When all is said and done in terms of the ministry of the word of God, the most important thing that we do is preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The most important thing we do is to tell people there is a heaven and there is a hell, and you will spend eternity in heaven or in hell; and then to tell people that there is a way to heaven, guaranteed, absolutely sure and final. There is a way therefore to avoid hell. And since heaven and hell are forever, this is the most important message that anyone can ever give or anyone can ever hear.
Every human being lives forever. Every human being is eternal. After this life is over, we will live forever. We will live consciously, personally, intelligently. We will live fully aware of every detail of our existence. We will experience every moment of our eternal existence in a sense that we have never experienced any moment in this life – without distraction, with full comprehension, full understanding of every moment and every experience in eternity without ever sleeping or being unconscious.
The experience of every person in the life to come will be unlimited and unmitigated and unrestrained and unprotected. We will have, in our final form, fully functioning minds and bodies. We will feel, we will think, we will emote at a level that far exceeds the most exhilarating moment in life here. We will be fully conscious of every detail in the eternal experience of heaven or hell.
The biblical description of hell makes this obvious. It is described as a place of a relentless accusing conscience, unrelieved guilt, remorse, sorrow, regret, isolation, agony, suffering, punishment by God, described as fire, darkness, where there is gnashing of teeth and weeping and wailing forever. On the other hand, the biblical description of heaven is stunningly attractive: unending, unlimited joy, bliss, happiness, satisfaction, no pain, no sorrow, no suffering, no loss, no remorse, sheer joy forever.
It should be obvious that heaven is the place to be and hell is the place not to be. The most important choice a person makes is the choice of heaven. And it’s a challenging choice. And sad to say, there are many people who think they have made that choice, but they have not. They think they are set to avoid hell and enter into heaven, but they are mistaken.
Open your Bible to Matthew chapter 7 and hear the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is, by the way, Lord of heaven and Lord over hell. Matthew chapter 7, verse 21, and I want to read down to verse 27. Matthew chapter 7, 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. 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 upon them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and burst against that house; and yet it didn’t fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and burst against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.”
Surely there are no more serious words for religious people to hear than these, no more serious words for people who profess Christianity than these, because our Lord says there will not be a few, but many who are mistaken about their future destiny. He points out in this passage for our consideration the folly of empty words, and then the tragedy of empty hearts – empty words coming from empty hearts.
I don’t think there’s a more sobering text of Scripture than this one. I can understand that there are people who reject religion, reject Christianity, want nothing to do with Jesus Christ, nothing to do with the gospel of Christ, nothing to do with the Bible, the Word of God, and they are headed for hell. But it’s a far more sobering and stunning and shocking thing to realize that there are many who are going to say, “Lord, Lord,” to Jesus Christ. There is a confession openly of some attachment to Him that has been carried so far that they have actually functioned in His name, only to hear that they will not at all enter heaven.
One’s final destiny then is not determined by what you say, it is determined by what you do. It is not about profession, it is about obedience. Now that is not to say that verbal profession of Christ is bad; it is not bad, it is good. It is not just good, it is necessary. If you would be saved, you must confess Jesus as Lord, Romans 10:9 and 10, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. “For with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, and with the heart man believes.” Confession is good.
Confession is not only good, it is necessary. It is also the work of the Holy Spirit, because in 1 Corinthians 12:3 we read that no one can make this confession, no one can make this profession apart from the Holy Spirit. So confessing Jesus as Lord is necessary; it is also the work of the Spirit to bring about a true profession of Christ.
But it cannot stand alone, just the profession. Let’s look at verse 21: “Not everyone who says to Me,” the operative word here is “says.” You can underline that and you’ll get the thrust of what our Lord is saying. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord.’”
Now there is nothing in that confession that is anything short of right. It is correct to say Lord, and to say it twice is to affirm a certain level of devotion. “Lord,” that’s respectful. “Lord, Lord,” that’s orthodox, that’s fundamental, that is certainly true. And so, here you have what is correct, what is true, what is, to some degree, zealous and passionate, showing some strength of devotion: “Lord, Lord.”
And you add to that that this person is convinced that, “In Your name we have prophesied and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name performed many miracles.” Here is a life given over to the purposes connected to the name of Christ. This is not a fringe person. This is not somebody on the edge. Three times in verse 22 “in Your name” appears. It’s emphatic. There is devotion here. There is an open confession that has passion and zeal. And backing up that confession and that profession is a life given over to ministry associated with the name of Jesus Christ.
And even the activities themselves. “Prophesy” doesn’t mean to predict the future, it means to speak forth. They have taught, spoken, proclaimed in the name of Christ. They have engaged in spiritual conflict. They claimed to have actually exercised power over demons in that name, and even to have done some miracles. Here is a life that could basically be defined as the life of a minister, the life of a missionary, the life of a preacher or a teacher of the gospel, or even the life of an apostle who was able to perform wonders and have power over Satan. This is not then some superficial marginal person making the claim, “Lord, Lord.”
How stunning then to hear in verse 22 many saying that. And then in verse 23, in response to their confession, the Lord makes His confession, “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you.’” They may claim Him, He does not claim them.
Why? Because salvation doesn’t come to those who only profess it, who only speak of it. It’s not the sayers who are saved, it is the doers. And if you look a little closer into verse 23, you can see that these people are not known to the Lord because they are doers of lawlessness. “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” Literally in the Greek, “You that do always work lawlessness. You that do always work evil.”
Professing Christ and living a sinful life will expose you one day as a hypocrite. Profession is valueless if it stands alone. In fact, profession is a kind of profanity. I’ve always felt that it’s pretty clear in the Old Testament that you’re not to take the Lord’s name in vain. I know as a kid I was raised in such a way in my family to never ever even think of taking the Lord’s name in vain, in any way, shape, or form. And my parents educated me about what they called “minced oaths,” where you would intend to take the Lord’s name in vain, but you substitute another word, and that is equally wrong and a violation of that command.
I was raised to avoid all manner of profanity and have raised my own children in the same way, and I think it’s right to keep that commandment, not to take the Lord’s name in vain. But I would suggest to you that there is a far greater profanity than from time to time using the name of God. A greater profanity is to all the time use the name of God and have no real commitment to Him. Now you have a life that is one total act of profanity.
The blasphemy of the sanctuary is far more awful than the blasphemy of the street. The blasphemy of the sanctuary is far more awful than the blasphemy of the street. Taking the Lord’s name in vain, claiming to belong to the Lord, claiming to represent the Lord, claiming to speak for the Lord, claiming to do ministry for the Lord while all the time having no relationship to Him, but living a wicked, sinful, self-indulgent life is a kind of profanity that exceeds all other profanities. It’s a profane life. And I suppose no one would argue that the worse of all kisses ever rendered in the Bible was a Judas kiss, to say, “Lord, Lord,” while in your heart you have nothing but resentment.
The world is full of people who call Jesus Lord, who say it with emotion and passion, “Lord, Lord,” and yet never ever do they turn from their sin and submit to that lordship, never do they obey the will of the Father who is in heaven. The church is full of people like this. That is why we are told in the Scripture, 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves to see whether you’re in the faith.”
And you don’t look at a past event, you look at the character of your life. The only thing that makes you acceptable to God is a pattern of obedience to the word of God that is the product of repentance and genuine faith in Jesus Christ, and truly abandoning your life in obedience to His lordship. “Faith without works is” – what? – “dead.” It has no life.
In the text in the original, if you just look at that statement, “I never knew you,” in the original language, if you drew out all the components of that, it would probably be better to read it this way: “Not for a single moment have I acknowledged you as My own. I have never known you.” That doesn’t mean He doesn’t know who you are; the Lord knows who everybody is. He not only knows who everybody is, He knows everyone’s heart and He knows what everyone is thinking. You remember in John 2 it was said of Jesus that He didn’t need to ask anybody a question, because He knew what was in their hearts. When it says, “I never knew you,” it doesn’t mean, “I don’t know who you are, you’re a stranger to Me.” It means, “I have no intimate, personal relationship with you.” That’s “knowing” in the biblical sense.
For example, in the Old Testament book of Genesis, Scripture says that, “Adam knew his wife and she had a son,” and it means a lot more than he knew who she was. He knew here in the sense of physical intimacy, and she conceived and brought forth a child. With regard to Joseph and Mary, Mary became pregnant, and in the New Testament it says, “Joseph had not known her.” It’s a beautiful, traditional, ancient euphemism for sexual intimacy.
But it has an even greater metaphorical meaning; it is to have an intimate relationship. For example, Amos 3:2, God says regarding Israel, “Israel, only have I known.” It doesn’t mean that only Jews were known to God in terms of awareness. It means with Israel God established an intimate relationship. That’s why He calls Israel His wife, and He calls Himself her husband.
When Jesus says at the day of judgment to the person making an empty profession, “I never knew you,” He is saying, “We never had a relationship of any kind.” You may have respect for their claim of interest in Christ. You may have respect for the fact that they talk about Jesus, they talk about Him as Lord. You may have respect for a certain measure of orthodoxy. You may have respect for the fervency that is exhibited in their public devotion. You may see people like this singing hymns or even performing hymns and songs of testimony to Christ. You may have respect for some who can actually preach, some who claim to cast out demons, some who claim to do miracles. This sounds a lot like what is claimed today by those leaders of the charismatic movement, doesn’t it, and the preachers of the devilish prosperity gospel. There will always be those who make these claims.
Were their deeds genuine? Not apart from God they weren’t. False miracles, false exorcisms, false prophecies, because they have no relationship to Christ. They never came, by the way, through the narrow gate. Back in verse 13, Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, the way is broad that leads to destruction; many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”
They didn’t come by the narrow gate. They didn’t come with an attitude of repentance. They didn’t come knowing they were sinners. They didn’t come stripped bare. They didn’t come naked, destitute, hungering and thirsting for righteousness with that Beatitude attitude.
It’s a scary thing to think about this, folks. It’s a frightening thing to think about, that there are going to be people cast into hell who have spent a great portion of their life giving testimony to their faith in Jesus Christ. But they’re only empty words. Show me your life.
Go back to verse 18: “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then you will know them by their” – what? – “fruit.” Look at their life.
Jeff O’Hara wrote these words: “Why call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things I say? You call Me the way and walk Me not! You call Me the life and live Me not! You call Me master and obey Me not! If I condemn you, blame Me not. You call Me bread and eat Me not! You call Me truth and believe Me not! You call Me Lord and serve Me not! If I condemn you, blame Me not.” Empty words.
The so-called church of Jesus Christ is filled with those speaking empty words. These empty words rise from empty hearts. Notice verse 24; this illustration demonstrates the real condition of the heart beneath the empty words and the heart beneath the true profession.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and burst against that house; and yet it didn’t fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and burst against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.”
And here again there is this very familiar contrast that we’ve been looking at through this entire text: two gates, two ways; two crowds, two destinies; two trees, and now two houses. Both subjected to the same judgment. The contrast here is not between people who hear the word of God and people who have not heard the word of God, but between people who hear the word of God and act upon it, and people who hear the word of God and do not act upon it, or those who are exposed to the truth and who obey and those who exposed to the truth do not obey. This is about obedience as over against disobedience, and the contrast between the obedient and the disobedient is painted for us in a picture of two builders of houses.
The words here, you will understand then, are addressed to those who profess to know God. These words are addressed who profess to know the Lord – the, “Lord, Lord,” crowd, the ones who have given their life over to preaching, and confronting Satan, and doing things in the realm of ministry associated with Christianity and with the gospel and with Jesus Christ. But that group is divided into two groups: those who really obey, and those who do not genuinely obey. You see then in verse 24, “Those who hear these words of Mine and act upon them,” and in verse 26, “Those who hear these words of Mine and do not act upon them.”
So you have the professors and the possessors. You have the false claimants and the true claimants, but both look alike. And the stunning thing about this illustration is that you really can’t tell the difference on the surface. Both appear the same. You have a house, the only difference that is made distinct here in the building of these two houses – in either case you have a house – the only difference is the part you can’t see, right? It’s not the roof, it’s not the side walls, not the windows and the doors, it’s the foundation.
That is to say, we’re talking to people who belong to the visible church. We’re talking to people who have been exposed to Scripture, “They have heard the sayings of Mine.” They attend meetings, they attend preaching, they go to Bible study; they may attend a Christian college, they may end up in a seminary; they may read Christian books. On the surface they look like everybody else who is a true Christian, and the foundation is not visible.
The real question here then is not whether they have heard the gospel, it’s not about whether they’ve heard the teaching of Christ, but, “What do they do about it genuinely?” It’s not just that they have heard the teaching about Christ, they’ve actually done it, done ministry in His name.
Now what Jesus says here is that there is no way to tell the true from the false until the storm comes. The storm will manifest the truth. Then we’ll find out who built like a wise man and who built like a fool.
Let’s look at these similarities a little bit before we look at the contrast. They both built a house. A house constitutes a life of religious activity, a life within the broad framework of what we would call Christianity or the gospel. They both built it in the same place. How do you know they built it in the same place? Because the same storm got both houses.
So we could say they were next door to each other. Both are subject to the same events. They built within the same area – true believers and false believers, side by side, much like our Lord said in Matthew 13, that the wheat and the tares would grow together. And the time of separation would be at the judgment. So similar are these houses that it’s hard for us to tell.
Sunday night after Sunday night we come, we gather here, we hear the testimonies of those being baptized, and never does a Sunday night go by that we don’t hear somebody – and we heard it again tonight – say, “I lived like a Christian on the outside, I was not a Christian on the inside. I was raised in the church, I was in the church, I reiterated the things I needed to do, I acted the way I needed to act, but I didn’t know the Lord.” That is not an unusual experience, that is a very common one.
They both built a house. They built a house in the same vicinity, which puts them within the framework of the true believers. They actually built it in the same way; it looks the same. You could say that they built a house consistent with the Christian development. It’s a tract house. It looks like all the other Christian houses on the outside. The only difference here is the foundation; that’s the only difference the Lord makes.
And this is significant for us to understand. That’s why the Lord says, “Don’t you take on the responsibility to separate the wheat from the tares. You can’t know that, only the Lord can know that until the judgment day reveals it.
The difference is the foundation. One builds on petra, rock bed, rock bed. Not petros, that’s boulder or stone. Petra, rock bed. One has a concrete, if you will, or stone foundation; the other builds on sand. The Greek word for sand is ammon, for which the capital city of Jordan where I have visited a number of times gets its name: Amman, Jordan. It is aptly named. It is one big sand pile – Amman, Jordan.
So there is a foundation of stone in one place and rock, there is a foundation of sand in the other place. A man is a fool to build on sand, because when a storm comes, it will wash the house away. And that’s exactly what happens. Look at verse 27. Verse 26 says, “Foolish man builds his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and burst against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.”
On the other hand, “A wise man” – end of verse 24 – “built his house on the rock. And the rain descended, the floods came, the winds blew and burst against that house; yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock.” And here, by the way, again is a powerful rebuke of the religion of the Pharisees, who were hypocrites. But of any false religion, but most particularly in this context of false profession of Christ as Lord.
What does it mean to build on sand? No foundation. What does that mean? Well, the one who builds on sand has no regard for the word of God in terms of obedience; not committed to a life of devout obedience, willing obedience, loving obedience, eager obedience. No regard for true spirituality of the soul. No regard for true purity of the heart. No integrity in behavior. No love for the law of God. No longing to please God.
The one who builds on sand prays, occasionally fasts, gives money, works within the framework of Christian life, and does it to enhance his or her reputation, does it to feel good about himself or herself. It’s the religion of externals. The outside looked good, but the foundation was non-existent. They bring their bodies to prayer, but not their souls. They worship with their mouths, but not their hearts. They boast of their orthodoxy, but have no love for obedience.
What is the rock? Clearly, the rock is, “These sayings of Mine,” or, “These words of Mine.” Verse 24: “Everyone who hears these words of Mine.” Verse 26: “Everyone who hears these words of Mine,” the word of Christ, the word of God. This is the word that saves, is it not? Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. This is the gospel. This is the truth of Scripture. So in both cases these people have heard “these sayings of Mine.” But where they act upon them, where they obey them, there is a foundation that will stand the test of divine judgment.
A life of obedience manifests true salvation. If it isn’t there, it’s deception. John 8:31, “If you continue in My word, then you’re My real disciple,” John 8:31. “If you continue in My word, then you’re My real disciple.”
Do you remember James 1 – and there are a number of Scriptures we could look at. But a couple to keep in mind: James 1:22, “Prove yourself doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” If all you do is hear it, and you don’t obey it, and you don’t obey it because you love it, you are self-deceived if you think your life will stand the test of the flood of divine judgment. In the opening chapter of Titus, verse 16 speaks of people who, “profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient.”
One thing marks the difference between a true believer and a false believer, and that is a pattern of loving, eager, submissive, obedience to the word of God. Obedience is the key: hearing the word and doing it. That is the only genuine, authentic validator of true salvation.
If you say, “Lord, Lord,” “Kurios, Kurios,” “Master, Master,” then immediately you should say, “I am Your slave.” If He is Kurios, you are doulos. If He is Lord and Master, you submit. And if you say, “Lord, Lord,” with zeal, and devotion, and you do not submit, that is a blasphemy above all blasphemies; that is the blasphemy of the sanctuary that takes His name in vain. You would be better off, frankly, to use the name of Jesus Christ or God in an occasional curse word than to live an ongoing, hypocritical life that blasphemes His name from beginning to end.
We’re not talking about perfection here, we’re talking about direction. I’m not perfectly obedient, I am imperfectly obedient. But I long to be perfectly obedient. That’s my passion; that’s my heart-longing. I have recognized that I fall short. I have recognized that I am a sinner. I have repented of that sin and embraced Christ as the only hope of salvation, and my life has been transformed, and my heart longs to obey. True Christians build lives of obedience, built on the rock of biblical truth.
Let me take you a little more deeply into the differences. What does it mean to really build your life on the things that Christ has said that are revealed in Scripture, to build your life biblically, as compared to building on sand? Just some things to think about.
One: In the one case, you build the easy way; and the other, you build the hard way. It’s really to build on sand. You don’t have to do anything, just start building. You don’t have to dig. You don’t have to prepare the site. You don’t have to set the footings. You don’t have to put in the foundation. You don’t have to lay in the concrete slab. It’s easy to build on sand, you just put your building up.
This speaks of the fool in a hurry, the easy way, shortcut, quick results. Fools are always in a hurry. Fools always want to get it fast. And in many ways, in Christianity in our time, in our place, we aid and abet the fools by making everything quick and easy: quick and easy evangelism, quick and easy gospel presentation – keep it moving. No time for soul conviction. No time for building a deep sense of one’s sinfulness. No time for the cultivation of conviction by the Holy Spirit, regret over sin. No time for deep soul searching, no time for counting the cost. The fool is in a hurry, he wants it quick and easy; and very often we accommodate the fool by making it quick and easy.
Also, not only is the fool in a hurry, but he’s very shallow. And again I say, we live in a time when shallowness is at a premium as if it had some value. It’s a shallow approach to almost everything in our culture. There’s so much superficiality and shallowness in the name of Jesus that is accepted as if it’s legitimate, that one can hardly get one’s arms around this, it’s so common. No deep plowing. No hard spade work in the soul. No foundation exercises. No brokenness of heart. No grief over sin. No mourning over waywardness. We lack depth. We lack sincerity. Everything is superficial.
On the other hand, the wise man, Luke 6:47 and 48 says the wise man dug deep. The wise man dug deep, went down into the rock. What does it mean? Not in a hurry, not in a hurry. Not looking for the fast track to heaven. Not looking for the quick conversion, for the light confession.
You know, I agree with Arthur Pink who once said, “There are some who say they are saved before they ever have any sense they are lost.” And it’s almost against the rules now to give someone an overwhelming sense that they are lost, to drive them down deep into the ugliness of their own heart, the wretchedness of their own sin. But the wise are not in a hurry, they want to make sure that what they’re doing is the real thing.
There are many who would claim Christ as Lord who have no thought of what that means. In fact, strangely but truly, there are many people who confess Jesus as Lord and don’t think that means He’s in charge. Many rush into a profession, and later rush out again. But the one who is wise digs deep. He’s not shallow like the parable of Matthew 13. The rock is plowed out of the soil. The weeds are removed so he doesn’t have a superficial, shallow faith.
That’s why, folks, we have to preach against sin. You have to expose the true lostness of the human heart. The sinner must feel far worse before he ever has a right to feel any better. The person who’s wise is not in a hurry. He is willing by the working of the Spirit of God to take the full blast of condemnation that comes at him for his condition. He embraces that “God be merciful to me, a sinner” attitude that the publican had when he pounded his chest.
And secondly, and unlike the wise man, he is not superficial in his house-building, he gives maximum effort. He counts the cost. Jesus said that. Look, you don’t go to war without counting the cost. You don’t build a tower without counting the cost. You understand what the Lord is asking. He’s asking for your life, for your whole life. “Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Me.” If you say, “This is going to cost me my family,” then let it cost you your family, your father, your mother, your wife, your husband, your sister, your brother, your friends. If it means you have to be persecuted even to a cross, let it be. “But you deny yourself and all other things, and follow Me.”
This person wants to do it right, counts the cost, learns the right way and willingly submits. He is emptied of self-righteousness. He is emptied of self-sufficiency. He digs way down. He knows he has nothing commendable. He’s overwhelmed with his sin. He makes the maximum effort in the Lord’s strength to place the word in his heart. He’s interested in genuinely submitting to Christ and loving Christ. He longs to know the word in order that he might obey the word. He doesn’t want to know the word so he can wow the ignorant, he wants to know the word so he can compel his own soul into a life of obedience. Nothing superficial about him.
Oh, there are so many people in Christianity today who want the quick, fast track. They want the byproducts of a relationship with God without the relationship. They want the byproducts of salvation without salvation. They want the byproducts of repentance without repentance. They want forgiveness without repentance. They want salvation without submission. They chase the signs. They chase the wonders. They fool around the Bible. They have no real relationship with God.
And so, our Lord says this is how people build, and the truth will not be revealed until the storm comes. What is the storm? It’s the day of judgment. “The rain descended,” – verse 25 – “and the floods came, the winds blew and burst against the house.” The same thing is described exactly in verse 27. The first house did not fall that was founded on the rock. The second house fell; great was its fall.
This is divine judgment. This is the final judgment. The day of judgment will come when people will say, “Lord, Lord, it’s us,” to which He will confess, “Homologeō, depart from Me, I never knew you, you who continue to practice lawlessness.”
Listen, you may be respectful of Christ. You may have orthodox views about Christ. You may see yourself as fervent and zealous. You may be active in some level of devotion to the church. You may make a public proclamation. You may be busy building your little religious house adjacent to all the others built by those around you. You may be deceived, only to have our house smashed to a million pieces in judgment. Go back, dear friend, and check your foundation. Go back and check your foundation.
Well, how do you know if you don’t have a foundation? A few things you might think about – marks of the many with only sand under their religious house: reservation in yielding to Christ. Do you find in your life an unwillingness to yield to Christ? Are you irritated by the commands of Scripture? Does it bother you that Christ is restrictive? Does it bother you that the Bible is restrictive? Do you not like the fact that there are sins that you would like to do and you restrain from doing them because pressure is put upon you? That is evidence that you have no foundation.
Another one: External religious activities with no proper motivation. Do you come to church because your parents expect you or your friends expect you? Do you come to church because you’re trying to make a good impression on someone? Are you trying to earn your way in? That’s a wrong motive. Unless you do what you do in the cause of Christ because you are compelled by your love for Christ and a desire for His glory, you may have no foundation.
Are you self-righteous? Is there anything in you that thinks you can earn your way to heaven? Even if it’s a small component, even if you believe in the cross and the resurrection, if there’s anything in you that thinks it can contribute to your salvation, you have no foundation. “If you love the world,” – 1 John 2:15 – “if you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you.” If you can’t let go of the evil world around you, if you’re characterized by pride, if you do what you do for self-glory, if you love pleasure more than you love forsaking pleasure for the glory of God – any of these marks would indicate that, perhaps, under your religious house is sand, sand. And that would be true, I hate to say this, of most professing Christians, because many will say, “Lord, Lord,” but few come in the narrow door. Examine your heart and examine it carefully.
Our Father, we come to the conclusion tonight of this soul-searching message, a true invitation on the one hand, and a severe warning on the other. We thank You, Lord, for confronting empty words and empty hearts, those who profess to be in the kingdom but are not. Lord, rescue those who are guilty of being hearers and not doers.
We pray, Lord, that for those who may be in the hearing of this message, who have been building a very elaborate house, and have now found out that they have no foundation and they will be swept into hell when judgment comes, may this be the hour of their true salvation. May they dig deep. May they come to grips with their sinfulness, their helplessness, their hopelessness, their spiritual destitution and bankruptcy, their desperate condition. May they see all the glory of the cross in its magnificence. And may they truly repent, confessing Jesus as Lord, and themselves as His slaves, willing and eager and joyous in their commitment to obedience. And we ask that You would do this for Your glory in the name of Christ. Amen.