Building The Foundation

How to Build on the Foundation

Once we have laid in our own lives the foundation of a personal encounter with Jesus, how can we continue to build upon this foundation?

The answer to this question is found in the well-known parable about the wise man and the foolish man, each of whom built a house.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it fell. And great was its fall (Matt. 7:24-27).

Notice that the difference between these men did not lie in the tests to which their houses were subjected. Each man’s house had to endure the storm – the wind, the rain, the floods. Christian’sity has never offered anyone a storm-free passage to heaven. On the contrary, we are warned that “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

Any road signposted “To Heaven” which bypasses tribulation is a deception. It will not lead to the promised destination.

What, then, was the real difference between the two men and their houses? The wise man built upon a foundation of rock, the foolish man upon a foundation of sand. The wise man built in such a way that his house survived the storm unmoved and secure; the foolish man built in such a way that his house could not weather the storm.

The Bible – Foundation of Faith

Just what are we to understand by this metaphor of building upon a rock? What does it mean for each of us as Christian’ss?  Jesus, Himself makes this very clear.

Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock (Matt. 7:24).

Thus, building on the rock means hearing and doing the words of Jesus.

Once the foundation – the fact that Jesus the Rock – has been laid in our lives, we build on that foundation by hearing and doing the Word of God; diligently studying and applying in our lives the teaching of God’s Word. This is why Paul told the elders of the church at Ephesus:

And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up (Acts 20:32).

It is God’s Word, and God’s Word alone – as we hear it and do it, as we study it and apply it – that can build up within us a strong, secure edifice of faith, laid upon the foundation of Jesus Himself.

This brings us to a subject of supreme importance in the Christian’s faith: the relationship between Jesus and the Bible, and, hence, the relationship of each Christian’s to the Bible.

Throughout its pages, the Bible declares itself to be the “Word of God.” On the other hand, in several passages the same title – “the Word” or “the Word of God” – is given to Jesus Jesus Himself.

For example:

In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father (John 1:14).

He [Jesus] was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God (Rev. 19:13).

This identity of the name reveals the identity of nature. The Bible is the Word of God, and Jesus is the Word of God. Each alike is a divine, authoritative, perfect revelation of God. Each agrees perfectly with the other. The Bible perfectly reveals Jesus; Jesus perfectly fulfills the Bible. The Bible is the written Word of God; Jesus is the personal Word of God. Before His incarnation, Jesus was the eternal Word with the Father. In His incarnation, Jesus is the Word made flesh. The same Holy Spirit that reveals God through His written Word also reveals God in the Word made flesh, Jesus of Nazareth.

Proof of Discipleship

If Jesus is in this sense perfectly one with the Bible, then it follows that the relationship of the believer to the Bible must be the same as his relationship to Jesus. To this fact, the Scriptures bear testimony in many places.

Let us turn first to John 14. In this chapter, Jesus warns His disciples that He is about to be taken from them in the bodily presence and that thereafter there must be a new kind of relationship between Him and them. The disciples are unable and unwilling to accept this impending change. In particular, they are unable to understand how, if Jesus is about to go away from them, they will still be able to see Him or have communion with Him. Jesus tells them:

A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me (John 14:19).

The final phase of that verse might also be rendered, “but you will continue to see Me.” Because of this statement, Judas (not Iscariot, but the other Judas) asks:

Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world? (John 14:22).

In other words: “Lord, if You are going away, and if the world will see You no more, how can You still manifest Yourself to us, Your disciples, but not to those who are not Your disciples? What kind of communication will You maintain with us, which will not be open to the world?”

Jesus answers:

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him (John 14:23).

The key to understanding this answer is found in the phrase “he will keep My word.” The distinguishing mark between a true disciple and a person of the world is that a true disciple keeps Jesus’s word.

Revealed in Jesus’s answer are four facts of vital importance for every person who sincerely desires to be a Christian’s. For the sake of clarity, let me first repeat the answer of Jesus:

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him (John 14:23).

Here, then, are the four vital facts:

    1. Keeping God’s Word is the supreme feature that distinguishes the disciple of Jesus from the rest of the world.
    1. Keeping God’s Word is the supreme test of the disciple’s love for God and the supreme cause of God’s favor toward the disciple.
    1. Jesus manifests Himself to the disciple through God’s Word, as it is kept and obeyed.
    1. The Father and the Son come into the life of the disciple and establish their enduring home with him through God’s Word.

The Test of Love

Side by side with this answer of Jesus’s, let me set the words of the apostle John.

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this, we know that we are in Him (1 John 2:4-5).

We see from these two passages that it is impossible to overemphasize the importance of God’s Word in the believer’s life.

To summarize, the keeping of God’s Word distinguishes you as a disciple of Jesus. It is the test of your love for God. It is the cause of God’s special favor toward you. It is the medium through which Jesus manifests Himself to you, and through which God the Father and the Son come into your life and make their home with you.

Let me put it to you in this way.

Your attitude toward God’s Word is your attitude toward God Himself. You do not love God more than You love His Word. You do not obey God more than you obey His Word. You do not honor God more than you honor His Word. You do not have more room in your heart and life for God than you have for His Word.

Do you want to know how much God means to you? Just ask yourself, How much does God’s Word mean to me? The answer to the second question is the answer also to the first. God means as much to you as His Word means to you – just that much, and no more.

 Means of Revelation

There is today a general and ever-increasing awareness among the Christian’s church that we have entered into the season of time foretold in Acts 2:17.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.

I am humbly grateful to God that in recent years I have been privileged to experience and observe firsthand outpourings of the Spirit in five different seasons of the Move of God. – in which every detail of this prophecy has been enacted and repeated many times over. As a consequence, I believe firmly in the scriptural manifestation in these days of all nine gifts of the Holy Spirit; I believe that God speaks to His believing people through prophecies, visions, dreams, and other forms of supernatural revelation.

Nevertheless, I hold most firmly that the Scriptures are the supreme, authoritative means by which God speaks to His people, reveals Himself to His people, guides, and directs His people. I hold that all other forms of revelation must be carefully proved by reference to the Scriptures and accepted only insofar as they accord with the doctrines, precepts, practices, and examples outlined in the Scriptures. We are told:

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good (1 Thess. 5:19-21).

It is wrong, therefore, to quench any genuine manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It is wrong to despise any prophecy given through the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, it is vitally necessary to test any manifestation of the Spirit, or any prophecy, by reference to the standard of the Scriptures and thereafter to hold fast – to accept, to retain – only those manifestations or prophecies which are in full accord with this divine standard. Again, in Isaiah we are warned:

To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Is. 8:20).

Thus the Scripture – the Word of God – is the supreme standard by which all else must be judged and tested. No doctrine, no practice, no prophecy, no revelation is to be accepted if it is not in full accord with the Word of God. No person, no group, no organization, no church has authority to change, override, or depart from the Word of God. In whatever respect or whatever degree any person, group, organization or church departs from the Word of God, in that respect and in that degree they are in darkness.

There is no light in them.

We are living in a time when it is increasingly necessary to emphasize the supremacy of the Scripture over every other source of revelation or doctrine. We have already made reference to the great worldwide outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days and to the various supernatural manifestations which will accompany this outpouring.

However, the Scripture also warns us that, side by side with this increased activity and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, there will be a parallel increase in the activity of demonic forces, which always seek to oppose God’s people and God’s purposes in the earth.

Speaking about this same period of time, Jesus Himself warns us:

Then if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Jesus!” or “There!” do not believe it.

For false Jesus’ and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand (Matt. 24:23-25).

In the same way, the apostle Paul warns us:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

Paul here warns us that in these days there will be a great increase in the propagation of false doctrines and cults and that the unseen cause behind this will be the activity of deceiving spirits and demons. As examples, he mentions religious doctrines and practices which impose unnatural and unscriptural forms of asceticism in regard to diet and to the normal marriage relationship. Paul indicates that the safeguard against being deceived by these forms of religious error is to believe and know the truth – that is, the truth of God’s Word.

By this divine standard of truth, we are enabled to detect and to reject all forms of satanic error and deception. But for the people who profess religion, without sound faith and knowledge of what the Scripture teaches, these are indeed perilous days.

We need to lay hold upon one great guiding principle which is established in the Scripture. It is this: God’s Word and God’s Spirit should always work together in perfect unity and harmony. We should never divorce the Word from the Spirit or the Spirit from the Word. It is not God’s plan that the Word should ever work apart from the Spirit or the Spirit apart from the Word.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth (Ps. 33:6).

The word here translated “breath” is the normal Hebrew word for “spirit.” However, the use of the word “breath” suggests a beautiful picture of the working of God’s Spirit. As God’s Word goes out of His mouth, so His Spirit – which is His breath – goes with it.

On our human level, each time we open our mouths to speak a word, our breath necessarily goes out together with the word. So it is also with God. As God’s Word goes forth, His breath – that is, His Spirit – goes with it. In this way, God’s Word and God’s Spirit are always together, perfectly united in one single divine operation.

We see this fact illustrated, as the psalmist reminds us, in the account of creation. In Genesis we read:

            The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters (Gen. 1:2).

In the next verse Gen. 1:3 we read:

            Then God said, “Let there be light.”

That is, God’s Word went forth; God pronounced the word light. And as the Word and the Spirit of God were thus united, creation took place, a light came into being, and God’s purpose was fulfilled.

What was true of that great act of creation is true also of the life of each individual. God’s Word and God’s Spirit united in our lives contain all the creative authority and power of God Himself. Through them, God will supply every need and will work out His perfect will and plan for us. But if we divorce these two from one another – seeking the Spirit without the Word, or studying the Word apart from the Spirit – we go astray and miss God’s plan.

To seek the manifestations of the Spirit apart from the Word will always end in foolishness, fanaticism, and error. To profess the Word without the quickening of the Spirit results only in dead, powerless orthodoxy and religious formalism.