A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR LIFE
What was the point of Jesus’s teaching?
It was to provide a solid foundation for their thoughts and actions as the rabbi’s talmidim. The Hebrew mind did not accept information that did not issue in a response. Theology without making a difference was pointless. The western mind wants to answer all questions, solve all riddles and problems and explain everything in logical sequence. The Hebrew person looked for a God he could lean on.
Jesus told a simple story to illustrate the difference between the wise person – the one who accepted the truth of what He taught and put it into practice, and the foolish person who knew that what He taught made sense and worked but didn’t do it anyway.
Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock . . . But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand . . . (Matt. 7: 24; 26)
The bottom line of His illustrations was the foundation. Without a solid foundation, even a so-called “good” person who lives a “good” life will fall apart when the storm rages. The foundation upon which one builds one’s life provides the strength and stability or not when life turns sour. There are people who claim that, though they don’t go to church, i.e., they do not claim to be disciples of Jesus, they “live by the Sermon on the Mount.” Is that possible?
No, for several reasons:
- Their philosophy is built on the erroneous idea that, by living “good” lives, they can erase God’s wrath against sin. They ignore the fact that sin does not make them bad; it makes them dead. However good they think their lives may be, they are dead to God and separated from Him and have no hope of being acceptable to Him outside of Jesus.
- Jesus was speaking to His disciples – those who had made a commitment to follow Him. It is only within this context that living the life He portrayed is possible. This kind of life begins with His sacrifice for their sin and the forgiveness and reconciliation to the Father that He made possible. It issues in a commitment to follow Him and walk in His way. They need the Holy Spirit who enables them to build their lives on the truth of His Word.
- To accept the words of Jesus here without accepting the rest of what He taught as authoritative and binding does not work. What He taught throughout the gospels is as binding as what He taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Everything else flows from His simple instruction: ‘Follow me.’ One cannot pick and choose what one will obey and what one will ignore. To follow Jesus meant to embrace His yoke in total and to live and teach it without alteration or one would immediately be disqualified from being a disciple.
- It is not possible to do what Jesus taught without doing it in the spirit of Torah which is contrary to the natural man. By birth, we are selfish, self-centred and inward-looking. It takes the miracle of God’s grace through the power of the Holy Spirit to change a person with the “evil eye” to one who has “the eye of light”.
- Jesus was not looking for followers who would merely mimic His words and actions. He was indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit without whom He would have been just as every other human. His followers are those who are “in Christ” and Christ is “in them” by His Spirit. He is and provides the very life of Jesus without whom it is impossible to be His disciple.
If the foundation of one’s life is not based on a relationship with Jesus which issues in a transformed life indwelt by the Holy Spirit, no amount of “doing good” will gain acceptance with God or sustain one in the storms of life.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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