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The Two Houses

by Jules Cseszkó

"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 winds blew, and beat upon that house;
and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
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:
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."

Matthew 7:24-27

"And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."

This most famous of parables shows that there are only two classes of people (an extension of what He began to say from verses 13 and 14: the wise and the foolish - not a third class! Thus this parable infers that all of us during the course of this brief life, are already in the process of building spiritual dwellings (whether we like it or not); but the remaining vital question is how are we building? Note that in the parallel Scripture (Lk. 6:46), Jesus prefaces this parable, calling into question our faithfulness by our hypocrisy, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" By contrast, in Hebrews 8:10, the Lord promises here to establish a new covenant (quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34) not like the old one (Hebrews 8:9), but where God would put His "laws into their minds" and "write them upon their hearts". This was referring to the New Testament Age, where we as Christians do not merely follow by ordinances written on tablets of stone, but are ourselves "living letters" (2 Cor. 3:3) with His law written on the tablets of our hearts - His word dwells within us (Col. 3:16).

The reality is, is that we all struggle in one way or another to apply the teachings of God's word to our lives. Or on the other hand, we forget, as in James 1:22-27- looking at face in mirror and forgetting = reading and not applying the Bible to your life - and forgetting. Christianity is not like a dishwasher, "set and forget", but a conscious, ordered process of personal application and ongoing maintenance. The more we look into the mirror of His word in studied observation, the more we find out what we are like inside. The more we closely examine our Lord's word, the more we take in and are influenced by it (see the process of Christian growth, 2 Cor. 3:18). Have you ever found it hard to transfer His words found on the page, into the heart of your Christian walk? Have you considered the process involved applying the Bible to your life? Here are some principles to consider.

v. 24 Therefore - This particle in Greek is an inferential conjunction," i.e., "in view of what I've just said" (in the previous verses 21-23). This parable becomes a graphic description of the coming judgment (see also Lk. 6:46).

Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, although specifically referring to the Sermon on the Mount, but in a wider sense the principle also holds true - all that He has commanded us (Mt. 28:20), whether through His apostles (Mt. 10:19, 20) or in the Old Testament which He inspired (1 Peter 1:11), is all His words, therefore necessitating obedience.

and doeth them, The essential element of obedience is what establishes the rock solid foundation of faith and salvation in the individual (Matthew 21:28-32; James 1:22-27; 2:14-26).

I will liken him unto a wise man, The Lord contrasts the wise and foolish - (a recurring theme in Proverbs, 1:7; 10:1,14; 11:29; 14:1,3; 15:7,20; 21:20; 29:9) a continuation of the teachings starting in Matthew 7:13, 14.

which built his house upon a rock: Luke 6:48 adds, "like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock" Because there was a lack of good land in those days (as all good land was used for farming), people used to build anywhere else they could (even near creeks, hence v. 25, "floods"); in building a better class of house, it is usual to dig down until the solid rock is reached, in order to have a sure foundation for the building (one case read of a man who dug 30 feet, "Manners and Customs of the Bible", p. 413) The spiritual parallel of creating solidness suggests diligence, fastidiousness, as well as a faithful action, to build on a solid spiritual foundation of Christ's words - this is the pattern for us to imitate today, to build on a firm foundation of faith. There is work involved, a conscious spiritual process - not by osmosis! How then can we go about this? As our Lord expounded upon the famous parable of the sower and the four soils, He spiritually interprets the fourth case for us in Luke 8:15, "And the seed in the good ground, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance." Note the process involved in being that "good soil" where the seed of God's word germinates. We can learn from what Jesus says: "these are the ones who have ...
i) "heard the word" - to aurally receive the message of the gospel - note that the other 3 cases of seed heard, but didn't survive, but only one of the 4 cases survived - and this is it!

To "hear the word" today means looking at God's word for yourself - in some form of personal Bible Study "faith cometh by HEARING..." Rom. 10:17 (1 Pet. 2:2). There is no replacement in the Christian life for spending time with God and His word. The faith we grow in must be our own - we must develop our own personal relationship with God - so study for yourself, don't just listen to the preacher (Acts 17:11). You have to know what's in the book before you can apply it to your life.

o Must study correctly (2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Pet. 3:16). This necessitates diligence (Jn. 5:39; 2 Pet. 3:16). What is it? Diligence is single-minded persistence, and the inner strength to endure the distance.

ii) in an honest and good heart, We must have the right heart before God to truly receive it.

o Be "Honest" with God and with self. How? Humility (Jas. 1:21; Pro. 15:31-33). Remember who God is - and who we are in comparison, recognising our spiritual need for God above everything else. Realise these are His Words (1 Thess. 2:13), He has given for our good (1 Jn. 5:3). However, honesty is not enough; we can be honest enough to see that we are in sin and that we need God, but not have the good heart to change their ways and submit to God...

o "Good Heart" -refers to accepting the word, and submissively; a willingness to receive the good things that God teaches. Be like a child (Matthew 18:3) - willing to learn. Respect God and His wisdom (Ps. 111:10; Pro. 1:7 - The arrogant don't learn because they don't think they have to). We need to realise that the word He gives applies to us. PRAY - God is the one who causes the growth (1 Cor. 3:6). See Jas. 1:5-8, a Scripture that doesn't only apply to those taught by God's miraculous wisdom back at the beginning of the church, but the principles are clearly applicable to us also:
- Ask Him for the wisdom (Jn 15:5)
- Believing that you'll receive it, (v. 6).
- If you don't, don't expect God to reveal His truth to you (vs. 7, 8). Pray for His help; we can't do it alone. We are changing to His ways; He is the only one who can help. We must spend a lot of Bible study time in prayer.

iii) "Hold it fast" Thayer says it means, "to hold fast, keep secure, keep firm possession of" (& 1 Cor. 11:2; 15:2; 1 Thess. 5:21; Heb. 3:6; 10:23). K.J.V. translates as "keep it" = grasp it - hold it down and hold tight! Meditate on the Scripture (Ps. 1:2, 3) in question, and:
o ask "How do You want me to apply this to my life, Lord?" Then think on ways you could fulfil the commandment or what areas you know that you're deficient in, and what you can do, starting from the small ways, to change things in your life - search for and read the Scriptures that give examples to follow.
o Make a decision to accept it - that He is speaking to you His truth, understand what it means to do such a thing and realise you need to change your ways (1 Thess. 2:13).
o Be determined to Change permanently - Say "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me"- especially in this! (Phil. 4 :13) - this begins the life changing turning point, but a work of faith, asking for God's help.

iv) "Bear Fruit" (means to produce something that comes from the word put into the obedient heart - action, as in Matthew 7:15-20) Once we know the truth, we must DO IT - put it into action! Don't just have a mental comprehension (Jas. 2:14). This is the building a house on a rock: to 1) "Hears these words of Mine", 2) "Does them" is the only thing that will fulfil God's will for us. Then bear fruit and reap the blessings! (John 15:11)

v) "with perseverance" - KEEP DOING IT! The ongoing, determined maintenance (continual focussed application) of your resolution is what strengthens your resolve (Jas. 1:3 "endurance" ), and will mean the difference between becoming the victor or the vanquished. This is why we have trials - for our learning (Hebrews 12:5-13); God teaches us life's valuable lessons through this process. The struggle with the sinful self takes time (Romans 7:14-25) - so be patient with yourself: as God is patient with us. Remember that just as the fruit bearing process on a tree does not happen overnight, same with the Christian! Understand that we have limitations and that we are learning, growing. But we must keep at it, like anything worthwhile in life that we want to learn.

v. 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; Q: What does this refer to? Although applying the Bible's message to your life saves us from the storms and stresses of life, what does the immediate context point to? vs. 21-23: not turmoils of life, but a graphic, true to life illustration of the extent of devastation of the coming judgment (2 Peter 3:10-13).
and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. Luke 6:48 adds, "and could not shake it". The rock is symbolic of the state of the faithful and obedient Christian - there is no stronger personal conviction on earth that is so unshakeable as a strong faith; that will bring victory (1 Jn. 5:4).

v. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, Although it is essential to hear the word of God in order to be saved (Rom. 10:17), it is clearly not enough on its own here.
and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: The Bible uses the word "sand" to describe immensity (Gen. 22:17; 32:12; Heb. 11:12) thus immeasurability. Sand is heavy in abundance, yet so unstable, movable, unsuitable for building dwellings. This style of building suggests a lack of diligence to build soundly; laziness. As distinct from the wise man, this man "cut corners"!

QUESTION: What are some reasons that stop people from doing the will of God?
o Unbelief (lack of confidence/trusting in God, lack of knowledge, lack of understanding, lack of commitment).
o Hardness of heart (2 Cor. 4: 4) - Love of sin (Jn. 3:19-21), Worldly concerns/pursuits (Mark 4:19; Luke 8: 14) or pride, or even spiritual immaturity - there maybe one area that a person finds really hard to overcome sin, and this is still just as serious (Mark 10: 17-22; James 2:10); still, we must learn to respect all the aspects of God's word with equal reverence, and not put any area in the "too hard" basket.
o Laziness or Procrastination. People can become apathetic after hearing a lot of teaching, so must guard against this.
o Fear - Timidity, in lack of trusting in God, or, "What will people think of/say about/do to me?" What's the worst anyone can do? Kill you, Matthew 10: 28. Often we think too much, even to the point of reasoning our way out of action - we fear the consequences. Feed your faith, and your fears will starve to death.

Are any of these excuses valid? Some things become so big in life that we cannot overcome them; it is at this point that we must surrender ourselves to God (Prov. 3:5, 6) - truly trust God, then forget the seeming immensity of the task before us, focus our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:1, 2) and do the will of God by faith (2 Cor. 5:7).

v. 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: Luke 6:49 adds, "and immediately it fell"
and great was the fall of it. Luke 6:49 adds, "and the ruin of that house was great". In this graphic, true to life illustration of the extent of devastation of the coming judgment (2 Peter 3:10-13). The ruin of many lives will be great (Matt. 7: 21-23; 25: 31-46; 2 Thess. 1: 7-10)

Note that both cases of people heard the word, but only one survived the storm - because only one acted upon what was said. There are many thousands of people today who build visually spectacular religious lives (skyscrapers) on the unstable foundations of sand - what an awful shock they will have on judgment day! It's not enough just to believe the will of God, we have to do it!


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