Build Your House on a Rock? – Greg Albrecht
I am getting in the habit of listening to the daily audio messages. Thank you! However, I am confused and have a question about a comment from a recent message, “Faith in Sinai or Faith in Jesus?” The scripture Matthew 7:24-25 was read and Jesus was referenced as the rock. I get that. But verse 24 implies that in order to build your house on the rock, you need to hear and do Jesus’ previous sayings. Which is all of chapters 5-7 which of course is impossible to achieve in this life, even through Jesus. Or do we achieve it anyway because Jesus has achieved it for us? Can you clarify this? Thanks .
Delighted to hear you are regularly joining our listening audience – welcome – thanks for allowing us to serve you!
To your comment and question – well said, a perceptive one — thank you!
- Yes, building one’s house on a rock, in this passage, is defined as hearing Jesus words, in this immediate Sermon on the Mount context, and putting them into practice.
- However, as you note correctly, such a goal is impossible – no one can perfectly hear and follow and obey all of the teachings of Jesus, certainly not without him living his risen life within them, and even with him doing so, we still fall short, for we remain mortal and subject to the failings and flaws of mortality. So what does Jesus mean?
- Jesus was a builder – perhaps more than just a carpenter, but skilled in all the building trades, and thus he makes good use of this metaphor, as does the rest of the New Testament in terms of what it means to be a Christ follower.
- Some attempt to demean and diminish God’s grace, and the fact that he does for us what we can never do for ourselves (and I don’t hear you making such a claim) and thus err on the side of performance based religion. They believe that the “work” necessary to build our spiritual house is up to us, almost exclusively.
- However, the New Testament says otherwise. The New Testament definitely teaches that we are involved in our faith – that we can either choose to accept Jesus and follow him, which involves picking up our feet, walking, moving, following him – or we can reject him. Receiving and accepting Jesus, trusting in him is “hard work” one might say – it is counter-intuitive – it is against our grain. We prefer to “do it ourselves” – we do not want to yield to Jesus, and admit that he alone can empower and enable us. Empower and enable are huge thoughts here, but since I wish to keep this brief I shall not cite passages that speak of such empowering and enabling, but it is definitely what God the Son, Jesus, does as he lives within us, and a definition of the work of God the Holy Spirit, as he directs and guides us.
- Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us we are “saved” – we might say that is another way of speaking of building and residing in a spiritual house that withstands storms – by grace, NOT by works, so that no one can boast that his power enabled him to please God and thus he deserves a reward from God. BUT – the passage clearly tells us while we are saved BY grace, we are saved FOR works. But whose works? The works of religion? The works of character building? No, we are, says Ephesians 2:10, the workmanship of God. We are, to use another biblical metaphor, the clay, and he is the Master Potter. We yield to him, and allow us to “put us on his wheel” and then he determines how he will build us. Another passage in Galatians 5 speaks of the fruit of the Spirit – this is fruit that is produced by God, the Holy Spirit – just as in that classic poem “only God can make a tree” so too only God can produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We are not capable of producing that fruit.
- Back to the metaphor of the house built on a rock in Matthew 7. So a Christ-follower is willing to follow Jesus, willing to let him provide the blueprint, let him supply the building materials and above all, the basic lesson is the FOUNDATION – the land. Jesus is the land – he is the rock. We cannot purchase it. We do not have the spiritual capital to buy such a valuable rock. He gives it – he gives himself – he invites us to build a house on him. So he supplies, as I extend this metaphor, the site, the land, the rock – he supplies the blueprint – he supplies the building materials. He even gives us the tools to help accomplish the task – all of this is by grace. All is a gift. All from God. Nothing at all from ourselves. As he says in John 15:5, “apart from me you can do nothing.”
- He invites us to participate – to follow him – to pick up our cross and follow him. We don’t sit on the couch and wait for it all to happen. He allows us, by his grace, to participate. So he give us, back to the building metaphor, a hammer and nails – a saw – etc. – and invites us to swing the hammer. Somewhat like a father with a child, God could do all of this without us, and probably more quickly and more grace-fully – for surely, as we are involved, there will be mistakes and we, by his grace, will have to go back and perform a task again…. All with his help. Hope this helps.
- As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:11 “no one can lay any other foundation [that is, the gospel of Jesus Christ] than the one already laid…” So without him, we are nothing – without him, no matter how hard we try, we are building sand castles on the beach, to be laid waste by the incoming tide. A foundation of a rock or a foundation of sand?