I. Practice What You Preach (Luke 6:46)
II. Obedience Provides Protection (Luke 6:47-48)
III. Disobedience Invites Destruction (Luke 6:49)
On December 26, 2004, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 rocked Southeast Asia. Occurring just off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, it sent huge tidal waves, called tsunamis, crashing onto the coasts of Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. So far, about 150,000 people are dead. The death toll could rise due to disease and starvation. Aside from the catastrophic deaths, millions more are now homeless and jobless. People are calling it one of the worst natural disasters in history. And it is. It is a terrible disaster. Hopefully we are all doing what we can to pray for and financially support the relief efforts going on in that part of the world. My sister and her husband are among those who are on site helping distribute the relief.
But did you know that such disasters have happened before? In 1976, an earthquake in Tangshan, China, killed 242,000. In 1970, a cyclone in Bangladesh killed 500,000. In 1923, an earthquake in Tokyo killed 140,000. In 1887, China’s Yellow River overflowed its banks, and killed 900,000. And those are just the major catastrophes. Smaller earthquakes and floods happen all over the world every year.
A while back, I read of heavy rain and mudslides claimed the lives of a dozen or more people in California. I was brought to tears when I read of Jimmie Wallet, who went to get ice cream, but returned to find his house, wife and family gone. He lost his wife and three daughters in the mudslide. I cannot imagine the pain of losing my wife and two daughters in that way.
Because such disasters are a part of life, various parts of the world that are prone to such catastrophes take steps to prevent and hinder the damage and loss of life that such events cause. Japan is one of the most earthquake prone countries in the world. They have more earthquakes than California. Due to this, during the past 30 years or so, Japan has developed some of the most sophisticated and earthquake proof architecture in the world. These buildings are expensive, but Japan knows how to build houses and skyscrapers that will not fall down in an earthquake. They may sway back and forth, but unless a huge crack opens up right underneath one of these buildings, they will not fall. They are going to great lengths and great expense to protect their people and provide safe houses, buildings and workplaces for their citizens.
As we come to the end of Luke 6, and the conclusion to Christ’s discipleship manual, we learn that this is exactly what God wants us to do in our own lives. Just as storms, earthquakes and natural disasters are common occurrences on planet earth, similar disasters also occur in all of our lives. If we want to survive these storms, steps must be taken and homes must be built which will stand strong in the earthquakes and tsunami’s of life. Christ tells us how to do this in Luke 6:46-49.
So far, Jesus’ sermon on how to be His disciple has dealt with three major areas of life and what our attitude should be. When dealing with life’s circumstances, trust God (Luke 6:20-26). Your attitude toward other people should be to love them (Luke 6:27-38). In regard to yourself, you need to be painfully honest (Luke 6:39-45).
Finally, Jesus concludes with our attitude toward God. Our attitude toward God should be that of obedience. This is a good way for Christ to end His sermon, because He has given us some hard truths. So now He says, “If you’re my disciple, you will obey what I have taught.” In Luke 6:43-45, Jesus taught that actions and behavior do not reveal your heart. It is not what you do, but what you say that provides insight into your inner being. Some, hearing that, are tempted to think, “Great! If that’s true, all I have to do is watch what I say, and it doesn’t matter what I do. I can do anything I want!”
Jesus responds to that sort of thinking in Luke 6:46-49. Although words reveal the heart, Jesus teaches that our actions should match our words. As you have heard it said, “Practice what you preach.” Jesus introduces this idea in Luke 6:46.
I. Practice What You Preach (Luke 6:46)
Luke 6:46. But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?
You see, here the person has the right words, but their actions don’t match the words. They have committed themselves to being a disciple of Jesus Christ by submitting to His Lordship. At least, this is the public declaration they have made. They call Him Lord. But their actions and behavior do not match their words. Many Christians are committed to becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. They call Jesus Lord. They publicly confess His name and submit their lives to Him. But their actions don’t match their words. This doesn’t mean that they are unsaved. We are saved by grace through faith apart from works. Just as works do not save us or keep us saved, nor do they reveal who is saved and who is not.
When someone says they are a Christian, but do not act like it, the most we can say about them is that they are not acting like a Christian. Whenever you or I sin, we are not acting like Christians. And since we all sin every day, we are all guilty of Luke 6:46 every single day. We attend church on Sunday, and sing, “He is Lord, He is Lord,” and then follow that with, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.” But then on Monday, we yell at our spouse, we cut corners at work, we mutter that whispered curse, and then close out the day by watching impure images on television. So whatever we said on Sunday is certainly not being acted out in our lives. We talk like Christians, but we certainly don’t act like Christians.
In this final section of Christ’s discipleship manual, He tells us that true disciples obey His Words. Are you His disciple? Do you obey what He says? Sometimes we are tempted to think that obedience doesn’t matter. If, after all, we are saved by grace through faith apart from works, then why should we obey God? If we get to heaven simply by believing in Jesus Christ for eternal life, then of what benefit are works? The benefits are numerous. There is the benefit of eternal reward. There’s the benefit of loving and glorifying God because of His great love for us. There’s the benefit of answered prayer and experiencing God at work in your life. There’s the benefit of living the abundant life that God has for you. Christ gives us another benefit in Luke 6:47-49. Obeying God provides protection from life’s storms.
II. Obedience Provides Protection (Luke 6:47-49)
In these three verses, Jesus presents a picture of two men who build homes. When a storm comes, one home collapses, while the other stands firm. Most Christians have heard this story before. If you were in church as a child, or attended Vacation Bible School, you probably remembering singing a song about the wise man and the foolish man. This passage, and the parallel passage in Matthew 7, is where that song came from, so most of us are aware of what happens.
The wise man builds his house upon the rock, and the rains came down and the floods rose up, and the house on the rock stood firm. The foolish man built his house upon the sand, and when the rains came down and the floods rose up, the house on the sand fell flat, or went splat, or went “crash” or however you sang it as a child – with great enthusiasm and noise.
Although most Christians are aware of the story, most Christians do not really know what separates the wise man from the foolish man. The song itself is not very clear. The final verse of the song says, “So build you life on the Lord Jesus Christ, and the blessings will come tumbling down. The blessings come down as the prayers go up, so build your life on the Lord.”
The song is not real clear on why the wise man was wise. It seems to indicate that he was wise because he was a Christian, whereas the foolish man represents all non-Christians. There is truth to that. It is the foolish man who says in his heart, “There is no God.” And it is amazingly foolish for a person to trust their eternal destiny in some theory of good works. Most people do less research on how to get to heaven than they do on how many carbs are in their granola bar. That is foolish. But that is not the difference between the wise and foolish man in this passage.
Others seem to think that what distinguishes the wise man from the foolish man is owning a Bible. The wise man has a Bible, the foolish man doesn’t.
But having a Bible does not make one wise. Some who recognize that it is not enough to have a Bible sitting on your shelf – or several Bible’s – believe that the difference between the wise and foolish man is that the wise man has Bible knowledge, whereas the foolish man is basically ignorant and illiterate of the Bible. Again, this is not the difference between the wise and foolish man of this passage. What is the difference between the two men? It is found in Luke 6:47.
Luke 6:47. Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:
In Luke 6:47, Jesus provides three descriptive actions. This man comes to Jesus, hears His sayings, and does what Jesus says.
A. Coming to Jesus
The first action, coming to Jesus, probably refers to coming after Jesus daily as one of His disciples. Jesus says later in Luke 9:23 that if anyone would come after Him, that person must take up his cross daily and follow Jesus. Are you coming after Jesus every single day? Are you coming before Jesus praying, asking, seeking to learn from Him that day? If you want to weather life’s storms, but you are not coming to Jesus for instruction and training in righteousness every day, it’s not going to be very long before your house falls. Your house will come crashing down faster than a house of cards in a hurricane.
It amazes me how many Christians think they can live the Christian life without ever coming to Jesus for their daily bread, without ever performing a spiritual work out, without ever building the Word of God into their lives. It cannot be done. The storms of life are too strong. Do you want to know why so many Christians turn away from God, and reject Christ, and fall so easily to temptation and sin? For most, it is because they have not been coming to Jesus daily to hear from Him. It’s so simple. It’s so important. And it’s so neglected.
B. Hearing Jesus
But Jesus goes on to say that this first man does more than just come to him; he also hears what Jesus says. The Greek word for sayings is logos, so this man hears the word of Jesus. The word for hearing is more than just having the sound waves resonate off our eardrums. It implies hearing with understanding. Hearing with comprehension.
One of the most disheartening things for a pastor, or a Bible study leader, or a Sunday school teacher to see, is somebody in his congregation or class get that empty-eyed, slack-jawed, bored-out-of-their-mind, wake-me-when-he’s-done look in their eyes. Are they hearing what is being said? Oh yes, the sounds go into their ears, and the eardrums collect the sounds, and then send the sounds off to the brain to decipher the sounds as words and sentences. But that is where the hearing stops. There is not meaningful interaction. There is no eye movement which reveals understanding. Some people become experts at hearing without understanding. As soon as the Bible is opened and the pastor or Bible study leader begins to talk, the mind goes into sleep mode while that eyes stay open and the half smile stays glued to the face. Occasionally, the head nods in affirmation. But there is no understanding. There is no comprehension. There is no genuine hearing. A few weeks ago, I said that there are benefits to reading the Word of God, even if you don’t understand what you are reading. I still believe that. But that is not the ideal.
Reading with understanding is always more helpful and beneficial than reading without understanding. This is why it is advisable to develop good Bible study methods and obtain good Bible study aids. This is also why it is advisable to approach your Bible with pen and paper in hand. That is why you should come to church with a notebook and pencil ready. The expectation of taking notes causes our brain to take seriously what is being said. A pen in hand and a notebook on your lap tells the brain, “You better listen. You better understand. This is important.”
When you are going to someone’s house for dinner, and they say, “It’s hard to find our house, let me give you directions” what do you do? You get out a pen and paper to write the directions down. Why? So that you can write the directions down. So that you can make sure they make sense to you. So that you can remember them, and find the house, and get dinner. The directions the Bible gives you about life and how to interact with God and how to get to heaven, and how to have a good marriage and a good family are far more important than getting directions to someone’s house for dinner. Yet many approach the Bible with less respect than they approach their shopping list. Let that not be true of you.
Approach the Word of God seeking to hear it with understanding as this wise man does. If you don’t, you are abandoning the very thing God has provided to help you weather the storms of life. If you refuse to hear and understand God’s instructions, there is nothing little else that can help. You’re already sunk, and you haven’t even put your boat in the water yet. Don’t think you find your way through life unless you hear and understand God’s instructions in His Word.
The first descriptive term in Luke 6:47 was coming to Jesus. The second is hearing what He says. What is most amazing about this second descriptive term is that it is also true of the foolish man. Down in Luke 6:49 we read that he also heard. The foolish man could very well be a Bible expert. He could be a seminary professor teaching the New Testament. He could be a pastor teaching the Bible week in and week out. He could be a Christian who has studied the Bible for years on end, and has a whole bookshelf full of Bible studies he has completed, and a whole filing cabinet full of sermon notes. That’s the foolish man.
And if he’s foolish with all of that, how foolish are we who do not come to Jesus and who do not seek to hear and understand His words? That’s not just foolish. If we refuse to even hear and understand God’s Word, we’re not just foolish, we’re insane. Of course, that explains a lot. Much of what passes for Christianity today can be called nothing less than spiritual insanity. The things some Christians get into, the only thing you can conclude is that they are spiritually insane. Do you ever read the cover of those tabloids at the supermarket checkout stand? You know, the one’s reporting that Elvis had a alien baby, and they are both living on Mars? I don’t know who reads those, but that’s insane.
Christians fall into the same things though. Sherry gave me an example just this week. She got this packet of spiritual experience cards, and one of them was how to discover and contact your guardian angel. One of the steps was to create a golden aura around yourself. It said, “Imagine yourself breathing golden light until you are enclosed in an egg of gold. Angels find it easier to connect with you when your aura is golden.”
That’s an extreme example, but I could give you examples of Christians who teach that you and I are gods, that Satan was Christ’s brother, that Satan and demons are behind every sickness and everything that goes wrong in your life, that seeing a feather in church is proof that an angel is there, that God wants to change your fillings to gold, and that if you are not healthy and wealthy you are out of God’s will. All of this is not just foolishness. It’s insanity. And it all stems from a failure to hear God’s Word, and correctly understand it. Even the foolish builder hears and understands God’s Word. So what is it that separates the two builders if even the foolish builder hears and understands?
The descriptive term that separates the two builders is the third item in Luke 6:47. The wise builder comes to Jesus, hears His words, and does what Jesus says.
C. Doing what Jesus says
As important as the coming and hearing is, Jesus’ emphasis is on the doing. Here is the key to weathering life’s storms. You come to Jesus for instruction. Hear what He says. Then, go out and do it. It is obedience to the Word that keeps your life safe and well protected in the storm.
Where would Noah be if he heard God’s warning about the flood, and received the instructions for the ark, but didn’t follow God’s instructions? What if followed the instructions part way, but didn’t obey them completely? What if he decided to make the ark smaller? What if he decided he didn’t need the pitch to seal the wood? Noah would have sunk along with the rest of the world, and you and I would not be here today. We can all thank Noah for following and obeying God’s Word precisely. Obedience is the key that keeps you strong in life’s storms. It is this obedience to God’s Word that Jesus illustrates in Luke 6:48. The one who does God’s Word is the one who builds his house on the rock.
Luke 6:48. He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.
Just as there were three descriptive terms for the man, there are three descriptive terms for his construction. Before he constructs his house, he digs deep, then lays a foundation. The progression is to dig deep, lay a foundation, then build the house upon the foundation.
1. Building the House
a. Dig Deep
The builder first has to dig deep. Here in Montana, we generally don’t have to go very far in order to find good foundation material. We have rocky, hard packed soil. Most often, we struggle more with getting the huge rocks and boulders out of the way rather than finding a solid foundation upon which to build. But this is not the case in many parts of the world. I listened to a sermon this past week in which the pastor was explaining the progress his church was making on their new church building. The church is in California, and he said that their construction site had such a poor foundation, that they spent many months and tens of thousands of dollars just digging a hole and packing down earth in order to make a good foundation. He said that people would drive by the building site, and complain that for months, nothing at all seemed to be happening. There was a lot of equipment, and lots of people working, but nothing seemed to be getting done. The pastor explained that this is because sometimes, you have to go down before you can go up. And going down is not real flashy. It’s not exciting. Sometimes it’s downright boring. Digging deep takes lots of time and effort. But it is vital to the construction process.
Sometimes the things which God asks you and I to do are not real fun. They’re not flashy. It doesn’t give you a thrill. You won’t make any headlines. Probably, no one will even notice that you’re doing something for God. Maybe people will even criticize you that you don’t seem to be accomplishing anything. But don’t let such comments dissuade you from digging deep. Don’t let people pressure you into building up too fast. I got a call just this week from another pastor. He said, “How’d your year go?” I said, “Great! People are growing in the strength and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. More people are reading their Bibles and learning what it says. Lives are changing. Disciples are being made. Sin is being repented of.”
What was his response? “Yeah, but how many conversions did you have? What is your attendance up to? Do you have any new members?”
I wanted to say, “Wrong questions!” It’s not that we haven’t had conversions. We’ve had some. It’s not that our attendance is down. It’s held steady. It’s not that we don’t have new members. We have a few, and several more who want to become members. All of that is very exciting. But I am not into exciting. I am into digging deep. I am into strong foundations. I am into helping you build your lives on the Word of God. You’ve got to get that earthmoving equipment out. You’ve got to get those shovels and pickaxes and wheelbarrows and get to work. You’ve got to rip up some sod. Fling some dirt around.
Before you can improve your life, you’ve almost got to destroy the way it was. That bad habit in your life? You’ve got dig it out. That sin with the roots that run deep? Get a bulldozer and tear it out. All those boulders of wasted time that get in the way of spiritual progress? Remove them. This I the first step in doing what Jesus says. Before you can add good elements to your life, you need to get rid of the bad. You must repent of your sin. Turn from your sin. Purify your life. Only when you dig deep into the soil of your life, and remove all the barriers and obstacles that have been in the way for so long will you then be able to lay the foundation. This is the second step to building.
b. Lay Foundation
After the hole is dug and all the obstacles are removed, then the foundation can be laid. 1 Corinthians 3:11 says that no other foundation can be laid other than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. But we see in Luke 6:48 that the foundation is laid upon the rock. We also know that Jesus Christ is the rock of our salvation. He is the cornerstone upon which the church is built. In Luke 6, He is both the rock and the foundation. He is the rock that was already in the ground. It was laid there by God. You do not lay down the rock, it was already there. It is the pure, untouched, virgin rock material deep in the earthy.
When the foundation is laid, it becomes one with the rock. But the foundation is something you lay down on top of the rock. So how do you lay down the foundation which is Jesus Christ, onto the rock which is also Jesus Christ? The same way you do with a house. You take your concrete and you pour it into the hole you dug, or into the forms you’ve laid. In digging the hole, you removed certain things from your life. Now, you fill those holes with Jesus Christ. Where you used to watch a certain television show, fill that time with reading about Christ. Where before you got an extra half hour of sleep, you now spend time meditating upon the words of Christ. Where before you loved to talk on the phone, now you love talking with Jesus through the Word.
If you do not fill the hole with Jesus Christ, things will end up worse than they were before. In Luke 11, Jesus talks about how when an evil spirit comes out of a body, it wanders around for a while, and then decides to go see what happened to the body it used to inhabit. When it gets there, it finds everything swept and clean, but uninhabited. So the spirit gets seven other spirits, and they all go and live there so the last state of the man is worse than the first.
I do not believe that bad habits and sinful tendencies in your life are the results of evil spirits. That’s not what Christ is teaching. The point is that when you have a bad habit or a sinful tendency in your life, and you dig it out, you confess, you repent, you better fill that hole with something else, or things will soon get worse than they were before. You’ll never get rid of sin in your life unless you fill the void with Jesus Christ. I am not talking about becoming a Christian. I am talking about the sin you still have in your life even though you are a Christian. Get rid of it. Dig it out. Uproot it. Then, fill that area of your life with the concrete of Jesus Christ. Love Him. Learn from Him. Live with Him. Let Him build your life on His Word.
That is the final step in the construction process. After digging deep and laying the foundation, you now get to build the house.
c. Build the House
The house, of course, is your life. Your life is built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. It will be a good, firm, strong, solid house because it has a good, firm, strong solid foundation. It is built up as you follow the blueprints Christ has laid out in the Bible. The wise builder does what Jesus Christ says. And a storm does come at the end of Luke 6:48.
2. The Storm Comes
And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.
Once the house is built by obeying Jesus Christ, it is able to weather the storms of life, not because it is a strong house, but because it has a strong foundation. I don’t know what storm is in your life right now. I don’t know what storm you will have to face in your future. Maybe it will be financial ruin. Maybe it will be the death of a spouse, or a child. Maybe it will be slander, and gossip and accusations directed at you. Maybe it will be the loss of a job. I don’t know what the storm will be. But a storm will come. Jesus said that in this world, you will have trouble. Don’t think, “Oh, that would never happen to me.” It will happen. And if you are not prepared, your life will crumble around you.
But if you have built you life on Jesus Christ, and obedience to His Word, when the storm comes, no matter how severe it is, no matter how the winds rage, no matter how the torrents of rain fall, no matter how high and violent the river gets, you will stand strong. You will stand firm. Why? Not because you are so strong, but because Jesus Christ is. The end of verse 48 says that the reason the house stood firm was because it was founded on the rock. The person who is obedient to Jesus Christ weathers the storms of life. The opposite is true of the person who is disobedient. Verse 49 reveals that those who are disobedient invite destruction upon themselves.
III. Disobedience Invites Destruction (Luke 6:49)
Luke 6:49. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.
Remember, there are many similarities between this builder and the first builder. Both were students of the Word. Luke 6:49 says this builder also heard. He too memorized Scripture, and took sermon notes and engaged in Bible Study. So once again, if you are not doing even those things, you are more foolish than this builder. He did not fail to study and hear God’s Word. His failure was obedience. The text says he heard, but did nothing. He is like the man in James 1:23-24 who looks at his face in a mirror, but once he has looked, goes away and immediately forgets everything he saw. The one who benefits most from the Word is the one who hears it and does what it says.
Since this builder heard the Word, but did nothing about it, he is described as building his house on earth, without a foundation. It was too much work to dig that hole. It took too much effort to lay a foundation. He decides to build his house on the earth with no foundation. Besides, he can save a lot of time and money that way. He can get better cupboards than his crazy neighbor who spent months digging a hole. He can sit out in his yard sipping lemonade as his neighbor sweats over laying a foundation. “Why go to all that work?” he thinks to himself. “When all is said and done, you can’t see the foundation, and I had much more time to relax and do the things I wanted to do, and enjoy life.”
But then the storm came. And the next morning, when the clouds cleared. Only one house stood. The house on the rock stood firm, whereas the house with no foundation fell. Both men learned that what is beneath the surface counts the most. For the second man, that lesson came too late. Luke 6:49 says the ruin of his house was great. As a pastor, the saddest thing for me to do is to talk with people whose lives are in shambles and tell them there is nothing they can do.
A man hooked on pornography was about to lose his wife because she found out. He came to me for help. A better counselor than I probably could have given him a miracle cure and made their marriage all happy again. I gave them some suggestions. But the damage had been done. The house of cards had already fallen. They could rebuild, but there’s no recovery program or remodeling project that could help. The ruin of his house was just too great. If he had just set out five or ten years earlier to dig deep and pour a foundation, the whole disaster would have been averted. But he didn’t. He sat in his Lazyboy, and sipped his sweet lemonade and never saw the storm clouds rolling in.
I regularly attend monthly pastoral growth group meetings. I go to conferences and talk with other pastors. And over and over again, the story I hear from pastor after pastor is that the most difficult thing about being a pastor is the people who make bad decision after bad decision, who turn away from God, who ignore and abandon the instructions in His Word, and then, when their life comes crashing down around them, as the Bible said it would, they come to the pastor looking for the miracle cure. “Look at this mess my life is in!” they say. “Fix it!” Some pastors wear themselves out trying. You know what I’ve found? There is no fix. When the house comes crashing down, you don’t fix it with a one hour counseling session every Thursday afternoon. It’s not a simple renovation project.
I occasionally watch the television show called “Extreme Makeover – the Home Edition” on television. It’s a show where a family that has experienced some disaster or tragedy gets a complete remodel of their home. One episode I watched, the home had been completely gutted by fire. It was the home of a mother and three girls. Their fire insurance was horrible, and so they didn’t have enough money to even start building a new home. They were all living in a shed. So the extreme makeover crew came in and told them they were going to renovate their home. And most often on the show, that is exactly what they do – a renovation, a remodel. But in this case, there was nothing to renovate. The house was a burned-out shell. Over half of it was completely gone – burned away. So what is the first thing the construction crew did? They knocked down the old building. They leveled it. Once that was done, they started from scratch. They starting building all over again. They built this family a gorgeous home, and made it completely fireproof. When the destruction is that great, there is no remodel in the world that will help. You just level what is left, and rebuild.
Those involved in the rebuilding process in Indonesia and Sri Lanka are not going to go in there, and look around at the terrible devastation and say, “Oh yes. A few nails. A coat of paint. Everything will be good as new.” No, it’s going to take months of cleaning up the mess, years of rebuilding, and billions of dollars. And if they do it right, if they use some of the earthquake proof technology from Japan, they may be able to avoid such a disaster in the future. I don’t know if that is what they will do or not, because of how expensive it is – at this point, they are just trying to save lives. And I’m not sure how effective earthquake proof technology helps against a tsunami anyway.
What about your life? Are you preparing for the disaster? Preparing for the storm? Dig your foundation deep. Get rid of that sin and that bad habit. Repent of your sin. Dig a hole in your life. Pull out some gnarled stumps of sin, roots and all, then lay the foundation. Out with the old, in with the new. Put Jesus into your life where the sin and bad habits used to be. Obey Him. Love Him. Serve Him. Honor Him. Do what He says. In this way, you will build a house able to weather any storm.