the walls had begun to come up, that the first individual had apparently spent so much time down under the ground. We may even have said to ourselves, “You know, I must make a mental note that if ever I build a house, I want to go with the second builder, because the first builder seemed to waste a dreadful amount of time, and I’m sure he’s being paid by the hour, and I don’t want him down there digging in the foundations all that time. I like a builder who can get started immediately, and everyone in my neighborhood can see that the house is coming up quickly and successfully. The second chap,” we might have said to ourselves, “is far more efficient, and he’s obviously faster.” No apparent difference, though, once the walls began to rise.

So what, then, gave testimony to the difference in the structures? Well, we’re told when the day the rain came, when the river burst its banks, when the wind beat against the structures, then and only then the fundamental, fatal difference between the two became apparent. The one with the foundations, verse 48 says, could not be shaken, “because it was well built,” because the man had dug down deep; he’d “laid the foundation on [the] rock.” And yet the one without foundation, in verse 49, “collapsed” like a pack of cards.

Now, what a wonderful teacher Jesus is. Everyone can understand this. Anybody who has a LEGO set can understand this. Anybody who has any notion at all of raising something above the ground knows the importance of putting it in properly, whether it’s a mailbox, or a lamppost, or whatever else it is. Every so often you go along, you see these mailboxes lying around like dead dogs, and part of the problem is that whoever decided that he was putting it up some Saturday afternoon was so excited to show his wife how quickly he managed to get it in place, and that it would only take very small amount of wind for it to lie over, looking absolutely pathetic, just as his building prowess was—and his wife understood it. And she said to him over breakfast one morning, “Do you not think it would have been better to dig down a little further, pour a little concrete, and put the thing in so that I don’t have to get out of my car and lie down on one side in order get my mail out of the box?” And he said, “Well, I … for a while there, it looked just as good as the neighbors’ across the street.” “Well, yes it did. In fact, there was no apparent difference between the two of them until this dreadful storm blew down the street, and then it is obvious to all.”

So it is that professing Christians tend to look much the same from the outside. That, you see, is why the Bible is a very dangerous book and why church is a very dangerous place to be. Some of you would be better off not here at all, in the sense that you would not be living with the strange and forlorn idea that because you are attending the “Jesus event” and listening to “Jesus stories” and singing “Jesus words” that somehow or another you’re actually living under his lordship. It would be better if you were down the street with no interest in it at all, and you came to the awareness, in the emptiness of it all, that you never used his name, and you never sang his song, and you never heard his Word, and you discovered in all of that lostness that you need to go and find Jesus. But when you come in here, this is real dangerous. And the danger is that you look at the mailboxes down the street, and you look at the houses on the street, and you say, “Well, that one’s standing, and this one’s standing, and this one’s standing, and therefore, there’s really no difference between them at all.” Well, of course there isn’t to any of us. I can’t tell if you’re true, you can’t tell if I’m true. You shouldn’t misunderstand the gifts that God has given me as an indication of my genuine commitment to Jesus Christ, should you? That’s what the passage is saying.

But we all attend the same services, we all hear the same sermons, we all learn the same truths. If people conducted a exit poll of us going out of the church this morning, if they interviewed maybe a dozen or two dozen people and came back to report their findings, they would say, “There was very little to tell between them at all. We found, in talking with them, that they were equally nice, they were equally polite, they were equally orthodox, and they were equally enthusiastic. Who’s to tell between them?” The answer is, “God.”

That’s why, you see, all the superficial judging and the censoriousness that Jesus has already condemned early in the chapter is ultimately bogus and unhelpful: because we’re moving to the day when we stand before the bar of God’s judgment. So at issue for the hearers of Jesus’ sermon—and we are part of that group, are we not, this morning?—at issue is not whether they hear, nor is it whether we believe it or affirm it, but the issue is whether we do it. How, then, will it become apparent whether there are foundations or not in our lives?

See, this is a peculiar challenge, again, to an environment such as this, where conservative evangelicalism makes much of the importance of a verbal profession of faith; that trots people through the waters of baptism—justifiably so—and asks them in a minute to explain that they’re in rather than out. As if, somehow or another, our ability to convey that within the space of sixty seconds, and get ourselves completely drenched, and then go out and dry our hair and come back in, was the evidence to us and to all concerned that we’re genuinely Christ’s!

The church does not baptize on assurance of faith, on assurance of salvation; the church baptizes on profession of faith, so that in being baptized I am professing publicly what I have believed privately and what I have been prepared to convey verbally.

The church does not baptize on assurance of faith, on assurance of salvation; the church baptizes on profession of faith, so that in being baptized I am professing publicly what I have believed privately and what I have been prepared to convey verbally . Fine! “Now,” says Jesus, “I want to see if there are foundations. I want to see if this is skin deep. I want to see if this is words, words, words. I want to know if you are in the company of those who, relying on giftedness, relying on verbal profession minus moral obedience, relying on intellectual awareness minus a transforming life, if you’re among the company of those to whom I will say on that day, ‘I’m sorry, folks; depart from me, because you have come from the company of the evildoers.’”[17]

If this doesn’t give you a electronic charge that runs up your spine, you are more dead than you realize. If you are sitting there, or I am standing here, thinking of “someone that this sermon is great for,” I have missed the point. The Bible says, “Begg, this is great for you. And you take your Bible and look in it, and you’ll see your face.” And Jesus says, “Okay, followers, simple question: Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do what I’m telling you? I want to show you what you’re like. You’re like a guy who built the house without digging down deep and putting the foundations in. You will fall down in the evil day,[18] unless you’re like the individual who dug down deep and put the foundations on the rock”—and Jesus says, “I am the rock”—“and then the evil day will prove the reality of the difference.”

You see, it’s when the flood comes, when the torrent strikes … that sounds like Sound of Music, doesn’t it? “When the bough breaks, when the tree falls, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things.”[19] Okay. But that just made me think of that, the syntax of it. But it is, it’s when the flood comes, and when the torrent breaks, and when all hell lets loose on our lives, that’s when we find out. And incidentally, that’s why God allows all hell to let loose on our lives. You understand? It’s not to punish us, it’s to purify us! It’s to say to us, “Come on, now; don’t go over that cliff. Don’t do that. Don’t for one instant think that you can do that. Do you know what’s on the other side of that?”

And some of you are here this morning, and not simply in relationship to temptation but in relationship to disappointment and bereavement and disaster and foolishness, you’ve been there. But that’s in the past. This is this morning. And you’re still here, giving every indication of the fact that when the foundations go down deep, Jesus keeps us in his care.

To change the analogy to vessels on the sea: If you look at vessels on a sea—and I don’t know any more about vessels than I do about building—but they’re all sitting there kind of parked, if you like, you know, with the chains and the bits of rope hanging off the front. And we go through them and we say, “Oh, they all have their anchors down—all ‘happy Saturday afternoon anchor time’ at the ocean.” And then, all of a sudden, from nowhere, this huge storm comes blowing through. And some of them are turned over, and some of them are cast adrift, and some of them are all over the place. Why? Because they dropped their anchors down and they went nowhere.

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their winds of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
 
When your eyes behold through the gath’ring light
The city of gold and the harbor bright?
Will you anchor there in that heavenly shore,
With the storms all past for evermore?
 
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
And it’s fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
It’s grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love![20]

You see, what Jesus is not saying here is this: he is not saying, “I kind of get you started, and then you keep yourself going, and you can be assured as long as you’re a wonderfully obedient person.” That’s not what he’s saying. The ground of our assurance this morning, even with our wanderings and our bumblings and our stumblings, is the fact of God’s unmerited grace to us in Christ. If someone says to you, “Do you know that you’re going to heaven?” in Christ you can say, “Yes!” Not “I hope so,” “Yes!” Why? Because of Christ.

Now, having said that, now you come to the church service, and you listen to the sermon, and what does the same Christ say to you? He says, “I want you to answer me a question: Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and you don’t do the things I’m telling you? Bear fruit that befits your repentance.”[21] Calvin puts it so helpfully when he says, “True piety is not distinguished from its counterfeit till it comes to the trial.”[22] “True piety is not distinguished from its counterfeit [until] it comes to the trial.”

A Crucial Application

Well, let’s just go to the application. We’re already there, really, aren’t we? You say, “You’ve been there for some time.” Okay, well, fine; let’s just acknowledge it and draw this to a close.

The question is concise, the illustration is clear, and the application is absolutely crucial. Jesus is not, I say to you again, teaching that entry into the kingdom of heaven is by way of the good works of obedience. To do that from this passage is to make a nonsense of the Bible. The message of Luke is that Jesus came “to seek and to save [that which] was lost.”[23] He didn’t “come to call the righteous” who were trying their best; he came to call “sinners to repentance.”[24]

All that we bring to Christ is the sin from which we need to be forgiven.

Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone,[25] plus nothing. All that we bring to Christ is the sin from which we need to be forgiven.  So then, what is the emphasis of Jesus here? Simply this: Jesus makes it clear that only those who obey him, expressing their faith by their works—only those have truly heard the gospel. It is, as Luther said, faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.[26] John, picking up on the words of Jesus, writing his first letter, says, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we’re just telling lies.”[27] James confronts the readers of his day, and he says, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”[28] And look how dreadfully crucial all of this is: Jesus makes clear to his listeners that the manner in which we hear and obey his Word has significance for all of eternity.

The whole sermon is a challenge, it’s a warning, it’s an invitation. There are two kinds of builders: one’s a wise chap, the other one’s foolish. This matter is more important than who you’re going to marry, where you’re going to live, who you’re going to spend your life with, whether you’re going to be single, or whatever it is. Any of those questions pale into insignificance before this one salutary, challenging, chilling investigation. And some of you have known this for years, because you sang it in Sunday school:

The wise man built his house upon the rock,
And the rain came tumbling down.
And the foolish man built his house upon the sand,
And the rain came tumbling down.
And the house on the sand collapsed,
And the house on the rock stood firm.[29]

And I hear the voice of the old spiritual singing in my ears: “Oh, Sinnerman, where you gonna run to, all on that day?”[30] You gonna run to the rocks? The rocks won’t hide you. Gonna run to the fact that you attended regularly the church? Won’t hide you. Gonna run to “Jesus words” and “Jesus songs” and the “Jesus group”? Won’t hide you.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He [has] said,
[To you who to Jesus the] refuge have fled?[31]

That’s ultimately the dividing line, as we walk out of this building this morning: those who have fled to Jesus for refuge, and those who content themselves by saying, “Lord, Lord.” That’s where Jesus ended, so let me end there too.

Just where you’re seated today, tell God where you are in your heart.

Lord, we want to be able to say,

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.[32]

Thank you, Father, that you are the one who “takes our feet from the miry clay, and sets it on a rock, and establishes our going, and puts a song in our hearts—a song of praise to our God.”[33] Bring us again and afresh in line with the truth of your Word.

“And unto him who is able to keep us from falling when the flood beats upon us, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with fantastic and outrageous joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, today and forevermore. Amen.”[34]


[1] Luke 6:18 (NIV 1984).

[2] Luke 6:32–34 (paraphrased).

[3] Luke 6:35–36 (paraphrased).

[4] Luke 6:45 (KJV).

[5] Luke 2:34–35 (NIV 1984).

[6] Luke 3:16 (NIV 1984).

[7] Matthew 7:21–22 (paraphrased).

[8] Matthew 7:23 (NIV 1984).

[9] 1 Corinthians 12:3 (NIV 1984).

[10] Matthew 7:22 (paraphrased).

[11] Matthew 7:23 (paraphrased).

[12] Matthew 24:25 (NIV 1984).

[13] John R. W. Stott, Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IN: InterVarsity Press, 1978), 207.

[14] 2 Timothy 2:19 (NIV 1984).

[15] 2 Timothy 2:19 (KJV).

[16] 1 Thessalonians 1:9 (NIV 1984).

[17] Matthew 7:23 (paraphrased).

[18] See Ephesians 6:13.

[19] Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, “My Favorite Things” (1959). Paraphrased.

[20] Priscilla J. Owens, “We Have an Anchor” (1882). Paraphrased.

[21] Luke 3:8 (paraphrased).

[22] John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, trans. William Pringle, (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1845), 1:370.

[23] Luke 19:10 (NIV 1984).

[24] Luke 5:32 (paraphrased).

[25] Ephesians 2:8 (paraphrased).

[26] Commonly attributed to Luther; source unknown.

[27] 1 John 1:6 (paraphrased).

[28] James 2:17 (NIV 1984).

[29] Ann Omly, “The Wise Man and the Foolish Man” (1948). Paraphrased.

[30] “Sinner Man,” Traditional Spiritual.

[31] “How Firm a Foundation,” attributed to Robert Keene (1787).

[32] Edward Mote, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” (1834).

[33] Psalm 40:2–3 (paraphrased).

[34] Jude 24–25 (paraphrased).

Copyright © 2019, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.