Two Ways to Live (Luke 6:43-49)

A little over ten years ago a new product came on the market called “spray-on mud”. This product was designed for city dwelling four-wheel drivers. Just a few squirts and neighbours will think you spent the weekend splashing along muddy lanes looking for a country retreat, rather than sitting in traffic on the way to drop the kids off before sipping your latte. The designer said, “With spray-on mud, they can make it look like they’ve been off-road instead of just driving to the shops and back”. He continued by saying, “People may want to look like they’ve been off-road, but they certainly don’t want any chips or scratches on the paintwork while they’re doing the school run”. So the mud that is in the can is a local mud that has been filtered to remove any stones. This way you can have the benefits of looking like who have been on a dirty road, but you won’t have the damages that often come with it. This product is perfect solution of making people think you did something when you actually didn’t.

This attempt at imitation is not all that different to the way many live their “Christian” life. There are many, who claim to be believers, but the reality is they are no different to a person who applies “spray-on mud” to their car.  In this final section of His sermon, Jesus exposes the folly of this behaviour by drawing a line. According to Jesus there are only two ways to live. Now we live in a pluralistic age that promotes diversity of views and allows for many different ways of life. This way of thinking promotes the idea that it doesn’t matter what you think and that all sincere people will go to Heaven. The following saying sums up those who embrace this way of thinking: there are three kinds of people in the world, there are those that can count and there are those that can’t. Regardless of what people may say, at the end of the day there are only two kinds of people. Who are the two kinds of people Jesus deals with in this passage? There are those that will stand on the Judgment Day and those that will be swept away.

This conclusion to Jesus’ sermon is a call for us to examine ourselves. This passage is rather confronting and alarming because the unbelievers Jesus describes in this passage are those that think that they are saved. If we are going to live a life that pleases our God and enter the glory of Heaven, we need to make sure that we are on the right path. How is this done? We need to check our heart and we need to check our foundation.

In the closing part of this sermon, Jesus makes it clear that the citizens of His kingdom are those that have been radically changed and are building their lives on Him. There are only two ways to live – one leads to eternal life and the other to eternal punishment. Jesus concludes His sermon by drawing a line in the sand. On one side are His citizens and on the other are counterfeits. He provides two contrasting examples of a way that leads to life and a way that leads to judgment. In this sermon we are going to walk through an orchard and then we are going to walk through a building site. As we do this we will see two kinds of fruit (6:43-45) and two kinds of foundations (6:46-49).

1. TWO KINDS OF FRUIT (6:43-45) 

The Analogy

We begin this passage by walking through an orchard. In this orchard there are two types of fruit trees – one that is good and one that is bad. As you look at them from a distance, it isn’t immediately clear which one is which. But when you pick the fruit and taste it, it then becomes obvious which was a good tree and which was a bad tree. The fruit gives away the identity of these trees. Jesus said, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush” (6:43-44). 

The Application

Jesus now provides the application of this analogy. He said, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (6:45). The point of this analogy is to communicate that the condition of a person’s heart produces their actions. The two different trees represent a person’s heart. Those that have a heart that has been transformed by the power of God will produce the qualities Jesus has spoken about throughout this sermon. Those that have a heart that has not been transformed by God’s power will produce corrupt qualities.

The heart in the Bible is used to refer to the place in our being where all our thoughts and actions come from. Outside of God’s work of salvation in a person’s life, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9). And “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19). It is only in the work of salvation that a person receives a new heart and therefore a new capacity to love and live for the Lord. The point that is being made here is that it is not enough to think that we are God’s people by simply claiming to be. We can identify as a Christian, but our words and actions will reveal what our real condition is.  

The bad tree in this analogy represents a false convert. It is a person who claims to love God but in reality they are corrupt. What kind of tree are you? Look at the fruit in your life. Do you need a new heart? Do you need to be transformed by the power of God’s saving work? Maybe you are saved, but you are allowing bad habits and corrupt thoughts into your life. We will all do well to earnestly pray the words of David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24). 

2. TWO KINDS OF FOUNDATIONS (6:46-49)

We now leave the orchard and arrive at a construction site. Jesus asked the question, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (6:46). By asking this question, Jesus is challenging superficial speech. Mere words are not the evidence of genuine salvation. To claim to believe in Jesus and not do what He says is to be a counterfeit Christian. Jesus goes on to show the difference between a genuine believer and counterfeit believer. A genuine believer hears what Jesus says and then obeys Him, whereas the counterfeit believer hears Jesus but doesn’t do what He says. Both of them are likened to two builders who built a house. However, the major difference between them is on what their house was built on. Here we learn about a robust house and ruined house.

The Robust House (6:47-48)

The genuine believer hears what Jesus says, and then responds in obedience. Jesus illustrated this by saying, “he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built (6:48). The house survived the storm because of the foundation it rested on.

The Ruined House

The counterfeit believer is the one who hears Jesus but doesn’t obey. Jesus said that he is “like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great” (6:49).

Both of these men built a house and both of their houses were hit by a storm. But only one survived the storm while the other was smashed by the storm. This storm refers to the judgment of God. The Bible makes it clear that there is a final Day of Judgment. All mankind will be summoned to the Great White Throne. Jesus Christ will be seated on that throne and He will judge the living and the dead. When He unleashes the storm of judgment, all those whose lives were built on anything other than Jesus Christ will be swept away into the Lake of Fire for all eternity. But those whose lives were built on Jesus Christ will stand. We read at the end of Psalm 1, “the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Psalm 1:5-6). We may be living our lives now as usual, but the judgment is coming.

In 1931 the quite and beautiful town of Napier on the east coast of New Zealand’s north island was rocked to its foundations. It was 10:47 am on 3 February, as people were going about their daily routines, an earthquake suddenly struck. 256 people were killed and thousands injured. 525 aftershocks were recorded over the following two weeks. This remains New Zealand's deadliest earthquake. The effects of this earthquake were huge. Building throughout the town and surrounding regions were levelled. The effects also impacted the landscape of the town. Coastal areas were raised by two metres and 2300 hectares of seabed became dry land. I can’t begin to imagine how scary this experience would have been. As a result of this horrible event, the people rebuilt and there is now a restored beautiful art deco town. Buildings must comply with building codes. But was fascinated me was what a tour guide told me. “We know it will happen again and we are living on the edge”.

There is something coming that will shake harder than any earthquake, and that is the final judgment of God. When this judgment comes, what is your life built on? Jesus made it very clear that there are only two foundations: the solid ground and the sandy ground. To build your life on the solid ground is to hear the Word of God and to do it. This is in contrast to the life build on mere externalism, which doesn’t submit to the will of God. When God’s judgment comes, the house built on the foundation of God’s Word will stand. The opening words of the hymn “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” capture this confidence beautifully,

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

CONCLUSION

As we come to the end of this sermon preached by Jesus as recorded by Luke, we are faced with two choices. Will we honour Jesus as King and faithfully serve Him or will we be hypocrites and face the consequences of eternal punishment?

The only way in which we can receive the gift of eternal life is to come to Jesus Christ and find salvation in Him. It is only then we become citizens of His kingdom. This is the only way to be saved from the wrath of God. If you are a true child of God, take to heart these words of the apostle Paul, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). The line has been drawn. What side are you on?