The “SURE THINGS” Series #2



TEXTS:  Isa. 28:16; 30:8-15; Matt. 7:24-27; 1 Kings 16:24-34; 1 Cor. 3:10-17


INTRO:     Years ago my wife Bevie Jo and I were visiting a place that had just erected a beautiful new building around 50 stories high.  This shining new building stood out among the buildings of the area, being so much taller than anything nearby!  In talking to a man who worked there I asked when it would be occupied ... his answer was startling; "probably never!"  He continued, “though most of the floors are finished and ready for use (about 2/3rds of the building was finished ... (somewhere around 35 floors) there is a real possibility that the foundation built under one side of this skyscraper wasn't done right so that the whole building could collapse!”  I was shocked ... they were going to have to do elaborate and expensive excavating to somehow reinforce the improper foundation before the building could ever be used ... and there were no guarantees that this would even work!  It might have to be junked!


The building looked great ... brand new, finished off with carpeting and ready to go for almost 2/3 of the floors ... but the look was deceptive, the improper foundation under it meant the entire project was a waste of time and money, just because it looked great on the outside didn't mean it could stand any stress!


PROP. SENT:   Buildings are like people, we are only as good as the foundation that our lives are built on!  There is only one foundation that is sure to last ... and can take the storms of life and still stand firm ... that foundation is Jesus Christ as the living Word!  All other foundations for life are faulty and will prove to be unstable during storms ... why build your life on any other foundation when the best and most eternal and durable foundation already exists!


I.   CORNERSTONE   Isa. 28:16


A.    Tested!   Isa. 28:16a

1.    The only foundation that still exists from the beginning of time is God Himself!

a.      Archeologists are forever finding old ruins of ancient societies and all that is often left are the rubble of some foundation stones ... even these are often charred or scattered around.

b.     There are no buildings on earth that can last forever ... they all have a short lifespan simply because there are no permanent foundations possible with earthly materials!

2.    Yet many people try and build their entire lives around the things of this world ... counting on "STUFF" to be their foundation for the building of their lives!

a.      Ultimately all things will rust and corrode, and decay!

b.     The things of this earth ... even the wisdom of man will prove in the end to be an unreliable foundation for civilization or personal security!


ILLUS:      During his sermon at the Washington National Cathedral on the National Day of Prayer and Remembrances for the victims of the terrorist bombings on the World Trade Center in New York  and on the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Dr. Billy Graham drew a parallel between the destruction in New York and society.  "When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in a moment's time.  Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed," Graham said.  Only a strong foundation will survive the attacks from the enemy.  1 Cor. 3:11 NIV "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." -- Source Unknown


3.    The only foundation that has stood the test of time is that of God Himself!

a.      Therefore why build on untested and unreliable material things?

b.     Build with the best and build ON the best: God is the tested Stone!

4.    Cornerstones were used in construction as the absolute guide for the entire building!

a.      All measurements were taken from it!

b.     If it was slightly out of square then the entire building would be out of square!

c.      Therefore, in times of old if a cornerstone was known to have been used successfully it was often reused over and over again for future remodeling or rebuilding because it was a tested stone!

5.    Jesus Christ is the most tested stone in eternity ... and has PROVEN SURE!


B.    Tenacity!   Isa. 28:16b

1.    Those cornerstones known to be tested and sure were considered rare and precious!  They were highly prized merchandise for the builders!

2.    The entire worth of the building rested on this one cornerstone!

3.    It forced the shape and alignment of the entire project ... a cornerstone that proved later to be slightly off often caused great tragedies in time and money ... costly adjustments would have to be made later to the building when the walls had to be moved because of the tiny error found in the cornerstone; only when the walls had been built for some distance ... then just the tiniest error in a cornerstone was amplified over long distances!

4.    How like the foundations men have made for themselves today ... only later do they often discover the errors of living for SELF, BIG MONEY, GREAT POWER, etc.

5.    Some people build their entire life on false foundations, then at the end they sense the emptiness of those foundations ... much of their life is thus wasted!

6.    Jesus Christ as the cornerstone contains NO FAULTS!  He will not crack under pressure ... and there are no storms big enough that He can't survive!


ILLUS:      An engineer who was responsible for building great factories said that all such construction is now planned with the machines that are to be housed in the factory in mind. The walls and floors of the buildings are constructed so that a machine can be built into the very foundation and structure of the building, rather than set in as an afterthought.

     This is the way the Lord builds believers into Christ. We are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, and in Him all the building is fitly framed together, so that it "groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord" (Eph 2:20-21). That is surpassing even the modern engineers. They can frame their building and foundation and machines together "fitly," but they cannot make the building "grow." The true believers are fused in Christ and grow in Him together with Him and together with one another. -- Source Unknown


a.      If your life is built on God's Word entrusted to Christ you are on a foundation that is more durable than the planet itself!

b.     This foundation is tougher than any weapon man has ever built or can build!

c.      The power and tenacity of this cornerstone known as JESUS CHRIST is everlasting and all powerful!

d.     You cannot collapse if you life is built on this strong CORNERSTONE!


C.    Trustworthy   Isa. 28:16c

1.    The entire project was based on the trustworthiness of this cornerstone!  Therefore, it was carefully examined and checked to be sure it was worthy of building on!

2.    God invites you to try Him ... see if He isn't all that He says He is!  Check Him out … and check His Word out!  You will find that for millenniums ... as long as we can go back in time God has always been faithful to those who trusted Him ... He has never failed His servants yet ... not once!  What other philosophy or civilization can make this claim with evidence?

3.    He is the Trustworthy Cornerstone ... a sure foundation, why not build on the best?


II. CONSTRUCTION   Matt. 7:24-27; 1 Kings 16:24-34; Isa. 30:8-15


A.    Truth!   Matt. 7:24-25

1.    Now Jesus explains more in detail how one builds on Him as the foundation!

a.      Notice carefully Jesus’ Word: “everyone who hears these WORDS of mine AND puts them into PRACTICE is” … a wise builder!

b.     Many Christians know the Bible ... the Word of God, but you are not really ON the right foundation until you apply these WORDS!

c.      Unless a house if actually set ON the foundation it does little good to be near it!


ILLUS: The Austrian emperor Joseph II wrote his own epitaph: "Here lies a Prince whose intentions were honest but who had the misfortune to see all his projects miscarry."  It was a sadly appropriate epitaph, but it teaches a good lesson.  Even kings do not always accomplish all they wish, and it should come as no surprise when we have the same experience. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).


2.    Here is where so many Christians collapse when the storms of life come ... they are biblically knowledgeable ... they know how to “amen” all the right stuff ... but in PRACTICE they have yet to actually apply themselves!

3.    One can know fully the architectural plans, understand the details of the building project, know how it all goes together ... but it stays on paper until it is actually CONSTRUCTED!  In Truth it isn't what you know that determines your foundational strength; it is what you know and what you DO WITH THAT KNOWLEDGE!  START BUILDING IF YOU ALREADY UNDERSTAND THE BLUEPRINTS!


B.    Tragedy!    Matt. 7:26-27; 1 Kings 16:29-34; Isa. 30:8-15

1.    Jesus makes clear the message of who the “unwise builder” is ... it is the one WHO DOESN'T DO His Word ... this includes all those who are unbelievers, and THOSE WHO KNOW THE WORD BUT DON'T PRACTICE IT!

2.    There it is in BLACK AND WHITE!  Some "Believers" collapse in the storms of life because they are not ACTUALLY sitting on the rock ... they know all about it, they understand the blueprint, (the Bible) they even believe in it ... But knowing the ROCK and being ON it during storms are 2 different things!

3.    The Christian who survived the storms of life are the ones who are PRACTICING the Word of God ... not just learning the Word.  *NOTICE the previous paragraph to this one: “Not everyone who says, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, only those who DO the will of my Father!”

4.    1 Kings 16:29-34  Here is a sad story of a guy named “HIEL” (names means, "BROTHER OF GOD" ... who rebuilds the foundations of Jericho even though as a believer in God, the Word of God had clearly stated he was NOT TO REBUILD THE FOUNDATIONS OF JERICHO!  (See Joshua 6:26)

a.      He was willing to pay the price ... even though the price was clearly foretold in God's Word in Joshua 6:26!

b.     It cost him the lives of his firstborn son and his youngest son!

c.      He sacrificed his own children's lives for ambition knowing he was doing so!

5.    What about us today?  Many of our churches are filled with people who know the Word of God ... yet they are sacrificing their own children and families for MORE money, power, prestige, or other driving passions that they submit to in spite of knowing that it is going to have a tremendous cost to their loved ones ... AND their own relationship to God!

a.      This “BROTHER OF GOD,” (Hiel) came from “Bethel” which literally translates, “THE HOUSE OF GOD!”

b.     How could he not know the Word of God ... He must have!  But he chose to ignore practicing it, thus he built on an improper foundation and he lost the next generation!


ILLUS:      An elderly lady was once asked by a young man who had grown weary in the fight, whether he ought to give up the struggle.  "I am beaten every time," he said dolefully.  "I feel I must give up."  "Did you ever notice," she replied, smiling into the troubled face before her, "that when the Lord told the discouraged fishermen to cast their nets again, it was right in the same old spot where they had been fishing all night and had caught nothing?" - Source Unknown


6.    Another good example of tragedy is found in ISA. 30:8-15: again these are God's people, they know God's Word, but listen to their attitude toward that Word: [READ THIS PASSAGE]

a.      Now READ 2 TIM. 4:3-5: This is exactly what is going to happen in the last days before Christ’s coming, the words are slightly different, but the 2 texts say the same thing!

b.     The greatest danger to the church today is NOT our lack of knowledge, IT IS THE LACK OF PRACTICING IT!

c.      The foundation works like this: WHAT YOU STAND ON ... YOU STAND FOR!

(1.    If you stand on your hard work to get ahead ... your life will stand for getting more of the material world!

(2.    If you stand on your pride ... you will stand for yourself and a life that is centered on just SELF!

(3.    If you stand on God and His Word ... your will live out that Word in practice and stand for righteousness!

7.    Before REVIVAL HAPPENS TO PEOPLE, REPENTANCE HAPPENS TO PEOPLE!  This then drives us to prayer!

a.      We DON'T NEED more Biblical Expositors ... we NEED more Biblical Examples!

b.     Our knowledge and preaching of the Word of God to others can have little effect if our lifestyle and disposition doesn’t demonstrate what we know.

c.      Even prayer alone won’t do it … the Pharisees prayed a great deal ... and knew a great deal of the Word of God ... they didn't practice it so God hated their long prayers and their teaching others to do what they themselves didn't practice!

8.    Let's be honest ... I  don't think the church in America needs NEW TRUTHS exposed from the Word of God, or just more deeper Bible studies ... WE NEED A REVIVAL OF PRACTICE AS WELL AS A REVIVAL OF PRAYER!

9.    We already know more than many are willing to LIVE UP TO!  It is like computer overload; so much information that the computer isn't capable of being useful, too much stored information and no room to compute!

a.      It is therefore a useless tool though it contains gigabytes of information!


10.  This then is the modern tragedy of the church and believers today ... why do we only see these errors in those pages of Scripture and can't see the obvious truth about ourselves?


III.  CONTINUATION!     1 Cor. 3:10-17


A.    Temple!   1 Cor. 3:10-11, 16-17

1.    Paul states that he carefully laid a foundation for the church ... Jesus Christ!

a.     He understands that the work MUST continue past him, others will continue to build!

b.     But he is also careful to instruct others about the seriousness of building right!

c.     He warns of the dangers of building on any other foundation other than that of Christ and His Word!

d.     He states clearly that all our work will be tried by fire ... and if in our construction efforts we used wood, hay, and straw; they won't stand long, though the foundation itself will survive!  Don't allow yourself to become distracted!


ILLUS: In one scene of the popular movie Robin Hood, The Prince of Thieves, Kevin Costner as Robin comes to a young man taking aim at an archery target. Robin asks, "Can you shoot amid distractions?"  Just before the boy releases the string, Robin pokes his ear with the feathers of an arrow. The boy's shot flies high by several feet.  After the laughter of those watching dies down, Maid Marian, standing behind the boy, asks Robin, "Can you?"  Robin Hood raises his bow and takes aim. Just as he releases the arrow, Maid Marian leans beside him and flirtatiously blows into his face. The arrow misses the target, glances off the tree behind it, and scarcely misses a bystander.  Distractions come in all types, and whether they are painful or pleasant, the result is the same: we miss God's mark. -- Penney F. Nichols in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.


2.    What is Paul's point?  Wood, hay, and straw are things that cost little, they are fragile materials and take little EFFORT to build something out of them ... the quality of the construction will determine how well the temple will survive!

a.     Since he clearly identifies in verses 16-17 that he is calling the church a temple he is warning about building cheaply and with weak things that are easily consumed by even minor storms!

b.     Paul is not talking about knowledge of the Word here ... HE IS TALKING ABOUT APPLICATION of the Word ... if we build with the stuff of this world we are building cheap and with weak materials!

c.     The temple of God must not be made out of weak and cheap things like simply programs, activities, and temporal things.

d.     WE MUST USE COSTLY MATERIALS: Love, sacrificial giving, and not just exciting and stimulating teachings in God's Word!  Our understanding AND action will help our children continue the building after we are done!

3.    It is a matter of basic engineering!  The cheap stuff won't survive ... that's the stuff of this world, we need to use COSTLY materials ... spiritual qualities in our lives if we want the church to be strong and durable for the next generation, and to give them something to build on!


B.    Tested!   1 Cor. 3:12-15

1.    Here's the part we don't like … OUR CONSTRUCTION will be tested!


ILLUS: The pine is nearly always placed in disordered and desolate places, and it brings all possible elements of order and precision. Lowland trees may lean to this side and that with only a meadow breeze to bend them or a bank of cowslips to make their trunks lean sideways.  But let storm and avalanche do their worst, and let the pine find only a ledge of vertical precipice to cling to, the tree will nevertheless grow straight.  Thrust a rod from its last shoot down the stem, it shall point to the center of the earth as long as the tree lives.  The most upright Christians are usually reared amid the sternest trials.  The divine life within them so triumphs over every difficulty as to render the men, above all others, true and exact.  What a noble spectacle is a man whom nothing can warp, a firm decided servant of God, defying hurricanes of temptation! -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)


2.    Some Christians have this crazy idea that they are tested UNFAIRLY ... BALONEY!  Paul is clear that ALL of us will have our work tested by fire ... it is just that some people are like the 3 little pigs, they want to complain when their house gets blown down although they didn't want to put the effort into building their house like their brother who built his house out of durable and costly stone!

3.    If you build out of straw or hay  ... you can expect collapse during storms!

4.    What always amazes me when I hear on the news about stories where houses have blown apart or are washed away because they were built in areas where they should not have been built -- these people when interviewed afterwards say they are GOING TO REBUILD AGAIN ON THE SAME GROUND!  How foolish some people are, yet some Christians do the same thing, they rebuild time and time again on the same bad foundation and then can't figure out why all their efforts collapse when even a minor storms hits!  If what you built on is unstable ... for HEAVEN'S SAKE don't build again on the same bad foundation or use cheap materials!

5.    Make a move toward the ROCK ... the sure foundation, and build with costly things like: unselfishness, being a real example of righteous living; teach your children how to walk with God ... forget the cheap gospel that preaches just what you can get from God in terms of material things and how to materially prosper, or how little you have to do to get into heaven, or even just LEARNING A LOT ABOUT SCRIPTURE but not practicing what you already know!

a.      This is the hay and straw stuff of construction!

b.     We don't need a weak church ... in these last days we need a revival of Spirit ... YES, THE HOLY SPIRIT, BUT ALSO A WILLING SPIRIT in us!

6.    Too much concern over ourselves ... we need more concern over our Lord!  WHAT WE STAND ON IS WHAT WE WILL STAND FOR!

7.    Where is your foundation?  WHAT is it made out of?  What are you building on and what are you using to build it with?

8.    Continue BUILDING with costly stuff ... building on Jesus Christ's Word, the cornerstone of your life ... give the best, build the best, have the best foundation ... THEN no storm will overcome you ... you will stand the tests of TIME AND ETERNITY!


CONCLUSION:   There is only ONE SURE FOUNDATION to build your life on ... Jesus Christ, the living Word!  Build on any other foundation and you'll be on shaky ground for sure!  A house is only as good as the foundation it is on.  What you stand ON ... you will stand FOR!  Keep standing and building on the only sure foundation, the ROCK ... JESUS CHRIST!