by Dane Massey
(Dane Massey is the former Pastor of Mulvane Christian Church. He is now in ministry in Houston, Texas.)
Have you ever stopped to consider the amazing list of architectural terms used in scripture?
Today I want to talk about building on the foundation of Christ the “Chief Cornerstone.” We, the community of believers, are the building of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ being the Chief Cornerstone.
The Cornerstone was the Stone from which the entire building was squared and plumbed. The question remains: “How does one lay this foundation for a new generation?” Or maybe the question is better worded: “How do you build a disciple on this foundation?”
Is this a classroom project of systematic theology? Is this accomplished by better sermons? Sermons that are more relevant? Maybe better programming? A better social involvement?
As our world crumbles the church continues to come apart with it. Leadership that is morally bankrupt, an estimated 25 percent decrease in church attendance since Covid, ministers leaving the faith in record numbers. The church has been found removed from its foundation!
It’s easy to point out the crumbling walls, buckling floors, and leaky roof, but how do you rebuild?
Books written from the arm chairs of academia abound, but what we need is grunt work, wrapped in calloused hands of service and bended knees of prayer.
The timid need not apply, for foundational work is grinding, tedious, requires time and precision, and is seldom seen or applauded after the project is complete.
Compare Deuteronomy 6:4-12 and 2 Timothy 3:10-11 and you leave with the impression that this building project is life’s consuming work. The background for both passages is similar: In Deuteronomy, Israel is entering a perilous time as they come out of the wilderness into a land filled with enemies. Paul is writing to Timothy in light of perilous times as a leader. Timothy is a young man who is firmly built upon a foundation that will stand the test! He has been squared and plumbed to the foundation of Christ through the Apostles and Prophets (the scriptures) since he was a child:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
The key however is the method by which Timothy has been taught. He has not learned this teaching behind a desk but on the dusty, rocky, precarious road of life!
“But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.” (2 Timothy 3:11-12)
Timothy and Paul had done life together! Timothy fully knew Paul’s teaching/doctrine because he had learned it in the classroom of life.
Note the transition and movement here:
Doctrine – the truth upon which my life is built.
Manner of life – the way I live out that truth in everyday, moment by moment life. When I rise up, when I sit down, when I go out, etc.
Purpose – the goal, the focus, the “why” behind the way I live this manner of life.
Faith – how I stay anchored to these truths through the ever-changing challenges of life.
Longsuffering – how these truths enable me to respond properly to trying people and circumstances.
Love – how these truths keep me from growing bitter over the long journey of life with people who wrong me and circumstances that try me. Instead of bitterness these truths have enabled me to grow and flourish in love for they held me to the task of forgiveness, extending grace, and walking in humility.
Endurance – how these truths have kept me through the night watches of life, brought me through the valleys, and held me in the storms.
If you and I want to lay the foundation into a new generation in a way that will last into the third and fourth generations, this is how it’s done. Live your doctrine into them! Do life with them!
The church, the community of believers, I, we all must must return to this model. The Quality of the disciple is determined by the depth of the relationship”. Build lives together that are lined to the Cornerstone and firmly planted on the foundation of Christ!