This is a Bible Study I built for our Life Group using RightNow Media’s “The Parable of the Builders” by Jonathan Evans. I took the outline from their excellent study guide and wrote this using my thoughts and words.
Storms in life are inevitable.
We have all been through (or are going through) difficult times in our lives.
I bet we can all cite specific times when we felt we responded well or poorly to a storm. Do you remember any specific examples?
- Jeff – Stopped going to Church
- Rebekah – Prayer is a large part of her story
- Terry – Bible Study is a part of his day
- Church Pastor – While going through a mysterious illness with her daughter – Should I start drinking?
Today we are going to talk about fruit and storms. Specifically about where Jesus says we should build our lives and how we know if we are building in the right spot – by looking at our fruit.
Now let’s jump into the Bible. We are going to the very last few points of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
As you probably recall, this sermon contains perhaps the most important words uttered throughout the ministry of Jesus. During the sermon, He took the opportunity to lead his listeners through a thorough examination of a life marked by faithfulness to God.
As we join the sermon in verse 15 of Matthew 7, Jesus is going to set an example for all future preachers – send the people home with the points that they should remember.
True and False Prophets
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
True and False Disciples
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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 in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
The Wise and Foolish Builders
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. 25 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. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
– Matthew 7:15-27
Luke documents the sermon in much the same way.
A Tree and Its Fruit
43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
The Wise and Foolish Builders
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
– Luke 6:43-49
Before we start, I would ask you to watch for two things:
- Fruit – What does Jonathan call the fruit that looks good on the outside, but that will ultimately produce nothing?
- Storm – What is the “rock” that followers of Jesus are supposed to build their house on?
Discuss – The Tree and It’s Fruit
One thing that struck me was that this video was NOT after the storm, it was solidly during the Evan’s family storm…
- His mother Lois passed in December of 2019
- His sister Pricilla had part of her lung removed in January 2020
- His father was diagnosed with COVID in February of 2021
What does Jonathan call the fruit that looks good on the outside, but that will ultimately produce nothing?
Jonathan says that fruit produced by those that belong to Christ is “genetically modified”.
It looks great on the outside, and has some use in our world, but is unusable to gain entrance to the Kingdom of God.
What fruit do the “many” claim as evidence of their faith based on verse 22?
Works (prophesy, driving out demons, performing miracles), which are different than “good works, but what is the difference?
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:8-10
So, Paul shows us the difference between works and good works. By his example, we need to do good works… That have been created by God in advance for us to do!
In what ways have you looked to genetically modified fruit as evidence of your own salvation?
- Have you relied on “Bible Words” instead of His Word?
- Have you leaned on Bible Devotionals instead of the Bible?
- Do you solely seek out Bible Commentaries instead of prayer and discussion to discern meaning?
- Do you Tithe instead of Sacrificially Giving
- Are you an active Church Attender or an active Church Participant?
The verses we read earlier should convict us. They tell us that it’s possible to perform mighty works in the name of Jesus without ever knowing him as savior. Have you mistaken the fruit for the tree?
So – how do we make sure that we are not producing genetically modified fruit?
Jesus gives us the key – build on the rock.
Discuss – The Wise and Foolish Builders
What is the “rock” that followers of Jesus are supposed to build their house on?
- Commit your life to Christ
- Hear His words
- Live by His examples from the Sermon on the Mount
47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. – Luke 6:47
Based on the parable, what allows us to know the difference between the wise and foolish man?
Outwardly, both people look the same, in fact, the person building on the sand could even LOOK more Godly.
Jesus says, the difference between the two will become apparent when the storms come.
The “sandy” person will flee to more earthly ports during the storm.
The “rocky” person does not have to flee at all, but, in fact, is comforted by their strong foundation, making a very difficult time seem much less difficult.
Sometimes when a rocky person is going through the storm, people in the world will say – “How did you ever get through that?”
They committed their life to Christ, knew the word of God and did what it said! They built on rock.
How would you like to respond differently in the future? Here are some possibilities.
- Share the things I am struggling with and then Pray
- 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. – James 5:16
- Ask for Wisdom and then Believe
- 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:5
- Humble yourself
- 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you – 1 Peter 5:6-7
- Remain Steadfast
- 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12
- 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9
- Serve Others
- 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. – Acts 20:35
What are you doing to build your life on the rock of God’s Word? How can you be more intentional about doing so in the days ahead?
- Get in the Word
- 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. – John 15:7-8
- 105 Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. – Psalm 119:105
- Make no room for Satan
- 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
- 1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:1-2
- Remember his blessings and faithfulness in your past.
- Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds – James 1:2
- Rejoice, Pray and Give thanks
- 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
None of us has faced our storms perfectly and we sometimes produce “genetically modified” fruit where our seeds of faith are tiny and our good works are few. Thankfully though, our Father is kind, patient, and gracious. He does not look down on us and withdraw. Instead, He paid for our sins and failures by sending his Son to take our place on the cross and to lead us into new life through his resurrection from the dead. We need to build on the rock by committing our life to Christ, reading and studying the word of God and then doing what it says.