the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
In this fourth lesson of our study on the Lord’s church, we will be looking at the church’s foundation. In other words, we will be studying the basis and underpinnings of the Lord’s churches on earth.
Christ and His Word Make Up the Foundation of the Local Assembly…
1. Christ is called the Foundation with the Ministry Of The Word Building Upon That Foundation : 1 Corinthians 3:9-15
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, [ye are] God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:9-15)
In this text, we can see that Paul is describing his teaching ministry to the Lord’s churches as “I have laid the foundation”. He continues by describing the teaching of those who teach the assemblies after his departure as “and another buildeth thereon”. By using these descriptive phrases Paul is making it plain for us to see that the teaching the truths of Christ make up the foundation and mission of the Lord’s churches.
He then goes further and states that “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” By saying this, he is making it plain that the foundation of the Lord’s churches are made up EXCLUSIVELY of the teachings concerning Christ. The teachings of this world, no matter how popular or persuasive they might be are not a part of the underpinnings, strength, and establishment of the churches of the Lord.
These principles are further supported by 1 Timothy 3:15 which tells us that the church of God is the “pillar and ground of the truth”.
Paul then explains that the teachings that honor Christ are very valuable and will reap eternal blessings for the teacher; while the teachings that depart from God’s Word are of no lasting value and will not bring about eternal gain.
2. Christ is called the “Chief Cornerstone” with the Word Being Called The Foundation : Ephesians 2:19-22
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone]; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)
In these verses, Paul reveals to us that “the household of God” (ie the local church assembly) is built upon the foundation of the Word of God. He uses the phrase “the apostles and prophets” to refer to the New and the Old Testaments. Those who held the office of apostle were the authors of the vast majority of the New Testament. Likewise, those holding the office of prophet wrote the vast majority of the Old Testament.
What is the dominating, exclusive theme of both the Old and New Testament Scriptures? It is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why He is described as the “chief corner stone”. What is the a chief corner stone. Basically, it is the foundation of the foundation. The cornerstone is set and then the other stones making up the foundation are placed in alignment with it.
3. The Truths Of Christ Found In The Word Are Called “The Rock” Upon Which The Local Church Is Built: Matthew 16:13-20
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Please note the series of events that take place in this text:
1. Christ asks his disciples… how does the common Jewish citizen identify Him?
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
2. The response they give … there is no certainty and much disagreement on their part… perhaps John the Baptist, perhaps the OT prophet Elijah or Jeremiah, or another prophet.
And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
3. Christ’s second question… How do my disciples identify me?
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
4. Peter replies …. Thou art the Christ (Anointed One, One Sent From God) the Son of the living God.
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
5. The Lord responds by explaining that, to understand these truths about Christ Peter has been greatly blessed with enabling by God.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
6. The Lord continues by stating that Peter’s description of Christ is the rock (cornerstone) that the Lord’s church will be empowered, strengthened and established. It would be through the teachings of these truths about Christ that the church would be invincible.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
(In this verse, note the play on the word “rock”. The word “rock’ is used to describe the truths that Peter has just spoken, Christ was affirming these truths as the foundational truths of His local assembly.
Please notice that Christ gives the title of “Peter” to Simon in response to the statement that Simon has just made. “Peter” is the English translation of a Greek word that means “a small piece of a rock”. Why does Christ give Peter this title? He is saying that Peter, as he declares the truth about Christ is adding to the foundation becoming a small part of it. This is in perfect alignment with what Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 (above). Anyone who proclaims Christ in a local assembly is adding a small piece of rock to the large rock that is the church’s foundation. This is what Peter had just done proclaiming these truths about Christ in the midst of the local church at Jerusalem.
7. The Lord continues His discourse to all the assembled disciples telling them that, as a local church assembly, they have a tremendous amount of authority as they proclaim truths about Christ to the world.
These truths if accepted by faith, will give access to the kingdom of heaven.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven:
As the church warns others of their bondage in sin and coming eternal judgment (binding the hearers on earth); God in heaven will “back up their message” and bring this judgment to pass. (binding the hearers in heaven).
and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:
Likewise, as the church promises those who believe the church’s message of Christ will be released from their sin bondage and enter into spiritual, eternal life (loose them on earth); God in heaven will honor their promise and grant to the believer freedom from sin and the judgment to come (loose them in heaven).
and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
This is the great level of authority that is possessed by a local church of the Lord that is built upon Christ and the truths of His Word.
As we studied the local churches foundation, we saw that
1. The church’s foundation is made up of the Truths of God’s Word.
2. The Word which is made up of both Old and New Testaments exclusively reveals the Lord Jesus Christ, the “cornerstone” of that foundation.
3. Anyone who teaches these truths of Christ in the midst of His assembly will be adding to the foundation of that assembly.
4. The church, when it proclaims the truths of God possesses a tremendous amount of authority knowing that the Lord is support their teachings of sin, salvation and the eternity to come.
Why should we should attend, join and support the ministries of a local church? It is founded upon the truths of Christ that are presented in His Word. Because its foundation and message is based upon Christ, the church carries a tremendous amount of authority that is supported by God Himself.
May the Lord bless us as we seek His truth.
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