Why Do You Call Me Lord

August 18, 2019 Series: The Book of Luke Scripture: Luke 6:46-49 by Chris Strevel

Discipleship Test: Are You Obeying Jesus (v. 46)

Hear, Obey, Fruit: A Vital Connection

As we come to our Savior’s word and tremble before it, let us first thank him for giving us such clarity about eternal and weighty matters. Satan loves to obscure the most important truths so that they seem unimportant and are finally forgotten altogether. Things that absolutely do not matter at all he wants everyone thinking and talking about, for practical atheism that smiles and has a good time suits his murdering purposes very well. Deception and death are his two aims – hide the truth about God and life in his world. Kill sinners in hell forever. Although our merciful Father has delivered us from the power of darkness, satanic obscurity ever attempts to creep back into his holy sanctuary. O, I think my child has a good heart, even though his life is very wicked. Yes, I suppose the Bible is the source of many problems and divisions, so perhaps it is simply better to love Jesus and let all the doctrine go. Well, these two love each other, so we cannot speak of immorality – judge not. On and on the truth-obscuring efforts continue unabated, with those who speak God’s truth as lovingly as they can vilified as hateful and unfeeling.

 Let us exhale this poison air of unbelief and be faced directly with our Lord’s very straightforward question. He has been talking about trees and fruit. Trees bear fruit consistent with their nature. Applied to our lives, we must be made good before we can bear good fruit. We must have a root in Christ, for he is the living Vine from which all godliness is drawn. If our hearts are evil, the fruits that we bear will reflect that root. Then, Jesus asks this question, which ties all this teaching together. How do you and I know that we have a good root, are actually good trees that will bear good fruit? The answer to this question is not like deciding where to go for dinner. “Lord, Lord” is the language of discipleship and of salvation. To call Jesus “Lord, Lord,” is a profession of faith and commitment. Is our profession legitimate? Is yours? Is mine? Is yours, young man or woman, who when asked will of course say that you are a believer in Jesus, but something in your heart convicts you whenever you say the word. Your heart whispers, “You are false.” You do not like to be around other Christians but prefer those of nominal profession and a sinful walk.

Why is this? It is because Jesus Christ is the Light of the world and makes painfully clear what Satan and many men would like to keep very murky. Are you a good tree? You obey me. If your fruit is good, you will obey me. If your profession legitimate, you will obey me. And I think it is one of the great injustices done to Jesus Christ today that when many hear this, the caveats immediately begin. Obedience is legalistic, not gracious – but not if we are obeying Jesus Christ and following his commands, not the commandments of men (Col. 2:22). You simply do not know what I am going through, and how difficult it would be to obey Jesus – yes, but if you love him and resolve to obey him, he will give you strength. But what he says about purity and truth, heaven and hell, are so against what men think today that if I were to believe and obey his teachings, I would have to get a whole new set of friends and accept the mockery of my old ones – which a sincere professor will be strengthened today because he has a good root in Christ. Whatever our excuses, our Savior makes it clear: the good fruit that shows we are good trees is obedience to him.

And notice how personal he makes obedience! Perhaps preachers have been very deficient in explaining clearly what a personal act of love it is to obey Jesus Christ. Too often, obedience is spoken of as if obedience itself is legalistic, but obedience is not legalism – obedience is salvation and joy. Jesus saved us by his obedience to every word of his Father. Was this legalism? I think not. He had no greater joy than to do his Father’s will – was this evidence that he lacked joy? Of course not – “I delight to do your will, O my God; yes, your law is within my heart” (Ps. 40:8). Saying to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” is an outward profession of love and allegiance, like Judas’ kiss, and it is Judas’ kiss, unless it is joined to the most ardent love and personal attachment and devoted obedience to him. Our confession and love for Jesus, if true, is like his for his Father: “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10). Obedience to Jesus Christ is the most personal act of love and consecration, especially when that obedience comes after a fight and struggle against the flesh, after many tearful pleas for help, and personal resolve that denies ourselves and takes up our cross.

Three Kinds of Disobedient Hearers

But do not despair, true believer, that your love is not yet perfected. A true root in Christ does not yield the full fruits of obedience in this life. We love our Lord Jesus far more than we find ourselves able to obey him. We hear his words and love them, even tremble with joy and awe at them, as Isaiah wrote, but our failures in mortifying sin and defeats prevent us from giving to him the consecrated obedience we would. We sometimes indulge sinful attitudes and deeds that fight against constancy of affection and obedience for Jesus. We do not abide in his word as we should or walk in his blessed Spirit. This is the reason that we need this kind of clarity. Ah, we call him Lord, but are we doing what he says? Rather than using as an excuse – no one is perfect – consecration and love in our heart says, “I must go to my lover, my Savior, and draw from him the strength I lack in myself.” And thus, in the child of God, disobedience does not lull him into indifference but sends him running straight back to God for mercy, cleansing, the help of the Spirit, and greater communion with our Lord Jesus, from whom we draw all grace and help.

A second kind of disobedient hearer is the worldling who hears his word perhaps with joy but who is still wedded to the flesh and his various lusts. Since the context of our Lord’s question is not the average child of the world but his professing disciples, those who have made a profession of faith in Jesus but who are not resolved to walk in obedience to him are likely the main ones he has in view. This is made clearer by Matthew’s record of Jesus’ extended teaching. Do not be deceived by an outer, formal connection to Jesus Christ that lacks the personal, obedient dynamic. Church membership and its blessings never substitute for a living faith that obeys Jesus Christ from a heart that loves him. We cannot love the world and love the Father. This blends too dangerously into the third disobedient hearer – the bad tree that can only bring forth bad fruit. Often, such a person knows or strongly senses the truth about himself. He may be a very faithful church member, but he knows that there is nothing coming from his heart but evil. He may say, “Lord, Lord,” but he has no delight in the confession. Repent now, I urge you. Come to Jesus and ask him for a new heart that is able to love and obey. You must have his word written upon your heart by the Holy Spirit before you can ever delight to obey Jesus. Otherwise, all your professions of “Lord, Lord,” will one day give way to bitter, “Judge, Judge,” when you stand before him. He will show you no mercy in death, for you had no love for him in life, no new heart that wept over its sins, wanted to obey him, and sought from him the loving, obedient heart that marks his disciples.

Strong Storms Coming: Lay a Strong Foundation (vv. 47-48)

Evaluate Honestly

This little question usually generates very strong responses, and that is its purpose. The Lord would set the best of us to seeking him so that we do not give way to carnal, deadly self-assurance. The best the world says is, “An unexamined life is not worthy living.” The Wisdom of God says, “An unexamined life is dangerous and likely to come into everlasting hell.” Remember, however, that the purpose of the examination is not to relieve feelings of guilt but to be seriously aroused to love and obey the Savior. O, that I could communicate this more clearly and ardently. The reason he gives us his word is so that we are stirred up not to feel guilty and beat ourselves up but to seek him and lay a deep foundation in him. This is the background for his famous parable of the two men, the wise and foolish, each of whom built houses and faced terrible storms. One of them thought about what was coming and took appropriate steps to prepare and protect. The other did what he wanted and trusted that it would be enough. By moving immediately from his question to this parable, he is teaching us to know that we can have a clear answer to his question. We are doing what he says if we are building a solid foundation upon him.

Dig Deeply

While not everything in a parable is to be strongly pressed in its details, we are surely to see the wise man dug deeply because he knew the storms were coming. Since the storms are common to wise and foolish men, we may assume that the storms refer to life’s troubles that threaten the “house” of our lives. There are common troubles that come to all men, and there are storms that are unique to believers, such as the world’s ridicule and persecution for Jesus’ sake. There is but one way to prepare for these storms. We must dig deeply and lay a solid foundation in him. The apostle directs us to be “rooted and grounded in him” (Col. 2:7). He says that “no other foundation can be laid but that which is laid, Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 3:11). Every other foundation is the equivalent of building a house on a foundation of pine straw and rubbish. When Jesus tells us to abide in him, he is saying the same thing in more direct words. Just like the wise man digs deeply and lays a solid foundation, so if we are to be Christ’s disciples and endure to the end, we must do what he says and abide in him. This means that we talk to him all the time (Eph. 6:18), give him preeminence in all things large and small (Col. 1:18), abide in his word by thinking his thoughts after him (John 8:31), and living each day unto him (Phil. 1:21) and doing all things in his name (Col. 3:17).

Trust Christ Absolutely

The reason a wise man digs deeply and lays a solid foundation is because he does not trust to his good intentions, personal strength, or anything else to get him through the difficulties of life. Practically, a man who builds a house does not trust soil – he trusts bedrock, concretes and steel reinforcement. A disciple trusts Christ, and he trusts him absolutely. This is the best and only wise preparation for the storms that are certain to come, which is the reason Jesus asks each one of us, “Why do you call me Lord, if you do not what I say to you?” He says in effect, the storms are coming. I am your only security. Yes, other people make it through with the bottle, drugs, pride, or personal resolution, but what will you do when you face the storm of God’s wrath at the final day. All you ever trusted in on earth will be swept away in an instant before the hurricane of his just, fiery wrath. Hearing this, each one of us must fly to Jesus Christ for cleansing and a covering, as our only strong foundation.

Appropriate Christ Consistently

And we must continue to appropriate him all our days, until the last day when we are called to give an account. Many begin well enough in their race, but distractions and sins and worldly temptations turn their eye away from Christ. O, I am a believer, they say, but there is no ongoing communion with him. But Jesus Christ himself says that we must abide in him, continue in his love, and walk as he walked, all language which stresses the ongoing imperative of being in him, appropriating his life and grace by prayer and communion with him. We often hear of walls settling, cracking or even collapsing, in houses that had a solid foundation laid. But over time the waters seep in and erode the foundation. The same thing happens to many believers, so that even if they do not turn away from Christ, their joy and strength in him is seriously compromised. It is like the house with cracks in the foundation. Thus, where there is little joy in the Lord Jesus, where old temptations surge with fresh fury, we must keep building upon Christ and abiding in him. He did not say that storms would come only once. He is the living cornerstone upon which we must build and in whose communion we will find continual strength to run our race with patience and thus arrive finally at God’s eternal kingdom.

No Surprised: Hear, Disobey, Be Swept Away (v. 49)

Assume Storms Are Coming

The foolish man reminds us to assume storms are coming. I cannot imagine that he would have built upon the sand if he had seriously considered not only the likelihood of trouble but also the weakness of a house with a weak foundation. But then again, unthinking presumption and the inability to watch against trouble is one of the marks of spiritual blindness. And many people in the world are just like this. Something bad happens to someone near them, but they think it will not happen to them. Other people get sick. Other nations sink into economic ruin. Not us, they think, or if it happens to me, I’ll be strong enough to overcome it. Man’s blind presumption is shocking. The foolish man should have assumed that storms were coming, severe storms, and so must we (Acts 14:22). There is absolutely no way we shall endure them unless we are tied firmly to Jesus Christ, the great Captain through the storms of life. Do not be surprised by what happens to people who go through without Christ. He tells us plainly. If we hear his word but are not obeying him, we shall be swept away. Even his parable of the five wise and foolish virgins makes this same point, about ten people who are all in the church and all fell asleep. It is not our personal fortitude, adaptability, or other qualities that make the difference. It is the oil in our lamps – the Holy Spirit – the foundation upon which we are built – Jesus Christ. The foolish man built upon the sand of stupidity, self-reliance, and laziness. The storms battered his house, and his house was ruined.

Do Not Expect to be Ready...Except in Christ

It is impossible for us to know the specific storms the Lord will bring into our lives. As a younger person, you may have been around a great deal of sickness. You expected the same troubles in your life, but you enjoy good health – experiencing instead the heartache of a wayward child or economic loses. It is interesting that there is such collective guilt that most everyone expects some crises around the corner and end of the world industries are profitable. Still, we have no way of predicting God’s providence. Many people are self-proclaimed experts of what is going to happen, but without constant communion with Jesus Christ, the best preparations in the world will prove futile. Without him, survive for what end? And what if, as the Scriptures teach, his eye is mainly upon the church, so that our Savior rules all things for her sake, raising up and casting down nations in order to gather all things under the headship of his Son (Eph. 1:10)? Earthly ties must give way to his covenant purposes; earthly convenience is often a hindrance to eternity. The best way to be ready for what God alone knows is coming is to abide closely and personally with Jesus Christ, to know his word from cover to cover, and to draw near to him continually in prayer – which is the way he lived, and he knew the cross was coming!

The Lord knew that Satan would endeavor to break the tie in our thinking between fruit, hearing and obeying our Savior’s word, and surviving the storms. This is the reason he asked the question, which has the clear implication – if you are going to call me Lord, obey me. If you are going to profess your allegiance to me, do not give me a Judas kiss but give me your heart. It is not that your heart is worth having, but I can change your heart and write my word upon it with the Spirit’s finger. Taking a broad view, from Augustine against Pelagius, Luther against Rome, Calvin against the Libertines, and us against the cheap grace antinomians, all these battles come back to whether or not we shall hear our Savior’s word and obey it. This is the only way to bear fruit. Remember that it is “much fruit” that glorifies God (John 15:8). “Much fruit” is the badge of our discipleship. Fruit – in a very ironic twist to the way we often think – true fruitfulness in Christ, is also the best way to prepare for trouble and to navigate through the storms of life.

Not Obeying Jesus? Expect Disaster

But there are many who say “Lord, Lord,” who sing a different tune. If our Lord gave such direct warnings when he was physically with his disciples and the hordes of people who followed him, if they could look each other in the eye, as we say, then how much more do we need these warnings now that he is physically removed to heaven? No one on earth has seen him with the eye for almost two millennia. We do not know when he may return. It may be another two millennia, or more. We trust God’s promise, but is it any wonder that his delay coupled with increasing iniquity causes the love of many to grow cold (Matt. 24:12)? And when love grows cold, when faith know longer gazes longingly upon what it loves most, that obedience should also suffer? Where is Joseph’s resolve against sexual sin in most men’s lives – “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Or Daniel’s resolve not to defile himself with the king’s meat, thus allowing the world’s dainties to make us forgetful of God’s covenant and the sufferings of his people around the world? Or the bold obedience of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who to save their lives would not make a temporary peace with false worship?

Obedience like this comes from love like theirs. There is one thing of which we must be assured. If we are not obeying, we are not loving our Lord Jesus. Whatever others may think about us, or how we may deceive ourselves.  Ask yourself some hard questions – am I living in my Savior’s word? He told me to do so. Am I abiding in him? He told me to do so. Am I denying myself or making excuses and indulging my sins? Am I trying to love the world? What is my character when no one is looking? Who am I really? Jesus asked these kinds of questions, not to turn us morbidly inward or make us focused solely upon our “spiritual lives” but to turn us outward to him and his grace. We shall never be turned outward to him, however, until we become seriously displeased with ourselves. If we do not hear and obey his word, the storms will come, and they will wash away our house. This is true of men individually, of families, even of nations. Look at history. Haul yourself before the righteous Judge. He will not be mocked. Whatever we sow, we shall reap. If we hear and obey our Savior, we will get drenched with trouble, but we shall emerge victorious by his strength. If we plug our ears, trouble will wash us away.

Discipleship Test: Are You Obeying Jesus (v. 46)

Hear, Obey, Fruit: A Vital Connection

As we come to our Savior’s word and tremble before it, let us first thank him for giving us such clarity about eternal and weighty matters. Satan loves to obscure the most important truths so that they seem unimportant and are finally forgotten altogether. Things that absolutely do not matter at all he wants everyone thinking and talking about, for practical atheism that smiles and has a good time suits his murdering purposes very well. Deception and death are his two aims – hide the truth about God and life in his world. Kill sinners in hell forever. Although our merciful Father has delivered us from the power of darkness, satanic obscurity ever attempts to creep back into his holy sanctuary. O, I think my child has a good heart, even though his life is very wicked. Yes, I suppose the Bible is the source of many problems and divisions, so perhaps it is simply better to love Jesus and let all the doctrine go. Well, these two love each other, so we cannot speak of immorality – judge not. On and on the truth-obscuring efforts continue unabated, with those who speak God’s truth as lovingly as they can vilified as hateful and unfeeling.

 Let us exhale this poison air of unbelief and be faced directly with our Lord’s very straightforward question. He has been talking about trees and fruit. Trees bear fruit consistent with their nature. Applied to our lives, we must be made good before we can bear good fruit. We must have a root in Christ, for he is the living Vine from which all godliness is drawn. If our hearts are evil, the fruits that we bear will reflect that root. Then, Jesus asks this question, which ties all this teaching together. How do you and I know that we have a good root, are actually good trees that will bear good fruit? The answer to this question is not like deciding where to go for dinner. “Lord, Lord” is the language of discipleship and of salvation. To call Jesus “Lord, Lord,” is a profession of faith and commitment. Is our profession legitimate? Is yours? Is mine? Is yours, young man or woman, who when asked will of course say that you are a believer in Jesus, but something in your heart convicts you whenever you say the word. Your heart whispers, “You are false.” You do not like to be around other Christians but prefer those of nominal profession and a sinful walk.

Why is this? It is because Jesus Christ is the Light of the world and makes painfully clear what Satan and many men would like to keep very murky. Are you a good tree? You obey me. If your fruit is good, you will obey me. If your profession legitimate, you will obey me. And I think it is one of the great injustices done to Jesus Christ today that when many hear this, the caveats immediately begin. Obedience is legalistic, not gracious – but not if we are obeying Jesus Christ and following his commands, not the commandments of men (Col. 2:22). You simply do not know what I am going through, and how difficult it would be to obey Jesus – yes, but if you love him and resolve to obey him, he will give you strength. But what he says about purity and truth, heaven and hell, are so against what men think today that if I were to believe and obey his teachings, I would have to get a whole new set of friends and accept the mockery of my old ones – which a sincere professor will be strengthened today because he has a good root in Christ. Whatever our excuses, our Savior makes it clear: the good fruit that shows we are good trees is obedience to him.

And notice how personal he makes obedience! Perhaps preachers have been very deficient in explaining clearly what a personal act of love it is to obey Jesus Christ. Too often, obedience is spoken of as if obedience itself is legalistic, but obedience is not legalism – obedience is salvation and joy. Jesus saved us by his obedience to every word of his Father. Was this legalism? I think not. He had no greater joy than to do his Father’s will – was this evidence that he lacked joy? Of course not – “I delight to do your will, O my God; yes, your law is within my heart” (Ps. 40:8). Saying to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” is an outward profession of love and allegiance, like Judas’ kiss, and it is Judas’ kiss, unless it is joined to the most ardent love and personal attachment and devoted obedience to him. Our confession and love for Jesus, if true, is like his for his Father: “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10). Obedience to Jesus Christ is the most personal act of love and consecration, especially when that obedience comes after a fight and struggle against the flesh, after many tearful pleas for help, and personal resolve that denies ourselves and takes up our cross.

Three Kinds of Disobedient Hearers

But do not despair, true believer, that your love is not yet perfected. A true root in Christ does not yield the full fruits of obedience in this life. We love our Lord Jesus far more than we find ourselves able to obey him. We hear his words and love them, even tremble with joy and awe at them, as Isaiah wrote, but our failures in mortifying sin and defeats prevent us from giving to him the consecrated obedience we would. We sometimes indulge sinful attitudes and deeds that fight against constancy of affection and obedience for Jesus. We do not abide in his word as we should or walk in his blessed Spirit. This is the reason that we need this kind of clarity. Ah, we call him Lord, but are we doing what he says? Rather than using as an excuse – no one is perfect – consecration and love in our heart says, “I must go to my lover, my Savior, and draw from him the strength I lack in myself.” And thus, in the child of God, disobedience does not lull him into indifference but sends him running straight back to God for mercy, cleansing, the help of the Spirit, and greater communion with our Lord Jesus, from whom we draw all grace and help.

A second kind of disobedient hearer is the worldling who hears his word perhaps with joy but who is still wedded to the flesh and his various lusts. Since the context of our Lord’s question is not the average child of the world but his professing disciples, those who have made a profession of faith in Jesus but who are not resolved to walk in obedience to him are likely the main ones he has in view. This is made clearer by Matthew’s record of Jesus’ extended teaching. Do not be deceived by an outer, formal connection to Jesus Christ that lacks the personal, obedient dynamic. Church membership and its blessings never substitute for a living faith that obeys Jesus Christ from a heart that loves him. We cannot love the world and love the Father. This blends too dangerously into the third disobedient hearer – the bad tree that can only bring forth bad fruit. Often, such a person knows or strongly senses the truth about himself. He may be a very faithful church member, but he knows that there is nothing coming from his heart but evil. He may say, “Lord, Lord,” but he has no delight in the confession. Repent now, I urge you. Come to Jesus and ask him for a new heart that is able to love and obey. You must have his word written upon your heart by the Holy Spirit before you can ever delight to obey Jesus. Otherwise, all your professions of “Lord, Lord,” will one day give way to bitter, “Judge, Judge,” when you stand before him. He will show you no mercy in death, for you had no love for him in life, no new heart that wept over its sins, wanted to obey him, and sought from him the loving, obedient heart that marks his disciples.

Strong Storms Coming: Lay a Strong Foundation (vv. 47-48)

Evaluate Honestly

This little question usually generates very strong responses, and that is its purpose. The Lord would set the best of us to seeking him so that we do not give way to carnal, deadly self-assurance. The best the world says is, “An unexamined life is not worthy living.” The Wisdom of God says, “An unexamined life is dangerous and likely to come into everlasting hell.” Remember, however, that the purpose of the examination is not to relieve feelings of guilt but to be seriously aroused to love and obey the Savior. O, that I could communicate this more clearly and ardently. The reason he gives us his word is so that we are stirred up not to feel guilty and beat ourselves up but to seek him and lay a deep foundation in him. This is the background for his famous parable of the two men, the wise and foolish, each of whom built houses and faced terrible storms. One of them thought about what was coming and took appropriate steps to prepare and protect. The other did what he wanted and trusted that it would be enough. By moving immediately from his question to this parable, he is teaching us to know that we can have a clear answer to his question. We are doing what he says if we are building a solid foundation upon him.

Dig Deeply

While not everything in a parable is to be strongly pressed in its details, we are surely to see the wise man dug deeply because he knew the storms were coming. Since the storms are common to wise and foolish men, we may assume that the storms refer to life’s troubles that threaten the “house” of our lives. There are common troubles that come to all men, and there are storms that are unique to believers, such as the world’s ridicule and persecution for Jesus’ sake. There is but one way to prepare for these storms. We must dig deeply and lay a solid foundation in him. The apostle directs us to be “rooted and grounded in him” (Col. 2:7). He says that “no other foundation can be laid but that which is laid, Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 3:11). Every other foundation is the equivalent of building a house on a foundation of pine straw and rubbish. When Jesus tells us to abide in him, he is saying the same thing in more direct words. Just like the wise man digs deeply and lays a solid foundation, so if we are to be Christ’s disciples and endure to the end, we must do what he says and abide in him. This means that we talk to him all the time (Eph. 6:18), give him preeminence in all things large and small (Col. 1:18), abide in his word by thinking his thoughts after him (John 8:31), and living each day unto him (Phil. 1:21) and doing all things in his name (Col. 3:17).

Trust Christ Absolutely

The reason a wise man digs deeply and lays a solid foundation is because he does not trust to his good intentions, personal strength, or anything else to get him through the difficulties of life. Practically, a man who builds a house does not trust soil – he trusts bedrock, concretes and steel reinforcement. A disciple trusts Christ, and he trusts him absolutely. This is the best and only wise preparation for the storms that are certain to come, which is the reason Jesus asks each one of us, “Why do you call me Lord, if you do not what I say to you?” He says in effect, the storms are coming. I am your only security. Yes, other people make it through with the bottle, drugs, pride, or personal resolution, but what will you do when you face the storm of God’s wrath at the final day. All you ever trusted in on earth will be swept away in an instant before the hurricane of his just, fiery wrath. Hearing this, each one of us must fly to Jesus Christ for cleansing and a covering, as our only strong foundation.

Appropriate Christ Consistently

And we must continue to appropriate him all our days, until the last day when we are called to give an account. Many begin well enough in their race, but distractions and sins and worldly temptations turn their eye away from Christ. O, I am a believer, they say, but there is no ongoing communion with him. But Jesus Christ himself says that we must abide in him, continue in his love, and walk as he walked, all language which stresses the ongoing imperative of being in him, appropriating his life and grace by prayer and communion with him. We often hear of walls settling, cracking or even collapsing, in houses that had a solid foundation laid. But over time the waters seep in and erode the foundation. The same thing happens to many believers, so that even if they do not turn away from Christ, their joy and strength in him is seriously compromised. It is like the house with cracks in the foundation. Thus, where there is little joy in the Lord Jesus, where old temptations surge with fresh fury, we must keep building upon Christ and abiding in him. He did not say that storms would come only once. He is the living cornerstone upon which we must build and in whose communion we will find continual strength to run our race with patience and thus arrive finally at God’s eternal kingdom.

No Surprised: Hear, Disobey, Be Swept Away (v. 49)

Assume Storms Are Coming

The foolish man reminds us to assume storms are coming. I cannot imagine that he would have built upon the sand if he had seriously considered not only the likelihood of trouble but also the weakness of a house with a weak foundation. But then again, unthinking presumption and the inability to watch against trouble is one of the marks of spiritual blindness. And many people in the world are just like this. Something bad happens to someone near them, but they think it will not happen to them. Other people get sick. Other nations sink into economic ruin. Not us, they think, or if it happens to me, I’ll be strong enough to overcome it. Man’s blind presumption is shocking. The foolish man should have assumed that storms were coming, severe storms, and so must we (Acts 14:22). There is absolutely no way we shall endure them unless we are tied firmly to Jesus Christ, the great Captain through the storms of life. Do not be surprised by what happens to people who go through without Christ. He tells us plainly. If we hear his word but are not obeying him, we shall be swept away. Even his parable of the five wise and foolish virgins makes this same point, about ten people who are all in the church and all fell asleep. It is not our personal fortitude, adaptability, or other qualities that make the difference. It is the oil in our lamps – the Holy Spirit – the foundation upon which we are built – Jesus Christ. The foolish man built upon the sand of stupidity, self-reliance, and laziness. The storms battered his house, and his house was ruined.

Do Not Expect to be Ready...Except in Christ

It is impossible for us to know the specific storms the Lord will bring into our lives. As a younger person, you may have been around a great deal of sickness. You expected the same troubles in your life, but you enjoy good health – experiencing instead the heartache of a wayward child or economic loses. It is interesting that there is such collective guilt that most everyone expects some crises around the corner and end of the world industries are profitable. Still, we have no way of predicting God’s providence. Many people are self-proclaimed experts of what is going to happen, but without constant communion with Jesus Christ, the best preparations in the world will prove futile. Without him, survive for what end? And what if, as the Scriptures teach, his eye is mainly upon the church, so that our Savior rules all things for her sake, raising up and casting down nations in order to gather all things under the headship of his Son (Eph. 1:10)? Earthly ties must give way to his covenant purposes; earthly convenience is often a hindrance to eternity. The best way to be ready for what God alone knows is coming is to abide closely and personally with Jesus Christ, to know his word from cover to cover, and to draw near to him continually in prayer – which is the way he lived, and he knew the cross was coming!

The Lord knew that Satan would endeavor to break the tie in our thinking between fruit, hearing and obeying our Savior’s word, and surviving the storms. This is the reason he asked the question, which has the clear implication – if you are going to call me Lord, obey me. If you are going to profess your allegiance to me, do not give me a Judas kiss but give me your heart. It is not that your heart is worth having, but I can change your heart and write my word upon it with the Spirit’s finger. Taking a broad view, from Augustine against Pelagius, Luther against Rome, Calvin against the Libertines, and us against the cheap grace antinomians, all these battles come back to whether or not we shall hear our Savior’s word and obey it. This is the only way to bear fruit. Remember that it is “much fruit” that glorifies God (John 15:8). “Much fruit” is the badge of our discipleship. Fruit – in a very ironic twist to the way we often think – true fruitfulness in Christ, is also the best way to prepare for trouble and to navigate through the storms of life.

Not Obeying Jesus? Expect Disaster

But there are many who say “Lord, Lord,” who sing a different tune. If our Lord gave such direct warnings when he was physically with his disciples and the hordes of people who followed him, if they could look each other in the eye, as we say, then how much more do we need these warnings now that he is physically removed to heaven? No one on earth has seen him with the eye for almost two millennia. We do not know when he may return. It may be another two millennia, or more. We trust God’s promise, but is it any wonder that his delay coupled with increasing iniquity causes the love of many to grow cold (Matt. 24:12)? And when love grows cold, when faith know longer gazes longingly upon what it loves most, that obedience should also suffer? Where is Joseph’s resolve against sexual sin in most men’s lives – “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Or Daniel’s resolve not to defile himself with the king’s meat, thus allowing the world’s dainties to make us forgetful of God’s covenant and the sufferings of his people around the world? Or the bold obedience of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who to save their lives would not make a temporary peace with false worship?

Obedience like this comes from love like theirs. There is one thing of which we must be assured. If we are not obeying, we are not loving our Lord Jesus. Whatever others may think about us, or how we may deceive ourselves.  Ask yourself some hard questions – am I living in my Savior’s word? He told me to do so. Am I abiding in him? He told me to do so. Am I denying myself or making excuses and indulging my sins? Am I trying to love the world? What is my character when no one is looking? Who am I really? Jesus asked these kinds of questions, not to turn us morbidly inward or make us focused solely upon our “spiritual lives” but to turn us outward to him and his grace. We shall never be turned outward to him, however, until we become seriously displeased with ourselves. If we do not hear and obey his word, the storms will come, and they will wash away our house. This is true of men individually, of families, even of nations. Look at history. Haul yourself before the righteous Judge. He will not be mocked. Whatever we sow, we shall reap. If we hear and obey our Savior, we will get drenched with trouble, but we shall emerge victorious by his strength. If we plug our ears, trouble will wash us away.