Summary: The first in a series of sermons devoted to understanding the biblical truth contained in the Apostles' Creed.
What do we mean when we say, “I believe” in the Apostles’ Creed?
In the current use of the word belief, there is very little difference between belief and an opinion. You have your beliefs and I have mine. But in the Bible, belief is a much stronger word. There is minor difference between our English word belief and the Greek word used in scripture. A belief is: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing (Merriam-Webster online).
Belief is closely connected to faith. They are two sides of the same coin. A belief is the content side of faith. It is the revealed truth of scripture that makes up Christian belief. Faith on the other hand is the action side of belief. Faith is acting upon that revealed truth. Belief without action is useless. Faith without content is dangerous. True biblical faith could be called belief in action. So, when we say, I believe, in the Apostles’ Creed, we must understand that we are affirming revealed truth and committing to act upon it as well.
In preparation for the beginning of our new series on Firm Foundations, I have chosen to preach from Matthew 7.24-27 to deal with the subject of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.
A Word on Context
It’s fitting that we understand the context in which our text sits. Matthew 7 serves as a conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount that begins in Matthew 5.3. Jesus has been preaching what has been called the Kingdom Manifesto. In this sermon, he has dealt with diverse topics and themes related to what kingdom life is like. He is not saying in this sermon that this is what you must do to be saved. He is telling you what you will do when you are saved.
Starting in Matthew 7.13, Jesus lays out four sections of teaching that serve as both warnings and calls to decision. He does this by contrasting two ways, two responses to his words. In verses 13-14 there are two ways; in verses 15-20 there are two trees; in verses 21-23, there are two claims; and in verses 24-27 there are two builders.
Now, it is important to stress that there are only two responses to the words of Jesus as he lays it out in this sermon. The first is that you enter the narrow gate, bear fruit as evidence of your conversion, truthfully experience intimacy with Jesus, and build your whole life upon his Word. Or—you enter in through the broad way, bear no evidence of conversion, falsely claim intimacy with Jesus, and build your life upon no foundation. There is no middle ground in the Gospel. There are no half-measures with the King. So much for an inclusive Jesus. How we respond to Jesus makes all the difference.
The point of Matthew 7 is that Jesus is calling us to respond to all he has taught thus far.
What Each Builder Has the Same
The first thing we want to notice this morning is what is the same for each builder.
First, both builders heard the words of Jesus and saw demonstration of his power. In Matthew 4.25 we find out just who is here for this sermon. This crowd is the same group who has come from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. They are apparently the same group from Matthew 4.23 who heard Jesus teaching in the synagogues, preaching about the kingdom, and saw him healing every disease and affliction among the people. They saw him cast out demons (Matt 4.24). And, they just heard the greatest sermon ever preached by the greatest man who had ever lived.
The point? The point is that every man, woman, and child was the recipient of God’s unmerited favor. They each heard and saw the Gospel of the kingdom preached, taught, and demonstrated by Jesus. There was no distinction made. There were no private sessions held where some were excluded from Jesus’ teaching. Every person had the opportunity to hear the gracious words and deeds performed by Jesus. So, each builder received the same measure of grace. Neither had an unfair advantage over the other. Each heard the same words and each had the same opportunity.
Second, both builders had a home to build. Now, it is important for us to distinguish just what the building is. It is logical to assume that the building is a metaphor for our lives. What Jesus is talking about is whether we are building our lives upon his gracious and wise teachings or are we not. Just what are we building our lives upon?
Everyone of us irrespective of how much money we make, whether we are single or married, have children or not, regardless of our age or level of maturity, we are building a house. We make decisions every day regarding just what we are building upon. In this technical age of information explosion, fast-paced living, unprecedented prosperity, and the ability to travel far and wide, our choices are almost limitless. Again, the question is not to build or not to build, because everyone of us has a house to build. The question for each builder is what are we building our homes upon.