Built Upon A Rock
By Jeffery Barron (March 29, 2003)
Jesus often gave examples of earthly things that related to spiritual matters. These messages of Jesus are called parables or stories. One such parable is one that we are all probably familiar with, and that is about the wise man who built his house upon the rock, and the foolish man who built his house on the sand.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
The wise man would dig deep into the ground until he found solid rock on which to lay his foundation. Constructing a house on this secure surface would make the entire structure strong. Jesus said that the rain would fall, and the floods would come, and the winds would blow, and beat upon the house. However, the house would not fall because it was founded upon a rock. This solid rock foundation kept the house safe.
On the other hand, the foolish man didn’t bother with a strong foundation. He was satisfied with the easier task of building on the sand. But Jesus said again that the rain would fall, and the floods would come, and the winds would blow, and beat upon the house. This time around, the house would fall and the fall would be terrible. Since there was not a solid foundation, the house didn’t stand a chance against the rain, flood, and wind.
When Jesus spoke in parables, it was always an earthly story with a spiritual message. And this parable is no different. The earthly message is simple to understand. Foundation of rock -- house won’t fall. Foundation of sand -- gonna fall...and gonna fall hard!
The first thing that I want to look at is “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine” (Matthew 7:24). Who was Jesus speaking to? What were the sayings? What had Jesus been talking about in earlier verses? These verses conclude Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), which includes the “Beatitudes,” “seek, and ye shall find,” and “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way.” Jesus was speaking to his disciples (i.e., his church), and, in short, he was giving them His commandments and laying the groundwork for the early days of his church.
“…and doeth them…” Those that heard the voice of Jesus that day had a choice to make: either do what he said or don’t do what he said. His disciples had already been saved and baptized and were part of the fellowship of Jesus’ church. For those who complied and followed Jesus’ commandments, He compared them to “a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24). Well, that sounds good, but what exactly does that mean?
The word rock here is the word petra, which is a large stone (a small rock is petros). It’s the same word that Jesus used in Matthew 16:18 to refer to Himself.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (petros), and upon this rock (petra) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
If we could have been there, we would have seen Jesus pointing to Himself when he said “upon this rock.” This verse says that the church is built on Jesus Christ. But can’t we say that the church is made up of individuals?
The Chief Corner Stone
When Paul spoke to the church that was at Ephesus, he touched on the subject of building upon a foundation.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord;
22 In whom ye are also builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Let’s first establish the context of these verses in Ephesians. Paul was writing to “the saints which are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1). That is to say, Paul was writing to the church in Ephesus. The Ephesians were not of Jewish descent but were Gentiles. Paul is saying that the members of the church at Ephesus are no longer just Gentiles, but so much more. Through salvation, baptism, and being fellowshipped into a New Testament church, each one is a fellow-citizen with the saints. Not just the body of believers as a whole, but each individual member. Being a Jew or a Gentile (or any other possible ethic background) doesn’t matter. So, the members, not just the congregation as a whole, but each individual member, is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ the chief corner stone.
A corner stone is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary to be “a stone at the corner of a building uniting two intersecting walls.” The second definition seemed interesting to share: “an indispensable and fundamental basis.” If Jesus Christ is not there to hold it all together, it’s all gonna fall.
The Foundation of God
The church itself is built upon Jesus, but individuals make up the church body. Therefore, individual church members must also be built on Jesus.
II Timothy 2:19
19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
What is the foundation of God? The Word is the solid foundation of God, and the Word is Christ (John 1). And those that “nameth the name of Christ” (II Tim 2:19) are more than just saying that Jesus is Lord. They are living after His will and His way. They are building their houses, that is to say, their lives, on Jesus. Just a few verses back in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says:
21 Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven.
Recall that the primary audience of the Sermon on the Mount was to the church of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the “kingdom of heaven” that He spoke about cannot be referring to salvation alone. Salvation gets us into heaven, but faithfulness and obedience gets us into the kingdom of heaven, i.e., the kingdom that is a product of heaven.
Where Will We Build Our House?
When Jesus said that He likened a doer of his sayings to a wise man, he literally meant that a person would build his life, his soul, his being, on the Word of God. Building your soul does not mean salvation. We follow the Lord’s sayings by carrying out the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Word of God) under the authority and fellowship of his church and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Just because you are a church member doesn’t mean that you still can’t build your house on the sand. (This is one of the reasons Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians.)
For those of us who build our life upon Jesus Christ the rock, when the trials of sin come our way, we will not fall. However, for those who build their life upon the sand and reject the commandments, Jesus says that when the storms of life come, their house will fall, and the fall will be great (or terrible). This could even be a person who is a church member, but not faithful to the teachings of Jesus. That’s right...a church member can build his or her house on the sand.
After we hear the message of Jesus, we will either carry out the commandments, or we won’t. This is always the case when it comes to the preaching of the Word. It always demands a response. You either accept the message of Jesus, or you reject it. Whatever you decide, the rain will still descend, the floods will still come, and the winds will still blow. The decision that we make will determine whether our house stands firm, or our house falls.
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24). An individual who puts his faith and trust in Jesus, follows the Lord in scriptural baptism, joins and fellowships with a New Testament church, and carries out the commandments of our Christ, the Word of God, is wise.