On October of 1954, I was saved by the wonderful love, mercy, and grace of our heavenly Father through the shed blood of His precious Son, Jesus Christ, and I am Original Free Will Baptist by choice. Through the years, I—along with all of you—have seen many storms that have impacted the lives of many people. These storms have revealed much about the character of some building contractors. Some were very unscrupulous in their dealings—failing to build according to code; consequently, many homes and other buildings were destroyed.
Jesus made a parallel application between storms and buildings near the end of His sermon in Matthew 7:21–24. He sought to encourage people to act upon His sayings, contrasting the differences between those who were hearers and doers, and those who were just hearers.
I would like to consider three questions:
1. What do the “houses” represent?
2. What “storms” is Jesus talking about?
3. How can we “build” so as to be able to withstand the storms?
The houses represent our lives. Each of us is building a life. Have you ever heard anyone tell a non-believer that if they would just trust Jesus as their Savior everything would be ok? That is not a good thing to tell them because, as we all know, Satan is still alive and active; he really starts to work on you at that point. What we can tell them is that it will be a life that will respond to the many ups and downs (storms) that come our way
We are building these lives upon a foundation. That foundation is whatever teaching, doctrine, or philosophy to which we subscribe. It may be a philosophy or doctrine adopted from others or developed ourselves. In our case it is the Original Free Will Baptist. I am looking forward to one day meeting John Smyth, John Murton, Thomas Helwys, Paul Palmer, and many other of our great leaders of the past. We cannot escape the fact that we are “builders.”
The question is whether we will be wise builders or foolish builders. The tests that will determine that are called “storms.”
This may involve literal storms—storms that may destroy our homes, our churches, or even our family and friends. How we respond to such tragedies will reveal the quality of our “building.” Will we be emotionally devastated? Will we be able to stand strong, willing to continue on without despair?
It may also involve figurative storms—illness, loss of loved ones, financial setbacks that take away our health, family, or possessions. Adversity, changes that weaken our structure, slothfulness, lack of commitment and dedication to God, to His written Word, to His Living Word Jesus Christ, to our Covenant, to our Articles of Faith and Principles of Government.
In the last three decades we have experienced some storms that have really hurt, and one of those storms is still in existence. The storm of the lack of commitment and dedication has taken its toll.
Years ago I was chairman of the Digest Committee of the Eastern Conference. At that time we had 83 Churches in the Conference. Today we have 69 or 70. I have said many times that we must be doing something right because Satan is trying to destroy us. There is a great lack of commitment and dedication on the part of some of our churches, some of our pastors, and some of our members to God, our Covenant and Articles of Faith. When joining an Original Free Will Baptist church, we are required to accept and abide by the Covenant. Read it; many are not doing it today.
We are welcoming people in from other denominations and allowing them to change our churches; note the numbers above that have been lost.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not against any other Christian denomination and I will not condemn or criticize them for the differences in doctrines, and I do not want to hear anyone else do so, but I am Original Free Will Baptist and have been for over 60 years. I would never go into a church of another denomination and try to change it into OFWB. Likewise, I have never heard of an OFWB minister doing that.
I would like to share with you a portion of our AOF from the second paragraph on calling a pastor: “The church shall call its own pastor, from the duly ordained OFWB ministers who are approved by the Conference of which the church is a member.” It does not say you should, it says “you shall.” Most of the Churches I mentioned earlier were lost because of not following our AOF. We have lost three in Carteret County alone, and we almost lost two more.
How we respond to such actions will reveal the quality of our “building.” We must stand strong and continue on without despair.
Then there is the final “storm” of life—death and the final day of judgment. Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” This will be the truest test of our “building.” Second Corinthians 5:10–11 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” At that time the Lord is going to describe the kind of “builder” we have been. It will be either the “good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21), or the “wicked and slothful servant” (Matthew 25:26). The longer we live, the more “storms” we are likely to face. So, how can we be sure to build our lives (buildings) so as to withstand them?
By obeying Jesus—Being a hearer only is not sufficient. This is building on a foundation that will not stand the test of the “storms.” Matthew 7:26–27 says, “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.” James 1:22 tells us to be, “…doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” Like the unscrupulous contractors, the “storms” will reveal the true quality of our “building.”
Those who “do” what Jesus said will be the ones to withstand the “storms.” Their lives are built on the Solid Rock, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, let us take a look at how the sayings of Jesus help us to withstand the “storms.” His sayings provide the basis for a solid foundation on which to build:
a life that will avoid being misled by false prophets and teachers,
a life that will stay on the straight and narrow way that leads to life eternal,
a life that will fulfill the Law and the Prophets,
a life that will receive the good gifts God desires to give His children,
a life that will not be judged by some inconsistent standard,
a life with the necessities of life provided,
a life that is free from materialism and anxiety,
a life with treasure that cannot rust or be stolen, and
a life with acts of righteousness well pleasing to God.
This is the life that can truly withstand all kinds of “storms.” Just as Jesus is the rock-solid foundation of the Church, we must let Him be the Rock solid foundation of our lives!