"The Church's One Foundation
By Eddie Cloer
"For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which
 is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). 

Surely one of the most disheartening realizations to a family is their becoming aware that their house is sitting upon a cracking foundation. The recognition comes to them slowly, over a period of weeks and months. They begin to notice that a door in the house does not close as it should. Soon cracks begin to appear in their bedroom walls and in other walls of the house. These are only seams at first, but with the passing of time they become ugly cracks. The bricks on the outside of their house begin to show jagged breaks as well. A sad time has come. Reality has to be faced. They have a big problem--their house is sitting on a defective foundation.

The reason this news about their house is so discouraging to them is that it is news of an "unfixable" problem. A bad foundation can be repaired to some extent, but it cannot be completely fixed. If you have a bad foundation, you have two options: You either have to live with this problem by patching it up somehow, or you have to move.

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The true church has a sure  
foundation, a bedrock substructure
 
which will never crack
 
or give way; ...
 
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This truth must be considered in connection with the church. The true church has a sure foundation, a bedrock substructure which will never crack or give way; a false church has a flawed underpinning, a foundation which cannot stand the test of life and eternity.  

Think about how the foundation of the church will provide us with both assurance and assistance. An awareness of the solid foundation of the church will bring assurance to those who are members of the New Testament church. They will be reminded that they are part of a body which rests upon a rock which will not crack, crumble, or collapse. Understanding the foundation of the New Testament church will also give a basis for examining the foundations of the false churches in the world; for if the foundation is bad, the whole structure is lacking.

What kind of foundation does the New Testament church, the true church, have? What are its characteristics?  

UPON JESUS CHRIST

A characteristic of the foundation of the church which is obvious from reading the Bible is that its foundation is the very deity of Jesus Christ. its foundation is as strong as the integrity and divine character of Jesus.  

Paul used the imagery of building a house as he spoke of establishing a New Testament church. He said, "For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ"
(1 Corinthians 3:11; emphasis mine)

Near the end of His earthly ministry, when Jesus and His disciples came near the city of Caesarea Philippi, a strongly fortified city which was situated on a limestone terrace, He asked them, "Who do people say I am?" The current, popular answers were given to Him by the disciples: "Some think You are John the Baptist, some think Elijah, and some think Jeremiah or one of the other prophets." Jesus then asked them the question,
"Who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter quickly responded for the whole group of disciples with the reply, "You are the Christ, the anointed One of whom the prophets wrote, and the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:13-16). Jesus affirmed the correctness of Peter's response by pronouncing a blessing upon Peter: "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My  
Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17)
. Jesus then stated that upon this rock--the truth which Peter had confessed--He would build His church. "And I also say to you that you are Peter [petros], and upon this rock [petra] I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it" (Matthew 16:18). The Greek word petros means "a stone," but the Greek word petra means "a ledge of stone." If our Lord had intended to refer to Peter as the rock upon which He would be building His church, He would have repeated the word petros, the word indicating Peter. He used petra instead. With this word, He pointed to the truth Peter had uttered about His being the Messiah and the Son of God.  

                The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.
                She is His new creation by water and the word. 
                From heav'n He came and sought her to be His holy  bride.
                
With His own blood He bought her.  
                And for her life He died.

                                                                     
                  S. J. Stone

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Weigh thoughtfully the firm foundation upon which the church of Christ rests. Its foundation has integrity, for it is Jesus' Sonship, a truth which cannot one day be proven false. Think of the fear that would haunt us, the misery that would plague us, if the slightest possibility existed that one day the belief upon which we have structured our lives would be proven fraudulent. Thus, the foundation of the church has indestructibility. The attacks of sin, Satan, and the world cannot chip it away. When the sunrise of eternity sends its rays of the never ending tomorrow across our lives, the foundation of the church will still be as strong as it is today.  

UPON THE PROPHETS  


    Another characteristic of the foundation of the church is that it rests upon the fulfillment of all the divine prophecies which God has given through His Holy Spirit. As Paul pictured the foundation of the family or household of God in Ephesians 2, he said that we have been "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone" (v. 20; emphasis mine).  

The prophecies of both the Old and New Testaments converge and find their fulfillment in Jesus and His church, the eternal kingdom. Daniel saw a day when the God of heaven would "set up a kingdom" which would "never be destroyed," a kingdom that would "not be left for another people"; it would "crush and put an end" to all other kingdoms, but would itself "endure forever" (Daniel 2:44).

At the beginning of the New Testament Era, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary:  

                    And behold, you will conceive in your womb,
                    and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
                    He will be great, and will be called the Son of 
                    the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him
                    the throne of His father David; and He will reign 
                    over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom
                    will have no end (Luke 1:31-33).

Jesus alluded to the fulfillment of these predictions when He promised, "Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it" (Matthew 16:18). Peter implied their fulfillment on the Day of Pentecost when he said of David, the prophet,  

           And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that God 
        had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his
        descendants upon his throne, he looked ahead and spoke
        of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither
        abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This
   
      Jesus God raised up again, . . . Therefore let all the house
        of Israel know for certain that God has made Him
        both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified
        (Acts 2:30-32,36).

Because of the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old and New Testament prophets in Jesus and His church as God's eternal kingdom, we can sing with John, "He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:6).  

                            How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, 
                       Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
                       What more can He say than to you He has said, 
                       You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
                                                                                            George Keith

As a little boy, I would often try to run away from my shadow. The shadow was there, but it was not there. It moved with me and depicted my form, but it had no substance. Long ago shadowy prophecies portrayed a coming day of reality for the people of God. God's people were never without the prophetic realization that the Messianic Era was on its way and would soon arrive. They looked with joyful anticipation for the day of the eternal kingdom of God. At Pentecost, the substance and reality of the prophecies appeared; the eternal kingdom in the earthly form of the church began. The reality of God's plan and work burst upon the world.  

UPON THE APOSTLES  

A third characteristic of the foundation of the church is the truth revealed by inspired apostles. Paul said the family of God was "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20; emphasis mine). Christ put in place the apostolic part of the foundation of the church by training His apostles for over three years. He promised them that after His departure they would be guided into all truth: "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you" (John 14:26). This promise was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and they were thereby equipped for the mission of transmitting God's revelation to other men. The apostles were God's human instruments for the giving of His truth to the world. The church rests upon the divinely inspired apostles and their revelation of God's Word. The true church of Christ can only exist where the Word of God is honored and obeyed.

                                Standing on the promises that cannot fail, 
                         When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail.
                         By the living word of God I shall prevail,
                         Standing on the promises of God.
                                                                        R. Kelso Carter
                                                                         

The Christian can rejoice that the New Testament church is built upon the solid rock of God's truth, for the foundation of the Lord stands sure (2 Timothy 2:19). Truth is eternal; error is marked for destruction. The church has an eternal tomorrow with God because it is anchored in unbreakable, everlasting truth. The Christian, as part of Christ's body, the church, believes, hopes, and lives upon the granite rock of God's revelation.  

CONCLUSION  

The church of the New Testament has an enduring foundation: It rests upon the deity of Christ, the prophets of God, and the apostles of Christ--a foundation that is as strong as Jesus, as eternal as truth, and as real and authentic as God's plan for the world.  

Are you a member of Christ's church? Remember: if the church of which you are a member has a cracked foundation, you cannot fix it--you must decide to live on that inadequate foundation or move. If the foundation upon which you are living is cracked, please, for the sake of your life and eternity, move. Enter the church of Christ whose foundation will secure you during the storms of life and will provide safe footing for you before our Father's throne in eternity.  

QUESTIONS FOR STUDY
AND DISCUSSION

  1.  Why is it important for the church to have the proper foundation?
  2.  What is Paul's affirmation about the foundation of the church in
1Corinthians 3:11?
  3   Explain the meaning of
Matthew 16: 18. Is Peter or Jesus' deity the rock upon which
           Jesus said He would build His Church?
  4. Discuss the integrity and indestructibility of the foundation of the church.
  5. In what way would the prophets be within the foundation of the church?
  6. What does the angel Gabriel imply in his statement to Mary?
(See Luke 1:31-33.)
  7. What does Peter declare regarding Jesus in
Acts 2:30-32, 36?
  8. In what way are the apostles in the foundation of the church?
  9. Are living apostles needed today for the church to be built upon the foundation
          of the apostles?
10. How did the apostles become part of the foundation of the church?
11. What does Paul mean when he says that the "foundation of the Lord stands sure?
12. If the foundation of a church is wrong, what can be done about it?