This message was preached at Word Of Grace Church on July 11th 2021 by Abhishek B via zoom. For the audio please click here. To listen to the worship please click here.
The Foundation and Pillars to build our lives on.
The concept and act of building is very common in the Bible, it is a repeated theme. Jesus used it in the famous parable of wise vs foolish builder in Mat 7: 24-27. Paul refers to it in 1 Cor 3-9-15, (admittedly it is referring to the work of an apostle, but the principle remains intact) as we are God’s building. Peter writes about it in 1 Pet 2:5 “you also like living stones are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” There are other such references in the Bible about the idea of being built or to build.
I have purposely chosen not use ‘Christian lives’ in the title because for those who are of Christ, we only have one life, we don't live 2 lives one in the world and one in Church.
Now, like a lot of Biblical Christian concepts, this concept is also a ‘Collaborative’ one, what I mean is that the act of building and being built up is one where we are co-workers with God, we cannot do it alone, without him. The onus is not singularly on us neither is it only on God, we are not passive in this action. We do our part with the Power and Help of the Holy Spirit.
Let's look at the foundation and the abiding pillars on which we can build our lives.
The Foundation: Christ Jesus
Each of these is a topic in itself, and each can be series of teaching, however for today I am going to talk about these only in the context of being built up and building up our lives.
No building can be built without a foundation. It is the very thing on which a building stands. A strong foundation means a strong building, a weak foundation means a weak building. It is the starting point of the whole act of building something up, and for our lives that foundation is none other than our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus.
Isaiah 28: 16 – “So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic””
1 Cor 3: 11 – For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is is Jesus
Jesus Christ- his person and his works are the foundation on which we build, he is the sure foundation, one whom we can trust, one who cannot be shaken, one who is forever. Because of Him coming to earth, because of Him taking our punishment and dying in our place and because of His resurrection we have surety.
Without Jesus, there is nothing to build. All that one may do in life, all good works, all charity, all achievements, all would be of no value if not done on the foundation of Jesus. Like Jesus said in the parable, the foolish man builds on sand, when the rain comes down and floods rise up the house would be destroyed, it is not going to stand trail.
But the foundation of Jesus is sure. Imagine trying to build on something which is shaky, it would be a nightmare- never knowing when the whole thing collapses. Whereas on the foundation of Jesus, we have surety that whatever we build will last, such a joy to know that God eternal is the one who guarantees our success in building.
I cannot let this time pass without pleading and encouraging those amongst us who have not yet made Jesus their foundation, to take this opportunity and make Jesus the sure foundation of your lives, and the good news is you have pre-qualified for this, Jesus’ work on the cross has paid the price for you already!
For those of us who already have Jesus as the foundation, I rejoice with you! What a Joy! I want us to be encouraged by reminding us that the foundation of Jesus is sure, secure, never shaken, eternal.
As I mentioned earlier, Faith, Hope and Love are huge topics and each has a lot of depth, I cannot possibly cover that and they deserve study in their own right, but today we will look at these as being the essential pillars of our lives.
All 3 are interconnected and it is amazing how many times they appear together in the Bible, sometimes in the same verse, sometimes in the same thought spread across 2 or 3 verses, sometimes 2 out of 3 are together.
1 Cor 13:13
Gal 5: 5-6
Heb 10: 22-24
1 Thes 1:3
1 Thes 5:8
1 Tim 1:14
1 Tim 6: 11
In all of these verses we find Faith, Hope and Love. This trio of terms was a favourite summary of Christian teaching in the early church.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 says “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” And this gives us the perfect guideline for how we build on these 3 pillars of Faith, Hope and Love. Interestingly this verse can also be taken as the summary of my message today, that we would produce work by Faith, labour by love and have endurance by hope.
In the simplest terms Faith means belief or conviction. And in the context of 1 Cor 13:13 it means the belief and conviction about God and His Power to answer prayers-“move mountains” so to speak.
Hebrews 11 almost gives a definition for faith, as Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Heb 11: 6 says that it is impossible to please God without faith. Now this faith which we need to be able to live a life pleasing to God with, is it only limited to ‘believing’? Would that be sufficient? No.
As James very clearly states and then proceeds to demonstrate by the examples he uses in his letter- Faith without action is dead!
It needs to produce work (1 The 1:3), we need to walk the walk of faith. True faith would produce an act. James 2: 21- 26 states how Abraham’s faith led him to do what he did (ready to sacrifice Isaac) and how Rahab’s faith led her to save the spies. Hebrews 11 in most Bibles has a heading of ‘Faith in action’, it gives an account of great characters of the OT doing great deeds by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed and left his old country, by faith Joseph gave instructions for the burial of his bones- something which happened years later! Etc.
We see that Faith produces the action. In our lives let us remember that faith enables us to believe and receive all God has for us as Christians. By faith, we can walk in the fullness of the gifts and power of the Spirit of God.
By faith let us proclaim God’s word without reservation and by faith let us dedicate ourselves to the work of the Lord. In doing so, brick by brick, we will be building our lives on the foundation of our Lord.
I want to encourage all of us today, if we think of this as a burden or a demand, we have wavered away from truth, because the good news is that God has called us to do the good works prepared for us in advance and for that he supplies us with abundant grace. At times we may feel like we just don't have the required faith, the truth is He has given us each a measure of faith and like the disciples prayed in Luke 17:5 we too can pray “Increase our faith”. Growth is a Godly principle, and if with whatever measure of faith we have, we do produce, God will surely make it grow.
Hope means confident expectation based on solid certainty. Biblical Hope is quite different to the way we use the word hope in our day to day lives. We use hope more in the wishful sense or being optimistic sense. In the word of God there is certainty, the Hope we have as Christians is not a wish, which may or may not come true, our hope is certain and our hope is eternal.
It is a little complicated sometimes to explain the difference between Hope and Faith, both seem very similar, and they are, they are interconnected but there is a difference.
I have always understood the difference in the context of time, faith has to do with past and present, while hope is always about the future. We don’t hope that Jesus died on the cross for us, we believe, we have faith that He did. Derek Prince says there is another difference, Faith has to do with the heart and Hope to do with the mind, based on 1 Thes 5:8 ‘breastplate of Faith and Love and Helmet of Hope of Salvation.’
For our building, the pillar of Hope is needed for endurance. Hope is based on Faith, but Hope is for the things not seen yet. Our Hope is surely the blessed moment when we see our Saviour face to face, our hope is the eternity we have with Him, our hope is the manifest glory of God, our Hope is that in Christ Jesus we have eternal life and that He gives meaning and purpose to our lives and our work here.
1 Pet 1: 3 says we have been begotten to a lively hope of incorruptible inheritance and exceeding great and eternal weight of glory.
Hope gives us endurance. Marathon runners have endurance which is not easily matched, they run and run and run, never losing sight of why they are running- you may think it is to win, but surprisingly for many marathoners the goal is not winning but finishing. Similarly in our lives, Hope is having our sights fixed on what’s at the finish line. Our Eternal reward. Gal 6:9 says Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Hope, a confident expectation of incorruptible inheritance in Christ- hows that for motivation. Let us then continue with doing good, however and in whatever ways we can exhibit God’s goodness to people, let us continue doing that, in giving to the poor, in serving, in holding on to the values of God over the values of the world, let us continue and have endurance.
Rom 15: 13 says May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Joy and Peace are integral to Hope, and as with other things we are not left alone to have endurance, it is by the Power of His Holy Spirit that we overflow with hope. Be encouraged, be full of Joy and Peace of God as we continue to do the good works prepared for us in advance with Hope.
We now come to the most critical of all pillars- Love. The greatest of these 3 as Paul puts it. In the context of the trio of Faith Hope and Love, it is Agape love, which is self-giving, freely given, expecting nothing in return which seeks the highest good of the other person no matter what. As with hope, love in common language is used very differently, we use love for a variety of things and we mean a variety of things when we say love. But biblical love is giving love, which will last and remain even in eternity.
Love produces a labour which is not selfish, which is not expecting something in return, it will value the person more than the prestige. James severely reprimands the church for showing favouritism and for discrimination because it was against the ‘Royal Law’ (James 2:8) which is Love your neighbour as yourself.
Again in practical terms, is love something which we manufacture in our hearts and communicate by words? Are we capable of producing agape love in our hearts? I am not sure, because the bible talks about it requiring laying ones life. Honestly it is not natural, cause natural is being selfish. However, Rom 5:5 says God’s love has been poured out into our hears through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us, and that is a reason to rejoice, because that gives us the ability to Love the way God Loves- agape love.
When we are full and are overflowing with God’s love, and His Spirit, that love will inevitably touch others.
1 Cor 13 lists the characteristics of this love, and they are useful in us evaluating our love actions. If what we are doing is rooted in selfishness, envy, so that we can boast about it etc. Love is the pillar which will make sure that the building is being built the way God wants it. Because like it is mentioned in the chapter one can have the faith to move mountains, and one may have all the endurance to go through hardships, but if one doesn't have love, it is nothing. The labour and work of love is God-kind, we truly represent Him when we love. The most quoted verse in the world “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...” shows us God’s character, that He is Love in deed.
We are recipients of God’s love, we are subjects of His Love, we love because He first loved us. Let us revel in His love, rejoice of this amazing privilege and be encouraged to labour in Love, so that the world may know we are Christians.
In conclusion, I want to remind each one of us, that we are Loved by Him, that His Spirit within us gives us the power to stand firm in faith, and produce work of Faith , to labour in Love and to have endurance in Hope, in so doing to build a lasting building on the strong foundation of Jesus Christ.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.