“‘Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. . . . Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand’” (Matthew 7:24, 26).
An important way to discern between true believers and those who merely profess faith in Christ is to consider Jesus’ illustration of the hearers and builders. The crucial element to understand is the foundations upon which people build hopes. While there are clear distinctions, there are also some interesting similarities. First, both kinds of builders hear the gospel. They both outwardly recognize the way of salvation.
Second, hearing the gospel both groups build a house, which represents their lives. Each type of builder has confidence that his or her house will stand. Each also believes their manner of living is right and pleasing to the Lord—“Christian” in form and manner.
Third, both parties erect their houses in the same general location. That is, their life situations are basically the same. Perhaps they are members of the same church, hear the same preaching, attend the same Bible study, and have fellowship with the same friends.
In summary, so much seems to be alike for the builders Jesus describes. By inference, we could say both live much the same sorts of lives—morally respectable, acceptably religious, theologically orthodox, good supporters and servants in their church, and even good community citizens. But the ultimate outcome of life will be radically different for the two.
How do these similarities cloud people’s awareness of spiritual need? What distinctions should be visible and obvious when comparing the lives of believers and unbelievers?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.