Sep 9 10

Category Confusion


One of the striking aspects of the closing words of the Sermon on the Mount is the way Jesus categorizes people. The Bible does not tend to deal with grey areas. In scripture, there is always a way set before us that is either right or wrong. With God, issues are black or white, or as John puts it, it is either darkness or light (1 John 1:5). The closing words of the Sermon on the Mount are structured in the same way. People are either on their way to heaven or hell. This follows from Matthew 7:13-14 where Jesus speaks of the broad way that leads to destruction and the narrow way that leads to life.

It is no wonder then that in His last illustration Jesus uses only two builders. One builds his house on a sure foundation of solid rock while the other shortcuts the process. He does not dig deep and therefore his house sits on unstable shifting sands. When the storm comes and the flood waters rise, the house on the sand will be swept away while the house on the rock withstands the torrents of rain.

There are many that disagree about what is meant by building the house on the rock. The most popular interpretation makes Jesus the Rock, on which the house is built, meaning the person of Christ. This does not seem to be the direct meaning although it is certainly an indirect implication. Rather, the passage indicates the rock to be the sayings of Jesus, or in other words, the teachings that He gave during the preceding discourse. This means that all other teaching of any sort amounts to nothing more than shifting sands.

This is where Christianity must of necessity be in conflict with any other religious system. This is as black and white as it can be. Pluralism is unacceptable because it scatters people across a broad spectrum of categories. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, and any others without Christ are in those categories. Jesus rejects this; according to Him there are only two categories. This means all who reject Him as the one and only Saviour, the one and only way of eternal life, the one and only Lord and King are lumped into the category of those who have built their lives on shifting sands. When the storm of God’s judgment comes, they will be swept away into the awful destruction of hell. This is the consistent teaching of scripture.

False Christianity has supposed a completely different picture of Jesus. Their Jesus is inclusive. Surprisingly, I agree that Jesus is inclusive; only He is inclusive in a much different way than they suppose. He invites Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, and others inclusively to reject their false systems and come to Him for salvation. He clearly said that He is the only way to the Father (John 14:6) which reduces all people once again to one of two categories. Either you are with Him or you are against Him. There is no middle ground.

You may have imagined this to be much different. You may have never thought that you are against Jesus even though you have not repented of your sins and trusted Him as Saviour. You may imagine yourself to be in the grey area, neither for nor against. Grey is not an option with Jesus. It is either darkness or light. Remember His words: “He that is not with me is against me” (Matt. 12:30). The Rock or the sand—which will you choose?

Pastor V. Mark Smith