Build on the Rock
Matthew 7:24-29 King James Version (KJV)
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:
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on
II. He shows, by a parable, that hearing these sayings of Christ will not make us happy, if we do not make conscience of doing them; but that if we hear them and do them, we are blessed in our deed, v. 24-27.
1. The hearers of Christ's word are here divided into two sorts; some that hear, and do what they hear; others that hear and do not. Christ preached now to a mixed multitude, and he thus separates them, one from the other, as he will at the great day, when all nations shall be gathered before him. Christ is still speaking from heaven by his word and Spirits, speaks by ministers, by providences, and of those that hear him there are two sorts.
(1.) Some that hear his sayings and do them: blessed be God that there are any such, though comparatively few. To hear Christ is not barely to give him the hearing, but to obey him. Note, It highly concerns us all to do what we hear of the saying of Christ. It is a mercy that we hear his sayings: Blessed are those ears, ch. xiii. 16, 17. But, if we practise not what we hear, we receive that grace in vain. To doChrist's sayings is conscientiously to abstain from the sins that he forbids, and to perform the duties that he requires. Our thoughts and affections, our words and actions, the temper of our minds, and the tenour of our lives, must be conformable to the gospel of Christ; that is the doing he requires. All the sayings of Christ, not only the laws he has enacted, but the truths he has revealed, must be done by us. They are a light, not only to our eyes, but to our feet, and are designed not only to inform our judgments, but to reform our hearts and lives: nor do we indeed believe them, if we do not live up to them. Observe, It is not enough to hear Christ's sayings, and understand them, hearthem, and remember them, hear them, and talk of them, repeat them, dispute for them; but we must hear, and do them. This do, and thou shalt live. Those only that hear, and do, are blessed (Luke xi. 28; John xiii. 17), and are akin to Christ. ch. xii. 50.
(2.) There are others who hear Christ's sayings and do them not; their religion rests in bare hearing, and goes no further; like children that have the rickets, their heads swell with empty notions, and indigested opinions, but their joints are weak, and they heavy and listless; they neither can stir, nor care to stir, in any good duty; they hear God's words, as if they desired to know his ways, like a people that did righteousness, but they will not do them, Ezek. xxxiii. 30, 31; Isa. lviii. 2. Thus they deceive themselves, as Micah, who thought himself happy, because he had a Levite to be his priest, though he had not the Lord to be his God. The seed is sown, but it never comes up; they see their spots in the glass of the word, but wash them off, Jam. i. 22, 24. Thus they put a cheat upon their own souls; for it is certain, if our hearing be not the means of our obedience, it will be the aggravation of our disobedience. Those who only hear Christ's sayings, and do them not, sit down in the midway to heaven, and that will never bring them to their journey's end. They are akin to Christ only by the half-blood, and our law allows not such to inherit.
2. These two sorts of hearers are here represented in their true characters, and the state of their case, under the comparison of two builders; one was wise, and built upon a rock, and his building stood in a storm; the other foolish, and built upon the sand, and his building fell.
Now, (1.) The general scope of this parable teaches us that the only way to make sure work for our souls and eternity is, to hear and do the sayings of the Lord Jesus, these sayings of his in this sermon upon the mount, which is wholly practical; some of them seem hard sayings to flesh and blood, but they must be done; and thus we lay up in store a good foundation for the time to come (1 Tim. vi. 19); agood bond, so some read it; a bond of God's making, which secures salvation upon gospel-terms, that is a good bond; not one of our own devising, which brings salvation to our own fancies. They make sure the good part, who, like Mary, when they hear the word of Christ, sit at his feet in subjection to it: Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.
(2.) The particular parts of it teach us divers good lessons.
[1.] That we have every one of us a house to build, and that house is our hope for heaven. It ought to be our chief and constant care, to make our calling and election sure, and so we make our salvation sure; to secure a title to heaven's happiness, and then to get the comfortable evidence of it; to make it sure, and sure to ourselves, that when we fail, we shall be received into everlasting habitations. Many never mind this: it is the furthest thing from their thoughts; they are building for this world, as if they were to be here always, but take no care to build for another world. All who take upon them a profession of religion, profess to enquire, what they shall do to be saved; how they may get to heaven at last, and may have a well-grounded hope of it in the mean time.
[2.] That there is a rock provided for us to build this house upon, and that rock is Christ. He is laid for a foundation, and other foundation can no man lay, Isa. xxviii. 16; 1 Cor. iii. 11. He is our Hope, 1 Tim. i. 1. Christ in us is so; we must ground our hopes of heaven upon the fulness of Christ's merit, for the pardon of sin, the power of his Spirit, for the sanctification of our nature, and the prevalency of his intercession, for the conveyance of all that good which he has purchased for us. There is that in him, as he is made known, and made over,to us in the gospel, which is sufficient to redress all our grievances, and to answer all the necessities of our case, so that he is a Saviour to the uttermost. The church is built upon this Rock, and so is every believer. He is strong and immovable as a rock; we may venture our all upon him, and shall not be made ashamed of our hope.
[3.] That there is a remnant, who by hearing and doing the sayings of Christ, build their hopes upon this Rock; and it is their wisdom. Christ is our only Way to the Father, and the obedience of faith is our only way to Christ: for to them that obey him, and to them only, hebecomes the Author of eternal salvation. Those build upon Christ, who having sincerely consented to him, as their Prince and Saviour, make it their constant care to conform to all the rules of his holy religion, and therein depend entirely upon him for assistance from God, and acceptance with him, and count every thing but loss and dung that they may win Christ, and be found in him. Building upon a rockrequires care and pains: they that would make their calling and election sure, must give diligence. They are wise builders who begin to buildso as they may be able to finish (Luke xiv. 30), and therefore lay a firm foundation.
[4.] That there are many who profess that they hope to go to heaven, but despise this Rock, and build their hopes upon the sand;which is done without much pains, but it is their folly. Every thing besides Christ is sand. Some build their hopes upon their worldly prosperity, as if they were a sure token of God's favour, Hos. xii. 8. Others upon their external profession of religion, the privileges they enjoy, and the performances they go through in that profession, and the reputation they have got by it. They are called Christians, were baptized, go to church, hear Christ's word, say their prayers, and do nobody any harm, and, if they perish, God help a great many! This is the light of their own fire, which they walk in; this is that, upon which, with a great deal of assurance, they venture; but it is all sand, too weak to bear such a fabric as our hopes of heaven.
[5.] That there is a storm coming, that will try what our hopes are bottomed on; will try every man's work (1 Cor. iii. 13); will discover the foundation, Hab. iii. 13. Rain, and floods, and wind, will beat upon the house; the trial is sometimes in this world; when tribulation and persecution arise because of the word, then it will be seen, who only heard the word, and who heard and practiced it; then when we have occasion to use our hopes, it will be tried whether they were right, and well-grounded, or not. However, when death and judgment come, then the storm comes, and it will undoubtedly come, how calm soever things may be with us now. Then every thing else will fail us but these hopes, and then, if ever, they will be turned into everlasting fruition.
[6.] That those hopes which are built upon Christ the Rock will stand, and will stand the builder in stead when the storm comes; they will be his preservation, both from desertion, and from prevailing disquiet. His profession will not wither; his comforts will not fail; they will be his strength and song, as an anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast. When he comes to the last encounter, those hopes will take off the terror of death and the grave; will carry him cheerfully through that dark valley; will be approved by the Judge; will stand the test of the great day; and will be crowned with endless glory, 2 Cor. i. 12; 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord, when he comes, finds so doing, so hoping.
[7.] That those hopes which foolish builders ground upon any thing but Christ, will certainly fail them on a stormy day; will yield them no true comfort and satisfaction in trouble, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment; will be no fence against temptations to apostacy, in a time of persecution. When God takes away the soul, where is the hope of the hypocrite? Job xxvii. 8. It is as the spider's web, and as the giving up of the ghost. He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand, Job viii. 14, 15. It fell in the storm, when the builder had most need of it, and expected it would be a shelter to him. It fell when it was too late to build another: when a wicked man dies, his expectation perishes; then, when he thought it would have been turned into fruition, it fell, and great was the fall of it. It was a great disappointment to the builder; the shame and loss were great. The higher men's hopes have been raised, the lower they fall. It is the sorest ruin of all that attends formal professors; witness Capernaum's doom.
III. In the two last verses, we are told what impressions Christ's discourse made upon the auditory. It was an excellent sermon; and it is probable that he said more than is here recorded; and doubtless the delivery of it from the mouth of him, into whose lips grace was poured, did mightily set if off. Now, 1. They were astonished at this doctrine; it is to be feared that few of them were brought by it to follow him: but for the present, they were filled with wonder. Note, It is possible for people to admire good preaching, and yet to remain in ignorance and unbelief; to be astonished, and yet not sanctified. 2. The reason was because he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. The scribes pretended to as much authority as any teachers whatsoever, and were supported by all the external advantages that could be obtained, but their preaching was mean, and flat, and jejune: they spake as those what were not themselves masters of what they preached: the word did not come from them with any life or force; they delivered it as a school-boy says his lesson; but Christ delivered his discourse, as a judge gives his charge. He did indeed, dominari in conscionibus—deliver his discourses with a tone of authority; his lessons were law; his word a word of command. Christ, upon the mountain, showed more true authority, than the scribes in Moses's seat. Thus when Christ teaches by his Spirit in the soul, he teaches with authority. He says, Let there be light, and there is light.
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