The Underground Principle

September 30, 2018

David Sorn

In Luke chapter 6, Jesus gives us 2 promises of how our lives can change for the better. But first, we’ll need to live out “The Underground Principle.” Find out what that is!

The Underground Principle

September 30, 2018

David Sorn

In Luke chapter 6, Jesus gives us 2 promises of how our lives can change for the better. But first, we’ll need to live out “The Underground Principle.” Find out what that is!



(Play Series slide WITH Lead Pastor Title Transition)

Morning. Welcome to Renovation Church!

We are diving back into the Book of Luke today …which is one of the 4 books in the Bible about the life and teachings of Jesus

I know that for a lot of you, you are new since we started going through this book…

And for a ton of you, this is only your 2nd week at Renovation Church.

If you’re here for the 2nd week of the 3-week challenge! Welcome back!

We are PUMPED that you are here.

We’re so happy, we’re going to clap for you right now!

Because so many of you are new, I wanted to show you this 3.5 minute recap of what’s happened so far in the first 6 chapters of Luke so we can all be caught up to the same spot.


This morning, we are at the very end of chapter 6

(Page 837)

(renovation app)

All throughout chapter 6, Jesus has been giving counter-cultural advice on how to live

And today…he’s going to talk to us about what will happen if you actually live out his advice.

(Luke 6:43-49) – NIV

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.

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.”


So Jesus starts by teaching us with an example from trees.

Now often, what people picture in their mind’s eye while reading this parable is incorrect.

Often, in our minds…

We picture one tree that looks healthy and has beautiful fruit on it

And we picture another tree that’s withering or almost dead

But that’s not what Jesus said.

If you read in the passage, both trees are bearing fruit.

It’s just that one tree has good fruit…And one has bad fruit.

Some commentators even think it’s referring to something like poisonous fruit…

The difference between the two trees isn’t always obvious at first…and sometimes only time will tell which kind of fruit a tree will actually bear.

The house parable is making the same point.

In ancient Palestine (where Jesus lived), many people did indeed just throw their houses up quick without a foundation…and if no major storms came, they might just get by.

And here’s the thing, when you just walked down the road, you COULDN’T tell who had “dug down deep” (as Jesus says) and built a foundation…and who had not.

So why does this matter?

It matters because Jesus isn’t contrasting good and bad people…

He’s also not contrasting people who follow Him and people who don’t want anything to do with Him

What He’s contrasting is people who follow Him and do what He says AND people who claim to follow Him, but don’t really do what He says.

It’s right in verse 46. Look at it again.

(Luke 6:46) – NIV

46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Now, you might think it’s really easy to tell the difference between these two camps, but the parable teaches us that that’s not usually the case.

Often you can’t tell the difference until the fruit comes in…which can take years

Or not until a storm comes

By the way, I’m not sure Jesus is out to make a dichotomy here either.

As if one camp always loves him and always obeys Him…

…and the other camp only pretends to love Him, and thus never obeys Him

I think we sometimes float between these two camps.

And the temptation is to just go through the motions…to call him “Lord,” but in actuality, not do the hard work of growing deep in God.

…to just throw up a spiritual house quickly.

Whenever I read this story, I can’t help but think of one of my kids’ favorite stories, the 3 little pigs.

We literally just acted out this story yesterday… (I was the wolf)

Yes, I act out stories with my kids…don’t judge.

The 3 little pigs leave their mother’s house, and they each run off to build their own house.

The last pig takes his time and builds his house out of bricks, the first two pigs just want a dwelling place (it doesn’t matter how you do it…just do it)

So the first pig finds the first materials he can get, and builds a house of straw.

Obviously no match for the wolf

Like, does this wolf run marathons? Who has lungs like that?!?

And this is the same sort of temptation that we’re talking about…

The temptation is to not really dig deep into your relationship with God…just go through the motions…and make sure you have some sort of a spiritual house up to show people you’re doing okay.

And you can do totally do this.

You can hang around a church, get involved at a church, take a class at church, make friends at a church, and throw up some Bible verses on Instagram once a month…

But not really dig deep into God

This is like the people who need to show up at the gym 12 times a month to have their Health Insurance reimburse their membership.

You ever seen one of these people (maybe it’s you)…they’re not quite at 12 times for the month, and they’re busy…and don’t have time to work out

So they walk into the gym, swipe their card…pretend to walk around, and then walk right back out.

News Flash…you ain’t losing weight that way.

And there are plenty of Christians who show up just to swipe their card.

Keep the spiritual house, façade, up.

And the scary part is…if they’ve been around for a little while…they can even speak the lingo, maybe even debate you on a theological topic…

And yet they’re not putting in the work to grow themselves spiritually …

Usually their own faith…is floundering.

But most people wouldn’t know that about their faith

Because you can make your spiritual life look quite nice ABOVE ground (where people can see it) if you want to…

Things can be falling apart on the inside for you spiritually, and 90% of people are still going to walk by your “spiritual house” and say, “Wow…she’s really spiritual! I always see her volunteering here …or drinking out of coffee mugs with Bible verses on it”

“I always see him debating about God…He seems really smart…really spiritual.”

Your tree might not look all that different…at least till the fruit comes in…and the effects of what’s really beneath the surface will show


If we look at our passage as a whole from this morning, there’s something interesting about these two parables back-to-back (the trees and the houses)

Both the tree parable and the house parable have this in common: They both need the right thing to happen underground for good things to happen above ground.

A few years ago, we were covering one of the different fruit passages in the Bible, and our phrase for this was: Take root, to bear fruit.

If a tree can’t establish strong and deep roots underground, it can’t get the water and nutrients it needs to bear good fruit above ground.

And obviously a house without a good foundation underground will not stand above ground.

So listen, this is what I’m going to call “the underground principles” (take notes):


If you want to see results above ground, you’ve got to do the work underground.

That is…you put work into your faith when no one’s watching.

No one else sees what you’re doing…when you’re underground…putting in work.

And check this out: God’s Word makes you not one, but TWO promises today.

If you develop your relationship with Him (underground)…when no one’s watching…you will:

Two Promises of Luke 6:43-49

1) You’ll Bear Fruit

2) You’ll Stand Firm

Those are both ABOVE ground things.

Jesus is saying, “if you live out this principle, you’ll have very noticeable character changes…and that you can whether any storm.

And you do that be living out the “Underground principle”


If you want to see results above ground, you’ve got to do the work underground.

Anyone can act like they have faith when they’re in front of other people

But if you really want change in your life…you’ve got to do the work underground…

So what does it mean to do underground work…to take root…to spiritually dig a deep foundation…so you can have a strong spiritual life….

Let’s get REAL practical here…

I would say that “Underground work” work is done by working on two things

2 Ways you do “Underground Work”

Work on Your Relationship with God

Grow in Your Obedience to Him

Let’s start with the first one…We bear fruit in our lives when we are in a REAL relationship with Jesus Christ

(John 15:4-5) – NIV

4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

You remain in Jesus by being closely connected to Him…

You get up early…maybe before anyone else…and just talk with Him.

You stay up late, and try and figure out more of His Words

In your car, you sing to Him

You have a relationship with Him.

By the way, is this you?

When was the last time you had a great talk with Jesus?

If you’re not sure, then you’re not doing enough underground work when no one’s watching.

If you’re just getting started…no worries…this is how you do it!

Remember the underground principle.

If you want to see spiritual results above ground, you’ve got to first do the work underground

If it’s been a while since you’ve done some underground work, be willing to make your Christian walk a RELATIONSHIP again.

That’s what you wanted it when this all started right?

You said, “I give you my life to follow you. I love you!”

You didn’t say, “I’ll learn all of your slang and will hang out around your people”

If you need to get back in the Bible…or even start reading the Bible…start today.

If you’re just starting here at church, and you don’t have a Bible, take the under your chair with you…that’s our gift to you.

Or download our app, you can read the Bible in there.

Or pick up a Bible reading plan on the hallway table.

Or start a Bible reading plan in the YouVersion app, they have thousands of them.

Make a new plan for how you’ll meet with Him and start talking with Him again starting this week.

If you want to see results above ground, you’ve got to do the work under ground.

The teaching of the New Testament is NOT that you are to change yourself from the outside in…and say, “I guess I’ll work on being nicer and try to get some more self-control.”

NO! That’s religion!

The fruit doesn’t give life to the tree.

The tree gives life to the fruit.

The teaching of the New Testament is that God wants to change you from the inside -> out.

He wants to change you into a new tree…all the way down to the roots.

And he does that when you live out the underground principle…when you sit down with Him…and do the work…when nobody’s watching.

But these underground parables that Jesus speaks of allude not only to a relationship with Him but SECONDLY, to your obedience to Him.

Look at what Jesus says in verse 47 before he shares the parable about the house and the foundation:

(Luke 6:47) – NIV

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.

If you want the promise of standing firm through the storm…you have to trust Him and live it out.

That’s what a relationship is…with someone you call your LORD

This is why Jesus says in John

If you love me, you’ll keep my commands.

That’s why Jesus said in our passage, “Why do you call me Lord and NOT DO WHAT I SAY?”

Francis Chan often tells a story often about his daughter when he hears people “presenting themselves as spiritual” but not actually truly living it out like Jesus is asking.

He says, “When I tell my daughter, ‘Go clean your room.”

She knows better.

She’s not going to come back a couple of hours later, and saying, “Hey dad, I memorized what you said. You said, “Go, clean your room.”

What am I going to say? “Oh good job! That’s what I wanted!” No.

And she’s not going to say to me, “Dad, I can say ‘Go clean your room’, in Greek.

She’s not going to say, “My friends and I, we’re going to gather together every week, and we’re going to study what it would look like if I went and cleaned my room.”

No, none of that’s going to fly.

If you love me, If I’m truly your father…trust me and just go clean your room

Digging underground…digging a foundation…is done, not only by strengthening your relationship with God, but by working your obedience muscle.

I went to Haiti about 13 months after the devasting earthquake of 2010, which killed around 150,000 people.

Here are some pictures I took of earthquake damage when I was there

(Show earthquake photos)

Just a few months after the earthquake in Haiti, an earthquake of an even stronger magnitude hit Chile…and the death toll was only 525 people.

Location of where it hit was certainly a factor…but the main factor was building codes.

In Chile, there exists a culture that has a strong adherence to building codes and preparing for earthquakes…

Every structure…even though it took more work, more effort, even more money, was built to code…so it could survive a tragedy.

But in Haiti, most of the homes and buildings completely ignored building codes and were just quickly thrown together.

And Jesus is telling you that if you never do any underground work…

If you’ve just been hanging out here…going through the motions…and thus you don’t really trust and obey Him when it’s hard…

Like, if it becomes unfashionable in the culture to obey Him…or if He’s calling you to do something that might get you looks at work, or if He’s calling you to stop dating a particular person, or just something you to something hard in general…

If you haven’t done the underground work of obedience…your faith won’t last the storm.

It won’t last the storm of temptation

It won’t last the storm of persecution

It won’t last the storm of trial and tragedy.

I’m telling you a downpour of rain…always reveals if we’ve just colored Jesus with onto our lives with washable chalk, or if He’s really the foundation for how we live.

I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read about some athlete who got caught doing drugs or driving 130 mph in their Honda Odyssey…I mean Lamborghini

And without fail, they always say the EXACT same thing

They say, “That’s just not who I really am.”

No, that’s exactly who you are.

It’s when we’re under pressure, that we get squeezed, and the real us comes out.

When life is good, you can fake just about anything.

This is why Jesus says,

(Luke 6:45) – NIV

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.

But here’s the GOOD NEWS!

You can build a strong foundation…so that when the storm comes…what it will reveal…is a woman of faith…is a man of God.

Do you want that?

Anybody in here want that?

You build that…underground…by digging…little by little.

Each time you trust and obey God in the little things…

He puts on your heart to say sorry to your co-worker or family member…even for the little things…and you do it!

Or you read in His Word, that what you’re doing is wrong and hurtful not only to you, but to God’s heart…and you stop doing it!

Each time you obey…and you trust Him…it’s like digging that foundation a little deeper underground.

And every minute you spend just talking with Him…praising Him…or studying His Word…

It’s like digging that foundation a little deeper undergound.

And remember the underground principle…

The deeper that you’ve dug your foundation underground, the easier it then is for your faith to both stand (and flourish) above ground…in everyday life.

And why does that matter?

Because someday a real storm is going to come.

And if you haven’t dug a foundation through the little instances of obedience (and through working on your relationship w/ Him)…you’ll never keep following Him when it’s actually really hard to

I recently, through a friend, came across the story of Scott & Johanna Watkins.

A local, Christian couple in MN.

Here is what they looked like when they got married a few years ago.

(Watkins 1 Photo)

After being married just a short time, Johanna became very sick.

At first it looked like she just developed a few allergies, but eventually she was diagnosed with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

(Watkins 2 photo)

Which is like your immune system going haywire…

So Johanna is allergic to basically everything.

Allergic to most chemicals

Allergic to almost every food

She can only eat two different meals…ever.

Allergic to scents…even the scent of her own husband.

She has to stay in her own part of the house, isolated from the world while her husband cares for her without actually ever coming into any contact with her

And yet...somehow, for these 2 Christian people, their faith in Christ is growing

Both of them have written about how their faith in Christ has never been stronger.

Scott writes about how he has learned to truly live, “palms up” to God…releasing control to Him and trusting that God has a great purpose

Johanna talks about how Jesus is no longer just a Savior for when she needed one…that He is HER life…her everything…someone she can and needs to reply on for absolutely everything…and HE…HAS…BEEN…FAITHFUL.

But how do you do that?

How do you not only “stand firm”…but even “bear fruit” (for other people to see) when storms like that come?

You don’t do that just by going through the outward motions and throwing up a little spiritual house.

Listen, discipline in getting your feet in the door…that’s good…that’s a topic for another day.

But what sustains you…what digs the foundation deep underground…is Jesus Christ!

And your relationship with Him!

He can carry you through ANYTHING! Even things that might just crush a person of the world.

He can help you stand firm in the fiercest storm.

He can cause you to flower and bear fruit…even as the storm rages around you.

(back to Underground Principle Slide)

So I ask you…

What’s your relationship with God been like lately?

I didn’t say, “Did you make it to House Groups last week?”

I didn’t say, “Did you volunteer this month?”

I’m talking about: “How are you and Jesus?”

Are you talking?

Are you setting aside to be with Him?

Are you trusting in Him…obeying Him…even when it’s hard?

If not, fall in love with Him again.


He’s just waiting for you to talk again…

Waiting for you to start digging underground again in your relationship with Him when no one’s looking.

And if you dig underground…you will stand firm…and you will bear fruit above ground…that’s a promise from Jesus Himself.

Let’s pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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