2011-02-03 - The Foundation
Originally Published 2001-01-18
1 Cor 3:10-15 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire. (NAS)
The 800 year old tower in Pisa, Italy is famous because of a poor foundation. The beautiful circular building leans 17 feet out of vertical alignment. It looks as if it could come crashing to the ground at any moment. Galileo Galilei is reported to have dropped two metal spheres from the top of the 179 foot structure to prove one of his gravitational theories. When it worked, he was accused of witchcraft. But this nor any of the other things that have happened at the tower make it famous. It is famous because of a poor foundation that allows it to lean. Without some corrective action, it will eventually crash into ruin.
What is the salvation of Christ founded upon? Is it founded upon our performance or our ability? Thankfully it is not.
Rom 6:1-4 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (NAS)
The grace that is so freely given could be taken as license to live life as we would please. Paul answers that idea with, "May it never be!" or speaking to mankind today, "What a crazy idea!" Grace is not a license to sin. We have been set free from the power of sin - which is spiritual death or eternal separation from God. Does this mean that someone who has genuinely accepted the salvation offered by Jesus Christ will never sin again? The Apostle Paul lamented his failure to do even that which he had a strong desire to do - follow his beloved Lord without stumbling. None of us has yet been perfected. In the eyes of the Father we have already been made perfect, because He sees the image of His Son. It was Jesus' perfect life that freed us from the bonds of sin and death. And again in Galatians 6:1-5, Paul gives instructions for a Christian caught in sin to be restored to fellowship. Even during this process of restoration Paul warns those "who are spiritual" to be cautious and avoid temptation.
Rom 7:15-25 For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (NAS)
The foundation of our lives as believers is established by Christ's work. There is nothing at all that we can take any credit for in our salvation. The longer I live, the more I understand Paul's frustration - "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" The more I understand of sin and of the perfection that I personally fall short of that is demanded by the Law, the more and more I lean on Christ and His unlimited grace and mercy. I am hopeful that some of my works in this life will be gold, silver and precious stones. I am certain that there will be plenty of wood, hay and straw as well. Note that the works are the only thing that is tested. The foundation is secure and untested by the fire. Even the jewels are tested by the fire, and they survive. The building may be devastated, but the foundation is undamaged. It is not even a question mark in the text.
The same Christ that refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery, Who picked up the little children in His lap, and restored Peter who denied Him three times in fear of his mortal life is the same Lord Who stands ready to forgive. He has already shed His blood for our sins - past, present and future. The mercy that was extended was not a bandage that covered us up to the point of our salvation and sent us on our way to make it the rest of they way on our own, if we could even think we could do it in our owns strength. It was the debt we each owed, paid in full - the account completely settled.
1 Peter 3:18-19 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, (NAS)
Lord Jesus - Your work on the cross - and the completion of it is as deep a mystery as the depth of the grace and mercy that overflow from the pages of the Bible to us. We are exhorted to live lives pleasing to You, but You have also handed down instructions to us for the times - times You already know about - when we will stumble and fall. These words are filled with assurance for our hearts that we are not rejected. Not that there will not be consequences, but that those You love You correct - but will never leave. Amen.
Grace & Peace,