“Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 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. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”
In this parable two classes are brought to view,–those who hear the words of Christ, and do them; and those who hear, and do not. Christ tells us that those who hear and do, build upon the rock, and that those who hear, and fail to perform, choose the shifting sand for their foundation.
God has a standard of righteousness by which he measures character. This standard is his holy law, which is given to us as a rule of life. We are called upon to comply with its requirements, and when we do this, we honor both God and Jesus Christ; for God gave the law, and Christ died to magnify it, and make it honorable. He declares: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me, and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” And the Holy Spirit, speaking through the apostle John, declares: “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.” “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
There are many hearers, but few doers, of the words of Christ. His words may be theoretically accepted, but if they are not stamped upon the soul, and woven into the life, they will have no sanctifying effect upon the character. It is one thing to accept the truth, and another thing to practice it in the daily life. From those who hear only, God’s word calls forth no grateful response. The commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength,” is acknowledged to be just, but its claims are not recognized; its principles are not carried out.
We are all sinful, and of ourselves are unable to do the words of Christ. But God has made provision whereby the condemned sinner may be freed from spot and stain. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But while Christ saves the sinner, he does not do away with the law which condemns the sinner. It is the work of redemption to exalt that law, and Christ’s great sacrifice was made in order that man might be a doer of that law. The law shows us our sins, as a mirror shows us that our face is not clean. The mirror has no power to cleanse the face; that is not its office. So it is with the law. It points out our defects, and condemns us, but it has no power to save us. We must come to Christ for pardon. He will take our guilt upon his own soul, and will justify us before God. And not only will he free us from sin, but he will give us power to render obedience to God’s will.
Those who are represented in the parable as building upon the sand, are not conscious of their danger. When Christ comes to reward every one according to his works, they say to him, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?” But Christ turns from them, saying, “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Only those who are doers of the word of God are fitted to have a place in my kingdom; but you have walked contrary to his commandments, and your course has led others astray.
Today many erect a standard of their own, thinking to gain heaven, even tho they neglect to do God’s will. But all such are building upon the sand. They are hearers only. They may make high professions, but they are destitute of all true godliness. Pretention is no evidence of true Christian character. If their profession does not harmonize with God’s word, their holiness is not genuine; for true holiness is bestowed only upon those who “are doers of the word,” and “not hearers only.” When they stand before the judgment seat of God, those who now disregard his word may expect to be awarded a place among the redeemed; but in sadness Christ will say to them, “Depart from me; I never knew you.”
On what foundation are you building? This question comes home to us all. We are living amid the perils of the last days. The law of God is almost universally disregarded. Satan is not idle; he walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may turn from the right way. And he does not always appear as a lion; he has the power to come as a lamb, and then his voice is soft and low. But shall we allow him to control our hearts? Under his direction, shall we build upon a foundation that will not stand the storm? We can not afford to do this. Shall we not rather strive to be among that number of whom John writes, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus”?
Our salvation cost the life of the Son of God, and God demands of us that we build our characters upon a foundation that will stand the test of the judgment. Do you know that your foundation is deep and sure, so that the floods of trouble which are to come upon the earth shall not overthrow you? Do you know that you are not leading others astray by your example? If you waste the hours of your probation by building upon the sand, your life will be a failure. If you choose to ignore God’s word, you must be lost when the tempest sweeps down upon you; for only the doers of God’s word can build upon the rock.
Just before his crucifixion Christ prayed for his followers, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” The word of God has a sanctifying power upon all who truly believe and do it. Shall we not take this word into our lives, and thus build upon the true foundation a character that will gain for us an eternal weight of glory? John saw a company standing round the throne of God. “And one of the elders answered,” he writes, “saying, . . . What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said unto me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” To be among that number is the happy privilege of all who will render willing obedience to the words of Christ.
“Blessed are they,” Christ said, “that hear the word of God, and keep it.” Look well to the foundation of your hope. Let your life testify that you are doers of the word of God. Then when Christ shall appear in the clouds of heaven, you can exclaim, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us.” The crown of life will be placed upon your brow, and you will hear the voice of the Saviour, saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
— E.G. White, Signs of the Times, September 24, 1896