Monday, 24 March 2014 10:36

What Jesus Is After

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What happens afterwards, that’s what counts. Who of us has not said this before or had this said to us? What happens after the wedding day, that’s what counts. What happens after you graduate, that’s what counts. Now, thinking especially also of hearing the gospel message and being under the gospel word repeatedly, what after all is the fruit of it? The faithful preacher is not only desiring to have the gospel word clearly taught and received, but to have it applied in practical Christian living all the days of our life in our thoughts, words, and deeds. You will agree there has been no greater preacher than Jesus Himself. From Him we learn the importance of the application and practical effects of the gospel word in our lives as it ought to be. We see this very clearly in the so-called parable of the two builders found both at the end of Matthew 7 and at the end of Luke 6. This parable is called by some Jesus’ first of His many parables in all His teaching and preaching. Let me read the parable as given in Matthew 7:24-29. Jesus says: 24 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: 25 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. 26 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: 27 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. 28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Notice right away here that this parable serves as a conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Clearly with this concluding parable Jesus is calling, with urgent emphasis to be sure to be a wise hearer, “one who hears these sayings of mine and does them,” so building your life on the rock and not on the sand. Building your life on the rock - after everything is said and done. Is that you too, by God’s grace? In pursuing this theme on the basis of our text, I will follow five points that can be easily recalled with the letters of the word that spells “AFTER”. Jesus looked to see the gospel not only heard but received and believed and adopted and lived out in every detail of our lives. So let us pursue this more now, looking at this first of Jesus’ parables which prove what always He was and is after. “A” we can use to see that Jesus clearly looks for the Word to be applied and to lead to the activity of faith and obedience. The parable of the two builders shows always there is response to God’s Word and activity in response to it. But Jesus teaches and shows in this parable that it can be all too easy for us to just be inactive with God’s Word, to let it go in one ear and out the other. How many can be content just to hear the word and then more or less ignore it or forget about it? Can it be that attendance at church is the sum and substance of your Christianity? You don’t much concern yourself for the outworking of the gospel in every detail of your life, especially in regards to all your thoughts, words, and deeds, and in all your activities and relationships and responsibilities and relaxations? Isn’t Jesus teaching in this closing parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount how we each need to take seriously the proper heart and life application of God’s Word in our lives? Matthew records this parable of Jesus addressing mostly a Jewish audience, and Luke writes about it reaching out especially to the Gentiles, so it is an urgent message for all to hear. He that has an ear to hear, let him hear! Is it clear from you that you desire and pray and work that the gospel message be received and be demonstrated in your life too? You don’t just want the external ceremonies of religion but you look for and pray for and live for the essence of the gospel being alive and well in your heart and pulsating through every fiber of your being in all you think, say, and do? What does it mean in particular that the Word be applied and after all bear fruit in our lives in the way of true repentance and genuine faith and humble hearty obedience? What are the activities involved in the application of God’s Word in spirit and truth? Doesn’t Jesus mention “hearing” in the sense of truly listening and paying attention to God’s Word? This takes concentration and effort and work, especially if the preacher is not especially gifted or the sermon doesn’t seem so easy to follow, or you have had a stressful week, or you are just so tired with the general busyness of life. We live in an age where people almost demand that the preaching has to be easy to understand and on the easy and entertaining side of things, short and sweet and full of fresh treats every time again or else it is just too hard to listen and not worth a person’s time. Let us beware of this trend in our times and not be promoting such even in our family discussions on sermons. Are not the more important concerns: Has the Word been preached, rightly explained and truly applied to the mind and heart, and pressed on the conscience of each person? Jesus stresses the Word needs to be applied and for application you need the activity of hearing and listening and aiming truly to pay attention to all that is said. How wonderful when that activity also takes place in your lives. Some of you may take notes to help you listen carefully. Or you make sure to get a good night’s rest Saturday night so you can be attentive on Sundays and not just sleepy and oh, so tired. How important also to pray for the Holy Spirit to open the Word to you and you to the Word, even as the preacher gives the message. When we prayerfully and carefully listen to the faithful preaching of God’s Word, even as children, we will listen profitably no doubt. But Jesus teaches us the wise man who really listens does more than just listen to God’s Word. He seeks also to live by the Word he heard, to become a doer of the Word as well as a hearer. In Luke’s account, we are told he “digs deep and lays a foundation on a rock” when applying God’s Word. Jesus means with this the wise builder further investigates and meditates on God’s Word and lets it direct him in the choices he makes and in all the way he lives. The wise man aims to have his life built on growing up living by all God’s Word and will. He doesn’t want to build his life, his hopes and dreams and plans and activities, on his own ideas but always to have everything in his life in line with the rock solid gospel precepts and promises of all God’s Word. The wise man, in other words, searches out more God’s Word and will in life. The wise man seeks to be discerning and understanding in and with doctrine and life as to what is God’s will and way. On that basis he functions and seeks in everything and with everyone so to live in all his ways. The wise man works with and wrestles with God’s Word to grasp it and to have it realized and fulfilled in his life by God’s grace and Spirit. Is this what you do, dear friends? Jesus is looking for and calling for the gospel word applied fruitfully in every part and detail of our lives. Do you hear His question as ringing out from Luke 6:46: “And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” One commentator wrote pointedly on this parable about the wise and foolish builder: “Many [North] American Christians of all denominations mirror the foolish man….[hearing the gospel but not being doers thereof, followers thereof]. When will modern Christians realize that affirmation of faith is not enough and that true faith leads to obedience? Scripture seeks most of all that people hear the Word of God, but valid hearing obeys. We should remember that the Hebrew word of hearing is often translated as ‘obey’. Obedience will not happen without choices, commitments, and the Spirit-energized exercise of the will. Salvation is not attainable otherwise. Looking good is not enough. Knowing right is not enough. We must actually put into practice what we know is right.” How wise and correct are these words in line with this parable before us now. Will you have it applied now to your mind and heart and in life in spirit and truth, by God’s grace? Here it is good to move on to our next point with the letter “F” in the word AFTER. You can guess what this letter helps us see as all important, namely, on what foundation do you and I build our lives? When truly Christian and living in genuine thanksgiving to the Lord, won’t your and my life be founded on the gospel and on Christ Jesus as only Saviour and Lord? Is Jesus not proclaimed in all God’s Word as the true foundation of all our life when it is well? Is He not, indeed, the rock of ages and solid basis and strong refuge and endless source and resource for the whole of the Christian life and comfort and hope from beginning to end? In Matthew 16 later Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. In other words, Peter confessed Jesus as the long promised Messiah Who as anointed One, our chief prophet and only highpriest and eternal king, will save His people from their sins. Yes, completely and tremendously and eternally so, all by grace through faith in Jesus’ person and work as triumphant crucified and risen Saviour of sinners. And while Peter even then understood not all his confession of faith, the important point here is Jesus responded, as we can read in Matthew 16:18: “And I say unto you that you are Peter, and upon this rock [and Jesus meant, upon this confession of faith that I am the Christ indeed, upon this rock], I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” While the rock in this parable does not specifically refer to Jesus Christ, yet it points here by analogy to Him as the foundation for all our Christian life and practice. As one put it: “The one who hears Jesus’ teachings and does them is as wise as someone who provides a strong foundation on [solid] rock. The one who hears Jesus’ teaching and does not do them is as foolish as someone building a house on the sand.” And the Bible’s total teaching to us is the only strong foundation on which to build our lives for now and eternity before God is the Christian gospel truth as revealed in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners. On what foundation is all your righteousness and comfort and hope and direction in life? Is it on the gospel and living in the gospel way, looking ever to Jesus Christ for your all in all in regards to the whole of salvation from beginning to end, including your regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification? When speaking in particular of this parable emphasizing very much living out the practice of Christ’s teachings and doing what God says, not only hearing His Word but obeying it in truth, how important to do that all too on the foundation of God’s gospel word. The doing and wholehearted thanksgiving and thanks-living which God calls His people to demonstrate is not our little or great contribution to God’s saving work. It is the gracious and necessary Spirit-led fruit and outworking of truly hearing and responding to God’s Word. Unless you have that well understood, you could totally distort what Jesus is here teaching in this parable of the two builders. Salvation is not ever by our works but it leads to a life of good works and thankful obedience as worked by God’s grace and Spirit in us as fruit of His redeeming renewing work in our lives. So the secret again of not just hearing God’s Word but really living by it in spirit and truth is being truly joined to Christ and daily depending on Him in all our needs for body and soul. Being as the wise builder who builds his house on the rock means spiritually living in union and communion with Christ and drawing from out of His fullness day by day to hear and do all He instructs us in as taught in His holy Word. The gospel calls us to live in humble hearty dependency on Christ and His once for all finished saving work on sinners’ behalf that we may receive out of His fullness grace for grace. This parable found in both Matthew and Luke is probably given by Jesus also in light of a passage in Ezekiel 13:10-16 where the prophet admonishes the Israelites not to build their hopes on vain self-confidences and lying prophets and false peace and worldly dreams. No, we need the gospel conviction and comfort of the 7th century believer who wrote: Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the head and cornerstone, Chosen of the Lord and precious, Binding all the Church in one, Holy Zion’s help forever, and her confidence alone.” Will you have this as your confession of faith demonstrated in your walk of life in all you think, say, and do? Doesn’t Paul in I Corinthians 3 also exhort God’s people in this regard saying there in vs.10b-13 in connection with the gospel foundation of Jesus Christ: “But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” Much could be said of this passage by itself but I only mention it to confirm the need for application of God’s Word, and living on and by and out of the foundation of God’s gospel truth from beginning to end without making exceptions in any respect. Isn’t this what Jesus is calling us to here in this parable? Don’t be a professor of Christianity without possessing the reality of the Christian faith. Will you listen to what Christ is after in this first parable He gives? The Lord is after heart and life application of His gospel in word and deed, building on the foundation of gospel truth that He gives and that He is as the one and only almighty all-sufficient Saviour of sinners. How important that you and I hear and obey the earnest teaching of this parable for going to the next point, think of all the storms and trials that will come in each of our lives sooner or later. We can cover this point under the letter “T” in the word AFTER. Jesus speaks of it, doesn’t He? How in the case of both builders, the one who took care to build on the rock and the one who just built on the sand or earth surface with no solid foundation, both of them experienced the time and times when rains descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon their houses. Often we can think of the storms and trials that beat upon the house of our profession of faith to be specifically or mainly physical trials and health burdens. But it can be any number or type of trial. How trials and tribulations can test and prove one’s profession of faith. How many walk away from God and church under the knocks and burdens of life while others, by God’s grace, grow deeper roots in dependence on the Lord. And they demonstrate more reliance on the promises of God’s Word and more fruit of the Spirit in praise to the LORD. We should not think of these trials and storms coming in people’s lives only as being just physical trials or material trials. There can come great assaults and shattering attacks against professing Christians from a mocking world, and the taunting Satan, and from our own lustful minds and hearts by nature, even from bosom sins that too often still we sinfully allow to gain the upper hand in our lives. While one believer may face these assaults and storms, whether physical or spiritual or otherwise, more than another yet none escape trials and tribulations in one form or another. All face the last enemy of death. Speaking of trials in life, we should think too of the assaults and attacks of this ungodly and ever luring world in all its vain philosophies and passing pleasures. Unless founded on the rock of God’s truth and discerning of the spirits of the age in light of God’s infallible inerrant Word, thinking especially also of our youth, how easy to be swept away off your feet from God’s way everlasting. How important to be well-grounded and solidly founded on the truth of God’s Word living in these perilous times. We live in revolutionary times where, not just politically but morally especially, everything is in turmoil as people worldwide reject God and His truth. “All that is solid melts into air” Karl Marx wrote once in reference to the revolutionary times in which he lived, and how much more is that not so in our times. But God’s truth abides forever while all else melts into air and comes to nothing. Jesus says in Matthew 24:35: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” We live in the time of many antichrists and where things are fast progressing to the time of the last Antichrist, giving much reason to say and pray with the psalmist of Psalm 119:126: “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law.” So David cried out also in his day saying in Psalm 11:3: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” But that just drives home all the more the point of Jesus’ parable. For the wise builder building on God’s truth, on that rock of divine gospel truth as given in God’s Word and fully revealed in Jesus Christ the Saviour, he shall stand. God will protect and bless His people ever trusting and following Him. Even the greatest trials, as hard and difficult it may be to endure them, God’s people will triumph through them and even grow by those trials. Indeed, and think here of the only alternative Jesus brings out. To build your life and hope on the sand, just hearing the gospel word but not truly believing or living by it genuinely and carefully, means to come to a sudden and terrible end, perishing ultimately under God’s righteous judgment. Here we can move right into our next main point considering the eternal consequences as Jesus speaks of them in this parable. The letter “E” in AFTER can remind us of this point. Clearly Jesus teaches us in this parable that building on the rock means to be saved and kept safe for now and forever for in and through Christ and His gospel word is found full and complete redemption for us. But building on the sand of our own worldly ideas and self-presumptions and human confidences, not taking all that serious Christ as only Saviour and Lord and paying little more than lip service to God’s Word, if that even, you need to know, great will be the fall and eternal calamity of all such. It is no lie what we often have sung as children with dramatic action about those who build on the sand, AND THE HOUSE ON THE SAND FELL FLAT! WHILE THE HOUSE ON THE ROCK STOOD FIRM! Are you living today as if you really believe this teaching of Jesus and know it is absolutely true and sure? It is not a contradiction of the gospel of grace to say that careful obedience to God’s Word and will by us brings the promise of everlasting heaven but carefree and careless disobedience to God’s Word and will by us brings the sure horror eternal hell. Doesn’t the fearful reality of the eternal consequences of our way of life here and now before God and His Word give reason to take most seriously this parable of Jesus the Saviour? Do you live by all means practicing and promoting, by God’s grace, hearing and doing God’s Word and so building your life on the rock and not on the sand? It matters so very much how you today respond to God’s Word, and every day again how you respond to God’s Word. In view too of the eternal consequence of your response, surely it should be clear only a fool will build his house on the sand instead of on the rock. Will you, dear friend, be such a fool or prove to be such a fool in the last day? God forbid it be so! This brings us to our last point now in line with the text and as we can be reminded of with the letter “R” in AFTER. What reason to trust and obey the Lord Jesus Christ and all His gospel word and what response will you give also to this parable? What is your response honestly to God’s Word and to His gospel call? Will you be someone wise who hears and does God’s Word building your life on the rock or someone foolish who hears and ignores God’s Word, building your life on the sand? Will you obey God’s Word and take care it be Applied, and you be Founded on the rock, That trials and tribulations not undo you but have you firmly grounded and god-fearing Ever realizing the eternal consequences of your ways and that you Respond in real faith and repentance and wholehearted obedience to all God’s Word? Yes, that you be not a hearer only but a doer? And that you are that altogether so, and not less and less as time goes on but more and more? Jesus was a true preacher of the Word. In Luke 11:28 Jesus says: “Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” And this is what the Lord Jesus is AFTER in each and all our lives. You won’t forget now what Jesus is AFTER, will you? May this message now come with penetrating Holy Spirit power and blessing that all who hear it not only be a hearer of the Word but a doer thereof, building on the Rock and not on the sand, in Jesus’ Name, Amen. Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor
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