“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Christ told us to watch for those who taught what was not true. (Matthew 7:15-20) He also said there are those who believe the lie is true. As a result, they will not enter the kingdom. (Matthew 7:21-23) But how can we tell the true Gospel teachers from the false ones? Here Christ tells us to listen to His words. Not some of the words. Not the parts we like. We are not to put one passage over another. We are to listen the all His words. And all scripture is His words. “Red-letter” Christians need to understand all the words in the bible are red letters.
Christ does not contradict Himself. To understand the bible, we must approach it in a systematic manner. Scripture does not contradict itself because it is Christ’s words. Scripture tells us about ourselves. So we need to understand ourselves in light of scripture. That is the opposite of what we do. We understand scripture in light of our experience.
In college, I saw a friend coming down the hall in the dorm. I could tell he was upset. So, I asked what the problem was. He said the systematic theology was the dumbest thing he ever heard. At that point, I did not know what systematic theology was. When I asked what it was he gave this definition. “Systematic theology is when you create a system then try to cram God into it.” At that point, I had to agree. Systematic theology, as he defined it, was stupid.
I agree with my friend. What he defined was and is stupid. But my friend had the definition backward. Systematic theology is an attempt to try and understand the bible as a whole. Systematic theology understands God does not contradict Himself. Systematic theology attempts to understand the system God reveals.
Here is the problem. We approach scripture in bits and pieces. What is your favorite verse? What is your life verse? We take the pieces we like and leave the rest.
When we find something that contradicts what we already believe we try to adjust scripture. We have a few choices. We can ignore it. We can understand it in a relative form. That is, that was true then but is not true today. Or that only applied in that culture at that time. We can reject it outright by claiming it is not from God. Or we can adjust our thinking and our beliefs to conform to what scripture teaches.
Here are a couple of examples. Scripture is clear about homosexual activity. That view is not popular in today’s society. If you even suggest homosexuality is a sin you will suffer a backlash. The best you can hope is people will ridicule you. Most likely people will ostracize you. And you may lose your job. Or we can use societal norms to adjust our view of scripture. Another example is our view of free will versus election. In both examples, we need to let scripture change us. We need to build our beliefs, our “house” on scripture.
Scripture is the rock we build upon. Sand is our opinion. Sand is what we believe is right and just. Scripture is unchanging. Our opinions shift from day to day. What we believed was good and right 50 years ago is now considered evil.
An example is the tearing down of historical statues and monuments. Yesterday they represented what we wanted to remember. Today we want to deny the events ever occurred. Yesterday those we recognized as heroes we vilify today. Our opinions shift. We need to build on the solid rock of God’s holy word.
This concludes what we call the sermon on the mount. When Jesus finished the people were amazing. Jesus spoke as if He was the authority. He did not appeal to any other rabbi. He did not appeal to any other scholar. He was the authority. This was different than the scribes. They support their position by appealing to other rabbis and scholars.