46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 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. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

Luke 6:46-49, ESV

This section of Luke 6 is reminiscent of the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7, and the final parable here is the same as the last parable in Matthew 7 that was the capstone of Jesus’ famous Sermon. There is a clear, logical progression for us to observe and apply. 

  1. Talk is cheap.
  2. Doing reveals believing. 
  3. Believing is only as good as its foundation. 

Talk is cheap.

James, the brother of our Lord and elder of the Jerusalem church, wrote a letter to pilgrims scattered throughout the Roman empire seeking shelter from Jewish persecution. His teaching was not unique to him. He was a messenger of Christ. In the second chapter of his letter, he asks and answers the question, can a mere confession of faith without substantive proof be saving faith? His answer is clearly, no. A man might say, ‘Lord Lord,’ but unless he hears and obeys Christ, his words are a hallow shell called faith that will not support his weight in the trials of life. James was teaching us something that Jesus taught him first. 

In the book of Romans, Paul also repeated Jesus’ teachings. The Apostle to the Gentiles helps us to consider the Sorrows in this life are inevitable. The heartbreaking reality of suffering is the result of a world still under the curse (Rom 8:22), God is still patiently enduring the wickedness of mankind (Rom 9:22), and Christians are still not finally freed from ‘the body of this death’ (Rom 7:24). Because sorrows of life, are inevitable we must not merely claim Jesus as Lord. Fake faith is of no value. Calling Jesus Lord does not bind His allegiance to you. Paul teaches us our faith, without works of the law, unites us to Christ (Rom 3:28). Then, he anticipates the obvious objection, ‘Do we overthrow (make void) the law by this faith?’ Paul’s emphatic denial of such an empty faith is translated in the King James Bible as, “God forbid.” Real faith always produces obedience to God’s word. 

Doing Reveals Believing.

Real faith that rightly calls Jesus Lord proves itself by obedience. We have seen two apostles, Jame and Paul, describe this real faith. One of the five famous slogans of the Reformation is Sola Fide (faith alone). The slogan is good, but protestants have historically recognized that some people may easily misunderstand its meaning. Therefore, protestant confessions like the 1689 London Baptist Confession of faith teach that faith alone justifies but that saving faith is never alone in those who are justified. That idea isn’t something that Protestants created, but that they reiterated. It is a summary statement of the New Testament’s teaching on the subject of faith. 

Jesus’ question, “why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say,” is rhetorical. He knows the answer and asks in order to put pressure upon the conscience of any who would merely call Him Lord while ignoring His commands. If he spoke in modern terms, He might have easily said, “talk is cheap.” Jesus isn’t looking for affirmation. Obedience is the ‘proof in the pudding.’ Jesus’ question was an attempt to impress on our hearts a critical truth; actions reveal what we truly believe.

The parable that Jesus uses is to illustrate the difference between two kinds of people. On the one hand, some people hear and choose not to obey, and on the other hand, some people hear and obey. Lip service to Jesus’ lordship is unacceptable, not only because it insults His grandeur but because life is far too dangerous to refuse His wisdom. Do you believe Jesus is the King of Kings? One children’s song says it well, “obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.” 

Believing is only as good as its foundation. 

All of our words and deeds are the results of our beliefs. Why do we speak kindly to strangers? Because we believe our words will be received better. Why do we voluntarily spend forty hours each week at work? Because we believe there are benefits to working and maintaining our jobs. These two examples are admittedly pragmatic in answers. We might have slightly different answers, but I wanted to crudely illustrate that our beliefs are always the basis of our speech and actions. 

Jesus’ parable describes people who hear but will not obey as building a house without a firm foundation. Likewise, people who hear and obey are likened to building a house upon a sturdy foundation. The unmistakable point of Jesus’ parable is that the only foundation that will overcome this life’s numerous disasters is obedient faith in Christ. If we doubt God’s goodness, sovereignty, or faithfulness, then our living will inevitably reveal that skepticism. In turn, our unbelief will not be a strong enough foundation to outlast the terrible heartaches of this life. 

However, if our belief is that God is good, sovereign, and faithful, then no matter what trouble we find ourselves in, we will endure. Our belief that God is in control of all things helps us to stand firm as we know there is a purpose in pain. Beliving that God is good helps us stand firm in the trial because His goodness will never allow us to be overcome. When we are standing firm upon the faithfulness of God, we know that our failings will not prevent God from rescuing us. The foundation for the Christian life is Jesus. The building of our lives is with the materials of faith and works.