Rev. Hanko is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
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: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the wind blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And every one who heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. And the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.
“Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine….”
Our Lord makes-this statement at the end of the well-known Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon He was instructing His disciples, in the presence of a large multitude, concerning the kingdom of heaven. He had emphasized that this kingdom is not earthly, but heavenly. The citizens of the kingdom are not known by their outward appearance, their nationality, or their race distinctions. They have their own spiritual earmarks. They are the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure of heart, and the peacemakers. They mourn, they hunger and thirst after righteousness, and they are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
Jesus also lays down the principles that govern these heavenly citizens, instructing them to keep God’s commandments with their whole being, to pray in sincerity, and to seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness. In one word, Jesus sums up the teachings of the entire Scriptures and urges us to live wholeheartedly as citizens of the kingdom, having our treasure in heaven.
Our Lord concludes by saying, “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.”
Our house is an essential part of our lives. It is the place where we reside, our home. It gives us shelter, comfort, rest, fellowship, and security. There we can associate with family and friends.
Each of us has his own house as center of his earthly existence. We also have a spiritual house as the center of our spiritual life.
A wise man seeks a permanent residence. He is not only interested in the present, but also in his future welfare. He is not like the fool who lives only for the moment, having little concern about the day of tomorrow.
They both build a house. They choose a location, possibly near a stream or river. Since they both profess to be Christians; they surely build within convenient distance from their church and a Christian school.
But in his haste to get settled in his home the fool does not take into consideration the terrain or the weather conditions. He does not bother to lay a firm foundation, but hastily erects his house. In a very short time he has moved in, enjoys the comfort of his living room, and looking out of the window sees his neighbor still digging deep in the earth as he lays his foundation for his house.
A wise man is one who seeks out the best means toward the best end. That characterizes the wise builder. He does not live merely for the moment, but he looks ahead and reckons with the future. He knows that the sun does not always shine, but that inclement weather,” with rains, floods, and winds, will surely come.
Being interested in the spiritual welfare of himself and his family, he seeks the spiritual shelter and comfort of the Scriptures. Christ must be the Head of his family. His Spirit must govern their hearts. The fear of the Lord must be dominant. His love must dwell there. Peace with God and the joy of salvation must be evident in all the activities of the home. The whole family must freely worship God in word and deed.
The wise builder builds his house upon the Rock Christ Jesus. We sometimes sing: “The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord.” Since that is true of the church, it is also true of every individual believer.
We must be founded upon Christ as He is revealed to us in His Word, “built upon the foundation of the prophets and the apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.”
We realize that of ourselves we are sinners, hopelessly lost in sin, worthy only of God’s righteous condemnation unto everlasting desolation of hell. One sin is sufficient to condemn us forever, and we have so very many, increasing our guilt from moment to moment every day.
Our only hope of salvation is in the cross of the Savior Jesus Christ. We have no way out of our misery. But God does the humanly impossible. For He loves His people with an eternal love, which is so great that He freely gave His Son as ransom for our souls. And the Son gave His life, even unto death, the accursed death of utter darkness and desolation in hell, to redeem us from our sins and to merit for us eternal life.
It is upon that Rock Christ Jesus that the wise man builds his house.
That is his eternal security.
Rains do descend at regular intervals. Storms do rage, with lightning slashing the sky and clattering thunder shaking the house. Rivers do rise to flood stage, lapping at the soil about the house.
Life has its problems. Financial cares arise—unexpected expenses, church budget, school tuition, a family trying to live on one income in a two-income society, illness, infirmities in the family, loss of dear ones, and other trials.
The devil is always on the alert to tempt us: The world lures and threatens. Our flesh is weak. Each of us knows his own spiritual struggle against temptation and sin. Our character sins, which are so much a part of us, can become so overwhelmingly powerful that they threaten to destroy us and our families.
The fool does not reckon with those things. He panics when all that he holds most precious is threatened. He does not know where to turn. He may put his trust in the arm of flesh, or in others, but all help fails him. As a final resort he may turn to God in prayer, yet even that will prove to be in vain.
The wise builder has a double security.
On the one hand, he has his God as his refuge. God is his almighty, heavenly Father, who cares for him. Although He may be angry at the moment, His love never fails. He is kind and merciful; He will not forever chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He is longsuffering with His children in Christ Jesus.
On the other hand, he has .a living faith which keeps him close to his Lord. In times of trial and affliction he turns to his God and finds his comfort in the Most High. He knows that God is for him and nothing can be against him, for the Almighty turns all things to his salvation. God is his Refuge and his Strength, his ever-present help in all his trials.
Our children must be taught that, in order that they may seek the Lord in their youth. They must learn to have the Word of God as a lamp before their feet and a light upon their pathway.
Our young people must learn that, because they are confronted with some of life’s biggest decisions. They must learn to put their trust in the living God, seeking His guidance as they take their places as active members in the church, as they seek to know whom the Lord has planned for their life mate and how they can best serve Him in fulfilling their calling here on earth. Their future happiness is in God alone.
That is a lesson we all must learn. Every day of our lives we are building a house, building for the present or for the future—for this world, or for the world to come. We are laboring for the bread that perishes, involving our whole lives in perishable things, or we are pilgrims and strangers on the earth, only traveling through as we seek the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness. We are building on sand, or we are building on the eternal Rock Christ Jesus. It is either . . . or, never both.
“And the rains descended, and the floods came . . . . ”
This refers to the final judgment.
There is also a judgment already in this present time. It should serve as a warning when the rising floods and the howling winds threaten our house. The Lord does not leave Himself without witness, but warns us that to live apart form Him is death. Unless we repent we perish with the floods of His judgment.
There may be those who seek their eternal security in their works. They are members of the church who are very regular in their attendance. They take an active part in the life of the church. They may be ministers, elders, deacons, or other prominent leaders. They are proud of their accomplishments. As Jesus warns us, “Many will say in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many mighty works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity?”
Nothing is more certain than death. And thereupon follows the judgment. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may-receive the deeds done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
For the wise man who is founded upon the eternal Rock, death is gain. He never dies, but when he lays off his pilgrim’s garb he has a house with God eternal in the heavens. The final judgment gives him a reward of grace, his own place, purpose, and calling among the saints in glory. He will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father.
Blessed is he, who heareth the words of our Lord and doeth them.