There is something special about being able to take part in building your own house or the house of another. Somehow, the construction and completion of something as usable and positive as a house leaves us all with a good feeling. I have been directly involved in the construction of five houses, and the first lesson that I learned was the importance of laying the foundation properly and carefully. One needs to be aware of the soil on which the foundation rests as well as things like drainage, substance of the base used (usually concrete) and the proper strengthening of the base with metal rods. Once the foundation is secure, the house can be built with confidence. Jesus knew about foundations for houses when He remarked that rock was a lasting base on which to build (Matthew 7:24-27). But His remarks go further than house-building.
A strong foundation stands the test of time
We lay different foundations for various things in life. A good foundation at home and in elementary school is vital for success at the higher levels of living and learning. Marriage that has been planned and approached with the desire to be strong and lasting needs a good foundation. Our faith and spiritual lives are also secure when the foundations upon which they stand are sturdy. In our spiritual life, it is God who does the shaping, forming, designing and building within each person whom He calls. He is the master potter or master builder (Isaiah 64:8). He knows how important it is to begin properly in the development of a “temple” for His spiritual residence (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
We humans often try to cut corners to save money, time or effort, but God knows the value of good construction that lasts forever regardless of time or effort. On the other hand, God also allows us to have a hand in the construction of our spiritual lives. He is never far away, and is always involved, but we are given instructions and directions that allow us to be part of His great work on Earth. We are to be like Mary and choose the good part – the part that satisfies a hunger for more knowledge and understanding of God’s way as Jesus taught (Luke10:38-42).
The reason and purpose for all God has accomplished is to develop sons for His family for all eternity. The building God is concentrating on will last forever, so the foundation must be immovable and unshakable. It has been laid with the greatest care and attention to detail.
Jesus Christ is the true foundation on which we must build
Jesus Christ was the main “rock” upon which the foundation was laid. The foundation, strong and solid, is to hold the rest of the temple that is to be built. Paul wrote about this in Ephesians 2:19-22. In these verses, Paul explains the wonderful truth that the Church is built upon Christ and the foundation of the apostles and prophets. It is to become a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Our part is to study, learn and then apply the teachings God has given from this foundation (1 Peter 2:1-5).
Peter goes on to explain the responsibility of each of Jesus’ followers to conduct his or her life in a way that brings honor and glory to the heavenly Father. Jesus left us a blueprint of how we are to conduct our lives. This rock is immovable and not made by human endeavor. It came directly from God, but the remainder of the responsibility in building involves us humans.
Why would God choose those He did when the foundation is so important? Why not the most learned and capable men? God tells us He chose the foolish things that were despised so that He would shame men who think they have a “better idea” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). No human will be able to glory in His presence. He is supreme today, was yesterday and always will be.
Let us concentrate on the foundation for a moment. God chose men and women who were deeply committed to what we call the Old Testament. He chose those who obeyed His commandments (the Ten Commandments and more). The 12 disciples who became the main apostles were chosen from simple backgrounds—men who did not have their minds cluttered with politics, philosophy or greed (Acts 4:13). God did not expect them to remain as they were, but they were to continue to grow in grace and knowledge of the truth as we all are (2 Peter 3:18). Even with all the help God gave, one of the 12 became the betrayer of Jesus Christ. God does allow for free choice and wants willing followers. That one was replaced sothat they all qualified to have their names inscribed on the true foundation (Revelation 21:14).
Why would God call only Jews and only men who would find it very difficult to change any beliefs they had? Peter, for example, took decades of experiences, learning and effort to finally be able to understand and accept Gentiles as equal to Israelites in God’s eyes. Paul had to confront Peter about his biases and fears years after the lesson God gave in the dream Peter received (Acts 10:14; Galatians 2:11-13). God does not fault Peter, though he was wrong. God needed men who would not easily be moved from the teachings of the Old Testament. In fact, they were not to be removed at all, but they were to grasp the greater, magnified teachings that God always intended.
God’s laws define Christ’s foundation
Jesus came to magnify God’s law – not to annul it (Isaiah 42:21; Matthew 5:17). He did not come to change the Sabbath to Sunday, for example; He came to support the Sabbath just as He supported and magnified the other commandments in His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:19-48).
The apostles, however, did need to leave the traditions of men behind. The Jews of Jesus’ day thought they were pleasing God when they defined and regulated thousands of details about behavior that they deemed “sin.” They made God’s laws a burden through the heavy yoke they placed on people (Matthew 23:4; Galatians 5:1; Matthew 11:29-30). Jesus was not happy with the manmade rules that confined people. God’s laws are supreme, and to be kept, but not as a fanatic.
Jesus expressed a whole new spiritual aspect to God’s laws, which brings mankind closer to God as they learn to think as He does. He also explained that, although the Sabbath was a wonderful holy day, there were things you could do such as visiting the sick, or performing a good deed as He did when He healed the sick (Luke 13:15-16; John 5:8-10; 9:14). Paul wrote and cautioned each human who builds on the foundation to be careful (1 Corinthians 3:9-17).
Jesus Christ was the express image of God the Father (Hebrews 1:3). He was Jewish too. He learned the scriptures so well that by the age of 12, He could easily discuss them with the most learned men of Jerusalem (Luke 2:47). There is a very good reason the Son of God was to be educated and trained among the Jews. There is a very good reason the foundation of the Church was to be the apostles and prophets. There is a good reason that the apostles will have their names engraved on the foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14). God was making sure that the foundation of the Church was rock-solid.
His holy word was written in the Old Testament, taught and broadened by Jesus Christ and the apostles and written in the spiritual fullness in what we know of as the New Testament. The New does not cancel the Old; it embraces it and is in full agreement. The foundation has been laid, not by men, but by God through men. Humans are allowed to work on this foundation, but not to change it (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). It feels good to be building for eternity. This “house” will last forever and is worthy of every effort. It will cost us our lives, yet that is a small price to pay for the new life God offers (Philippians 3:8-14). Foundations are how long-lasting buildings stand. What a privilege to be on this worksite!