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Fixed to The Rock!

 ·   ·  ☕ 8 min read  ·  ✍️ Greg Hinnant


Key Text: Matthew 7:21-27.
👀: Original post.

My Dear Friend,

Can anything good come from a Bible paraphrase? Being an expositor, I’ll tread lightly here with my answer: maybe, possibly, sometimes.

Matthew 7:21-27 in The Message proves my point. Let me clarify. This paraphrase doesn’t adhere word for word to the original text. No paraphrase does. It uses household language, not formal prose. And it even throws in some lowly slang. But it expresses perfectly the central thought Jesus is trying to get across.

We must understand this key teaching and respond properly to it, because it gets right to the heart of what Christ desires - and requires. And we need to thoroughly understand and firmly grasp what He desires so we may run with it. What you, I, or others desire will not matter when we stand before Jesus. Only what He desires.

In this text, Jesus is prophesying. He is foreseeing our ultimate examination before Him in Matthew 7:21-23, the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). And, quite frankly, He says some disturbing things. Not everyone who calls Him “Lord” will enter heaven. This must refer to professing Christians, as no non-Christian would even casually call Jesus “Lord.” Here Jesus declares not those who merely know God’s will, or study, teach, or preach it, but those who “actually do” His will will enter His kingdom (Matthew 7:21, MSG).

Thus, He lays heavy emphasis on doing God’s will. This would include obeying the Bible, following God’s call, and obeying the Spirit’s guidance and correction. Among these responsibilities He emphasizes obedience to His Word, or His teachings, parables, commands, and sermons, including this Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). If we “actually do” them, which implies faith, humility, and the fear of the Lord, we’re in. If we don’t, we’re out: “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s law” (Matthew 7:23, NLT). Wow, that’s shock talk! And straight from grace incarnate!

The Message paraphrase renders this: “Knowing the correct password - saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance - isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience - doing what my Father wills” (Matthew 7:21, MSG). Into which category do we fall, “serious obedience” or casual listening? “Doing” the Father’s will, or just talking, singing, or praying about it? Anything short of “serious obedience,” however good, religious, and praised by others, is not acceptable to Jesus.

This issue is of utmost importance, because it is the primary rule by which Jesus will evaluate and reward us: did we “actually do” God’s will? Thankfully, He did not leave us in the dark. His words pave a path of obedience before us that’s as plain, flat, and easy to follow as a superhighway in North Dakota. “If you work these words into your life,” He says, you will be like a wise contractor building on “solid rock” (Matthew 7:24). When powerful forces attacked this house, “nothing moved that house” (Matthew 7:24). Why? “It was fixed to the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

Notice this house was not placed within sight of the rock, near it, or even sitting on it. It was “fixed” to the rock! Why do we need to be firmly “fixed” to the rock of God’s Word?

Ever the faithful witness, Jesus warned us that extraordinary pressures will come to test the building materials in every Christian’s “house” of character. Heavy “rains” of adversity will hover over us and soak us with delays, discouragements, and other disillusionments. Strong “rivers” of reproach and rejection will rise and threaten to drown our faith and love in offense and bitterness. Sudden, violent “tornadoes” and hurricanes will buffet us with waves of persecution designed to dismantle our personal fellowship with Jesus and blow us into confusion or panic (Matthew 7:25). All these and other challenges will visit us at some point in our lives.

When these tests envelop Christians “fixed to the rock,” they will be pressed and stressed, sometimes shaken in spirit, and perhaps tempted to doubt, give up, or even cut and run. But as these devastating pressures bear down, something in them will rise up - the Word of God they have been practicing regularly, the Spirit of God they’ve been drinking in prayer, the Presence of God they’ve been soaking in, and the character of Jesus that’s been being “fixed” in their souls by their steady obedience to His Word, day by day, test by test, decision by decision.

And just when enemies gleefully expect them to fall, to their surprise, they stand - firm, established, and powerfully and perfectly unmoved! And while the storms rage on erratically, they walk on steadily with Christ - seeking and enjoying His presence daily, soaking in His nourishing Word, refilling with His mighty Spirit, strong in faith, hope, and love, fellowshiping with Him constantly in childlike prayer, still praising and worshiping Christ without a trace of self-pity, and selflessly serving others in their kingdom callings with excellence, “as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). That’s the unmoved life, “fixed to the rock.” But there’s more.

Jesus also described Christians who don’t pursue “serious obedience.” He warned these casual, carnal, uncommitted-yet-church-attending professors of Christ that the same pressures outlined above would visit their lives, too, and that, “if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life,” they would promptly “collapse” (Matthew 7:26, MSG). And the fallout would be “great,” meaning their collapse would take many others with them. Many newly converted Christians, and sinners who were considering turning to Christ, would fall away.

So, Jesus is urgent: “Work these words into your life” (Matthew 7:24, MSG). We do so every time we choose to obey biblical truth in our daily tests of faith, patience, and love. Obey God’s Word today, and tomorrow you’ll find it “worked into your life” more. Obey it tomorrow, and it will become further rooted and grafted into your thinking. Do so a few more days, and the habit of biblical obedience will be formed. A few more months, and years, and a biblically obedient way of life will be established. Your house of character will be “fixed to the rock.”

Now, let’s be frank. Some scriptural instructions are easier to “work into” our lives. They require only small changes and create no crises of will. Others are more challenging. They go against the grain of our personal desires or preferences. And some of these are very challenging, and require the full surrender of unbiblical motives, selfish desires, wrong attitudes, and unspiritual habits we have long practiced or secretly cherished, but which God’s Word plainly calls us to abandon.

This helps us understand why many refuse to “work these words into your life.” They simply do not want to change. For any reason. Not even Jesus! They are not willing to sacrifice their old life to establish His new life in them. They let other people call them to service, but ignore His call. They seek other ends “first” (Matthew 6:33), but not His kingdom. They are moved by other motives, but not His desires. Thus, by steadily choosing against God’s will, they facilitate a spiritual coup: Jesus is toppled from the throne of their heart and their true god, self, takes over.

They stop reading their Bible, praying, or attending church meetings. They turn away from serious Christians, Bible-centered churches, and Christlike pastors. They despise biblical teachings. Then self-deception sets in. To appease their troubled conscience, they begin lying to themselves: “My house of character is sound enough as it is. I’m saved by God’s grace, so I don’t need to be “fixed” to His Word. Tests may come my way, but never severe storms.” Soon they are thoroughly “fixed” on sand - the la-la land of presumptuous Christianity. Christ’s Word is not worked into their lives. They are not “fixed to the rock.” And they are convinced all is well.

But hell is still coming to test their spiritual construction. Our neglect of God’s Word will not stop life’s storms. Its spiritual rains, floods, and winds will come anyway. And under their strong stresses, unprepared Christians will collapse. And that’s not all: their failed faith will disillusion many with Christianity. This does not have to be your story.

You may work God’s Words into your lives right now, every day, every hour, in every test, at every decision point, as the Holy Spirit faithfully brings to mind what the Bible says God wants of you. Then you will steadily grow more “fixed to the rock” of God’s Word. Until you’re immovable. “None of these things move me” (Acts 20:24).

And every time storms visit your life - and they will, they must, so Jesus may be glorified in you - you will become more of a walking monument, a living parable, the very embodiment of Jesus' words, “Nothing moved that house!" And instead of stumbling many, your life example will inspire many to follow your path, “actually do” God’s Word, practice “serious obedience,” and “work these words into their lives.” So, get “fixed to the rock!”

And remember, sometimes good can come of a Bible paraphrase. (But don’t use one for your primary reading or study Bible!)

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Odunayo Rotimi
Greg Hinnant
As a speaker, Greg has for many years ministered in churches, schools, and conferences across America and abroad.