20230101 Build on Him

Luke 6:46-49 NET

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do what I tell you? 47 “Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and puts them into practice — I will show you what he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep, and laid the foundation on bedrock. When a flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the person who hears and does not put my words into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against that house, it collapsed immediately, and was utterly destroyed!”

We are starting a new year today, but we are returning to our old series of messages on the commands of Christ. I think all of us have areas in our lives over which we would like more control than we had last year. Today’s text gives us the advice we need to get our lives going in the right direction.

The first bit of advice seems to be about those who plan to build a house, but we know that is just a metaphor. Nevertheless, it is important for us to understand what Jesus meant by the metaphor he used. He said…

A well-built house requires a foundation on bedrock (48).

A house is a structure that provides shelter, safety and an environment for living. We all know what it is like to live in a house. We know that there are good houses and bad houses. There are houses made of strong, sturdy materials, and houses made of poor, flimsy, faulty materials. But it is interesting that Jesus did not give us the advice this way: He didn’t say that we should build our houses on good materials. Instead, he instructed his apostles — and all of us who name his as our master — to build our houses on the proper foundation. A well-built house requires a foundation of bedrock. If we don’t get the foundation right, it won’t matter what the house is made of. If we don’t get the foundation right, everything we put into the house is in danger.

Of course, what the metaphor means is that…

A well-built life requires Jesus Christ as its foundation (46-47).

We all know of people who are living what appears to be healthy productive lives but who have never considered acknowledging Christ as their Savior and Lord. Today’s text is a word of warning for them. In the metaphor Jesus used in today’s text, they have large houses filled with all kinds of good things. But their houses are built on the wrong foundation. They did not dig deep and go to the bedrock. Consequently, it does not matter how strong their lives appear to be. They are in danger. 

They may not think they are in danger. They may have a good job, good insurance to protect them against a natural disaster or health emergency. They may have good friends that they can count on. They may have plenty of money in the bank. But according to Jesus, they are not as safe as they think they are. They covered every possible contingency except the one that matters the most.

You see, people can lose all that they have and still bounce back. They can suffer a catastrophic loss and eventually recover. They can lose their health, but slowly get well again. But what happens when a person loses their chance at eternal life? What happens when a person stands before the judge of all the earth at the end of days and discovers that those things he or she depended on are gone?

I’ll tell you what will happen. They will suffer a cataclysmic destruction from which there is no recovery. They will die the second death — the death from which there is no resurrection. That is what is going to happen to billions who are living this very moment. The watchword for all of us today is to get the gospel out to those who have not heard it. We need to do that desperately because it is our responsibility to evangelize those who have not heard the message of Christ.

But today’s advice is equally important for us as well. We have committed our lives to Jesus Christ. But we need to understand that …

Building on Him requires putting his words into practice (47-49).

Jesus did not say that professing the name of Christ as our Savior will keep us from disaster on the last day. He warned of those who would call him Lord but who do not do what he tells them to do. His instruction is for us to listen to his words. We do that often enough. But his advice goes further. He tells those of us who regularly listen to his words to put those words into practice. That means obeying the commands of our Master. That means regularly doing what he has told us to do. That means a process of constant evaluation of our lives to see that every aspect of those lives is being lived like Jesus wants us to live. That means constantly reforming — changing what we do to match the directions that he has given us.

To reflect back on the metaphor, what Jesus is talking about is house building. But the metaphor is not exact because most people who have houses are not in a lifelong process of building them. But in the metaphor that Jesus used, our house building is a lifelong process. It is not like we started building when we were children, but we stopped when we were young adults because the house is already built. No, it is a lifelong process.

I do not apologize for spending all this time focusing on the commands of Christ. I think if we really take the commands of Jesus seriously, we can learn how to keep building our lives on the bedrock foundation which is Christ himself. If we ever stop the process, it would be like digging up the foundation.

The message for those who are tempted to stop building on Christ, and the message to those who have never laid that foundation is the same message.

Not building on Christ will result in destruction (49).

Jesus said the person who hears and does not put his words into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against that house, it collapsed immediately, and was utterly destroyed!”

This destruction that Jesus is referring to is the destruction of soul and body in Gehenna hell (Matthew 10:28).

The apostle Peter said that the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly (2 Peter 3:7).

The apostle Paul said that when Christ returns, there will be those who say they are experiencing peace and security, but sudden destruction will come on them (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

The apostle John tells us that if we believe in Christ we will have eternal life, but if we don’t we will perish. (John 3:16). He said that those who have the Son have life, but those who do not have the Son will not have the life (1 John 5:12).

What Jesus and all these apostles are talking about is the bad news that accompanies the good news. The good news is that there is a permanent life that awaits all who trust in Christ and learn to obey his commands. The bad news is that permanent life is not something we are born with.

The psalmist says that “the LORD guards the way of the godly, but the way of the wicked ends in destruction” (Psalm 1:6).

The Proverbs says that destruction is going to overtake the wicked (Proverbs 3:25).

That alternate theme of the fate of the lost is found throughout scripture. We cannot afford to ignore it. There will be a place called hell, and it will do what God says it will do. Our Lord’s message to every one of us today is to not only listen to his words, but also keep putting them into practice. Build on Him, because there is a day of vengeance coming that only he can protect us from.

We saw that when the Israelites were in Egypt. God sent the destroying angel, and only the blood of the lamb on the doorposts could save those earmarked for death. The wages of sin is death. All of us who have sinned need a Savior. Only his atoning blood shed for us on the cross can keep us from the judgment to come. Come to Jesus, and once you come to him in faith, listen to his word. You have a house to build. You have a life to build. His commands can keep your life safe on the coming day of destruction.


Author: Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is pastor of Piney Grove Advent Christian Church in Delco, North Carolina. You can contact him at -- !

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