This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, What to Do When the Bottom Falls Out.
Do you know somebody who was faithful to the Church, serving the Lord, and then some calamity came and they dropped out?
Maybe they were diagnosed with cancer. Perhaps a child died suddenly. Or his job was taken. Maybe she thought she had a wonderful family and a godly husband—and then he announces that he is leaving for another woman.
These things happen to people. What do you do?
When hard times come, examine the foundation.
This is a part of the Sermon on the Mount. Our Lord 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.
Life is tragic by nature, apart from God. All of us are going to die. Sooner or later, one by one, our loved ones will be taken from us.
In Matthew 7, Jesus is talking about our lives as if they are houses. Jesus told of two kinds of builders—outwardly, very similar, just like the people in churches. Both of these builders in Jesus’ story have the same purpose: building a house. Every house has a floor, walls, and roof. But there is also a distinctive difference, and it deals with the foundation.
One of these homes Jesus talked about had a foundation on rock, and the other was built on sand. If you had walked up to these two houses, you would not have been able to tell the difference. But when the storm came, the difference was revealed.
If you realize that the bottom fell out because you had no foundation, then you begin to build again: this time, on solid rock.
Jesus taught that the Word of God is the foundation of rock. “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” (Matthew 7:24).
How can we be sure that we have rock-solid faith?
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
You may be building on the sand of philosophy or false religion rather than on the Word of God.
There are two ways Satan wars against the Church: persecution, and infiltration. Here, our Lord is talking about infiltration—about those who pretend to be prophets of God, but really are the enemy within the gates.
When the Apostle Paul was about to leave to the Ephesian church, he said:
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
A man may have a clerical robe on, and be ordained of the devil. (Read 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.) There are only two kinds of religion: the true and the false. Make certain that you are building upon the Word of God.
Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16a). The fruit of a church is not the buildings, the budget, or the baptisms. Are you becoming more like Christ Jesus?
It is one thing for you to belong to a Bible-believing church, to have a copy of the Word of God in your home, to subscribe to orthodoxy. But have you really heard the word of God?
Luke 6 records Jesus telling this same story about two builders, and adds some details.
He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.
Jesus is saying that sometimes, you have to dig to get to rock. Many of you want to come to church and be spoon-fed a little truth, but you are not digging. You have no foundation because you don’t hear the Word of God because you are not listening. Why did the other man build his house upon the sand? It is easier, cheaper, quicker.
“Hearing” does not mean simply letting the sound waves in your ears. Have you ever told a child to do something and then said, “Do you hear me?” You know they heard you. You want to know, did they hear you?
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
You are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone—it is always accompanied by good works. Many people have an intellectual faith, but they do not live by their faith. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26).
You can expect storms, whether you are saved or lost. The storm in Jesus’ story beat upon both houses. Your faith will be tested, and not in the sunshine. The test of your faith is your stability in the storm.
Hebrews chapter 11 was written to a group of people who were about to abandon the faith because of great persecution. The writer tells of exciting victories of faith: of Daniel in the lions’ den, Moses at the Red Sea, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego taken out of the fiery furnace. (Read Hebrews 11:17-35.) Then he goes on at the end of the chapter:
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented…
They did this by faith.
Difficulty does not mean that God has abandoned you. (See Habakkuk 3:17-18.) Trust God. Faith is not receiving from God the things you want; it is accepting from God the things He gives.
Why do people cave in? Because they have nothing on which to stand. The winds were too much for them. We see this often.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
Matthew 7:15-16,24-27; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15; Luke 6:48; James 1:22, 2:26; Hebrews 11:17-37; Habakkuk 3:17-18; 1 John 2:19
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?