Robert Jeffress - How Firm Is Your Foundation?
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. These days it feels like the world is changing faster than we can keep up with. Today's cultural standards look far different than they did even 20 years ago, and in the wake of a global pandemic and a contentious election, our country's future is more uncertain than ever. So today I want to remind you that even in the midst of shaky dimes, Jesus is our solid rock. My message is titled, "How Firm is Your Foundation", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Early one morning, the residents of a Florida apartment building were awakened to a terrifying sight, as they look out the window, they saw that the ground underneath the street was collapsing in front of their eyes. And to what Floridians have come to know as a sinkhole, a sinkhole is a massive pit that is caused when the underlined streams underneath the surface are drained away by a drought leaving the surface with no support whatsoever. As the apartment dwellers looked out their window, they saw into this ever expanding pit, falling lawn furniture, the pavement, even automobiles, they realized that their apartment building would be the next to go. Obviously, a sinkhole isn't the best place on which to build an apartment building. In fact, the only thing more foolish than building your residence upon a sinkhole is building your life upon any other thing than a commitment to Jesus Christ. And that's the truth of the parable we're going to look at today.
If you have your Bibles I want you to turn to Matthew chapter seven, Matthew seven as we continue our series on Jesus' favorite stories, the parables we're going to look at the parable Jesus told that perhaps at the end of perhaps the greatest message he ever preached, it's a message a sermon we call the sermon on the mount. It's actually contained in Matthew five, six, and seven, and in the sermon, Jesus covered every conceivable topic. He talked about the issues of divorce and remarriage, he talked about how to keep your center, the center of your life on the spiritual, rather than the material. He talked about how to live a pure life in a corrupt world, he talked about how to pray, he talked about how to respond when you're mistreated by others. And now when Jesus is wrapping up this sermon, he does so in a way that many preachers also in their messages, he decided to close with a dramatic illustration. And this illustration that Jesus closes this sermon with is a story about two builders who built two very similar looking houses, but houses on which were constructed on two different foundations.
Let's look at it in verse 24, the story of two builders, Jesus first of all talks about what he calls the wise builder. Verse 24, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and acts upon them", will you underline that word acts in the verse there, go ahead and underline the word acts. Because this is key to understanding this passage. The Mark of a true disciple of Jesus Christ is not somebody who hears God's word and believes, but a true disciple is someone who believes God's word and obeys. And there's altogether difference between simply hearing believing and believing and obeying. Remember what the Word of God says about the importance of believing for example, in James 1:22, James said but prove yourselves to be what? Doers of the word and not hearers only, who delude themselves. Or turn to first John 2:3-6 where Jesus talks about the importance of obeying the Word of God, not just listening to it but obeying.
And 1 John chapter two, John says, "And by this we know that we have come to know him if we keep his commandments. For the one who says I have come to know him and does not keep his commandments, he is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word in him the love of God has truly been perfected by this we know that we are in him". It's one thing to hear God's word and believe but it's all together different to believe and to obey. The great Baptist preacher of yesteryear Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, the common temptation is instead of really repenting to talk about repentance, instead of really believing to talk about belief, instead of really loving other people to talk about loving other people.
Ladies and gentlemen what was true more than a hundred years ago is even more true today. I think perhaps the greatest delusion in evangelical Christianity is the idea that intellectual belief is sufficient. That if we simply believe the right set of facts about something, somehow that means we are obedient to the Word of God. When we think that about salvation, I think there are many people, many professing Christians who are going to be in hell one day because of this delusion. We have taught people that if you will simply believe the right set of facts about Jesus Christ, you get to go to heaven. If you believe that he is the perfect Son of God, if you believe that he died on the cross for the sins of the world, that if you believe he rose on the third day, if you can just believe those things you're going to heaven.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is a lie out of the pit of hell. The fact is Satan believes those things, but demons believe those things. Did you know Satan and the demons believe Jesus Christ was the perfect Son of God? They believe that he died on the cross for the sins of the world, they did everything they could to prevent him from doing that. They believed Satan and the demons that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, in fact Satan and his demons believe those things more than you or I could ever believe them, because they were there they witnessed it firsthand, and yet are they saved? Of course not, it's not enough to believe those facts intellectually. Yes, we have to believe them but we have to do something with that belief, it's not enough to believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for the sins of the world, I have to believe that enough to where I kneel and faith one day and cry out, God be merciful to me, the sinner. Today, I am trusting in clinging to the Lord Jesus Christ to be my Savior, that's what saves a person to believe enough to obey.
Or there are other people, for example, who say that or think that believing in the 10 commandments, believing that the 10 commandments are true, that if you just believe that intellectually somehow that makes you a moral person. If you believe intellectually the command thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not steal, thou shall not lie, just believing that those are good rules to live by, automatically make you righteous person, no. It's believing enough to act upon that belief. Your biggest mistake non-Christians make is believing that you can accept Christ teachings without accepting Christ. That is try to live some ethical lifestyle without ever embracing the Savior. But equally lethal is the belief among Christians that you can accept Jesus Christ without accepting his teachings.
And there are many people in the church today who tried to do just that, oh yes, I've trusted in Jesus as my Savior, I'm building my life around him, but then they completely disregard his word. They completely disobeyed what he says for example about divorce and remarriage. They wake up one morning as Christians and they think "You know, I'm not as happy as I think I ought to be. So I'm going to go find somebody else". Or they completely disregard what Jesus says about not building your life around money, but building it around eternal things. Are they completely disregard what Jesus says about how you're to respond when people mistreat you with forgiveness, not with revenge and bitterness, and somehow they have loved themself into a sense that they're followers of Christ, even though they disregard everything Jesus says. The Bible is very clear to hear and not obey is not to hear at all. Notice to whom Jesus addressed this parable, this parable is about everyone who hears the Word of God verse 24 and acts upon those words. And Jesus said the person who actually obeys God's word may be compared to a wise man who built his house upon the rock.
Now this word rock, petra in Greek is a word that just doesn't refer to a boulder or a stone, you can't build a whole house on a boulder. Instead it refers to a massive layer of bedrock underneath the top soil, the person who builds his life around following God, is like a person who builds his life on the solid bedrock of a foundation. You see ladies and gentlemen the truth is people change, circumstances change, relationships change, but God's word never changes. The Psalmist said, "For thy word is settled in heaven forever oh Lord," Psalm 119:89. And that's why God's word in obedience to it is the only proper foundation on which to build alive. Why was that a wise choice to build his house upon the rock? Look at verse 25, his crisis, "And the rain descended and the floods came and the winds blew and burst against that house".
The storm that Jesus describes here certainly is representative of the storms that come into every one of our lives. You know, one of the greatest mistakes Christians make is falling into this trap of believing that if they become a Christian, somehow they get a pass, they get an exemption on problems in life. You all know that's not true, don't you? Here's a promise Jesus made on John 16:33, by the way it's one of those promises you never find in one of those promise boxes or in the list of promises to memorize. John 16:33 "In this world you will have tribulation". Jesus promised that, he said, if you live in this world, if you're a follower of mine it doesn't exempt you from problems it guarantees problems. In this world you will have tribulations, but he goes on to say the of good courage for I have overcome the world or listen again to what he says in James 1:2, James said, "Consider it all joy my brother and not if, but when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance".
Why do I mention this? Because so many Christians are absolutely shaken to their foundation when problems enter their life. They are surprised whenever they are struck with illness or a loved one becomes ill, when they lose a loved one or a friend through death, or when they go through financial crisis they wonder, "What's going on here Lord? Had you forgotten about me"? Listen to the apostle Peter's words in 1 Peter 4:12-13 these are great verses to memorize. Peter said, "Beloved, don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you. But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ keep on rejoicing so that at the revelation of his glory you may rejoice with exaltation". Peter saying quit being surprised when you go through difficult times, quit thinking something unusual is happening, that is part of the plan. The wise man, the man who built his house upon the rock, endured his share of storms and so will we.
But notice the result of this storm, the floods came, the winds blew and burst against that house it was a fierce storm, this house was disfigured, it was damaged, but it wasn't destroyed. Because Jesus said it had been built upon the rock. There are some of you right now who are going through a storm in your life, out of nowhere arose a set of circumstances that a month or two months go, you would have never imagined. You feel the storm, you've been damaged somewhat by the storm. What is the key to surviving the storm? It's having the right foundation, the foundation of obedience regardless of the cost to Jesus Christ. Paul talked about that kind of perseverance in 2 Corinthians chapter four, he had his own set of storms he dealt with regularly, listen to what he said in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, "He said we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed".
That's the promise for everyone who builds his life upon Jesus Christ. The only way to build a life that's going to survive those storms is to build it up on the enduring rock of obedience to Jesus Christ. And the contrast this builder to the second builder that Jesus talks about in Matthew chapter seven, look at it with me, this is a second builder who built a very different kind of house on a different foundation. He says, "And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act upon them"...
By the way, the verse and Jesus is describing here is not an agnostic and atheist, not somebody who rejects the scripture, this is somebody who listens to the Word of God, he's seated in church, he's nodding as the pastor talks, oh, he hears, he just doesn't act upon those words. He's like a man who built his house upon the sand. Imagine the second builder, he constructs a house perhaps in the same neighborhood as the first man, perhaps it has the same square footage, it may be a magnificent structure in every way it may appear exactly like that first house. But there's one part of the house nobody sees that Marks the difference between the two homes, the foundation, instead of building this house upon a rock he chooses to build it upon sand. The problem with sand is sand is shifting, it is transitory and it certainly cannot bear the weight of an entire house. Jesus says that can be compared to a person who builds his life on anything other than Jesus Christ. The foundation of your life might be your mate, your children, or a relationship.
Now there's nothing wrong with any of those things, please understand those aren't bad things, they aren't sinful things, the problem with building your life on any of those things is, those things are transitory, they're shifting, they can be easily taken away from you. And when that happens, your life is going to collapse. And that's what Jesus is saying here, when you build your life on anything other than obedience to the unchanging Word of God, you're setting yourself up for a fall. Notice what happened to this man's house, he too went through storms. Verse 27 says, "The rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew and burst against that house". This person who appears to be a believer acts and talks like a believer but has a foundation other than Jesus Christ.
When the storm's beat against his life, when sickness comes, when financial ruin comes, when death comes, that's what happens to the house, the storms burst against that house and it fell and great was it spall. When people looked at this second house, and they watched the storm beat against it, they were absolutely surprised when they saw what happened to it. What had been a massive structure in just an instant collapse into a rebel. People couldn't imagine that what happened to a house like that, and the part they couldn't see, explain what happened. It had been built on the wrong foundation. The same is true of anybody who builds it house, his life on anything other than a commitment to Jesus Christ.
Charles Templeton began with Billy Graham and the Youth For Christ movement. They preached crusades together, they roomed together on evangelistic trips. He was the up and coming evangelist along with Billy Graham. But somewhere in Charles Templeton's ministry doubts began to nag at him, he began to question the deity of Jesus Christ, the sufficiency of scripture. But at the top of the list of all of his doubts was how could a loving God allow somebody to suffer Alzheimer's disease, that would destroy his life and devastate families? How would a loving God ever allow that to happen? And because he could not come to grips with the answer Charles Templeton ended up abandoning his faith. He ended up dying an agnostic at the age of 85 after a losing battle with Alzheimer's disease.
Notice how Jesus concludes the story, he finishes with that great climax about the second house that fell. Verse 28, how did the audience respond? The result was that, "When Jesus had finished these words the multitudes were amazed at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one having authority and not as their scribes". When Jesus finished with that great illustration about the two houses, people said, "Wow, we've never heard a message like that, that was a great story, man, I wish we could hear him every week and not the preacher we're stuck with". Hopefully no one here thinks that. But notice in these final two verses even though they were amazed, there is no evidence that they responded, that they obeyed what they heard.
Well, what about you? You've heard the Word of God today, do you believe it? Do you believe enough to obey it? Let me ask you a real personal question, what's the real foundation of your life? In the secret recesses of your heart what is it you're really striving after? What are you building your life upon? Is it on sand or is it on the truth of God's word? Honestly, neither I nor anybody else can answer that question, we can't tell what your foundation is, not yet anyway. But when the storms of life begin to beat against you and they will, if they're not already, your foundation will become evident to everyone.