THE CHURCH'S ONE FOUNDATION
By Larry White
(Originally delivered at the Wendell Lectureship in Wendell, ID. September 22, 2001)
I preached this sermon in Wendell Idaho at the church lectureship put together by Reggie Finch a faithful brother in Christ. Since no one here came to the lectures, I wanted you to at least hear the lesson I presented to the brethren there.
Our subject in the lectureship was "The One True Church", and in as much as mine was the first lesson on the subject it was only fitting that I begin with the elementary and seriously important question of the church's origin, its foundation and the historical setting of its beginning.
I ) Founder
Jesus during his ministry promised to build his church. This would be the assembly that belonged to Christ. It belongs to him because he is the builder.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this bedrock I will build my assembly, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
It is not a man in the 15th or 16th centuries like Luther or Wesley, or a group of men in the early 1800's like Barton Stone or Alexander Campbell. Christ is the builder. There is not any other founder to honor in name, there is not any system of doctrine or religious practice that deserves the recognition of a title. Jesus Christ is the founder and builder, and the church is the assembly that belongs to him, and that is of him.
Since he is the builder, then he has the absolute authority, not only n the church but on behalf of the church, he has all authority in heaven and in earth.
Being then in this exalted position, he is the head of the church.
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and he is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
"Head", here means the chief, the director, the final authority. This is not our church to run as we see fit, but it is Christ's, and we allow him not only to continue to build it, but to rule it - to defer to his say in all things.|
The highest among us, the very Apostles of Christ were only given authority in the church as it was sanctioned already in heaven.
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in the heavens, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in the heavens.
These are perfect passive participles and should read, "Whatever you bind on earth, shall have been bound in heaven, (and shall have been loosed in heaven)" thus showing us that Christ is in back of these keys of authority.
He is worthy to rule in heaven and in earth and especially in the church because to build it, he had to buy it back our of the slavery of the world - he redeemed it and became the church's savior - as we read in (Eph.5:23), he is the savior of this body of people. The reason why he is worthy is because he laid down his life the the church - the redemption price was his own blood.
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of God which he purchased with his own blood.
You can see the motivation of love and commitment to Christ that the leaders in the congregations must have, is based upon the fact that Jesus gave everything for the church -- his life.
? Now, did Jesus Christ establish the church that you attend? -- Did he really?
Not only must the denominations ask this, but everyone, we ourselves must face ourselves with that question. It is healthy to think in this way, because it cuts our all the middlemen and makes us realize where our loyalty should be. Also considering this question will increase our awareness by faith in the present, personal hand that Jesus has in the affairs of our congregation. Much like the letters to the seven churches of Asia was no doubt a "revelation" to them in more ways than one. For the eyes him with whom we have to do see everything.
II ) Foundation
The assembly that belongs to Christ is not like the one led by Moses in the wilderness that had a foundation of law on tables of stone and a physical temple made with hands. Christ's assembly was going to be built on a greater foundation.
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the son of Man, am?”
So they said, “Some say John the Immerser, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father who is in the heavens. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this bedrock I will build my assembly, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
That is, the foundation of Jesus as the Christ the son of the living God, and the acceptance by faith of that great truth, would be upon what Jesus would build his congregation. Peter had just evinced that quality of bold faith and insight that the Father gives - and was the reason Jesus surnamed him Cephas (a stone, petroV).
The "rock" Jesus speaks of here is Petra, (petra) or bedrock.
So the passage reads: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answers, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father who is in the heavens. And I also say to you that you are a Stone, and on this bedrock I will build my assembly.”
Even if Catholic priests try to convince you that Peter was personally the foundation of the church, they are not only saying that this divine building is founded upon a mortal man, but they are ignoring all the other scriptures that say that Jesus Christ is the foundation. Like:
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is being laid, which is Jesus Christ.
That would certainly rule out Peter a fellow worker, a fallible man. This foundation is not of man, nor was anyone in all of history consulted concerning what God was going to build or how he would build it.
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
"Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
Whoever believes will not act hastily.
This is quoted by Peter himself in:
Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,
"Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on him will by no means be put to shame."
Therefore, to you who believe, he is precious; but to those who are disobedient,
"The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone,"
"A stone of stumbling
And a rock of offense."
They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Those with a carnal religion based only on types of the reality, like the Catholics, who reject Christ as the bedrock foundation and head of the church, both in heaven and on earth, are stumbling on the rock of offence just like their predecessors, the Jews, did when they also rejected him from ruling over them. Either man submits in humble obedience to the only foundation that God has laid or that same rock will eventually grind him to powder just as it did the Jewish nation in the first century.
If we have confessed Jesus as our Lord and master, then we should have hearts prepared to do his will. Empty of my own desires and ideas but filled with a love and enthusiasm to follow Christ and do his will.
The major problem that causes stumbling over the chief cornerstone of Christ is a carnal mind and worldly thinking and desires. The church is a spiritual temple of living spiritual stones just as its foundation is a spiritual rock, (cut out without hands) along with the gold, silver and precious stones of the spiritual truths revealed to us by Christ through the Apostles and prophets.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in spirit.
This spiritual house includes all those who have access to God through the Spirit and in fellowship together in Christ, constitute a dwelling place for God, in spirit, i.e. in the realm of what is spirit.
? Is Christ or a man the foundation of our church? It cannot be both. And again, this is a healthy exercise in thinking because it can only lead you back to Christ. It will stop us from just keeping house and make us a loving yet militant force in the world.
III ) Time In History
[Editor's note] This is a revised section of my original sermon due to the fact that I have a better understanding now of the events of the first century. In my original sermon I explained about the Kingdom coming "in power" was the power of the Holy Spirit given to the apostles on the day of Pentecost. This point is supported by linking Mk.9:1 with Acts 1:8 as a fulfillment. This is using Mk.9:1 out of its context and therefore a misapplication.
The context of Mk.9:1 starts in Mk.8:34. We must ignore the chapter break since there were none when Jesus spoke.
34 When he had called the people to himself, with his disciples also, he said to them, Whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the son of Man also will be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his father with the holy angels.”
1 And he said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will by no means taste of death till they see the kingdom of God having come with power.”
The "power" of which Jesus speaks here is more appropriately linked to the power with which he was to come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels in judgement on the people and nation that would not submit to his rule.
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Then they will see the son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
Then he spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
This reference in Luke 21 to the kingdom coming is usually ignored even though it has both the "power" and the "kingdom" in the same context. But this passage, in the larger context, is one dealing with the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. Without fear then, let us recognize that this therefore gives us a time reference for the coming of the kingdom -- after the year AD 70.
However, we are faced then with the conundrum of having the kingdom coming in the year AD 70 and yet we have people that are said to be in the kingdom before that event. (Col.1:13)
So with these two large and prominent events for time references in the first century, viz. the day of Pentecost in AD 30 and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, we can add all of the scriptures that have been ignored and misunderstood due to misapplication and fit them into a revised scenario for when the kingdom came and other end time events.
Jesus did not want his disciples to think that the kingdom was going to appear immediately. Just before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem for the last time, he taught this parable to his disciples. This would have been approximately 55 days before the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
11 Now as they heard these things, he spoke another parable, because he was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God was about to appear immediately.
12 Therefore he said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.
13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, “Do business till I come.’
14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We will not have this man to reign over us.’
15 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
16 Then came the first, saying, “Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’
17 And he said to him, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’
18 And the second came, saying, “Master, your mina has earned five minas.’
19 Likewise he said to him, “You also be over five cities.’
20 “Then another came, saying, “Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.
21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man. you collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’
22 And he said to him, “Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.
23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
24 “And he said to those who stood by, “Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’
25 (But they said to him, “Master, he has ten minas.’)
26 “For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
27 But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.”
When Jesus went into a far country to receive a kingdom, he went into heaven itself and there was glorified at the right hand of God and began reigning in his kingdom. If Jesus returned with his kingdom on the day of Pentecost, then his servants in the parable have only about 10 days to turn a profit on their minas before he returns. Since the servants are his apostles they would be in a position of having to bear fruit in the name of Jesus without help from the Holy Spirit, and therefore without knowing how to preach the gospel or how people are to be saved.
So Pentecost is far too early a date for the kingdom to be coming in power. Jesus had said that "some", not "all" would see this before they tasted of death. So the corollary of "some of them" is actually this -- most of them standing there would taste of death before they saw the kingdom of God come in power.
In God's forbearing, he gave the Jewish nation 40 years to repent and believe the gospel of the kingdom that was being preached to every nation under heaven. Those who still did not want this man to rule over them were destroyed along with their city when Jesus came again in his kingdom with power and great glory.
In Heaven: After Jesus ascended 10 days before Pentecost, he as the son of man, is glorified and receives a kingdom from the Ancient of Days.
"I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, one like the Son of man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought him near before him.
Then to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And his kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.
Ten days after he receives this kingdom, sitting at the right hand of God and having all authority in heaven and in earth, Jesus sends forth the Holy Spirit with a commission to give miraculous power to the Apostles who are waiting in the city of Jerusalem during the feast of Pentecost. All those believing and being immersed for the remission of their sins would be quickened to spiritual life and sanctified by the renewing of the Holy Spirit.
On Earth: Peter having been immersed with the Holy Spirit along with the others, stands and explains that this sign prophesied by Joel is proof that Jesus is indeed exalted at God's right hand in glory.
Acts 2: 31-36
Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, he would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,
he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that his soul was not left in Hades, nor did his flesh see decay.
This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he poured out this which you now see and hear.
“For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:
“The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
Till I make your enemies your
Those who were being saved were added to the church and translated into the kingdom. (Acts 2:47; Col.1:13).
... he has delivered us from the authority of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love.
So we could say that the kingdom was in existence in the heavens, but Jesus had not returned in his kingdom to established it on earth. Jesus had still not yet been revealed in his time and his kingdom. He would reign until all enemies were put under his feet. (1Cor.15:25)
Peter explains that the heavens must receive him until the times of the restitution of all things. Shortly after Pentecost and speaking to other Jews, he says,
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
For Moses truly said to the Fathers,
“The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever he says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’”
The restoration would be the end of the age when all enemies were vanquished and then all things would be made new by God.
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then he who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And he said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.
This restoration included the repairing of everything that went wrong in the garden of Eden. The sin that started there would be vanquished, the death that started there would be conquered, and the tree of Life that was forbidden there would be freely available to everyone again. (Rev.2:7; 22:1-2)
(ApokatastasewV) apokatastaseos, is a restoring back to a normal and healthy state of something that was lost. Man in the garden fell from a normal, healthy relationship and state in the presence of God. In Christ it is all restored. Our place as children of God, our dignity as mature sons in the divine household. All the spiritual blessings and inheritance that God bestows upon his sons. Eternal life in Christ. Growing up into his image, reflecting the glory of God.
Therefore in this restoration there would be the adoption of sons, having come to the age of maturity to an eternal inheritance of all things, with the corresponding freedom from the Law of Moses, being raised to a living hope of life and immortality.
Before this could take place there must be an end to prophesy, a finishing of the mystery of God, a clearing of the books regarding the former age. So before Jesus comes in judgement against his enemies in the Jewish nation and puts down all rule and authority, he waits for everyone to hear of God's grace and repent.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.
When the last hour had come, Jesus then revealed himself as the King coming in the glory of his father on the clouds of heaven with all the holy angels with power and great glory. Those who still did not want this man to rule over them were then destroyed along with their city.
... since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,
and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power,
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
IV ) Citizenship in Heaven
The Kingdom of God then, is universal, spanning both heaven and earth. Those in the Kingdom that are still living in the flesh are the assembly of Christ called out of the world, (ekklesia), the church which is of Christ.
These Christians in the first century were waiting for Jesus from heaven to bring the consummation and immortality.
Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself.
This then is getting beyond the scope of my lesson. So the rest of the story will have to wait for another sermon.
This then is the gospel of Christ that was first preached, and when the first people on the day of Pentecost believed it they were baptized for the remission of their sins and were born again into the kingdom, and all those who were saved were added to the church. (Acts 2:47)
? Did our church begin at Jerusalem on Pentecost in AD 30?
Yes. And since that time people have been waking up and being given life and the light from Jesus Christ. They have been enjoying the peace and the joy of the Holy Spirit. They have been experiencing the love of God that makes us have an expectation of coming bliss and glory with God in heaven, which is our inheritance.
That is what Paul means in Rom.5:1-5, when we experience the love of God in our hearts that makes us realize that we can expect a crown of life in heaven. His love in our hearts makes us realize that our hope will not be disappointed.
Stop being afraid and let his peace rule in your heart.
If you are not a child of God, what are you waiting for? God loves you -- believe in that love. Put your trust in Jesus Christ, change your mind about your life, confess Jesus as your Lord and be immersed in water for the remission of your sins. God will give you the gift of the Holy Spirit and life forevermore.