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Righteousness and Salvation

The Greatest Sermon Ever Given  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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As always, it is an honor and a privilege to share the Word of God with this church.
Today we are closing out the final message in a series that we began almost a year and a half ago walking through the Greatest Sermon Ever Given. That sermon wasn’t given by Billy Graham, Adrian Rogers, or even Charles Spurgeon. The Greatest Sermon ever given comes from none other than Jesus Christ Himself. The overarching topic we see throughout this sermon is the righteousness of God as compared to self-righteousness of man.
Last week, we looked at one of the most sobering sections of Scripture in all of the Bible. We saw that on the day of judgment, some people will look at Jesus, they will have a knowledge in their head of who He is, what He has done. They will attempt to say that they have done many mighty, great things in His name. Jesus will look back at them and say depart from them I never knew you.
This is one of the most sobering sections of Scripture because Jesus tells us that this will be the case for MANY. Many people will claim to know Him and say they done great things for Him, but their claims are a delusion.
Today, as we wrap up this series on the greatest sermon ever given, we will be taking a deeper look at why this is the case. Why it is that many people claim to know Jesus and claim to have done things in His name, when they actually do not know Him.
You see, what we are learning about today is that people have a foundation problem. Many people, including many religious, seemingly well put together people, do not actually have a strong foundation in their lives.
Its kind of like this: In 1994 the Corvette Museum was opened in Bowling Green Kentucky. I know that we have a lot of people here who like cars and you may have even visited this particular museum. This museum houses millions of dollars worth of classic corvettes. I’m sure that it is a very cool site to see. If I’m ever in the Bowling Green area, I might even check it out myself. However, when this museum was constructed in 1994, I am sure that the builders put forth their best efforts to create a structurally sound building that would last for some time. I doubt that any of the builders expected that in 2014, 20 years later, a sink hole would open up underneath a section of the museum, sucking in and damaging 8 rare corvettes. The local news reached out to the president of the Louisville’s Fall City Corvette club to get a reaction and he said, "I think anybody who has a Corvette was stunned when they heard that," he said. "We're all feeling the same way: 'Oh man, that's a shame.' "
When a building is built, what it is built upon has major significance as to its structural integrity. When something appears to be built on good ground, but later it caves in, people can only look and say, “Oh man, that’s a shame.”
Now heres the things, ultimately even really fancy corvettes don’t have an eternal significance. Earlier in this Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us not to bother ourselves with collecting earthly treasurers because moth and rust will inevitably destroy such things or thieves will take it away. He says instead lay up treasures in heaven where everything lasts eternally.
Corvettes don’t have eternal significance. But your soul does! Just a few verse before where we are picking up this morning Jesus tells the hearers to enter the narrow gate that leads to life and do not choose the wide gate that leads to destruction. These destinations of life and destruction are eternal destinations.
We saw last week that simple knowledge of who Jesus is or even simply accomplishing might works are not enough to be known by Jesus. What you say and what you do really does not matter if the life you have built those things into is built on a faulty foundation!
Let’s look at what Jesus has to say on this matter in our text this morning. If you haven’t already, open up to Matthew 7. We’re going to be looking at the end of the chapter today, starting. In verse 24. Let’s read verse 24-27
Matthew 7:24–27 ESV
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Every time I read this section of Scripture, I can’t help but think of the song we learned in Sunday School years ago. The wise man builds his house upon the rock, then it go the rains came down and the flood came up, and the house on the rock stood firm. Then it’d switch and say the foolish man built his house upon the sand, the rains came down and the flood came up, and the house on the sand went splat!
As a child I loved singing this song! The lyrics were catchy, the movements were fun. Especially at the end when you got to splat. I loved making a show out of it, of course.
And while I believe this is a very fun way to teach this scripture to children, we have to recognize just how real and devastating this truth is for the fool who builds their house upon the sand.
In this section of Scripture we are presented with two wise man and the foolish man. Before we look at the differences between the two men, let’s look first at the similarities.
If you look in verses 24 and 26 you can see that both of these men represent people who hear the words of Jesus.
That means that both the wise man and foolish man heard what Jesus taught to them. This should cause us to perk up and pay attention for one very important reason. All of us here in this room have also been given the opportunity to hear the what Jesus has taught. If you’ve been with the church for sometime, we’ve been going through Jesus’ sermon on the mount for a quite a while. But even if you are joining us today, you are hearing at least some of what Jesus taught! You are being exposed to what Christ truly desires for those who follow Him. When we see that the wise man and the foolish man both heard the the words of Jesus, it points us to the reality that both of these categories are likely represented in our church or at least in churches, even Bible-believe, gospel-professing churches, all across the globe. Both the wise and the foolish hear the Words of Jesus.
Let’s look at another similarities. Both the wise man and the foolish man built houses. The houses represent the lives that they lived and made for themselves. We are all building our life's in some shape or fashion. What is important to realize in the comparison between the wise and the foolish man is that their houses have no distinguishable differences from an outside perspective. In verse 24 and 26 it just says that each man built a house.
Why is this important to note? Well because it doesn’t say that the wise man built a mansion and the fool built a shack or even vice versa. For all intents and purposes these two house might have well of been two Ball homes with the same siding, brick, garage layout and everything. From our perspective these houses looked basically the same! This is important because it points to the idea that the basic facts of people’s lives can be very similar while they are still in very different eternal positions! In our context, this might look like two people who both go to church every Sunday. Two people who are faithful to their spouses. Two people who are generous and they give to the church and the give to those in need. The visible attributes of their lives may look the same, but as we will see they were built on two very different grounds.
But before we get to that, we need to look at one more similarity. Both the wise man and the foolish man were hit by the same storm. In both cases we see that the rains falls and the floods came up. This is showing us that both houses or really both people will face the same structural test. This is talking about the final judgment that all of us will one day face. This judgment is heavily expounded upon in Hebrews. In Hebrews 9:27 we see that everyone will face judgment
Hebrews 9:27 ESV
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
And Hebrews 4:13 we see how the judgment moves past superficial appearances and to the core of our being
Hebrews 4:13 ESV
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
So in our text from Matthew, when the men are tested it is not the external prettiness of their houses that provides protection, but rather the hidden foundation that truly matters.
So to recap where we are, the similarities between the two are that they both heard the words of Jesus, they both built up lives that may even appear similar from outside perspectives, and they both faced the same testing or judgment.
Now let’s look at the differences:
Matthew 7:24–27 ESV
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
The most obvious difference between the two men is that one is wise and the other is foolish. I think all of us would be able to make some distinction between wise and foolish behavior. We’d call the one who spends all his money on frivolous things a fool and the one who saves for the time of need a wise man. You might say that the one who constantly gets into trouble with the law is a fool. The one who stays out of trouble is wise. All of those may be true, but those are ultimately mancentric standards of wisdom and foolishness.
Jesus gives a higher and better standard of wisdom in this section of Scripture. You see the wise man is identified as such because he not only hears the words of Jesus, but he acts upon them. On the other hand, the fool hears the same things but does not do them. In fact the verb for “does” in the Greek is in the present active form which says even more specifically that the wise man is hearing the the words of Jesus and continues to keep on doing them while the foolish man keeps on hearing the words of Jesus and keeps not doing them!
Willful obedience is the big separator between the two groups! There are many people, particularly in our culturally Christian section of the Bible Belt, who will build lives that from the outside have the appearance of godliness, but internally they are not following Jesus, but they are just feigning religion to keep up appearances.
This is made evident by the difference of the foundations shown for each group. The wise man builds his house upon the rock. So we must ask ourselves, what is the rock?
The rock IS willful obedience to Jesus. Building your life on the rock is building your life on the understanding of Jesus as LORD. Understanding that Jesus is more than just a good teacher with some cool ideas, but that He is worthy to be submitted to in every circumstance. Last week we read Luke 6:46 Jesus says:
Luke 6:46 ESV
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
Obedience is not the mode of salvation, it is the fruit there of.
We must understand two complimentary truths.
Ephesians 2:8 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
James 2:26 ESV
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
We are saved, our foundation is secure on the rock, when our faith is in what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. No where else. When we believe that Jesus is the Anointed King who died and rose again for us, we submit to Him as LORD. It was His action on the cross that provides salvation and when we have faith in Him, we are made into a new creation that willfully submits to Him as the Lord He is.
What I am saying is that when we know who Jesus is and what He did, if we truly believe that He is the Savior and our hope, we will WANT to follow Him.
Going to church isn’t about keeping up appearances, but rather communing with God’s people. Praying in public isn’t about being heard and sounding pretty, but about crying out to the Father who hears His children. Reading God’s Word isn’t about knowing more than the guy next to you, but about growing in wisdom and knowledge of the One who saved you.
Salvation produces a changed heart and a desire to work for the Lord. Faith is understanding that there is no other foundation in life that lasts other than a life founded upon Jesus Christ. Understanding, believing, submitting to and obeying Jesus as Lord is the only firm foundation upon which to build anything in this life.
We see this play in Matthew 16:
Matthew 16:16–18 ESV
Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
In this section of Scripture, Peter is commended by Jesus for understanding that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and the Christ, that is the promised and anointed Priest, Prophet, and King! Peter sees Jesus for who He truly is it is this recognition that the Christ builds His church. Christ is the true cornerstone and all those who truly recognize, believe, and submit to Him are part of the true church that the gates of hell shall not prevail against much like those who build their lives upon the rock will stand firm when the rains come and the floods rise. I love the verse we see in Romans 10
Romans 10:13 ESV
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, everyone who recognizes that it is only Jesus who’s sacrificial death on the cross can atone for sin, it is Jesus who is Lord, who is worthy of all honor and respect, who we obey because He is the Good shepherd, who makes us into a new creation. Everyone who calls on the name of that Lord will be saved.
Their foundation is found. Their lives are built upon the rock.
But when we look at our text in Matthew we see that not everyone has a life that is built on the firm foundation of the rock. Instead, some have built their lives on the sand.
Now my wife loves going to the beach. I’m not much of beach guy, but we go from time to time for her. I’m actually looking forward to going sometime in the next few years when AR is a little bit older. It’ll be so much fun to build sand castles together. But the thing about building on the sand is that we know it is going to be temporary. Only a fool would attempt to build a lasting structure on such a shifting foundation.
And I know what you’re thinking. Brad, houses are built in Florida on the beach all the time. Which is true. But their foundations are dug deep below the surface level of the sand. Often to Bedrock which is why you read in the Luke telling of this parable:
Luke 6:48 ESV
he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
The wise man dug deep below the unstable sand and found the rock. The foolish man staying iin the superficial surface.
But just what does it mean to have a life that is built on sand?
Remember that the foolish people are those who hear the words of Jesus but do not seek to take action on them. They may have the appearance of godliness and blend in to a cultural Christianity, but when you go below the surface you see that there is no foundation.
AW Pink said, “They bring their bodies to the house of prayer but not their souls; they worship with their mouths, but not "in spirit and in truth." They are sticklers for immersion or early morning communion, yet take no thought about keeping their hearts with all diligence. They boast of their orthodoxy; but disregard the precepts of Christ. Multitudes of professing Christians abstain from external acts of violence, yet hesitate not to rob their neighbors of a good name by spreading evil reports against them. They contribute regularly to the "pastor's salary," but shrink not from misrepresenting their goods and cheating their customers, persuading themselves that "business is business." They have more regard for the laws of man than those of God, for His fear is not before their eyes.”
A life built on sinking sand is a life lived in the fear of man instead of the fear of God. A life built on the sinking sand is all about making appearances and collecting personal glory. As Pastor Pink pointed out, the fool may participate in religious activity but the desire is not to please the Lord, but rather to be known, respected, or take advantage of other men.
But this prioritization is misguided!
Matthew 10:28 ESV
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Our ultimate motivation in life ought to be ro serve the God who is So powerfully in control of all things! He is the only one who is worthy of devotion. Yet so often we live for the ever shifting standards of man.
The rock is stable. God’s Word is never changing. The sands are shifting. Faking religion while living for man will be a constantly drifting existence that will never solidly satisfy. Especially not when it comes time for judgment.
This is the gravest difference between the wise man and the foolish man.
Matthew 7:24–27 ESV
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
The wise man built on the rock and when the judgment comes, the house didn’t fall. Why? It was grounded on the rock. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. When it comes time for judgment there wont be any worry. Christ already paid the price of sin for anyone and everyone that would truly believe in Him.
But the foolish man who heard the words of Jesus and did not actually do them, when his time for judgment comes that house, the life so beautiful from the outside, maybe even so similar to that of the wise man in appearance, will come tumbling down.
That’s because despite all the best efforts and renovations, the house was built on a faulty foundation and it could not stand to the rains of judgment.
This will be the fate of many religious people who lacked real faith in Jesus.
This is another sobering message, much like what we looked at last week.
But Jesus concludes His sermon on the mount this way for a reason. He wants people to know that moralism and lip service are not enough. He wants people to know that the only way for eternal light is through the narrow gate, which produces fruit in your life, and then, because you are planted on the foundation of the solid rock of Jesus Christ, you will stand in the final judgment.
This is the only way, but thanks be to God that there is even but the one way. Because our sin does not deserve salvation, but God so freely gives it.
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus clarifies true, godly righteousness, and true God-given salvation.
When He finished His sermon, the people were astonished. Look quickly at the last two verses of Matthew 7.
Matthew 7:28–29 ESV
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Jesus warns about the wide path to destruction and the fools who build their lives upon and this wasn’t just some crackpot idea from a wayward teacher seeking to tear down the establishment. When Jesus spoke, He spoke with authority.
When the people heard Jesus preaching, they realized there was something different about Him than the scribes and teachers in the synagogues. Those guys quoted and interpreted their views into the Scriptures. Jesus taught as the one who embodied the Scriptures. In the beginning was the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the prophets but to fulfill them. You search the Scriptures to find eternal life, but it is the Scriptures that point to Jesus.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate authority. He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings. He is worthy of all honor, glory, praise, and obedience!
Know this as we close this morning. Jesus said with all authority that He is the way, the truth, the life, no one comes to the Father but through Him. Jesus also said repent and believe for the kingdom of God is at hand. And then as we saw today He said those who hear His words and do them as wise those who hear and do not are foolish and destine for destruction when judgment comes. And what a great fall that will be.
By hearing this now, you are being given a God provided opportunity to repent from self-sufficiency and begin lIrving your life grounded upon the firm foundation of the rock of Jesus Christ as Lord. When you are eternally secure, the ails of this world don’t sting quite as bad. Even when we grieve, we do not grieve as those who have no hope.
Stop hiding behind the thin walls of fake religion and truly surrender to Christ today. Respond during this hymn of response. Jesus said to acknowledge Him before others. That’s why we ask you to come forward. Hear the words of Christ, and don’t just hear them, do them. Come today. Let’s pray.
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