Jesus Still Speaks with Authority
O LORD God, as I enter Your presence for worship this day, open my ears so that I might hear the truths presented in Your holy Word. Implant those truths within my heart and mind, and move me to put those truths into practice in my life. Strengthen me with Your power, O God, and send Your Spirit to work within me, so that I might ever prove faithful to You, my Lord and Savior. Amen.
God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Rather, God wants all people to repent of their sins and live righteous lives under His guidance and with His blessing.
God’s law does not condemn those who believe in Christ and live their lives under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our sinful flesh, however, will attempt to mislead us. Therefore, let us pray for the Spirit’s continual presence in our hearts and lives!
Text: Matthew 7:24-29
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
In Christ Jesus, who calls upon us to listen, to act, and to examine, dear fellow redeemed:
The words of our text include Jesus’ final remarks in His Sermon on the Mount, and the people’s reaction to His teachings in that sermon. If we are to understand those teachings correctly, we must bear in mind that Jesus did not preach this sermon to unbelievers whom He was attempting to convert but rather to people who believed in the true God—the LORD God of the Old Testament, to people who accepted the Old Testament Scriptures as the Word of the LORD God, and to people who assumed at the very least that He was speaking as a spokesman of the LORD God. Jesus was within this sermon teaching them, as believers, how to live a God-pleasing life. These people may well not have recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah at this point, but they certainly knew that He was preaching with the authority of the LORD God, and so unlike anything they had ever heard from their local scribes.
My dear friends—JESUS STILL SPEAKS WITH AUTHORITY…the authority of the very Son of God and the Savior of mankind. Therefore, it is only proper that we listen to Him. His final remarks in His Sermon on the Mount were and are a call for self-examination. They mirror Paul’s call for self-examination in our Word of Truth as printed in today’s bulletin: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13:5). This is so very important for us to do, because, as we shall see from our consideration of this text, any fool can listen to what Jesus says, but only the wise actually do what He says!
As Jesus concluded His sermon He remarked: “Everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” When building a house you need to take special care when laying its foundation. You do not see a foundation once the house is built, because it will lie under the walls of that house lending stability to the entire structure. But should that foundation be poorly laid, or as in this case, laid upon shifting sand, you will inevitably notice, for cracks will appear on your basement walls or in your sheetrock and, if great enough stress is placed upon a house with such a poor foundation—if hurricane force winds blow and flood-waters batter—that house will collapse. Anyone who knowingly builds a house on such a foundation is a fool!
Jesus says that anyone who hears His sayings and does not do them is just such a man. Why is that the case? It is the case because Jesus’ words are intended to “make you (and me) wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). Jesus’ gospel message is, in fact, as the Bible maintains, “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). His sayings are indeed “a lamp to my (our) feet and a light to my (our) path” (Ps. 119:105). As such they are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God (we) may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). To hear such incredible teachings and ignore them, thereby failing to put them into practice, is absolute foolishness. How could we, as believers, ever want to do that? Let us, therefore, determine that we will not only listen to Jesus, but act upon what He says!
Yet, sadly, we do not always do this and, at least to a certain extent, we are all guilty of such foolishness, thereby often depriving ourselves at times of God’s rich blessings. God warns us, for instance, that “evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Cor. 15:33), yet we continue to maintain friendships with people who delight in evil and who end up leading us into sin. Having loved us with a deep and abiding love in Christ, God urges you and me: “My son, (it is only right and fitting that you) give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways” (Prov. 23:26), but we withhold portions of our hearts from God and give them to other people or to our own selfish pursuits. We allow our eyes to go astray and gaze, for instance, upon internet pornography to the danger of our souls and the detriment of our personal relationships. Satan, after all, never keeps his promises! The Bible assures us that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6) and warns us that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10),but in order to have that luxury vehicle, or that bigger house, or that grander vacation we feel we have to pick up that second or third job and work twelve hours a day, seven days a week. We neglect our family and simply do not have time for home devotions or for weekly worship, and then we wonder why our relationships with our children or spouse suffer and God seems so distant from us. We know the passages that tell us as wives to “submit to your (our) own husbands as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22) and to “respect” them (Eph. 5:33), and that tell us as husbands to “love your (our) wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for us” (Eph. 5:25) and to “dwell with them with understanding, giving (them) honor” (1 Pet. 3:7). But we get tired of their broken promises and the lack of romance in our lives, and we are sick of their nagging and all their complaining. So we do not listen to God and become embittered and disillusioned. Our marriages head south, and we are left to wonder when and where it all began to go wrong.
Do any of these situations fit your reality? Do any of these powerful words of God address issues in your life? Examine yourself! JESUS STILL SPEAKS WITH AUTHORITY! Any fool can listen to what He says, but only the wise actually do what He says!
In contrast Jesus says: “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”
Jesus’ words are so vitally important to us, for they address our greatest needs. They address our need for forgiveness from God and acceptance by God. Indeed, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). That is painfully obvious for all of us, if we carefully examine ourselves. We have not loved God above all things, nor have we loved our neighbors as ourselves as the Bible commands (cf. Mt. 22:37-39). We deserve God’s judgment, but instead the Bible informs us that we are the objects of God’s grace and mercy. Indeed, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). As we are led by the Spirit through the means of grace to place our faith in Jesus, this gift becomes ours. We can be absolutely confident of our relationship with God because of Jesus! The writer to the Hebrews says, “Brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19-20a, 22).
By the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit we are able to claim Jesus by faith as our Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3). Such faith, if genuine, will reveal itself in loving obedience. “Every good tree bears good fruit!” (Mt. 7:17) For instance, Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn. 14:15). Wise men, wise women, and wise children strive to do just that!
God commands you children, “Honor your father and mother,” but then He gives you a very special promise. He says, do this “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:2-3). How will honoring your parents with your obedience bring you blessing? Think about it! When you obey your parents, they are pleased with you. They will smile at you, laugh with you, are proud of you, take care of you, and tell you often how blessed they are to have you as a son or a daughter. Your home will become a place of joy and a place where you feel safe and happy.
Parents—God has commandments for you as well. He tells fathers, together with mothers, not to “provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). If you not only listen to these words, but put them into practice, you will be a wise parent who receives great blessings. What are some of those blessings? If you do not provoke your children to wrath by being either too harsh towards them or too lenient with them; if you take the time to worship with them in your homes and here at church; if you live your faith in love toward others as an example for your children; if you recognize and respect the fact that your children truly belong to God and are only entrusted to you for a short time; then you will experience great blessing. Your children will love you and seek to please you. You will not have to punish them, but rather their greatest desire will be not to disappoint you. They will want to make you proud of them, and your home will enjoy peace and harmony…and ultimately, they may well bring grandchildren into your life.
My dear friends, examine yourselves—yes, examine your past actions to see where repentance is necessary, and then with humility and confidence confess those sins to your God who is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). But examine yourself also to affirm that which has been done well and has brought great blessing. Your God is a loving heavenly Father who wants you to continue on a path leading to blessing, for He loves giving you His blessings! Even more so, however, examine yourselves as you live each day. Examine the thoughts and intents of your hearts. Are they in accordance with God’s will and Word? Examine your words before you speak them. Are they intended to uplift and encourage others? Are they above all words that are true and spoken in love for the edification of others? (cf. Eph. 4:15) Will your actions let your lights shine, so that others will “see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”?(Mt. 5:16) When you approach life in this manner, you are building upon the rock of Jesus’ teachings!
Yes, dear friends—JESUS STILL SPEAKS WITH AUTHORITY! There are many in our world today, who like the scribes of old offer their own opinions on the issues of today, but which lack the power and the insight of God’s revelation, and which sadly contradict that revelation. Listen rather to Jesus! Do so every day by picking up your Bibles and reading through its pages, pondering the truths it proclaims and evaluating your faith and life on the basis of those truths. Remember the words of Jesus as He ended His Sermon on the Mount: “Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Any fool can listen to what Jesus says, but only the wise actually do what Jesus says! Dear friends—with the Holy Spirit’s help, let us be wise! Amen.