Building on the Rock




See if you can answer a simple question from the Sermon on the Mount:




Everybody who has grown up in church has heard of this famous children’s song “The Wise Man Builds His House on the Rock”. But no one knows how to actually do it because the song doesn’t say. It just says build your house on the rock. So I’ve found that about 75% of people answer something like “have faith in Jesus”. But here’s the answer from Jesus Himself:


Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock (Matthew 7:24)


Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. (Luke 6:46-48)

This is a very important parable because Jesus is telling us how to go to heaven (if you don’t do it your house crashes with a great crash). See also this verse from the same chapter:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

Yes, faith in Jesus is very important, but so is obeying Him (in fact that’s what true faith is). Many today use a man-made term, “faith alone”, to basically ignore the commands of the Bible. I don’t think Satan cares too much if you “believe” (a simple mental assent) in Jesus, as long as you don’t obey Him. As James says, even Satan believes in God. So we want to encourage you to obey God. You just can’t believe in Jesus and then refuse to do what he says. (He want’s your best anyway and doing things His way will work out better.)  

You see, you have to study the Bible carefully because there are two kinds of “faith”. There is a faith that simply acknowledges God and Jesus but doesn’t obey (a mental assent). The Bible calls this a dead faith that doesn’t save you. Then there is a faith that motivates a person to obey God as He gives the power to do so. The Bible (James 2) calls this a living faith which will save you. It should be obvious. Obedience combined with Faith is consistently taught in the Bible. I’ve already quoted Jesus Himself : Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46). John the Baptist said: Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:8) And Paul said: … prove their repentance by their deeds (Acts 26:20). There are many verses which I’ll go into shortly. But James makes it crystal clear:

 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? … faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead  19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. … 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. … 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:14-25, shortened for space, please read the whole section)


John was also very clear: 

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:3-6)


Even Martin Luther, the originator of the “faith alone” movement said: “To think, ‘If faith justifies without works, let us work nothing,’ is to despise the grace of God. Idle faith is not justifying faith.”


John Calvin also agreed in obedience after salvation: “… as often as we mention Faith alone in this question, we are not thinking of a dead faith, which worketh not by love … It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone:


We are not saved by works. We have to come to God without any works for salvation. But the issue is what we do after that. We should have a new heart that wants to obey God. Working for God is encouraged in the Bible. The only time the Bible condemns works is when you are relying on the works or action instead of faith in Jesus. This is usually relying on the Old Testament Law. But it could also be works that a church sets up that aren’t even in the Bible. So be sure you’re getting your teaching from the Bible, don’t do works to satisfy a church or organization, and rely on God for salvation by keeping your focus on Him and not the works. But be very fervent in seeking to know His will and do it. Maintain a father/child relationship by frequent prayer and Bible study. God Himself will actually give you the desire to do His will, though you might also need a little exhortation from others (like this tract is doing). exhort one another daily… (Heb. 3:12)

The power to obey. relying on God – a key factor in avoiding a frustrated Christian life

Let’s stop for a moment and clarify this. It is important for you to realize that you totally need God and can’t do anything good in yourself without His help. (see John chapter 15 too)  

You can read about Paul’s struggle to obey God in Romans chapter 7. Then you can read about his victory in chapter 8. It all revolves around relying on the power of the Holy Spirit, not our own effort.

7:19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing… 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! … 8:6 … the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…  11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 7:9-8:13)

 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)


Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

Back to the exhortations to obey:

Now that we have this crucial foundation cleared up, let go back to more exhortations in obedience, showing that this is what God wants of us. Since we just learned how important it is to rely on the Holy Spirit, the right response to any stirring of our conscience is to go to God and ask Him to help us change in this. Pray this daily and you’ll start to see a change before too long. Do anything you know you should do. Daily Bible reading is crucial. It’ll take practice to do things in God’s power. But whatever you do, don’t just try to go do it in your own power. The Bible is not at all shy or hesitant to proclaim that our actions are necessary. Working for God is encouraged in the Bible. The Bible actually doesn’t have a negative connotation of the word “work” as we do today. 90% of the time “work” is used positively. The only time the Bible condemns works is when you are relying on the works instead of faith in Jesus, usually relying on the Old Testament Law. This article looks at the word “work” every time it’s used in the New TestamentGod is very pleased with our works, when we do them with His help.

Let’s look at the parables. After the man with 5 talents went out and worked with His master’s money, the master responded with “well done my good and faithful servant.” But the one who refused was thrown into hell. Of 37 parables that Jesus told, 17 of them (see below) were clearly about our actions (the others are about God’s love, or the kingdom, etc). Not a single one of them was only about believing. Belief is not an issue in any parable; everyone in the parables believe in the Master. The parables in bold additionally state that the subjects received dire punishment because of their inaction. 






The Lamp under a Bushel




Sharing faith

Good Samaritan




Caring for people

The Friend at Night




Persistence in prayer

The Rich Fool




Temporal focus

Wise & Foolish Builders




Obey Jesus

Parable of the Sower




Avoid pitfalls and bear fruit

The Barren Fig Tree




Bear fruit

Parable of the Pearl




The kingdom is worth giving all for

Drawing in the Net




Be righteous not evil

The Hidden Treasure




The kingdom is worth giving all for

Counting the Cost




Joining the kingdom will cost you

The Unforgiving Servant




Be forgiving

The Master and Servant




We should have an attitude of service

The Wicked Tenants




Listen to the prophets and Jesus

The Faithful Servant




Taking care of people

The Talents or Minas




Doing something with our talents

The Sheep and the Goats




Help people in need

For ideas, here’s a few things the Bible tells us to do and verses that support required obedience: We are to “make disciples” (Matt 28:19), “encourage each other daily” against sin (Heb 3:13), “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that entangles” (Heb 12:1), Abhor evil (Romans 12:9), “not love the world or anything in it” (1 John 2:15), take care of the poor, the widow and the orphan (James 1), help those in need (1 John 3:17), take care of the sick, prisoners, hungry, thirsty, strangers (Matt 25), think about whatever is lovely and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8) and “deny ourselves and take up our cross” (Luke 9:23) until we “bear fruit” (John 15:1, Luke 8:15). Click here for an article on the joy we found in doing a weekly church service at an assisted living center. 


More supporting scriptures:


    God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:6-8)


  They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good (Titus 1:16)


In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)


…“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)


… those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned (John 5:29)


The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matt 3:10)


  …I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21b)


  ..The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books (Revelation 20:12b)


  [Jesus] will say …‘Depart from me” … ‘whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me (Matthew 25:41,45)


  …but the man who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:17b)


  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:25) 

More verses:     Click here for our page which lists over 90 verses on this topic. 

1 John 2:3-6, 15-17,


1 John 3:4-10, 16-24

1 John 5:1-5

1 Peter 4:1-5

2 Cor 5:9-10, 14-15

2 Cor 9:8

2 Thes 1:7-9

Acts 10:34, 35

Acts 20:20-21

Acts 26:19-20

Ephesians 2:8-10

Ephesians 5:5-6

Ephesians 4:17-25

Ephesians 6:7,8

Gal 5:6, 16-25

Gal 6:7-10

Hebrews 3:12-14

Hebrews 5:8-9


Hebrews 6:7-11

Hebrews 10:26-31

Hebrews 12:14-29

Isaiah 58:5-9

James 1:22-27

James 2:14-26

James 4:4-10

Jeremiah 17:10

John 12:25-26

John 14:12, 21-24

John 15:1-10

John 21:15-17

John 3:19-21

John 5:28-29

Luke 13:22-27

Luke 14:28-35

Luke 6:43-49

Luke 8:15

Luke 9:23-26


Matt 13:18-23

Matt 15:8-9

Matt 16:24-27

Matt 18:6-9

Matt 22:37-40

Matt 24:36-25:46

Matt 3:8-10

Matt 7:13-23

Matt 21:28-32

Matt 5:20-24

Phil 2:12-13

Rev 2:2, 19

Rev 20:11-12

Rev 22:9

Rev 3:1, 7-8, 14

Romans 11:22

Romans 2:5-13

Romans 6

Titus 1:16

Titus 2:11-15


The world desperately needs to hear the good news you have so Jesus doesn’t want you to hide it under a bushel.


By Mike Murphy