The Word: A solid foundation

The Sermon on the Mount tells us the kind of people Christians should be. The Beatitudes with which it opens, show us pictures of the character that is like God.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart — his mouth speaks.” The temple rose in silence on Mount Moriah; no noise of hammer or ax being heard in the building all the time it was in rising, because down in the quarries under the hill, and in the shops in the valley, every stone and every piece of timber was shaped and fitted perfectly, before it was brought to be laid in its place.

Our hearts are the quarries and the workshops, and our thoughts are the blocks of stone and the pieces of timber which are prepared and are then brought up and laid in silence upon the temple-wall of our character.

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” It is not enough to honor Christ before men, praying to Him and ascribing power and glory to Him. Jesus tells us that those alone shall enter heaven — who on earth obey the will of the Father who is in heaven. Every confession of Christ — must be confirmed and approved by obedience and holiness.

“Simply to Your cross I cling” is not all of the gospel of salvation; it is only half of it. No one is really clinging to the cross — who is not at the same time faithfully following Christ and doing whatever He commands. We never can enter heaven — unless heaven has first entered our heart. We shall do God’s will in heaven when we get there; but we must learn to do it here on earth — or we never shall get there.

“I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice, is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” All turns on the doing — or not doing of Christ’s words. Both the men hear the words of Christ — but one of them obeys, and thus builds upon the rock-foundation. The other hears — but does not obey, and builds upon the sand.

Both men built houses which were probably very much alike, so far as the appearance was concerned. But there were two kinds of ground in that vicinity. There was a wide valley which was dry and pleasant in the summer. Then there were high, rocky bluffs. One man decided to build in the valley. It would cost less. The digging was easy, and the bluffs were hard to reach. The other man looked farther ahead, and decided to build on high ground. It would cost far more — but it would be safer. The two homes went up at the same time, only the one in the valley was finished long before the other. Two families had settled in the two residences and were happy.

But one night there was a storm. The rain poured down in torrents, and floods swept down off the mountain. The house that was built in the valley was carried away with its dwellers. The house on the bluff was unharmed.

The illustration explains itself. He who has built in the valley is the man who has only professions — but has really never given his life to Christ, nor built on Him as a foundation. The man who built on the rock is the man who has true faith in Christ, confirmed by living obedience. The storms that burst — are earth’s trials, and the tempest of death and judgment. He who is truly in Christ is secure; for no storm can reach the shelter of Christ’s love. It is a terrible thing to cherish a false hope of salvation throughout life, only to find in the end — that one has built upon the sand.

J.R. Miller (1840-1912) was a pastor and former editorial superintendent of the Presbyterian Board of Publication from 1880 to 1911. His works are now in the public domain.