Monday, June 27, 2016

On the foundation - Ephesians 2:20

"having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20)
Our faith and our growth in Christ is to be built firmly upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. By this Paul is referring to the prophetic revelations of the Old Covenant and the apostolic teachings of the New Covenant. Both are essential to our faith and growth in Christ. Those who reject one for the other have established for themselves a faulty foundation; a foundation that is insufficient for the growth and maturity that God desires to establish in their lives. Jesus spoke of this necessity of both the prophetic and the apostolic when He said, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old." (Matthew 13:52) The old being the prophetic and the new being the apostolic.

When building upon this foundation, we must always be cognizant that our faith, growth, and teachings are firmly grounded upon the foundation. Any belief or practice that we cannot trace back to the foundation ought to be suspect and, when actually contradictory, ought to be rejected. It is the foundation that defines the building, not the building that defines the foundation.

To be apostolic is to hold to the teachings of the apostles and to be prophetic is to conform to the prophetic revelation of God. If our teachings and beliefs are not supported by the teachings of the apostles, then they are not apostolic. If our teaching and beliefs stand in opposition to the revelation of the prophets, then they are not prophetic. It is essential that we continuously reevaluate what we believe and practice to verify that they conform to, and are supported by, the teachings and revelations of the apostles and prophets. Some claim to be apostolic because they can trace their history back to an apostle, yet their teachings diverge, and even contradict, those of the apostles. History is not enough to claim apostolicity, you must also have conformity to their teachings.

Many examples may be adduced to this point, but here is but one. Some sects of Christianity forbid their priests, pastors, and/or leaders to marry, yet they also claim to be apostolic. However, it is clear from the Law that the Jewish priests were married for it was from father to son that the priesthood was advanced. We also know that many of the Apostles were also married. Paul writes, "Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?" (1 Corinthians 9:5) Even the elders of the church were allowed to marry, as Paul gives the requirements for an elder he says, "An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife." (1 Timothy 3:2) Furthermore, Paul warned us of those who would later forbid marriage, "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 Timothy 4:1-3 NKJV) Given such evidence, how can one claim that their teaching that priests, pastors, and/or leaders cannot marry is apostolic? Such a doctrine is not built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets but rather upon the foundation of man.

While the apostles and the prophets form the foundation, Jesus Christ is the chief corner stone. The trueness of any building is measured by the relationship of every part of the building to its chief corner stone. Not only must we build our lives upon an apostolic and prophetic foundation, but our lives must be measured by the life and example of Christ. Our growth is to measure by the degree to which our lives conform to that of Jesus'. It is for this reason that we have been saved. Paul writes, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29) God is working in our lives to conform us, and to make us into, the image of His Son. Anything in our lives that distracts or obscures His image is contrary to His doctrine, will, and purpose in our lives. The final arbitrator of our lives is found in the degree to which we align with Christ in His teaching, image, and life. It is only when we are in right relationship and alignment with Christ that we are truly being built upon the foundation which He has set and are being built into a holy dwelling for His abiding.

David Robison

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