Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
July 9, 2017
46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 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. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
— Luke 6:46-49, ESV
Luke’s record of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain” concludes with cutting words. Once again, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees is laid bare. Yet the text not only exposes their historical error, but also a modern heresy embraced by multitudes of confessing Christians today.
The Pharisees were the in the front of the line of first century Jews to call God, the great Jehovah, “Lord.” They prided themselves on being biblical scholars who interpreted and applied the word of God to every area of life. However, it was not God’s word they were following, but their own narrow, legalistic, judgmental rules and regulations. Furthermore, they did not realize that in their scrutinization of Jesus of Nazareth, they were actually seeing and talking with the “Lord.” In spite of their pious platitudes of faith, the Pharisees neither knew nor obeyed God. “Lord, Lord.”
Folks following in the footsteps of the Pharisees today are two-fold. Yes, there are still legalists among us, blinded by pride, preaching a stairway to Heaven that must be climbed by steps of rules and regulations not squarely based on Scripture. But the bigger problem in Christendom today, however, lies not in those who preach salvation by works, but with those who profess salvation without them, without an ongoing obedience to the “Lord,” Jesus Christ.
Salvation by works is heresy. But, salvation without works is hypocrisy. Jesus nails them both, and here is what His words teach:
There is no salvation without faith.
I do not think any of the Pharisees were walking around calling the Son of God “Lord,” but they did call on this name when addressing God the Father. As we’ve learned, this sect of Old Testament Judaism had taken the few and plain commandments of God and turned them into a myriad system of extra-biblical commandments to attain righteousness by works. Their yoke was hard and their burden was not light.
The Pharisees had missed the major message of the Bible. Salvation is not about what man does for God, but about what God does for man. Salvation cannot be earned, but it is freely given to all those who receive it by grace. Jesus Christ came to affirm and fulfill this gospel truth.
In the Old Testament, this promise is given: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (ref. Joel 2:32). The promise is echoed in the New Testament at least twice (ref. Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13). Taking the two testaments together, it is clear “the LORD” of the Old Testament is the Christ of the New Testament; and, Jesus saves, through faith.
Calling Jesus “Lord” requires great faith. “Adoni” in the Old Testament and “kurios” in the New Testament are words which speak of deity and authority. Perhaps this is why Jesus began this challenge with the double use of the term, “Lord, Lord …”. To profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is to acknowledge that He was, is, and always will be the God of very God, the Supreme Being, the Creator and Sustainer of heaven and earth. To practice faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is to submit to His authority over every area of your life, a life guided by His word and committed to His will.
The Pharisees failed on the first count, and since they did not call Jesus “Lord,” they did not heed His call and follow Him. Many modern believers, I fear, fail on the second level. They call upon the name of the Lord, but they seem to have a hard time doing what He says. There is no salvation without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but there is no faith in the Lord Jesus Christ without obedience to His word.
There is no faith without obedience.
Jesus is by no means contradicting the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. But, He is teaching that justifying faith is never alone. Saving faith calls on the name of the Lord in both important respects, acknowledging the deity of Jesus Christ and also His authority. Thus, saving faith produces ongoing obedience.
Perhaps the problem of faith in modernity is the definition of faith. We tend to limit it to our mental compartment alone. This has created a pseudo-gospel category championed by the contemporary church called the “profession of faith.” We give people the basic facts of the gospel, which is always a good idea. We ask them to believe in the facts, which by all means should be encouraged. Then we tell them, particularly in revivalistic and Baptist churches, that if they believe the facts of the gospel they are saved and should never doubt it. That’s half right and all wrong, which explains why the modern church is a mile wide and an inch deep.
We must do a better job of explaining the breadth and depth of saving faith. Broadly speaking, faith does save us from all of our sins and guarantee us eternal life with Christ. But only if faith is deep, abiding, trusting, and obedient.
Believing is faith. But, so is behaving. The biblical concept of faith, taught by Jesus, could best be translated “trusting obedience.” It is present when you practice what you preach. It is believing in who Jesus is, and doing what Jesus says, spiritually and morally and physically. Obedience is never perfect in this life, but it is constant for the one with true faith in Jesus Christ.
This is why Jesus illustrates His point with the parable of two men building two houses. One “hears my words and does them,” while the other “hears and does not do them.” One has a saving faith that trusts and obeys. The other has a superficial faith offering lip service, not life service. One walks with the Lord, all the way to Heaven. The other perhaps walked an aisle, walked through a baptistry, and may even walk into a church on Sundays or special occasions, but the warp and woof of their walk is with this present world, and with it they will perish.
The obvious difference between the two men of faith is obedience. One had it, one did not. But where does such obedience come from?
There is no obedience without digging deep.
Jesus pointed out the difference between the two men and the two houses is found in the first, who alone “dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.” Professions of faith are often shallow. True, saving faith digs deep, finds the true foundation, and builds life upon the rock of ages, the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no salvation without faith. There is no faith without obedience. There is no obedience without digging deep, mentally and emotionally and volitionally.
Dig deep with your mind. Digging deep plumbs the depths of God’s word, the Bible. Grace that yields faith creates a cavernous hunger, a glorious curiosity, a deep desire to know the truths about God that can be dug up from His word. God does not grant every believer the same level of intellect to process the language and syntax of Holy Scripture, but He does give every true professor of faith a Professor within, the Holy Spirit, to illumine the mind to understand and apply the basic tenets of Christianity to life. Dig deep with your mind and time, get to know the word of God, and gain assurance that your life is resting on the rock.
Dig deep with your heart. Do not be afraid to weep over your sin, turn in shame to the Savior who is never ashamed of you, and live in a state of deep repentance towards God. The world of false Christians feels no shame over sin, but a true obedient child of God is stunned by their disobedience. It happens, to be sure, but it cannot happen without the conviction of the Holy Spirit and corresponding contrition. It takes sharp tools to dig into confession, make proper restitution, and clean out your house. But such is the house that is built upon that rock.
Dig deep with your will, a will set free by the grace of God. Before a person is saved, his will is not free to know, love, and obey the Lord. He is in bondage to sin, selfishness, and in some ways, Satan. Grace from above brings faith and repentance to set the captive free. True disciples are disciplined. Faithful obedience is not a mere act, it is an ongoing lifestyle. It is developed by digging deep into the word of God and prayer, church membership and participation, acts of service that bear the fruit of a true follower of Christ. Digging deep with God does not require great intelligence or articulation. It is not revealed by outstanding displays of emotion. It is hidden and shown in a daily life of simple spiritual disciplines that govern ones time, habits, morals, money, words, and every other building block of life. Saving faith calls Jesus “Lord, Lord,” and does what He says.
Digging deep is not optional for those who choose a more intense level of Christianity. It is Christianity at its basic level. Do some Christians dig deeper and go farther than others? Sure. But according to Jesus, anyone who does not dig deep and find the firm foundation is not a Christian in the first place.
You are what you think. You are what you feel. More than anything, you are what you do. Do you think Jesus is Lord? Do you feel He loves you and wants to forgive you of sin? Do you call Jesus “Lord, Lord?” Do you do what He says? Dig deep into these questions. The answers will determine your eternal destiny.
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org