Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Nate Heitzig: Well, good evening Calvary. Great to be here with you guys. A special greeting from my dad. He just got back from Poland and Georgia and he is drained. He's at home tonight resting from jet lag, so big greeting to you guys. He wanted to let you know that he loves you and that next week we'll be together once again in Expound studying the Word of God together. But tonight I have the privilege of leading you guys in a Bible study, so turn in your Bibles to Matthew, chapter 7. We're going to be in verses 21 to 29 tonight. But before we read that, before we get into our study, I was upstairs in my office praying and God just laid a super random verse on my heart.
And I wanted to read it to you guys and just pray over you as a congregation as people who might be going through difficulties this week, and maybe this speaks to some of you. Psalm 73 verse 1 says, "Truly God is good . . . , to such as are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped." And I believe that there might be some of us here tonight who feel that way this week. Maybe we feel like we've come here to church and our feet have almost slipped, we've almost fallen. But I want to you know tonight, that above everything else, God is good. God is good to those who are pure in heart.
So I would encourage you, church, as we come together that we would pray for pure hearts, that we would pray for open hearts to hear the Word of God, and that God in turn would be good, that he would speak to us tonight, that he would refill us, that he would encourage us, and that we would leave here changed. Amen? Amen. Let's pray. Lord, we come before you now thankful for the opportunity to study your Word, because, Lord, we believe that your Word isn't just a book, but it is living, it is sharper than any two-edged sword, and it cuts deep into our lives. It changes and transforms us from the inside out.
And so, Lord, as we come into your presence, we ask that you would do just that, that you would change us, that you would speak to us. And, Lord, that we would build our lives founded upon your love for us, in Jesus' name we pray, amen. Again, tonight we're in Matthew chapter 7 verses 21 to 29, and I've titled tonight's message "God's Building Code," "God's Building Code." You know, everybody as a set of values that they live by, a set of rules and regulations, things that you were taught from a very young age that you live your life by.
Has anyone been taught things as a child that you still live by to this day, a certain list of principles that you still live your life by to this day that you were taught as a child, a set of beliefs, a philosophy, a foundation, if you will? Well, as we're going to see tonight, there are two foundations that we can build our life upon, there's two options, there's two paths, there's two directions that we can go: one that will hold us up, not only in this life, but eternity as well; and one that will not sustain us, but rather will crumble beneath our feet. And as we're going to see tonight, a final test of what our foundation is will come in the hardships in life. The final test of where our foundation is will come in the hardships of life.
See, it's in times of testing, it's in times of hardship, in times of pain, in times of sorrow that we see what we're really made of, that we see what we're all about, that we see where our faith is. Look, anyone can raise their hands and sing, "Ten thousand reasons for. . " when everything's great, right? When everything's fantastic, it's like, "Yeah, man, I've got a great job. I've got a lot of money in my bank account. I've got a smoking hot husband or wife. I've got . . . . Everything's going my way. Man, I don't have 10,000 reasons, I've got a million reasons. [singing] One million reasons . . . ." We're like, "Yeah! I can relate to that. I feel that way."
But what happens when you or your loved one gets diagnosed with cancer? What happens when that smoking hot husband or wife cheats on you? What happens when you get fired from that really great job? What happens when you get a notice that your bank account is overdrawn? See, it's in times of hardship, it's in times of pain that we really see what we're made of. Question: To who or what do you turn when life gets hard? Do you turn to your friends? Do you turn to your family? Do you turn to alcohol? Do you turn to entertainment? Do you turn to ice cream? "Oh, man, things are really hard. I need some Ben & Jerry's." [laughter]
What do you turn to when life gets hard? When you hear bad news, where's the first place you go? Because that is what you're building your foundation on. A TV news camera crew filming the widespread destruction of a hurricane in Florida approached the owner of the only house that was left standing in a neighborhood. A hurricane came, wiped out the entire neighborhood. One house was left standing. And they approached this man, the owner who was cleaning up the front yard. And they asked him this, they said, "Why is your house the only one still standing? How did you manage to escape the severe damage of the hurricane?"
And this is what he said, "I built this house myself. I also built it according to Florida state building code. When the code called for two-by-six roof trusses, I used two-by-six roof trusses. I was told that a house built according to code could withstand a hurricane. I did, and it did! I suppose no one else followed the code." Understand this: God has a building code for your life. God has a set of rules and regulations, a plan that he says, "If you build your house according to my code, if you build your life according to what I've said, what I have put in the Word of God, when the biggest storms, when the biggest hardships come, your house will still be standing. When all the other houses fall down, yours will be the only one that's standing."
Is your house built according to God's building code? When chaos strikes, when the storms of life hit, is your house left standing, or are you left picking up the pieces, saying, "Where do I go from here? What do I do now? What's the next step?" Well, I'm going to encourage you even if you're here tonight and you have not been building your house according to God's building code, it's not too late. Even if your house is left in that state, if your life is in a place where you say, "Man, Nate, I've got nothing left. I don't know where to go. I don't know what to do. My marriage is falling apart. My bank account is destroyed. I lost my job. My family doesn't love me. I don't know what to do," it's not too late.
As we're going to see tonight, even if your house has fallen down, God can rebuild it. God can renovate the house that you live in now. God can renew the situation that you're in now and bring hope into your life. What are you building on right now, today? What are you putting your hope in, today? And if you don't know, just look at what you do when tragedy strikes. As I said before, who do you turn to? Because what you turn to when tragedy strikes is what you're building your foundation on. See, if your foundation, if our foundation is truly built on Jesus Christ, then when pain comes, we will automatically turn to him. It'll be instinct.
Think of it this way: when you were a little kid running through the house doing terrible things, kicking your brother or sister, knocking down plants, biting the dog---should be vice versa, but I've seen my kid do it, so don't question me---biting the dog, when you're running around doing crazy things and you fall down and you scrape your knee, what's the first thing you do automatically because it's instinct? "Mooommy!" Right? Or, "Daaaddy!" You call out instinctually to mom and dad, because that is where your hope is found. You know that when you call out for mom and dad, they're going to come and they're going to make the boo-boo all better. They're going to put a Band-Aid on it.
They're going to put some weird ointment you don't know how to pronounce on it. They're going to make it feel okay. They're going to kiss it and it will be all better. You know what blows my mind? That no matter what injury my kids have, if I kiss it, it's all better. [laughter] It doesn't make any sense to me. I wish it worked for me. I wish that, like, if I had, like, a really broken bone, like, "Hey, honey, will you kiss it? Okay, good, I don't have to go to the doctor now." But seriously, my daughter can fall down and hit her head so hard that there's a bump the size of a golf ball on her head. And I'll say, "Kaydence, do you want daddy to kiss it?" And cry, and she'll say , "Uh-huh," and I'll kiss it.
And immediately she's like, "What? I'm okay. I didn't fall down. I don't have a bump on my head." "Yes, you do, Kaydence." "No, I don't. I'm fine." It's incredible what a mom and dad can do in that situation. It's the source of comfort for her. When you fall down in life and you have a lot worse than a bump on your head, do you run to God the same way you would run to mom and dad? When you're in pain, when you're hurt, when chaos strikes, do you cry out, "Dad! Help me! I fell. I'm hurt. I need you. Fix it." Because God is overflowing with love, with grace, that he so desires to give to his children in abounding mercy, if we'll just come to him, if we'll just ask him, if we'll just rely on him.
God promised that if you build your life according to his code, nothing will knock it down. So are you building your life according to God's building code? First Corinthians 3:9 says, "For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light."
The phrase "expert builder" is the term which we get architect from, architect. I want you to understand something tonight: God is the architect of your life, and not just the architect of your physical life. Yes, he formed you in your mother's womb, but God is the architect for where your life is heading. He has the trajectory, a direction, a designed plan, a well-thought-out, articulate plan for what your life should look like, for where he wants you to go. He's given you a blueprint, which is his Word. He's given us a foundation, which is our relationship with him. He's given us resources to build with, which include our time, our energies, our resources, our talents and gifts energized by the Holy Spirit.
And how we go about this is of the greatest importance, because he said each one should be careful how he builds. You're building a house, church, you're building a structure, a structure which is your life. Are you being careful how you're building that structure? Are you approaching it through prayer, through a relationship with God? The word "builds" is a word from the original language speaking of a continuous action, a continuous action. So it could be better translated: "Each one should be careful how he continuously builds." See, your life isn't built, your life is being built. Your life is in the building process, it's not done yet.
And you have choices as you're building your life to make wise decisions or to make poor decisions, to build according to God's code or to build according to the world's code. Are you being careful how you're building? Are you giving a careful consideration? Are we building our lives, and if so, on what foundation? Well, Jesus addresses this subject in his closing words on the Sermon on the Mount. Let's read Matthew, chapter 7, starting in verse 21:
"But not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?' And I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!'"
"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock."
"But everyone who hears these sayings of mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
Let's stop there. Jesus here in the end of the Sermon on the Mount leaves his followers with some somber words. The Sermon on the Mount was the greatest message ever preached by the greatest preacher who ever lived, by Jesus Christ. And he gave his followers some incredible words, some words of comfort, some words of encouragement, some challenging words, some words to live their life by. And he closes out by leaving with them with some somber words, some words that, no doubt, they thought about after he shared them. Jesus deals here with a person who is deceiving himself. He turns from false prophets to false professors, from unsound teachers to unsound hearers.
These closing words of Jesus stand as a warning to people in churches today who claim to be his followers, but who have no real relationship with him. You know, this is a timely message from Jesus. I think we have never lived in greater times than when this is true. So many people who go to church, who sit in the very pews next to us, singing the same songs, praying the same prayers, giving in the same offering, but not really knowing God, not really knowing him. Now, they think they know him, and that's clear from our passage. They think they have a relationship, they think their house is strong, and yet they don't have a real relationship with him.
And be careful, because it might not be the person next to you---you're sitting next to someone and you go, "Yeah, that's right. They need to hear this message. This person sitting next to me, they totally think they're a Christian." Hold on a second, the Sermon on the Mount Jesus also told us not to point our fingers at other people. It might not be the person next to you, maybe it's you. Maybe you're the one pretending. Maybe you're the one who comes to church week in and week out pretending that you have it all together, but never having a real relationship with Jesus. And the key is to determining what our lives are really built on is found in the clear and simple direction of not only hearing the Word, but by doing the Word.
Church, are you hearers or are you doers? Do you have God's building code, you're just not using it, or are you actively using what God has given you? As you come to church, do you notice your life changing as a result? Do you notice yourself fleeing from sin and running to righteousness? As you look at your life right now, is your life more marked by sanctification, or is your life marked by sin? If you look at your life and it's marked by sanctification, awesome. That means you're building on a firm foundation. That's good news. If you see yourself slowly being more transformed into the image of Christ that means you're doing what you're supposed to be doing.
But if you look at your life and you say, "You know what? I've been a Christian for 17 years and I don't think things are much different. The only thing that's different is I come to church. I can sing, like, six songs without looking at the screen. I have a 'What Would Jesus Do?' bracelet. And I have a Bible cover that says, "FROG, Fully Rely on God. I'm a believer." If that's the mark of sanctification in your life, then beware, there's a good chance that you're pretending. Now, I can't judge that. I can't tell you, "Well, okay you're a pretender, believer, pretender." I can't do that. But you might be a hearer of the Word and not a doer. We aren't just called to listen to the message, we're called to do it.
Think of it in sports---anyone a fan of sports? Anyone play sports in high school, any kind of sport? Okay, like 50 percent athletic here. That's okay, you should still get it. When you're in sports in high school, you have a coach. And that coach's job is to look at how you play that sport and tell you what you're doing wrong and tell you what to do better. Now, if you're in that sport and you constantly hear that coach tell you, "Don't do this. Don't do this. Don't do this," but you just hear him and you never do what he said, how effective are you going to be in that sport? Not very effective. You can't just be a hearer, you have to be a doer.
If you're just a hearer, eventually that coach is going to say, "Okay, I'm done with you. You're off my team. I'm doing to get someone who can listen to me, someone who can actively do what I've told them to do." The same is true in our relationship with Christ. Jesus doesn't want people just standing there with open mouths like, "Uh-huh, okay," and then they never listening to him, never doing what he's instructed us to do, never following the direction he's given us. He wants doers of the Word, those who hear what he said and put it into action. You know, ironically recent polls show that 86 percent of people in America claim to be Christians, 86 percent.
I would bring up a lot of other statistics of what Americans believe to show that those statistics of Christians probably aren't accurate, but that's beside the point. Even a cursory glance at the moral condition of our country would cause us to question such a claim. But when we look at what the Bible says about believers, we would have to conclude that people either have no idea of what Christians are, like literally none of what Christians are, or they truly are deceiving themselves, and that breaks my heart. They think they're Christians. They honestly believe they're followers. That's because they're hearers, not doers, and they're hearers barely. Right?
They hear verses like, "The Lord is my shepherd . . ."---"Oh, green pastures, still waters, oh, it's so great." They hear those verses, they forget the verses that say, "Deny yourself and take up your cross," "Leave your mother and father, follow me." They don't hear verses like that, let alone do verses like that. They just hear the warm and cuddly parts. They miss the truth. So either they don't know, they're deceiving themselves, or even worse, they're just outright lying. They say, "I'm a Christian. I love Jesus Christ," with no intention of changing their lives, no intention of actually following him. Look at verse 21. Jesus says, "'Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven.' "
It would appear that these people were quite orthodox in their faith. What does that mean, they were "orthodox"? Well, basically they were religious. They went to church. They were good people and they did good things. They knew what the Bible said. As a matter of fact, it says that they cast out demons and they prophesied. Hey, when was the last time you cast out a demon? When was the last time you prophesied? Okay, you get my point. They were good people. The community looked to them and said, "Man, those guys, they're beyond just believers, those guys are filled with the Spirit. Those guys are doing awesome things."
This wasn't the person sitting in the back during the church service with their arms crossed: "I hate Christians." It wasn't them. They didn't have, like, black makeup on their eyes. They didn't wear vampire teeth. They weren't scary looking. This was the person in the front row with their arms raised, singing as loud as they could. They're passionate, they're excited, they love Jesus---at least that what they say. Jesus didn't criticize them for what they did or what they said. It's not like Jesus hates miracles, like, "I hate miracles. I hate prophecy. I want more people to be demon possessed." That's not what Jesus is saying.
He's not looking at them and saying, "I hate passionate worship," but rather he's questioning, not what they're doing, but their motives. Look, it's great to do wonders and prophesy in his name, if it's done with the right motive. Paul said, "If I have the gift of prophecy, and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." See, these people weren't just intellectual believers. They weren't just the people who would say, "Even the demons believe and tremble." No. It went beyond intellectual faith, beyond just believing.
There was an element of feeling involved. There was an element of excitement in what they do, excited about God and worship, passionate, joyful. But in spite of their excitement, in spite of their apparent orthodoxy and emotion, they did not know him. Church, this should scare us. This should scare the snot out of us. This should terrify us when we read a verse like that, because this shows us that we can have all the outward signs of a passionate, strong relationship with Christ, we can deceive everyone, even ourselves, and not have a real relationship with Jesus. Notice their response. Look in the Matthew chapter 7 verse 22, " 'Many will say to me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, have we not cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?" ' "
They aren't like, "Okay, God, you caught us." That's not their response. God doesn't judge and they say, "Oh, okay. You were right, God. You knew it all along. I was pretending the whole time." No. They genuinely in that moment when they're questioned by God believe they were saved. They genuinely believed that because of the great things that they had done, because of their passionate, exuberant sacrifice that they were saved. They had deceived themselves. This should warn us that we can come to church, we can know the Bible, we can sing the songs, and we can even do so with passion and joy and still not have a real relationship with Jesus.
This reminds us that a seed sown on rocky ground that shoots up really quick, that looks so exuberant, so passionate, can actually not result in salvation. And this breaks my heart, because I've seen this so many times. I've seen people, countless people give their lives to Jesus Christ, and they do so with joy, they do so with passion. And for the first few weeks all they can do is come to me and tell me, "Nate, man, I just got to go out and preach the gospel. It's so exciting. I just love worship. If you could see the things that God's doing in my life, if you could see how God is using me---this is what I want to do forever. I just want to be an evangelist. I'm gonna be a missionary."
And they get so excited, so gung ho. And then a year and a half later I'll look at their Facebook and I just see profanity. I see that they've slipped back into a lifestyle even worse than they were at before, even cursing God, hating God. You see them harping on Jesus. And you just see a dramatic change in this person who at the time seemed so passionate, so filled with joy, and then you look at where they are now. It shows that just the outward signs of salvation doesn't mean that someone is actually saved. Verse 23, Jesus replies to these people and he says, "'And I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!" ' "
"I never knew you." To "know" is a word that spoke of intimacy. It's not just "know" like, "Hey, I know you." "Do I know you?" "I think I saw. . . "No. It's intimate knowledge. It's a word frequently used to describe marital intimacy. Jesus said the Good Shepherd knows his sheep intimately, intimate knowledge. Verse 23 he says, "You who practice lawlessness!" This is a word in the Greek that speaks of a continuous regular action: "You who continually and habitually practice lawlessness and sin." Look, the goal of this message isn't for you to go home and doubt your salvation for two weeks. That's not the goal of this.
I don't want you to go home and think, "Okay, I really thought I was a Christian. I really thought I loved Jesus, but I sinned. I practiced lawlessness. I'm going to go to hell!" That's not the goal of this. That's not the purpose of this. He's saying, "Those of you who continually and habitually walk in sin." Though a believer will sin, he must repent and ask for God's forgiveness and keep on pursuing righteousness. Question for you tonight: Are you continually and habitually practicing sin, or are you continually and habitually practicing righteousness? Because you can't do both. You can't have both present within your life. What is your life marked by? Is it marked by sin and every now and then you get your life together?
Every now and then you rededicate your life and you think, "Okay, this will get me by for a few months, now I can go back to my old life"? Because that's not true sanctification. That's not true salvation. That's an emotional response. Every now and then you realize how bad your life is, and so emotionally you come and you try to get your life right, only to go back to your old lifestyle? Or is your life marked by righteousness, marked by a pursuit of God, a love for Jesus Christ, a desire to see his will made supreme within your life, and every now and then you mess up? Friend, that's called being a human. That's called humanity. You're never going to reach a point where you're not going to mess up.
You're always going to be, as we said before, building that house. It's never going to be complete. Till the day you die you're going to be building that house. You're going to be dealing with sin. But your life should not be marked by that sin, your life should be marked by that sanctification, by that building process. This person that Jesus is speaking to wouldn't acknowledge their sin. They're self-righteous, self-righteous because of their activity, and thus they will never deal with sin. Because of their activity in the church, they never got their heart right. Because they didn't look at their heart, they looked at all their action.
They said, "Man, I'm not that bad. I'm a good person. Look at what I do. Look at all the Bible verses I know. Look at the songs I know how to sing. I told my friend to come to church. I gave them an Easter Sunrise card. I'm a good person." They've judged their life, not off their heart, but off of their activity. They weren't looking at their hearts, they were looking at their actions. Verse 22, I read it a second ago, let's go back. "'"Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?" '" You know, we can look at this, and, again, as I said before, I've never cast out demons, at least not that I know of. I've never performed miracles. I've never made a blind man see.
And so we can look at this and say, "How did they do this if they were false believers?" If they were false believers, how do they have such power? Well, there's three options, and I'm going to give you all three and let you decide. Number one, it could very well have been God's power. Remember God put his words in Balaam's mouth even though he was wicked, even though he was perverse, even though he didn't do good things. God used him in spite of him. God is known to work in power in spite of us. Look at Judas. Judas was with Jesus and the disciples for the entirety of Jesus' earthly ministry and the disciples never questioned him, which shows that he was probably doing great things.
He was probably sharing the truth. He was probably seeing cool things happen in his midst. Now, does that mean that anyone that Judas shared the truth with isn't going to heaven because Judas wasn't really saved? No. God used Judas in spite of Judas. At times God moves in power in us in spite of us. So, it could have been God's power. Number two, it could have been Satan's power. Jesus told us in the last days, "False christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect." The Antichrist and his sidekick the false prophet will perform lying wonders, lying wonders.
By the way, that will be so convincing that even people who genuinely love Jesus Christ and who are the elect will be doubting: "Are they really Jesus?" It'll be so convincing that even the elect will say, "I can't tell. Are they really a Christian or not? Is that really Jesus or not?" So it could have been the Antichrist. Third, it could have been false claims. It could have been that the prophecies, the miracles, the exorcisms were staged, that they were faked, that they were contrived. It was like some guy saying, "Okay, when I do this, you fall back and pretend like you can walk. Okay, we're going to put a fake cast on you, and I'm going to, like, say like a weird, 'Shonda la, shonda la, shonda la, I want a Honda la.' I'm going to cut it off and then it'll look like you had a fixed hand. That's what we're going to do."
So it could have been faked. It could have been God, could have been Satan, could have been faked. Whether it was works themselves, were done by God, or otherwise, is really beside the point; the result is the same. These people did not belong to him. They didn't really recognize him as Lord despite their profession. You know, one thing that blew my mind this year, one of the biggest news stories, the missing Malaysia flight. I'm sure everyone heard about this and saw this. Craziest thing ever. I mean, I've lost my car keys. I might have even lost my car, I don't know, [laughter] but losing a plane, that's insane, right? Well, did you hear about the imposters on the Malaysian flight? This was really crazy.
Apparently four people who were on Flight 370 had false passports. They shouldn't have been there. They looked like they belonged there. They acted like they belonged there. They even carried a document they used claiming that they belonged there. But they did not belong there. They were imposters. They were liars. They were pretenders. Unfortunately, many Christians are the same. They look like they belong. They act like they belong. They have a seat in the church. They even carry around a document, a Bible, claiming that they belong there. But they do not belong because they are imposters. They're liars. They're pretenders.
The words from a cathedral in Lübek, Germany, beautifully reflect our Lord's teaching here: "Thus speaks Christ our Lord to us: 'You call me Master and obey me not. You call me Light and see me not. You call me the way and walk me not. You call me life and live me not. You call me wise and follow me not. You call me fair and love me not. You call me rich and ask me not. You call me eternal and seek me not. If I condemn you, blame me not.' "Describes lot of Christians. We say a lot about Jesus. We tell a lot of people how great he is, but we don't live it. It's just words. We're not hearers---we're not doers, we're hearers.
Verse 24, "'Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock.' "These words are addressed to hearers. These are people who have an interest in spiritual things, those who claim to be Christians. And these words are significant because they go to our roots, to our foundation. And in order to bring this clearly into view, Jesus presents us with a comparison: two men are building a house. Jesus loves to use illustrations, that's why you can tell he was a great preacher. But he presents us a picture of two men who were building a house. They both had the same desire. They both desired a house that they could live in with their families.
They both wanted the same thing. They both thought about the same thing. They were both interested in the same thing, yet, despite these similarities, the outcome of each house was very different. It also appears that these houses were near each other, because they were subjected to the same tests, they were subjected to the same situation. The rain fell, the storms came, and both houses experienced the same outcome. They experienced the same situation. The only real difference is in the foundation that they were built upon. You know, it's quite possible that these houses were identical: the same floor plan, the same color, the same landscaping, the same everything. In fact, superficially they could have appeared exactly the same.
They could have appeared exactly the same. The only difference is the foundation: one was built according to God's building code, the other was built according to the world's building code. You know that story I shared with you at the beginning about a hurricane and the man who had his house standing? That was hurricane Andrew in 1992. And I was reading an article "The 20-Year Anniversary of Hurricane Andrew" in 2012, and it was really interesting because they were saying how much has changed in 20 years in the Florida state building codes. Not much has actually changed in the codes, but in the way they enforce the codes.
See, at the time in 1992 when the building codes were what they were and that man's house was left standing, part of the code required that your roof was secured with nails, or it was latched down in some way. Well, what they found is that many people didn't follow that code. Many people simply had their roof sitting on top of their frame. It wasn't latched down. There were no nails securing it. So when the hurricane came, those roofs became projectile missiles. They were lifted off and they were sent through the air hitting cars, hitting people, causing massive damage. They looked exactly the same as every other house.
They appeared to be on the way that they were told to be on, and yet they were different. They didn't follow the code. All because these people looked like they had done it right, but they hadn't. The only way to know what the foundation looks like in someone's life is to observe what happens when the storm comes. They might look like they've got it all right. They might look like they've got it all together. They might look like every other Christian. But the only way to tell is when the storm comes. Look, I can't look at your life and tell you that you're built on a bad foundation. I can't examine your life and tell you, "Man, you know what? When the storm comes, you're going to fall, bro."
I can't do that. God hasn't given me that power. It'd be really cool if he did, but I can't do it. The only way I can know is when the storm hits your life. The only way I can see your heart and your foundation is when chaos strikes, because that's when you can truly see beneath a person's exterior and to where their heart really is. You know, I've learned a lot about myself through pain, through chaos, through sadness, through difficulties. I've learned things about myself through difficulties that I look back and thank God for that pain, I thank God for that chaos, because through that chaos I became a stronger Christian. Through that chaos I realized there were parts of my life that were inconsistent.
I realized that there was areas in my life that weren't up to God's building code. And it was only through that chaos that God revealed it to me. Nothing else could have done it. No person could have done it, no situation could have done it, except that chaos. And so because of that, I can thank God for the chaos, thank God for the pain. This is the description of the true believer and the pretend believer. They sit side by side in the same pews. They go to the same church. They hear the same sermons. They sing the same songs. Yet, one is pure and one is pretend. When I was a little kid, I loved to pretend. Did anyone else like to pretend when you were a kid? Pretending was the best, okay?
When I was a kid we had just the regular Nintendo, so I didn't pretend by sitting in front of a TV playing games all day long like Modern Warfare. That wasn't how I pretended; I actually did it. So it's like I watched Indiana Jones and I was like, "I'm going to be him. I'm going to get a bullwhip and a hat and I'm going to whip my dog. I'm going to go around---I'm gonna cause chaos. I am Indiana Jones." Right? I pretended and I became that person. I loved pretending I was Indiana Jones, Hans Solo, James Bond, a ninja, a soldier. Every day I was something different. I probably had multiple personalities. Well, one day I was pretending to be 007. And I was on the run from some evil spies, and these evil spies really wanted to get me.
I was in the zone. I had like---and I kind of carried it a little bit too far. I was literally a kid where I'd put on, like, the suit and the tie and I'd walk around with a gun, and I really got into it. And if my mom talked to me, and she called me anything but 007, I would not respond to her. So I was 007 and I was running away from the spies and I was really into the moment. As I was running away, the spies, if they got me, they were going to torture me. So I was running really fast and I came over to a wall in my backyard and there was a twelve-foot drop. But I couldn't let the spies get me, so I had to jump off that wall. But I was 007, so everything was okay.
And I jumped off that wall, and when I hit the bottom, I realized I was Nate Heitzig and I was seven years old. [laughter] And I realized it very painfully when my chin hit my knee and I bit my tongue halfway in the center, hanging by a thread, almost off. [laughter] And so I come inside with my tongue halfway hanging off, bleeding. And my mom is like, "Nate, what happened?" "I'm James Bond," [laughter] clearly. Good choices. The point of this story is simply this: if you pretend for long enough that you are something, eventually you'll believe it. And when that happens, it can lead to catastrophic results. See, the problem was that I genuinely believed I was James Bond and so I could jump off a big wall.
But I realized in a difficult way that I wasn't. If you pretend you're a Christian for long enough, eventually you'll believe it, but eventually your house will fall down, eventually you'll die. And then you'll realize that you're not who you thought you were. And let me tell you, that's a bad time to find out. You don't want to realize you're just pretending when you're falling off a twelve-foot wall. If you're pretending, eventually you will either be renovated by the saving power of Christ, or you will be condemned. Albuquerque over the last ten-fifteen years has changed a lot. They've done a lot of renovations. Our previous mayor had a real heart and a desire to change the downtown area.
And so he went through the downtown and he judged each building on the state that it was in, and some he renovated and turned into cool, new things, and others he condemned and he tore down. And he based his decisions based on what state they were in. God does the same. We can either be renovated and made new in the redemption of Jesus Christ, or we can be condemned and torn down. But the determination of which one will be true for your life is your decision. No matter what your life looks like, no matter how bad or how painful it is, if you ask Jesus Christ, he will come in and he will renovate it. He will tear out the studs that aren't holding it correctly, he'll replace the drywall, and he'll make your life look brand new.
But if you don't, if you refuse, you don't let Jesus do that, eventually he will condemn your house, he will condemn your life, and it will be torn down. Let's ask a question: Why are some believers pretending? Why do some believers pretend? I mean, think about that. Think about the people who are in this room, people who faithfully come to church, who faithfully read their Bible. They spend countless hours a week sitting in church. They spend their time, their resource, their energies pretending to be Christians. Why do some believers pretend? Well, I would say this: they're in a hurry---not literally, but figuratively---in their life. They don't have time for architects. They don't have time for instruction.
They want it now. They want it immediately, all the benefits of the house without sacrifice. And many people live their lives this way, looking for shortcuts, looking for a quick fix, unwilling to simply sink their roots into Jesus and abide in him. They're tossed to and fro by every wind of teaching, or their own fluctuating emotions, and at the heart of it is self. They want the blessing of God, but they don't really want God. They want happiness, but not holiness. They want provision, but they're unwilling to make sacrifice. They want the Word spoon fed, but they don't take the time to search the Scriptures. And when the storms come---and they will---their house will crumble. And these are the people we see falling away.
Again, they're like the seed on rocky ground, there's no root, so when trial and persecution comes for the gospel's sake, they wither. They're building their lives on the wrong foundation. In contrast, the true believer takes time to carefully lay the foundation. They're following God's building code. They don't want it quickly as much as they want it to last. They don't allow their emotions to control their life. They desire deeper growth, more knowledge, more wisdom, as the Word says, they "hunger and thirst for righteousness." They don't act like a know-it-all; they remain teachable, pliable in God's hands. Paul said, "Not as though I have already attained . . . I press on." I love that. "Not as though I have already attained . . . I press on."
I press on. The house isn't done yet. I'm not finished. I'm not through. God's plan, God's purpose for my life isn't done yet. I'm not standing by like I've got it all together. I'm building. I'm expanding. I'm progressing. What foundation are you built upon? Are you a pure believer or are you a pretend deceiver? Look, I can't make that determination. I wish I could. I wish God gave me, like, telepathy and I could look into your mind and say, "Hey, I know. Yeah, I hear." I wish I could tell each and every one of you what your state with Christ was like. That'd make it so much easier, but I can't do that. Only you can answer that question. Only you can look at your life. Only God speaks to you in the quiet of your heart in moments like these.
And only you can make that determination of what you're going to do. Are you a pure believer or are you a pretend deceiver? Are you following God's building code or are you taking the easy way? It comes down to how you react when that storm comes. Verse 25, Jesus says, "'And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it didn't fall, because it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of mine, and doesn't do them, it's like the man who built his house on the sand; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.' "
Christian, if you're not currently experiencing the storms of life, you're going too soon. That's one thing we can all agree on, right? Storms come. Pain comes. If you're not in it right now, you're probably going to be in one soon. So when "the rains descend, when the floods come, when the wind blows and beats on your house," are you going to fall or are you going to stand? And the outcome of that situation determines and is depended on what you're doing now, what you're doing now. When the storm comes, it's too late. What you do now, how you prepare for the storm determines what happens in the storm. A day will come when every life is tested, a day when every person will face judgment.
And one thing we see from the collapse of this house is how foolish false righteousness or being a pretend believer really is. Jesus said, "I'd rather you be hot or cold, but if you're lukewarm, I'll spit you out of my mouth." Whether we like it or not, the storms will come, the flood tides will hit. Sometimes it will be tidal waves of temptation, other times it will be the slow eroding effect of subtle methods. It can hit hard with persecution, with diversion, tragedy, a major disappointment. Satan will vary his attacks, but it will hit us in some shape or form. Hardship, difficulty, and death will hit every life. And when the sun is shining and when the skies are blue, building our lives on something other than the guidelines in God's Word is tempting.
It can be really appealing when things are great, but there's only one way to be ready for a storm, and that is if we build on Jesus Christ and his teaching. If we're not just hearers but doers of the Word, we'll stand. A day will come when every life is tested, a day when every person will face judgment. And these storms will not deter but rather determine us to sink our roots more deeply in him if we're built on a firm foundation. "For no other foundation can be laid that than which is laid." "Realizing that our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." So as we close tonight, what are you building on today, religion or Jesus?
Are you only hearing or are you both hearing and doing? You decide what foundation you're built on by your reaction to his Word. And so I close with that question. And it's a question I ask, but it's a question I want each and every one of you to ask yourselves. How has your life changed since you've come to Christ? How are you different than before? If the only thing that's different is outward appearances, there's really not a lot different. What we're looking for is heart change, a change in desires, a change in passion, a change in what you love, what you desire to do. And on that day when we stand before the Lord, when the storm comes, lets us not hear: "Depart from me; I never knew you"; let us hear: "Well done, good and faithful servant.
Well done, good and faithful servant. You took the time. You pressed in. You followed the code. You followed the Word, the plans that I gave you. And because of that your house is strong. Your house will stand." Let's pray. Lord, we thank you for your Word and the truth of your Word. That, Lord, it searches us, it searches our hearts, and, Lord, it changes our hearts. It doesn't just expose sin, it doesn't just expose evil, it changes, it transforms. And, Lord, I believe there is a lot of different circumstances and situations in this room, people that are dealing with different things. Lord, some of them are broken, they're hurting, they're going through a storm in life, and, Lord, they don't know how to get through it.
They don't know where to go or where to turn. And they feel that rain descending, and they feel those floods, they feel the wind hitting their house, and they don't know how much longer they can last. Lord, I pray that they would press into you, they would lean into you. And, Lord, there are those who are here today who are just pretending. Lord, their house looks like it's strong. Their relationship with you looks like it's good. And maybe it's looked like that for a long time. Maybe they've been pretending for a long time. But deep down in their heart they feel your Spirit calling them. A storm is coming and, Lord, you want to come into their life and you want to renovate their life. You want to change them from the inside out.
You want to give them the strength they need to get through the storms, the power they need to weather the chaos, and only you can do that. And as we're praying right now, as our eyes are closed and our heads are bowed, if you're here tonight, you're willing to admit, "Nate, I don't have a real relationship with Jesus. If I were to die tonight and stand before God, I feel like he would tell me to depart. My relationship with him isn't founded on truth, it's founded on a lie." If you're willing to admit that tonight, and you're willing to say that you want to stop pretending, you want to start living for Jesus, you want to be a real follower, a real believer that can weather the storms, that turns to him in times of chaos knowing that you have a hope in Jesus Christ, and knowing that when you die you're going to go to heaven.
If that's you tonight and you want to make that decision to accept Christ and have your life changed and transformed, I just want you to raise up your hand. And you're saying, "Nate, pray for me." Amen---over to my left; towards the back. Anyone else? Just raise up your hand. If God is calling you, respond to him---to my right. Anyone else? Up in the balcony, I see your hand. Jesus can come in to any situation and fix it and change it and transform it. The only situation he can't come into is the one you're unwilling to let him. So whatever you're going through tonight, wherever you're at in life, Jesus Christ wants you. He wants a relationship with you.
And it doesn't matter what the person next to you thinks or the person behind you thinks, all that matters is what Jesus Christ thinks. So, if you don't know that when you die you're going to go to heaven, you leave here tonight knowing. Anyone else? Just raise up your hand and say, "I want to know." Amen, over to my left, a couple more of you. Well, Lord, I thank you for those hands, Lord, hands acknowledging that they need to have a relationship with you, God. Lord, I pray that, Lord, that it wouldn't just be a seed caught on rocky ground that sprouts up for a moment, but that it would be a seed that lands on fresh soil, that it would be a house built on a firm foundation, they would rise and they would have a strong relationship with you, in Jesus' name we pray, amen.
I'm going to ask you to stand. We're going to close and we're going to sing a chorus of this song. And as we do, I'm going to ask you if you raised your hand, whether you're in the balcony, down here, in the family room, if you're outside, if you raised your hand, I'm going to ask you to make a bold statement of faith and get up from wherever you are and come down here and say a prayer to accept Jesus Christ. You say, "Nate, hold on a second. I love the hand raised with the eyes closed. I'm all about that. But I don't want to get up and I don't want people to see me." We've been talking about tonight having a real relationship with Jesus Christ, a firm foundation in Christ.
This is a chance for you to cement your faith, to have a firm foundation, to realize that "I'm not doing this for people, I'm doing this for God. I'm not doing this for the person next to me, I'm doing this for Jesus Christ. He's the one who died for my sin. He's the one who's forgiving me." And so right now I'm going to ask you to come down from wherever you are, come down here to the front, and say a prayer to accept Jesus Christ. You come now. We'll wait for you. [applause] [worship music playing] We'll wait for you if you're still coming down in the balcony or the family room, we're going to wait for you for a second longer.
Even if you didn't raise your hand, but you realize in this moment you need to get your life right with God, maybe you need to just rededicate your heart to him, start afresh, start anew, we'll wait for you. This is an important decision that you're making. I don't want you to go home tonight feeling the same way you do every night. I don't want you doubt. I want you to know that when you die you're going to go to heaven, because we're not promised tomorrow. We're only promised right now. And if you were to drive home tonight, if you were to get in a car accident, and tonight was the night that you were to meet Jesus face-to-face, would you go to heaven or would you go to hell? I want you to be sure tonight.
I want to you know that if you were to die tonight that you're going to go to heaven. So you leave tonight being sure, you leave tonight knowing, you leave behind the doubt, you leave behind the fear, and you walk in faith with Jesus Christ. He's calling you now. You come to him. You've been running for too long. Your house has been falling apart for too long. Let God renovate your house. Let him transform you. Let him restore you. We're going to sing this one more time. If God is calling you, heed his call and come to him. You come now. [worship music playing] Amen. I'm so excited to have the opportunity to lead you guys in a prayer to accept Jesus Christ. People are clapping for you because we're excited.
The Bible says when one person gives their life to Jesus Christ, there's a party in heaven, [cheers and applause] and so we're just joining the party. And we're not going to sing this song again. We're not going to drag this out till ten o'clock at night. This isn't going to be like a Pentecostal healing service or anything, don't worry. But before we close, even though we're not going to sing this anymore, I always love to throw the net out one more time. Jesus asked Peter after a long night of fishing and catching nothing, "Hey, do it one more time. Throw it out on this side this time." And those fish that had been waiting finally came. And maybe you're a last-minute person. Maybe everything for you is last minute.
Maybe you show up to work late---amen. [applause] There's still time for you. [applause] Maybe everything for you is last minute. There's always time to come to Christ. There's always time. And so is there anyone else here before we say this prayer that right now God is talking to you? Amen! Amen! It doesn't matter if you're the first one or the last one. Forgiveness is found at the foot of the cross and everyone needs it. Anyone else before we close in prayer. Praise the Lord! Anyone else? Amen! Amen! Praise the Lord! [applause] This is your night. This is your night. Amen. All right. Well, I'm going to lead those of you who have come forward right now in a prayer, and it's a simple prayer.
There's no magic way to say it, and if you miss one word, it didn't work and you're going to have to do it again. It's simply a prayer that you're going to say from your heart to Jesus Christ acknowledging that you're a sinner, that you've messed up, but believing that Jesus Christ died for those sins, that he rose from the dead. And because of that resurrection from the death, he can come into your life, and he can resurrect your life, and he can give you new life in him. And so I'm going to ask you to say this prayer out loud after me. And I'm going to ask you to mean it from your heart. Say it to Jesus. You're not saying to me, you're not saying to the people around you, you're saying to him. This is your night.
Let's say this prayer together: Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. I know that I've done many things that have hurt you, but, Lord, I believe that you died for those things, and I believe that you rose from the dead. So, Lord, I ask you to come into my life. Forgive me of my sin. I turn from my old life and I turn to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Transform me. Change me. Help me to live for you, in Jesus' name I pray, amen. Amen!
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.