Tuesday, April 23, 2019

“Building on the Solid Rock” (Pt. 2) (April 23, 2019)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Building on the Solid Rock” (Pt. 2)

(April 23, 2019)


          The foolish, according to Jesus, do not build on the rock but rather on the sand.  Matthew 7:26-27 says “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was its fall.”

          Lots of things have been poorly built, carelessly built, and foolishly built over time.  Some have purposefully been built to appear to be something they are not.  Movie props are meant to fool, deceive, or create a fantasy.  They are easily built, erected, and taken down.  They lack the structural integrity of real buildings; however if you look at them “strait-on” they can look like the real thing, especially with the help of camera angles and lighting.  They serve a particular purpose and are then dismantled.  They are not built to stand the test of time or have permanence.  Yet, many lives are built in such a way that they are little more than movie props, facades, or fantasies.

          The foolish, according to Jesus, are the ones who build their lives, their hopes, and their dreams on shifting sand and unstable earth ready to be washed away or blown over when storms come.  They lack resistance, strength, and quality.  They may even be beautiful but they lack the foundation that really gives support and strength.  Storms comes when tragedy strikes, or things occur that cannot be easily explained such as death, illness, job loss, financial loss, home loss, etc.  When many stand before God in final judgment it will then be realized they did not build their lives on Christ and His Words and He will say to them “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”  Lots and lots of people will one day find themselves separated from God for all eternity in Hell who built their lives on something else other than Christ and His Words; the firm foundation.

          There is an important distinction to be made here.  In this parable, Jesus is pointing to His Words; specifically the sermon He has just preached.  There is a call for action in response to His Words.  I like the point that commentator Charles Price makes when he says “The wise man who built his house on the rock was the man who ‘hears these words of mine and puts them into practice’ (vs. 24).  The foolish man who built his house on sand was the man who ‘hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice’ (vs. 26).  The rock is obedience.  The sand is disobedience.” (Charles Price; Matthew: The King and His Kingdom; FOTBS; 148)

          Anyone who has the physical ability to hear can hear, but not all will obey.  Hearing with only physical ears is not enough.  Christ’s Words must be heard with spiritual ears and then acted upon accordingly.  Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Not every church member will inherit eternal life.  Church membership may be only part of the “prop” to fool and deceive.  It is the people who actually believe Jesus’ Words, to the point of obedience, that will inherit eternal life.  Those who do not believe will be condemned.  In John 3:20-21 we read “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”  The Words of Jesus represent our hope.  We follow Jesus because we realize there is not salvation in any other.  How appropriate are the words of the hymn writer John Rippon published in 1787 “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord is laid for your faith in His excellent Word; what more could He say than to you He hath said; to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.”  The last stanza says “The soul that on Jesus who hath leaned for repose I will not, I will not desert to his foes; that soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”


In Christ,

Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

“Building on the Solid Rock” (Pt. 1) (April 16, 2019)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Building on the Solid Rock” (Pt. 1)

(April 16, 2019)


          In 1889 “The Sand Bar Saloon,” which was built on stilts, was located on the Red River separating what is now Oklahoma and Texas.  A long footbridge led to dry territory.  At flood stages, the saloon was washed away, but was, of course rebuilt time after time.  Finally, someone died in a flood and it was never rebuilt.  We have all seen floods and unstable weather.  We all know enough about building to know that sand or soft soil is not the best place to build.  This is not a new concept.  Jesus taught this long ago in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:24-27 which says “Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.  But, everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended; the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was its fall.”

          In several places Christ, and His teachings, are compared to a foundation and He being the chief cornerstone.  Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:4-8 “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’  Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’”  If you are building something, after a foundation is laid, the work of erecting the structure begins.  When we come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, the foundation has been laid and the work of Christian living begins.  We then begin to build up our faith and strength in Christ, bear witness for Him, and more.  After the foundation has been laid, there is still a lot of work to do.  Paul writes to the Corinthian congregation in 1 Cor. 3:9-13 “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.  According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation and another builds on it.  But let each one take heed how he builds on it.  For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.”

          Jesus Christ is the perfect foundation, the perfect example, who possesses perfect wisdom, and perfect character.  Every Word He says is perfect.  Daniel Doriani writes “Jesus’ words perfectly express his character, his mind, his will.  He never deceives, never changes his mind, never misspeaks.  He never has to say, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’  This world has all too many obese gym teachers, divorced marriage counselors, and debt-ridden financial planners.  Not so with Jesus.  He does what he says.  He is what he says.  Every word perfectly reflects his mind, his character, and his actions.  Therefore, if we would be wise and godlike, we should listen attentively and do whatever Jesus says.  His words will be a rock, a sure foundation for life.” (Daniel M. Doriani; The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of a Disciple; 222)

          Jesus says, anyone who has ears to hear; (if you can take it) this is the difference between wisdom and foolishness.  It is simple, basic, common sense the way that Jesus puts it in this parable.  A person will either heed Jesus’ Words or they will not.  A lot of rumors, stories, and crazy notions were floating around about Jesus but Jesus wanted to see what His disciples really believed about Him.  There came a point where Jesus asked the disciples point blank about who they thought He was.  He wanted to know what sort of foundation had developed in their thought process.  In Mat. 16:15-18 we read Peter’s response to Jesus’ question.  “He [Jesus] said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’  Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.’” (Mat. 16:15-18).

          Build on strength, build on truth, build on righteousness, build on the Words of Jesus Christ!  That is true wisdom!  That is the foundation for every Christian life and for the church as a whole.


In Christ,

Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Thursday, April 11, 2019

“Those Christ Never Knew” (Pt. 2) (April 11, 2019)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Those Christ Never Knew” (Pt. 2)

(April 11, 2019)


          How can we determine real Christians from unreal?  Can we?  Should we?  We generally can tell most of the time.  And, yes we should. Why?  1) We are told to do so.  2) Because of Mat. 7:12 (The Golden Rule) we imagine if the tables were turned and if we had false hope/confidence then we would want others to share the Gospel with us and plead with us to commit to Christ.  “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  (Mat. 7:12)

          On the day of judgment many will say, “Wait just a cotton picking minute! Didn’t we do this and didn’t we do that? (prophesied, cast out demons, done many wonders, etc.)  Apparently there were even signs and miraculous wonders done by some, but they were not done for the exclusive glory of Christ.  They were done for show; done to gain a following; to impress/awe/shock/mesmerize, etc.  Their purposes sound a lot like the reason for having a circus! 

          The reason Christ, and later the Apostles, performed miracles was to demonstrate power over nature and lend strong testimony to the work of God.  But Satan’s followers, false teachers, etc. have certain power and ability as well; although, much, much less, yet it is enough to cause some to follow them.  Consider, for instance, the magicians in Pharaoh’s court who were able to do certain miracles like those done by Moses; clearly though God was more powerful.  We must remember, everyone is wowed by “miracles” or even the claim of miracles but they are still inferior to Biblical Truth.  The “truth, the “Word,” is always given precedent.  The signs and wonders were only for one reason; to help validate the truth.  They were nothing by themselves.  The false teachers were making the miraculous all about themselves!  Revelation tells us the eventual Antichrist will come with great powers, signs, and wonders, thereby deceiving many.  Those not rooted and grounded in the truth will be easily deceived by the Antichrist.

          The hearts of those Christ never knew are empty.  Jesus says in Mat. 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  Clearly Jesus created these people, so when it says he “never knew them,” we are not to think He is “unaware” of them.  It simply means He does not know them intimately in the same way He knows His own true children.  Jesus’ words sound very harsh in vs. 23.  But, is there no warning for them?  Is it reasonable to assume they do not know any better?  If you are told what is going to happen and then you make a choice to engage in certain behavior, is it unjust or unfair when you have to suffer the consequences?  Jesus gives more than a fair warning to those He never knew!

          The number one thing that characterizes a believer is a changed life.  Anyone can say anything, but a truly changed life is hard to argue against!  Just like in the opening illustration!  The lost have hearts that are empty and they cannot seem to fill them no matter how hard they try.  I like the words Paul spoke to Timothy concerning the fundamentals or foundation of the faith.  In 2 Timothy 2:19 he says “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows whose who are His,’ and “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’”  One of the biggest indications of a truly changed life is a desire to be free from sin.  If someone still loves their sin, engages in it, and is unwilling to try and overcome it, the indications are very strong he/she does not know Christ.  The Psalmist wrote “The boastful shall not stand in Your sight, You hate all workers of iniquity.” (Psalm. 5:5)

          Salvation is a miracle of God.  Those whose hearts have not been changed have not experienced the miraculous change which is possible.  John Newton said, “If I ever reach Heaven I expect to find three wonders there; first, to meet some I had not thought to see there; second, to miss some I had thought to meet there; and third, the greatest wonder of all, to find myself there.”


In Christ,

Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

“Those Christ Never Knew” (Pt. 1) (April 3, 2019)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Those Christ Never Knew” (Pt. 1)

(April 3, 2019)


          Two generations ago Dr. Hugh Price Hughes was one of the great preachers of London.  In that day, Charles Bradlaugh, a famous atheist, challenged the great preacher to a public debate.  Hughes agreed to debate with the following provisions: he would bring a hundred people who had been redeemed by the Spirit of Christ as witnesses to the Christian faith, and Brandlaugh was to bring a hundred pagans who had found satisfaction in their godless way of life.  The hall was filled to capacity on the night of the debate.  Dr. Hughes was there with his hundred people, but Brandlaugh never did show up.  He could debate the preacher as long as they used arguments; but when they began using lives, he was defeated.  As long as we simply talk to the world, we will never win, but when we begin showing the world our lives which have been redeemed by Christ, then the world cannot argue back.

          Throughout His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called for “life-change.”  Without a life-change, one’s “religion” is nothing more than a system of beliefs.  True Christians have a relationship with Jesus Christ and not merely a “religion.”  It has been said “To be active in religious affairs is no substitute for obeying God.”  In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

          This world is full of people that speak in empty words.  It has always been so.  Not everyone who “talks the talk,” actually “walks the walk.”  Many are self-deceived about their Christianity.  They point to the day they were baptized or walked the aisle or talked to the preacher.  But, their lives have no reflection of the work of Christ.  James wrote “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)  Romans 2:13 says “For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.”  There are a great many people who are trusting in something from the past.  If Jesus is not your “present” then you do not have a personal relationship with Him and need to be evangelized, repent of your sins, and embrace Christ as your Lord and Savior.  James Montgomery Boice writes this warning “So beware, especially if you sense you are a nominal Christian only.  There are many paths to hell, many of them religious, but there is only one way to heaven, and that is through trusting in Jesus Christ.” (James Montgomery Boice; Matthew Vol. 1; 116)

          One might ask, how so many people could be going the wrong way.  It almost seems like the majority should be right.  But, Jesus is very clear on this.  In verses 13-14 of this same chapter He has instructed them to “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mat. 7:13-14)  From there, He goes on to warn that you will know who a person really is by their fruit.  He further warns there are a lot of deceivers out there.  In verses 15-20 He says “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Mat. 7:15-20)  Now, in verse 21 He clarifies the same overall point even further when He says “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (vs. 21)

          There are a lot of ways that seem right to a person but all those ways lead to death except for one.  Jesus could not be clearer.  He told us He is the Way, Truth, and Life and that no one enters except through Him.  He referred to Himself as “The Door” in the Gospel of John.  There is no other way to enter Heaven.  Lots of people are making fanciful claims today about one thing or another, but the Scripture says what it says and no amount of twisting or bending will make the Scripture into anything other than what it already is.  But, I would argue that is a very good thing.  We do not have to be, or stay, confused.  Jesus said He is the way (the only way) to God.  He made it black and white so we do not have to wonder.  This is just one more wonderful thing to praise and thank Him for!


In Christ,

Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor