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Two Builders: A Test of True Godliness

Two Builders: A Test of True Godliness

At year’s end it is good to ask ourselves, “Am I at peace with God and ready to meet Him?” In Luke 6:46 Jesus asks, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Are you building on the rock or on sand? 


Jesus is not just asking a question. He questions their sincerity: “If I truly am your Lord, your Master, why don’t you obey Me? Your deeds don’t agree with My Word, nor with your own words.” Many people came to Jesus to hear Him. They were impressed, but many of them were only hearers and not doers of His Word. 

How do we come to Jesus and hear Him? First of all in prayer, but secondly, in hearing God’s Word. Each time we pray and turn to His Word, we come to Jesus and hear His voice. That includes every time you came to church in 2019. That includes all the sermons you heard and all your prayers. Young people, it includes your Bible classes at school. Older ones, it includes all your personal and family devotions. Even right now He speaks to you, just as He spoke to the people in this passage. As they were saying, “Lord, Lord,” so are you! 

Jesus is solemnly warning us that calling Him “Lord” is not enough to be truly godly and to be able to enter into heaven. But who is the right hearer and doer? Well, Jesus says, I will shew you to whom he is like” and tells them this parable about the two builders, one building a house on the rock and the other on the earth or sand—the one standing firm and unshakable, the other one falling into great ruin. 


First, note what the builders have in common. The problem was not that they were not building. They worked hard, sawing, hammering, painting, and perhaps using the same blueprint, bricks, lumber, tools, windows, carpet, etc. The houses may have looked identical! Likewise, the people who came to Jesus all had the same profession of religion. They all believed in God and attended the synagogue on the Sabbath. But Jesus puts them and us to the test. 

What is all included in building the house of our lives, especially our religious house? You go to a Christian school or you are home-schooled. You work hard in the office or at home or in the factory. And of course, you were baptized and faithfully attend church, daily read your Bibles, pray to God, give to charities, attend the Lord’s Supper, etc. Your house is coming along nicely. It looks very good, very impressive. Yes, your building site is messy. Some have a big mess in the front yard; everyone can see it. With others it is in the backyard or inside, but we are working hard to clean it up. Our neighbors think we all are real Christians, all building on the rock. 

There is another important likeness. Not only do the houses look quite similar; they also endured the same storms. We can’t distinguish the true believer from the hypocrite by the trials he faces. Both houses were severely beaten by a great flood. Tests not only come to believers but also to unbelievers. 

In Matthew 7, the other account of this parable, we read in verse 22, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” Jesus responds, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Workers of iniquity? Didn’t we do what was commanded? 


First, remember the test of true godliness does not only come at the end of our lives. That will be the final test. By then it is too late to do anything about it. Jesus did not tell this parable to condemn us but to save us. We know our houses can be damaged in a storm or by a flood several times during our lives. What do we do then? We try to fix it and continue to repair and build. 

So the Lord comes with His Word and with His trials, such as illness, business failure, the death of a beloved relative or friend, etc., into our lives to shake our spiritual houses. How did you respond in 2019? We all are building, but what is your foundation and how are you building on it? 

The Jews refused to acknowledge that all their labor was useless and an offense to God if it was not first built on the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ, and His righteousness. That, by nature, also is our greatest sin and our greatest folly. Would you not think it foolish if a builder of an earthly house would begin to think about the foundation when he is building the second floor? How much more foolish to ignore this when building our spiritual and eternal house. 

However, though it is not the usual way, it is possible to move a house and place it on another foundation. So it can be done with our spiritual house before it is forever too late. That is why Jesus tells us that if we are still building our house on sand, we can have it yet be placed on the Rock, no matter what stage it’s at. How? By simply confessing even our best efforts to build our life’s house without Him as sin. 

That does not discredit all the doing to which we are called. For that also is the purpose of this parable. Jesus says that the wise builder is the one “that cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them.” So, we cannot build the house of our lives without building it on the Rock. But we also cannot imagine that we are on the Rock without actually building a house on it. That is just as foolish. For what is a foundation without a house? So then do not boast in your works without faith, nor in your faith without works. Rather, sing, “In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever” (Ps. 44:8). So we not only come to Jesus and trust in Him alone for justification but also for sanctification, not pleading what we have done, but rather what God has said and done through Him. 

Rev. Foppe VanderZwaag is pastor of Grace Reformed Christian Church (HRC) of Harrison, Arkansas. 

Used with permission • The Banner of Sovereign Grace TruthNovember/December 2019