Any one who wants to build a tower must consider the nature of the ground on which he plans to build, because if he does not select the right ground, the building constructed on it, with time, will collapse. After conversion, there are two types of “ground” a disciple can build his religious life, and this in turn determines if that disciple’s religious life will be pleasing to his master, or his service accepted. And most importantly, the ground on which a disciple builds is a way of knowing the type of disciple he is.

In a world where many claimed to follow Christ, how do we know those who are truly his disciples, and what mark or marks do we look for. Our Lord Jesus, in Matthew Chapter 7 verses 21 to 27 stated, “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! “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 this text, Jesus was addressing those who called him Lord, in essence, disciples. They were privileged to hear his words, that means they had close encounter with him. These disciples demonstrated some spiritual gifts; they prophesied, cast out demons, and performed many miracles in the name of their master. But, on the judgment day, they we rejected, and all what they did amounted to nothing. The first lesson here is that it is very possible for anyone who professes Christ as Lord to be rejected on the last day. Why are these gifted disciples rejected? Look at verses 21 and 23 of Matthew chapter 7.  They were rejected because they never did the will of their master. It is important to point out that, apart from prophesying, casting out demons, and performing miracles there is something much more important and critical to the salvation of any disciple. And the important thing is doing the will of God; doing what Christ said, exactly the way he said it.  Not adding to it or subtracting from it. Deuteronomy 4:2, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” We have similar warning in Revelation 22: 18-19.  In the great commission, Christ told his Apostles to teach the would be disciples to observe all the things he had commanded. Matthew 28: 18-20, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” The type of disciples Jesus Christ wanted are those who will observe all the things he had commanded.

Beginning from verse 24 of Matthew 7, Christ began to explain what it means to be a true disciple. His focus was what people do with his words (his sayings), after hearing them. He categorized his hearers into two groups; the first group is the wise ones, who hears his words and do them, and the second group are the foolish ones, who hears his words and do not follow them. The wise ones are likened to a man who built his house on the rock (solid ground), and foolish ones to a man who built his house on the sand (sinking sand). The house Jesus was talking about here represents the Christian life, that is, one’s religious life. A religious life involves our lifestyles, and belief system (doctrines), and it includes what we do, how we do them, and the basis or motives of doing them. In this passage, Christ explained the yardstick to measure one’s religious life, and whether it will be accepted by God. And the yardstick is, obedience to the commandments of God. Jesus said in Luke 6:46, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” In this verse, Christ clearly stated the mark of his true disciple, and this is doing what he says. To build a house on the sand, is to build one’s religious life on disobedience. And to build a house on the rock, is to build one’s religious life on absolute obedience to the word of God.

Again, a true mark of disciple is not the ability to demonstrate spiritual gift, but constant submission to the authority and lordship of Christ, because you cannot call someone your master without obeying him. A true disciple is a doer of God’s word, and a wise builder, who builds his life on the sayings of Christ. A foolish builder is someone, who hears Christ’s words, but failed to act on them, or partially acted on them. He will be likened to Saul, Israel first king, who thought the word of God can be partially obeyed. When their master gives them a particular order, they do it in another way. They always do things in their own way, yet, they are in the forefront of many religious activities, thinking that will make Christ please with them. These are the people that Christ will say on the last day, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” What does it mean practice lawlessness? To practice lawlessness is to disregard the commandment of God. It means breaking God’s law, and the breaking of God’s law is sin. 1 John 3: 4, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” Note, for Christ to say to these people (who prophesied, cast out demons, and performed many wonders in his name) that he did not know them, it means they have never been his true followers. They are disciples who have been living a sinful life, but using religious activities as a cover up.

Why must a disciple build on the rock? Because storm will come at one time or the other to test the stability of his building (religious life). The storm represents trials, temptations, persecutions, challenges of life or divine judgement at the end of one’s life. Storms will come in all directions, and one must be built and rooted in Christ to withstand them. The bible says the rain will descend (challenges from above), the flood will come (challenges from below) and the wind will blow (challenges from within or across). They are the things that will test the strength of one’s spiritual life, but if it is built on the obedience to Christ’s words (rock), it will stand. But, any religious life built on the disobedience to Christ’s words will collapse, and great will be the fall. It is therefore important for any disciple who does not want to fall out of grace, or face God’s Judgement, to continuously practice obedience to Christ’s words. Practicing obedience is the solid ground that will withstand the storms of life and escape the judgement of God. Hearing and acting on the master’s words is preparing for eternity and Judgement. I John 2:17 says, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

One area a disciple must watch out for, are the teachings that appeared to have come from Christ, but are actually not from him. Today, there are many belief systems, doctrines, philosophies, and human traditions which can indirectly make a disciple go against Christ’s words, so it is important for a disciple to know and understand his master’s sayings. In Mark 7 verses 7 to 9, and 13, Jesus said “And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men —the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. ” “…Making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

Christ said, a believer can worship him in vain, if he obeys or follows the commandments of men, instead of what He commanded. Human traditions are dangerous, and are nothing but religious rituals that produce self righteousness, and not the righteousness of God. Human traditions always lead to the laying aside of the commandments of God, and it makes the words of God of no effect. Human traditions and the commandments of men are sinking sand. Any Christian life builds on them will not stand in the judgment of God. Paul warned in Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”  And in the two verses before this, he challenged believers to walk in Christ, rooted and built in him. Colossians 2:6-7  “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” A disciple needs to be rooted and built in Christ, and also walk in him to be a true disciple.

In order to be rooted, a disciple must take the word of God seriously, and must study it diligently. Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” In order for a believer to be blessed, he must do three things base on this verse. He must study (not just read) the word, and the word must be in his mouth. He must meditate on it (let it be in his heart), day and night. He must take a conscious effort, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, to obey what it says.

To obey Christ’s word is better than religious rituals. While disobedience brings curses and death, obedience brings blessings and life. Adam, the first man God created, disobeyed God by eating from the tree he was commanded not to eat from. For his disobedience, he was cursed, cut off from God and the tree of life, Genesis 2:16-17, Genesis 3:1-6, 24.  Nadab and Abihu were priests who had the privilege to serve God in the Tabernacle, but they used profane fire for their sacrifice, against the command of God. They were not spared, but struck to dead, Leviticus 10:1. Moses missed the promised land, because he did not follow the instructions of God, as he was given. God asked him to speak to the rock before the eyes of the children of Israel so that it can bring forth water. Moses spoke to the rock, but also struck the rock angrily, Numbers 20:8-12. Only the priest can touch the Ark of the covenant, Uzzah, who was not a priest, in an attempt to prevent the Ark from falling, touched it, and he died instantly, 2 Samuel 6:6-7. Uzziah thought because he was a king, he can enter the Holy place (where only the priest of God can enter), to offer incense to God, Numbers 16:39-40, 18:7; 2 Chronicles 26:16-18. His disobedience made him a leper, 2 Chronicle 26:19. Again, Saul, the first king of Israel, was commanded by God to utterly destroy the Amalekites, not sparing anything, man or animal. But Saul spared the Amalekites King, and some fatty rams. When he was confronted about his action, he said he wanted to sacrifice the rams to God. But God, through the mouth of Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.” Because of his disobedience, Saul was rejected as the king of Israel, and the kingdom taken from him. Truly, obedience is better than sacrifice. No surprise, why the apostles cried in Acts 5:29, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Obedience brings God’s blessings, James 1:25, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” Deuteronomy 28:1-2, “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:” Read the whole Chapter of Deuteronomy 28, and Joshua 1:8

Obedience produces righteousness, Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

Obedience brings God’s care, Exodus 15:26, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD, who heals you.”

Obedience brings spiritual stability, Matthew 7:24-25, “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.”

Obedience brings God’s power to defeat the enemy, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

God’s way of defeating Satan is when our obedience is complete.

Obedience brings God’s protection, Daniel 3:23-25, “And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Read the entire Daniel Chapter 3 for the full story. Also, Daniel was protected in the Lion’s den for obeying God. Noah was protected in the ark during the flood for obeying God. God spared Isaac, because Abraham Obeyed God. The male first born of the children of Israel were spared in Goshen, because they obeyed God. Obey God today and you will be unshakable, perfect, and blessed.

God will never force anyone to obey him, Genesis 2:16-17, because man was created as a free moral agent, who has the ability to choose what he wants. And most importantly, God wants our obedience to his commandments to come out of our love for him. Jesus told his disciples in John 14:21, 23-24, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” Joshua warned the children of Israel in Joshua 22:5, “But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” And these are the whole duties of a disciple. In John14;15, Christ said “If you love Me, keep My commandments. How do you know you are acting on the Word? By how much the Word has changed your way of life, because by your fruits we will know you.