Posts Tagged 'character tests'

Panic Podcast: Faith and Doubt, Part 12

Are God and Satan locked in a titanic, eternal battle in the cosmos?  When bad things happen to us, is Satan at work?  Or is God responsible for the trying times we face?  That’s what we’ll be talking about on today’s podcast.



Not the best building codes in Taiwan.

Not the best building codes in Taiwan.

Luke 6:46 – 49

As for those who come to me and hear my words and put them into practice, I will show you what they are like. (Luke 6:47)

This verse, more than any other single verse in the Bible, best describes how a true Christian should live his life: come (to Jesus); hear (the Word); and put the Word into practice. We are to come to Jesus as Savior, hear Him as the great Teacher, and serve Him as Lord.

As Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain” draws to a close, our Lord gives two character tests. The first one: the necessity of bearing healthy fruit (verses 43-45). A man’s character is revealed by the kind of fruit he bears; what he says and what he does, and the kind of attitude he has. Both actions and words tell the tale.

The second acid test involves doing what Jesus says. A true Christian will always strive to live in obedience to the Word of God.

These are great verses for modern believers in North America, where it costs virtually nothing to be a Christian. It seems as though anybody can say, “I’m a Christian,” or “I love Jesus,” while quoting John 3:16. According to Jesus Himself, those things may not be evidence of faith at all. Far too many people fail to put their faith into practice. It’s interesting that 2,000 years ago believers had the same problem as modern ones.

“Why do you call me, `Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (verse 46)

If someone is going to call Jesus their “Lord” and “Savior,” the very least they should do is pay attention to His teaching and do what He tells them to do. Being obedient is the bare minimum way of showing your allegiance to Jesus Christ.

The parable of the two builders ends the Sermon on the Plain and is also found in Matthew’s Gospel with minor differences.

1. The wisdom of the obedient

They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. (verse 48)

The first builder in this short parable is the “wise” one who listened to the teachings of Jesus and put them into practice. The “wise builder” displayed a number of characteristics:

(A) He believed in the Rock. This is implied; he had no faith in the sandy earth. He knew he couldn’t build his house on it. He knew he had to find solid ground upon which to build his house. Jesus Christ, as we know, is the Rock. A Christian would do well to remember this. Nobody thinks about the foundation of his house until it cracks or leaks. We tend to take Jesus for granted. But this is the truth:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV84)

(B) He put forth an effort. Jesus said the “wise builder” “dug down deep” in order to get to the rock. What a suggestive phrase! A life that is pleasing to God is not an easy life. Resisting sin is not easy. Loving others is not easy. Reading, studying, and understanding the Word is not easy. Christians are called to do these things and more, however. It seems as though some Christians feel like God owes them things, like good health and a healthy bank account. It is true that God does a lot for us. He saves us through no effort on our part; He does it all. But once we are born again, God gives us what we need to live for Him – things like the gifts of the Holy Spirit, His Word, and the Church. We are given the “tools” for successful Christian living, but the “living” part is up to us.

If we are to live successfully for Christ, we must “dig down deep.” We can’t live on the surface; we can’t be superficial Christians. We must live build our lives ON Christ, not near Him or beside Him, but ON Him. That means we live cautiously, with foresight. The “wise builder” was like that. He knew the good weather wouldn’t last. He knew the rains would come, like they always did. The Palestinian rainy season always brings with it floods and washouts.

(C) He built his house after he found the rock. It wasn’t just a good foundation he was after, the “wise builder” wanted the rock. How many people just assume being “a good person” is enough? A lot of Christians are like that, too. They find Jesus, they respond to an altar call and think all they have to do is live “the good life.” The thing is, anybody can live “the good life.” All you have to do is obey the law and life like your grandmother taught you do. But that’s not the same thing as building your life on the Rock of Jesus Christ. That means living BY faith. It means living BY every word that proceeds from the mouth of Christ.

A true, successful Christian builds his life on Christ. He BUILDS upon the Foundation. In other words, a real Christian grows and prospers and expands his life, all while living in obedience to His Lord. They live in such a way as to reveal the sturdiness of their core being. Sadly, too many believers live lives that do NOT reveal the structure of faith. They rest on the foundation; they do not build on it. They may be saved, but that’s as far as they got.

If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. (1 Corinthians 3:12-13 NIV84)

The Bible even tells us HOW to build our lives on the Rock:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. (2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV84)

When the bad weather came, when the difficult times came, the one whose life is built firmly on the Rock Jesus Christ, will stand. The life that is built on Jesus Christ will be strong and sturdy and will stand the tests of time. The Church, too, that is built on the Rock will likewise stand.

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his, ” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19 NIV84)

2. The foolish and disobedient

“But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:49 NIV84)

How dumb is the person who hears the Word of the Lord but then does his own thing? Pretty dumb, according to Jesus.

(A) He ignored the rock. The “foolish builder” knew all about Jesus as the Rock, was familiar with all His teachings but imagined he could do his own thing and get along just fine without Him. This is the picture of the lazy and deluded Christian:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:6-8 NIV84)

It’s always easier to live like the person Paul described in Colossians. It requires no particular skill or effort to walk by sight, not by faith. Human philosophies will always be easier to understand and practice than the Word of God. It requires no digging at all to build your life on the shaky foundation of the sand of the world.

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. (Isaiah 5:21 NIV84)

(B) He began building too soon. The “foolish builder” was hasty. He started building right away on the sand. He didn’t take the time to dig and look for an appropriate foundation. Here was a builder who could see no further than the end of his nose. Thinking the warm, summer weather would last forever, thinking his life was good enough and that he had all the resources he needed within himself, he made no effort to “dig deeper.”

This is a person who does what he wants, where he wants because he follows his own way. He has no regard for the teachings of Jesus or learning how to live from the Word of God. Here’s a man who has heard His teachings but just doesn’t trust them or think they are for him.

(C) He built without a foundation. What a sad picture of a man who knows he needs a house; knows he needs shelter, but foolishly thinks he can provide his own. He thought he had the skills and intelligence to do it himself, his own way. But he did it all wrong. We all need salvation, but we need the kind Jesus provides.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11 NIV84)

It’s a waste of time and material to try to build your own foundation, ignoring Jesus Christ.

So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:“Now See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;the one who trusts will never be dismayed.” (Isaiah 28:16 NIV84)

When you build your life on a foundation other than Christ, you will always be disappointed because you will forever come up short.

(D) His hopes were cut off. The rains came and washed the “foolish builder’s” house away. All his work amounted to nothing. There is nothing sadder than a person who has worked and built his life on a foundation other than Jesus Christ. All the work is wasted because his life will never stand. There is nothing sadder than a person who is trusting in his religion to save him. Religion saves nobody. There is nothing sadder than one who is counting on his “good works” to tilt the scales in his favor. He will always be disappointed.

There are really four lessons that can be learned in this brief but powerful teaching:

(A) Every one is a builder. If you are alive, then you are a builder. Every living and breathing human being is engaged in building his life. This parable is especially addressed to those who have at the very least a passing knowledge of Jesus and of the Word.

(B) There are really only two kinds of builders: wise and foolish. In the world today, there are those who are saved and those who are lost.  In the church there are those who building their lives on Christ, and those who are trying to do all the work themselves.

(C) The “wise builder” build his house – his life – on Christ, the only solid Rock. He does this prayerfully and in earnest – digging deep – trying to build his whole existence around the teachings of Christ and the Word of God. The “foolish builder” just wants to be left alone so he can do it all his own way.

(D) Bad times – crises – are inevitable. No human being can avoid them. The result is irrevocable. The “wise builder’s” house stand firm; it isn’t so much as touched or shaken by the rising, rushing waters. The “foolish builder’s” house collapses immediately.

The lesson is obvious: build your life wisely. It takes time, and it takes thought and effort, but in the end, it’s worth it. If you want to end with Christ, you must begin with Him.

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