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Obedience: Evidence of a Strong Foundation (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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August 8, 2023 4:00 am

Obedience: Evidence of a Strong Foundation (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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August 8, 2023 4:00 am

Psalm 119 describes the Bible as a light to our path, and the church has been called a safe harbor in a storm. Find out why the Bible can also be a dangerous book and church can be a perilous place! That’s the focus on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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Psalm 119 describes the Bible as a lamp to our feet or a light to our path. Maybe you've heard the church described as a safe harbor in a storm.

Those are pretty reassuring descriptions. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg shows us why the Bible can be a dangerous book and the church can be a perilous place to be. This message is part of our Encore 2023 series of listener favorites. We're looking today at Luke chapter 6, verses 46 through 49. Remember when Mary and Joseph take Jesus into the temple, as Luke records it in the second chapter, and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, this child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be spoken against so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.

In other words, this little boy, says Simeon, is going to grow up to represent a crossroads in the lives of men and women. There will be those who in responding to him will rise to all that eternal life may mean, and there will be others who in rejecting him will fall into the awful emptiness of eternity without God. When John the Baptist stands on the stage and points the way to Jesus, you find in the 17th verse of chapter 3 that he makes essentially the same point. Speaking of the one who will come and baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire, he says of Jesus, his winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Now these are the great absolutes of heaven and hell that are being referred to. And Jesus, says John, and says Simeon, and says the Bible, stands, as it were, as a crossroads in the face of eternity. And in a moment in time, commends himself to the minds of his listeners and says to them, if you will bow beneath my lordship, then I will gather you up as the very wheat, and you will live in eternity with me. If you refuse to bow to my lordship, then I will cast you aside as the chaff, and you will spend eternity without me. And indeed, all of the message of this sermon is cast within the immensity of that eternal perspective. Gathering with the Jesus crowd, being able to say all the Jesus words, singing all the Jesus songs, is no ticket of admission into heaven.

That's what we're going to see. And it is that fact which gives this closing paragraph its most chilling impact. Now what I want to do is notice the question, and then the illustration, and then a word of application. First of all, you will notice the question, which Jesus asks is concise. Verse 46, Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? Now which part of that is difficult to understand?

Luke chapter 6, verse 46, Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? What a warning this contains. What an investigation it conducts. What an examination it demands.

This is like going through a biblical CAT scan. And the contrast, you will notice, is between our lips and our lives. It is between saying and doing. It has been between the individual who is able to call him Lord and yet at the same time does not do what a profession of lordship demands.

It is whether a verbal profession is accompanied by moral obedience. Notice then the illustration. If the question is concise, the illustration is clear.

And when you come to this illustration that Jesus gives, you will notice that he changes the contrast. The contrast in the question is between saying and doing. The contrast in the illustration is between hearing and doing.

Why do you say this and don't do this? And then he says, let me give you an illustration of the person who hears but who doesn't do or the person who hears and who does. And he illustrates it in the familiar story of the two builders. Now there are a number of builders here this morning, and I have to be very careful lest I betray my ignorance of any nature of building by seeking to delve into an illustration that you would be better able to use than I. However, I think it's safe to say that if we had gone down the road and seen these two homes under construction, at least once they had begun to bear testimony to their frame or to the structures of the walls, we would not have been aware of any difference between the two structures. You might have wondered at why it was that in the earlier days before the walls had begun to come up that the first individual had apparently spent so much time down under the ground. We may even have said to ourselves, you know, I must make a mental note that if ever I build a house, I want to go with the second builder because the first builder seemed to waste a dreadful amount of time and I'm sure he's being paid by the hour and I don't want him down there digging in the foundations all that time.

I like a builder who can get started immediately and everyone in my neighborhood can see that the house is coming up quickly and successfully. The second chap we might have said to ourselves is far more efficient and he's obviously faster. No apparent difference, though, once the walls began to rise. So what then gave testimony to the difference in the structures? Well, we're told when the day the rain came, when the river burst its banks, when the wind beat against the structures, then and only then, the fundamental fatal difference between the two became apparent. The one with the foundations, verse 48 says, could not be shaken because it was well built, because the man had dug down deep, he'd laid the foundation on the rock, and yet the one without foundation, in verse 49, collapsed like a pack of carts.

Now, what a wonderful teacher Jesus is. Everyone can understand this. Anybody who has a Lego set can understand this. Anybody who has any notion at all of raising something above the ground knows the importance of putting it in properly, whether it's a mailbox or a lamppost or whatever else it is. Every so often you go along and see these mailboxes lying around like dead dogs. And part of the problem is that whoever decided that he was putting it up some Saturday afternoon was so excited to show his wife how quickly he managed to get it in place. And then it would only take a very small amount of wind for it to lie over looking absolutely pathetic just as his building prowess was, and his wife understood it. And she said to him over breakfast one morning, do you not think it would have been better to dig down a little further, pour a little concrete, and put the thing in so that I don't have to get out of my car and lie down on one side in order to get my mail out of the box? And he said, well, for a while there it looked just as good as the neighbors across the street.

Oh yes, it did. In fact, there was no apparent difference between the two of them until this dreadful storm blew down the street, and then it is obvious to all. So it is that professing Christians tend to look much the same from the outside. That you see is why the Bible is a very dangerous book and why church is a very dangerous place to be. Some of you would be better off not here at all in the sense that you would not be living with the strange and forlorn idea that because you are attending the Jesus event and listening to Jesus' stories and singing Jesus' words, that somehow or another you're actually living under his lordship. It would be better if you were down the street with no interest in it at all, and you came to the awareness and the emptiness of it all, that you never used his name, and you never sang a song, and you never heard his word, and you discovered in all of that lostness that you need to go and find Jesus. But when you come in here, this is real dangerous.

The danger is that you look at the mailboxes down the street, and you look at the houses on the street, and you say, well, that one's standing, and this one's standing, and this one's standing, and therefore there's really no difference between them at all. Well, of course, there isn't to any of us. I can't tell if you're true.

You can't tell if I'm true. You shouldn't misunderstand the gifts that God has given me as an indication of my genuine commitment to Jesus Christ, should you? That's what the passage is saying. But we all attend the same services. We all hear the same sermons. We all learn the same truths. If people conducted an exit poll of us going out of the church this morning, if they interviewed maybe a dozen or two dozen people and came back to report their findings, they would say there was very little to tell between them at all. We found in talking with them that they were equally nice, they were equally polite, they were equally orthodox, and they were equally enthusiastic. Who's to tell between them?

The answer is God. That's why you see all the superficial judging and the censoriousness that Jesus has already condemned early in the chapter is ultimately bogus and unhelpful, because we're moving to the day when we stand before the bar of God's judgment. So at issue, for the hearers of Jesus' sermon—and we are part of that group, are we not, this morning—at issue is not whether they hear, nor is it whether we believe it or affirm it, but the issue is whether we do it. How then will it become apparent whether there are foundations or not in our lives? See this is a peculiar challenge, again, to an environment such as this, where conservative evangelicalism makes much of the importance of a verbal profession of faith that trots people through the waters of baptism, justifiably so, and asks them in a minute to explain that they're in rather than out, as if somehow or another our ability to convey that within the space of sixty seconds and get ourselves completely drenched and then go out and dry our hair and come back in was the evidence to us and to all concerned that we were genuinely Christ's. The church does not baptize on assurance of faith, on assurance of salvation.

The church baptizes on profession of faith, so that in being baptized I am professing publicly what I have believed privately and what I have been prepared to convey verbally. Fine. Now says Jesus, I want to see if there are foundations. I want to see if this is skin deep. I want to see if this is words, words, words. I want to know if you are in the company of those who are relying on giftedness, relying on verbal profession minus moral obedience, relying on intellectual awareness minus a transforming life, if you are among the company of those to whom I will say on that day, I'm sorry folks, depart from me because you have come from the company of the evildoers.

If this doesn't give you an electronic charge that runs up your spine, you are more dead than you realize. If you are sitting there or I am standing here thinking of someone that this sermon is great for, I have missed the point. The Bible says, beg, this is great for you. And you take your Bible and look in it and you'll see your face. And Jesus says, okay, followers, simple question. Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and don't do what I'm telling you?

I want to show you what you're like. You're like a guy who built a house without digging down deep and putting the foundations in. You will fall down in the evil day unless you're like the individual who dug down deep and put the foundations on the rock, and Jesus says, I am the rock. And then the evil day will prove the reality of the difference. You see, it's when the flood comes, when the torrent strikes—that sounds like Sound of Music, doesn't it?

When the bough breaks, when the tree falls, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things. Okay, but that just made me think about the syntax of it, but it is when the flood comes and when the torrent breaks and when all hell lets loose on our lives, that's when we find out. And incidentally, that's why God allows all hell to let loose on our lives. You understand? It's not to punish us.

It's to purify us. Jesus said to us, come on now, don't go over that cliff. Don't do that.

Don't for one instant think that you can do that. Do you know what's on the other side of that? And some of you are here this morning, and not simply in relationship to temptation, but in relationship to disappointment and bereavement and disaster and foolishness.

You've been there, but that's in the past. This is this morning, and you're still here, giving every indication of the fact that when the foundations go down deep, Jesus keeps us in his care. To change the analogy to vessels on the sea. If you look at vessels on a sea—and I don't know much anymore about vessels than I do about building—but they're all sitting there kind of parked, if you like, with the chains and the bits of rope hanging off the front. And we go through them and we say, oh, they all have their anchors down, all happy Saturday afternoon anchor time at the ocean. And then all of a sudden from nowhere, this huge storm comes blowing through. And some of them are turned over, and some of them are cast adrift, and some of them are all over the place.

Why? Because they dropped their anchors down and they went nowhere. Will your anchor hold in the storms of life? When the clouds unfold their winds of strife? When the strong tides lift and the cables strain, will your anchor drift or firm remain?

And your eyes behold through the gathering light the city of gold and the harbor bright. Will you anchor there in that heavenly shore with the storms all past forevermore? We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll.

And it's fastened to the rock, which cannot move. It's grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love. You see, what Jesus is not saying here is this. He is not saying, I kind of get you started and then you keep yourself going and you can be assured as long as you're a wonderfully obedient person.

That's not what he's saying. The ground of our assurance this morning, even with our wanderings and our bumblings and our stumblings, is the fact of God's unmerited grace to us in Christ. If someone says to you, do you know that you're going to heaven? In Christ, you can say, yes, not I hope so.

Yes. Why? Because of Christ. Now, having said that, now you come to the church service and you listen to the sermon. And what does the same Christ say to you? He says, I want you to answer me a question. Why do you call me Lord, Lord?

You don't do the things I'm telling you. Bear fruit that befits your repentance. Calvin puts it so hurtfully when he says, true piety is not distinguished from its counterfeit till it comes to the trial.

The question is concise, the illustration is clear, and the application is absolutely crucial. Jesus is not, I say to you again, teaching that entry into the kingdom of heaven is by way of the good works of obedience. To do that from this passage is to make a nonsense of the Bible. The message of Luke is that Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He didn't come to call the righteous, who were trying their best. He came to call sinners to repentance. Sin is by grace alone, through faith alone, plus nothing. All that we bring to Christ is the sin from which we need to be forgiven. So then what is the emphasis of Jesus here? Simply this, Jesus makes it clear that only those who obey him, expressing their faith by their works, only those have truly heard the gospel. It is, as Luther said, faith alone that saves, but the faith that saves is not alone. John, picking up on the words of Jesus writing his first letter, says, if we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we're just telling lies. James confronts the readers of his day, and he says, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

And look how dreadfully crucial all of this is. Jesus makes clear to his listeners that the manner in which we hear and obey his Word has significance for all of eternity. The whole sermon is a challenge. It's a warning. It's an invitation. There are two kinds of builders. One's a wise chap, the other one's foolish.

This matter is more important than who you're going to marry, where you're going to live, who you're going to spend your life with, whether you're going to be single or whatever it is. Any of those questions pale into insignificance before this one salutary, challenging, chilling investigation. And some of you have known this for years, because you sang it in Sunday school. The wise man built his house upon the rock, and the rain came tumbling down. And the foolish man built his house upon the sand, and the rain came tumbling down.

And the house on the sand collapsed, and the house on the rock stood firm. And I hear the voice of the old spiritual singing in my ears, O sinner man, who you going to run to all on that day? You going to run to the rocks? Rocks won't hide you.

Going to run to the fact that you attended regularly the church? Won't hide you. Going to run to Jesus' words and Jesus' songs and the Jesus group?

Won't hide you. How firm a foundation he saints of the Lord is laid for your faith in his excellent word. What more can he say than to you he has said? To you who to Jesus for refuge have fled. That's ultimately the dividing line as we walk out of this building this morning. Those who have fled to Jesus for refuge, and those who content themselves by saying, Lord, Lord. That's where Jesus ended.

So let me end there too. One that is only skin deep will crumble in the storms of life. If we're going to withstand the trials we face in life, we need a faith that is built on the solid rock of Christ. You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life. Alistair will be back in just a minute to close today's program. In addition to Alistair's daily Bible teaching on this program, we make it a practice to recommend to you books that we think will help you learn more about living out your faith. The book I want to tell you about today comes highly recommended from Alistair. It's a deeply emotional book called Seasons of Sorrow, The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God. It follows the journey of one family's grief and mourning after the death of their son and brother. The author of this book, Tim Challies, wrote this collection of reflections with vivid and heartfelt openness about his journey through grief.

He wrote it over a period of a year through all four seasons following his son's death. It contains journal entries, blog posts, other writings that document just how devastating this experience was and the comfort he and his family found in God. Ask for your copy of the book Seasons of Sorrow today when you give a donation to support the ministry of Truth for Life online at slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. And if you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book, write to Truth for Life at Post Office Box 398000, Cleveland, Ohio.

Our zip code is 44139. Now here's Alistair with a closing prayer. Lord, we want to be able to say my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name, on Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Thank you, Father, that you are the one who takes our feet from the miry clay and sets it on a rock and establishes our going and puts a song in our hearts, a song of praise to our God. Bring us again and afresh in line with the truth of your word and unto him who is able to keep us from falling when the flood beats upon us, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with fantastic and outrageous joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, today and forevermore. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapine. When Jesus was asked about which commandment was the greatest and he answered by saying you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, love your neighbor as yourself, was he reducing the ten commandments down to two? We'll hear the answer tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the learning is for nothing. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-08 04:41:13 / 2023-08-08 04:50:15 / 9

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