My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
In session two of the DVD series The Truth Project from Focus on the Family, instructor and host Del Tackett presents a clip featuring apologist Ravi Zacharias. Zacharias related this experience.
Some years ago I was speaking at Ohio State University. And I was taken to see the Wexner Center of the Arts. They wanted me to see it, and I wondered why. And when I walked into that building I said, “What is this building all about?” There are staircases that go nowhere. There are pillars that serve no purposes.
And the man [showing me around] said, “This is America’s first postmodern building, and the architect said, ‘If life has no purpose, why should our buildings have any design or any purpose?'” So he built it at random, without any purpose, as it were.
I said, “I have one question for you.…Did he do that with the foundation as well?”2
Reality is our friend if and only if we cooperate with it and conform our perspectives and actions to it. We have many problems in our world today, but one of the most serious and consequential is that many and perhaps most people are building their lives on foundations that do not align with reality or with the truth. Yet there is hope. If an individual has started building in a bad place, he or she does not have to continue. Relocation is possible! Furthermore, anyone intending to build his or her life on bedrock truth can reassess current progress and make appropriate adjustments.
At the end of what we now know as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave a powerful illustration of the practical results of obeying Him versus the disastrous consequences of ignoring Him.
24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!” (Matt. 7:24-27)
This translation is adequate. However, in verse 25, the word foundation is very interesting. While the translators of the Holman Christian Standard Bible rendered this word as a noun, it actually is a verb in the original Greek. In this instance the translators of the King James Version rendered it in English as a verb as well.
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
We find this verb five additional times in the New Testament.3 Here are the verses in which it appears. In each instance we present it in the King James Version, and we have underlined the English word or words representing the Greek term.
- He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock (Luke 6:48).
- That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love (Eph. 3:17).
- If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister (Col. 1:23).
- And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands (Heb. 1:10).
- But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Pet. 5:10).
In considering Matthew 7:25, we do well to keep in mind that the original word was a verb. When we understand it to be a verb, we see it pointing to actions taken on the part of the one listening and heeding Jesus’ teachings. Foundations, you see, don’t just show up arbitrarily. They’re chosen, and the choice brings forth either benefits or severe consequences, just as Jesus said.
Foundations don’t just show up arbitrarily. They’re chosen, and the choice brings forth either benefits or severe consequences, just as Jesus said.
This is an important lesson for us as we stand on the cusp of 2016—a new year that is sure to present a great many challenges for us as Christians. With the challenges, however, will come unprecedented opportunities to demonstrate Christ’s love and to uphold His truth. There’s no better time than now to make sure you are building your life on Christ and His teachings.
Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations in this article are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
2Focus on the Family, The Truth Project (Colorado Springs: CO), session 2: “Philosophy & Ethics: Says Who?” (The Truth Project website can be accessed here.) Also see http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2014/01/13/ravi-zacharias-on-postmodern-architecture-at-ohio-state/