Sunday, July 3, 2022

The Parable of the Wise & Foolish Builders: What's the difference? Put it into Practice

In 1912 a particular cruise liner called the HMS Titanic was making it’s first voyage through the northern seas and struck an iceberg. Though the ship had been particularly designed to stay afloat with more than half of the ships compartments filled with water, the cut the iceberg made across the hull of the Titanic caused too many of the compartments to be filled with sea water, and the ship sank, with a loss of over 1500 lives.

Most of us have heard of this historical event, but how many of us have heard of this one?

There was another ship about 20 years earlier, called the HMS Calliope. It was guarding British interests in Samoa, with 6 other ships when a tropical cyclone began to form.

According to an Encyclopedia resource, “The 1889 Apia cyclone increased in ferocity over the next two days. Rain fell in sheets, cutting visibility. Winds of 80-115 mph blew directly into the anchorage, trapping the ships in the V-shaped harbor. Operating their engines at full speed to resist the wind and waves, ships nevertheless dragged their anchors and were inexorably driven landward. Vessels collided and were thrown on the reefs or ashore, and some sank. By 09:00 on the 16th, Calliope, although still riding at anchor, had been hit by one ship and narrowly missed by another, and Captain Kane decided to attempt to escape. To relieve the strain on the five anchor cables, Calliope's boilers were producing maximum pressure; the engines were being worked "red hot", and the propeller was making 74 revolutions per minute, sufficient for 15 knots (28 km/h) in calmer waters. In spite of this titanic effort, the ship was barely able to make headway against the winds and the seas in the harbor, and anchor cables began to part.

To port and only 20 feet (6 m) away was the coral reef. Ahead were the US ships USS Vandalia and USS Trenton; to starboard were other warships. There was only a narrow opening between the vessels to one side and the ground to the other. Hemmed in by these obstacles and with the rudder at times within 6 feet (2 m) of the reef, Calliope maneuvered while still attached to the anchor cables, which began to give way. When Captain Kane saw an opening, he slipped the anchors and drove forward. Avoiding the helpless Vandalia, he approached the sinking Trenton, coming so close that Calliope's fore yard-arm passed over the American's deck. As Calliope rolled to port, the yard lifted over Trenton. The crew of the helpless and doomed American ship cheered Calliope as the corvette slipped past. The British ship's drive for the open sea was called by the American commander on the scene "one of the grandest sights a seaman or anyone else ever saw; the lives of 250 souls depended on the hazardous adventure."

The storm kept Calliope at sea the next two days. Re-entering the harbor on 19 March to search for the missing anchors, the crew discovered that all the other ships—twelve in all—had been wrecked or sunk, only the HMS Calliope had survived.”

Similarly, we are each like a ship on the high seas, and we are journeying our way home to paradise. The goal is to make sure that we proceed through the storms and heat and cold and icebergs and cyclones and hurricanes and various dangers that face us in the Christian life, to arrive safely at the shores of the celestial city.

Which ship will you be like in your walk with Christ? Will you be like the Titanic, that though it was strong and powerful it struck the iceberg and sank into the depths? Or will you be like the Calliope, though it was struck by a great storm, and threatened to be thrown into the coral reefs, through wisdom, and steadfastness, and faithfulness, Captain Henry Kane brought the ship safely through the dangers to harbor.

And along these lines, today we will be examining the parable of the wise and foolish builders. The parable of the wise and foolish builders is one of the most famous of the parables of Jesus. It appears in both the gospels of Matthew and Luke. And I think we’ll see how this parable is really about putting the words of Christ into practice.

So that is the main question to consider today, for each of us, during the sermon: Am I putting into practice the teachings of Christ?

The context of our parable today, is that in both Matthew and Luke we see that this particular parable was included at the end of the sermon on the mount, the greatest sermon ever preached. And doesn’t that make sense? What do we always talk about at the end of a message, or at the end of Bible study? We talk about how to take what we’ve learned and apply it to our lives. That is the main point.

But in any case, let’s take a look at the teachings that are shared by Jesus just before this parable, and I want to look at both Matthew and Luke, and see what scriptures are shared right before this parable.

First we see the Context from Matthew: 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!” -Matthew 7:21-23

One of the more severe and firm teaching of Christ, in fact, one time for dinner church for the sermon I simply read the text of the sermon on the mount word for word. And it was one of the harshest and most intense sermons I’d ever preached. And I felt convicted afterward, and I thought to myself, am I sugarcoating compared to Jesus? That’s a good reminder for us today. Jesus’ sermon was tough and firm. Maybe we need to be more tough and firm as Christians, but always keeping it in the context of love and concern for the lost.

Jesus says, look, you can call me Lord all you want, but you need to be practically living out the will of my Father in heaven. It’s not enough to say “Lord, Lord” and just live in sin and do whatever we want. They call that antinomianism, an ancient heresy of the early church. The Antinomians taught people just believe in Jesus and receive grace, don’t worry about not sinning, don’t worry about repentance just believe in Jesus and do whatever you want. Of course we know that’s wrong.

Jesus says, I will say to such people, even people who did great deeds like cast out demons, did miracles, and give words of prophesy to people, and yet they lived in sin, he will say to them: depart from me, and the charge is “you lawbreakers.” Some translations say “you sinful” or “you wicked ones.” It’s a good reminder for us, that as Christians, we can say “believe in Jesus” all we want, but are we teaching repentance from sin, and living a life of sanctification where we’re progressively becoming more and more like Jesus. In the lukewarm watered down church of today, we see a lot of grace heavy teaching, just believe in your heart, and now your saved forever, and that’s all. That’s not Christianity. That’s not truth. That’s not what the Bible teaches. We’re to lived radically poured out lives, living out the will of God, and living holy as he is holy, putting to death the misdeeds of the flesh.

Then we see the context from Luke chapter 6:43-45

Context: 43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. -Luke 6:43-45

Here we see that someone who puts into practice the teachings of Christ, will bear good fruit. It’s going to happen that way. And someone who doesn’t will bear bad fruit. And that is a good way to tell, look at your life, are you bearing good fruit, or are you bearing thorns and thistles and poisonous fruit that harms others? It’s a good way to tell where we’re at.

But there we see the context, now we view the parable itself, from Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”

We all here want to be on the ones who build their houses on the rock, correct? Anyone want to build on sand? No, not at all.

There are two qualifiers here, to be on the list of the rock builders: We must hear the words of Jesus and act on the words of Jesus. Hear + Act = Sensible Man who built on the Rock.

His house was battered by the storms and winds and rising rivers, yet it didn’t collapse, because it’s foundation was on the rock.

Now, if you do want to be the sand builder, here’s what you do, Hear + doesn’t apply them = foolish man whose house collapsed

Many say about this parable, well the rock is Christ. Yes. That’s true. But our response to Christ dictates how we build. If we sit in church and hear a lot of good things, and think wow, that was nice, and then we go home during the week and live our same old lives, we’re building on sand. Some of you here I’m worried are doing that. You just come to church, you don’t take notes during the sermon, you don’t think about how to apply the message during the week, and you don’t pray too much and you don’t read your bible more, and you’re building on sand. Really you are. Make some changes if that’s you.

It's not enough to just hear it. We have to, have to, have to put it into practice. We have take what we’re learning here and apply it to our lives in tangible ways. Otherwise it’s just theory. It has to become practice.

But, if you sit in church, and hear a lot of good things, and then during the week you think about, how do I apply this, you read your Bible, you pray everyday, you attend life group and bible study, and you sit down and try to think about how to apply the Bible to your life, then you’re building on the rock. That I think my friends is the fundamental divide in every church on the planet.

There is a basic divide in the church between those who are actively putting into practice what they’re learning, and those who are just hearing it and then leaving and living the way they always did. Which side of that are you on?

Build on the rock. Put it into practice the words of Christ. That’s my challenge too. It’s easy to talk about. It’s harder to live it. That’s usually the hardest thing for us as humans. How do we live what the bible teaches?

I really like what the ancient church father John Chrysostom wrote about this parable. He lived from 347 AD to 407 AD. He was a great leader and teacher. He wrote of this parable: “By "rain" here, and "floods," and "winds," He is expressing metaphorically the calamities and afflictions that befall men; such as false accusations, plots, bereavements, deaths, loss of friends, vexations from strangers, all the ills in our life that any one could mention. "But to none of these," says He, "does such a soul give way; and the cause is, it is founded on the rock." He calls the steadfastness of His doctrine a rock; because in truth His commands are stronger than any rock, setting one above all the waves of human affairs. For he who keeps these things strictly, will not have the advantage of men only when they are vexing him, but even of the very devils plotting against him. And that it is not vain boasting so to speak, Job is our witness, who received all the assaults of the devil, and stood unmovable; and the apostles too are our witnesses, for that when the waves of the whole world were beating against them, when both nations and princes, both their own people and strangers, both the evil spirits, and the devil, and every engine was set in motion, they stood firmer than a rock, and dispersed it all.”

Job is our witness John says. That Job trusted God, and we see in Job how Job really did practice what he preached. He prayed, he fasted, he loved his wife, and so on and so forth. Job went through the storm. And each of us in this church have gone through many storms over the past few years.

But guess what? Just like the HMS Calliope, if you’re putting into practice what you’re learning about Christ, then you will survive, because your foundation is firm and strong.

But for those of us who are not putting it into practice, when the storms hit, we’ll be like a house built on sand, and it will collapse it times of difficulty. So put it into practice. Find a group of believers, or a Christian friend to sit down with and ask those tough questions: Hey, how do we do this? How do we live this out? That is the challenge friends.

This parable has inspired beautiful hymns like, “Built on the rock” N. F. S. Grundtvig, the first stanza reads, “Built on the Rock the Church shall stand

even when steeples are falling. Crumbled have spires in ev'ry land;

bells still are chiming and calling, calling the young and old to rest,

but above all the soul distressed, longing for rest everlasting.”

And of course, “"My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less" (Edward Mote, c. 1834), which says, “My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly trust in Jesus' Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand.”

So in conclusion today, what are some action steps for this parable? Well, this parable is all about action steps. It’s all about putting into practice what we’ve learned in Christ, and thus building our lives, our ministries, our hopes, our futures, our families, our finances, our businesses, and our good deeds on the rock of Jesus Christ.

So really, to live out the parable means to take the teachings of Jesus on the page, and put them into action in our lives.

Some action steps include:

1. Take notes during the sermon and during bible study

2. Keep a journal of your growth as a Christian

3. Pray for God’s help to put into practice what he’s teaching you, God will help you

4. Join a small group or meet one on one with a friend who is excited about putting into practice the Christian faith

5. Observe your daily life for the good fruit Christ talks about

6. Make new plans for evangelism, for giving to the poor, for tithing, for volunteering at the corps, and for personal growth

7. Repent quickly of any sins in your life, and trust in Jesus Christ to break every chain of sin

So, as you consider your life carefully, examine yourself: Are you putting into practice the teachings of Christ? Are you building on the solid rock of Christ? Or are you building on a separate area next to the rock, while claiming you stand on the rock?

Let us all be able to say today: I belong completely to Christ. My life is indeed built on Him. I don’t live for myself. I don’t live for sin or half in and half out. I’m all in for Christ, and the fruit of my life reveals it. And if it doesn’t, you can make a change right now. And begin to put into practice what Christ teaches. It is not too hard. Anyone who commits their life to Christ honestly, can and will be able to put into practice what Jesus taught. It’s not beyond anyone here to do so. But please do so, immediately. Because the time is short, and Jesus Christ will return one day soon. God bless you today.