The Security of the Church!
William Nicholson, 1862
"The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house. Yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." Matthew 7:25
The comparison of the Great Teacher in the context indicates the safety and happiness of those who trust in Christ — and the misery of those who reject him. The language is also calculated to afford encouragement and hope. Sometimes the church is opposed, afflicted, and clouded, and then her people mourn and tremble for the future. But the redeemed church is founded upon a rock, and cannot be shaken.
I. The Character of the Church of Christ.
The character of God's people is described in verse 24, "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
1. They are wise. Like the man who built his house upon a rock — a procedure which denotes wisdom, foresight, and precaution.
Believers have been enlightened by the Spirit to discern that which is requisite for their safety from the effects of sin. They mistrust themselves, and therefore,
2. They revere and regard the truth. "Hear these words of mine." They do not lean to their own understandings, but regard Christ as a wise and infallible Teacher. They hear him. "Learn of me," says the great Prophet.
3. They do his will. "Hears these words of mine and puts them into practice." This is more than mere profession. Practical Piety is infinitely important, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Matthew 7:21-23
Hypocrites and formalists may hear the sayings of Christ, but they will not practice them. It is otherwise with believers. Has Christ said, Repent? They have repented. Has Christ said, Believe? They have believed.
II. The Ground of Their Confidence."Yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock!"
Christ is called "that Rock," 1 Corinthians 10:4. His finished work on the cross as the great atoning sacrifice, is the foundation of the Christian's faith and hope. And it is firmer than a rock. See Isaiah 28:16.
"A rock" conveys the idea,
1. of strength and power. Look at those rocks in the ocean's bed which for ages have defied the most furious waves. Created things are like the sand, fleeting, gliding, uncertain. "All power," said Christ; "is given unto me, in Heaven and earth!" "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them!" Hebrews 7:25. It conveys the idea,
2. of durability. Called the Rock of Ages, subject to no change; immutable; "the same yesterday, today and forever!" Whatever disasters and revolutions shake this globe, he remains the same. Ancient empires, cities, countries, etc. etc., have departed, but Christ is the same! Hebrews 1:10.
III. The Security of the Church in the Time of Trial."Yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."
1. That the Church is frequently assailed by opposition. Its strength and durability must be tried. It was assailed . . .
by Jewish unbelief, and by Pagan persecution, in the time of the Apostles;
and in subsequent ages by the Popish power, and its atrocious cruelties;
by ecclesiastical domination by infidelity and atheism by recreant professors, and the abettors of error.
2. That the Church has withstood all opposition. "Yet it did not fall!" While other systems have fallen, and are almost forgotten, the Church continues firmly fixed on the immutable Savior. False prophets have fallen — false teachers and false christs have fallen — and all future pretenders will fall.
Pharisees have fallen — the self-righteous, the formal, and the hypocrite, have fallen. But the believer falls not, for he is "founded upon a rock." See Psalm 46; 125:2; Isaiah 54:10; Romans 8:35, etc.
The Church always did stand, and it always will stand.
Sometimes, like Israel, it multiplies under oppression. Frequently the blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the Church. When faithful, it is always secure. Surrounding nations never prevailed against Israel, as long as they confided in God. And even when the Church has been reduced by unfaithfulness, it has not failed. Kingdoms and empires have passed awny, and not a wreck of them is left — but some vestiges in ruins, the monumental mockery of the boasts of men. But the Church still stands overshadowed with the wings of Almighty Love.
Behold the antediluvian Church in the family of Noah, outriding the flood itself. "Yet it did not fall!"
Behold the Patriarchal Church gathered in the tents of Abraham until it burst forth in the glories of the wilderness, and the institutions of Zion. "Yet it did not fall!"
Behold the Jewish Church preserved in Babylon, and amidst the mighty convulsions that followed, more durable than the conquests of Alexander. "Yet it did not fall!"
Behold the Christian Church, outliving even the eternal Rome; and, sheltered amidst the convulsions and barbarism of the middle ages, her light burst the cloud at the glorious Reformation, a light which has ever since been prevailing against the darkness of error, and subduing men to its influence. "Yet it did not fall!"
And though Popery and Infidelity are now planting their batteries against the Church — yet "He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision!" Psalm 2:4. It shall not fall.
Walk then about Zion, mark her bulwarks, consider her palaces, and from the past we may take up this triumphant strain, "For this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end!" Psalm 48:14
1. Let this subject check despondency as to the outcome of God's Church.
2. Let it induce greater zeal. Our cause is good and must succeed.
3. How safe are believers! They are founded upon the Rock — the Lord Jesus Christ!