I strongly suspect that, when all is said and done, many people, churches, and religious institutions which today are regarded as having a firm foundation and even an illustrious heritage and history, will be found to have been built on sand. I also suspect that many individuals and small groups who today raise a sneer on the lips of religious people, will, in the end of the day, be seen to have had a rock solid foundation.
The barometer for success in the church today is, for the most part, numerical superiority. “God is blessing us – we now have 400 members!”. How often have we heard that or a similar claim as a mark of God’s blessing or approval on a church or group. And granted that may be true – but by no means is it a surefire test. I sometimes ask myself if such a claim is true of a Church – is it also true of a Mosque? We need urgently to be aware of the warnings contained in the Bible regarding such matters – such as that of the OT Prophet Isaiah – a warning repeated in the NT by the writer of the book of Hebrews –
“Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.”
Isaiah 10:22 & Romans 9:27
Numbers do not equal divine approbation – nor are they the true measure of the smile of God on a church, group or denomination.
Of course Jesus himself warned against this danger in his parable of the two men who built homes – one on sand the other on rock [Matthew 7]. And the Apostle Paul picks up on this picture in his letter to the fledgling church at Corinth –
“I have laid the foundation like an expert builder … no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have — Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 3: 10&11
Jesus as the foundation of all things in the life and doctrine of the church is a commonly accepted theology. However, in reality, I suspect the implications of this truth are rarely practiced. It sounds good – sounds biblical – but what does it mean? In other words what should the building that is founded on the person of Jesus Christ really look like?
In the same letter Paul picks up on the picture again –
“Love builds up the structure of our new life.” “Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do.”
1 Corinthians 8:1[TPT] & 1 Corinthians 16:14 [TPT]
The implication of what is written here is very important and revealing. We can judge the composition of the foundation by the integrity of the structure! And if the structure does not radiate the love of Jesus and the heart of the Father – the foundation is inadequate – indeed precarious.
“But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.”
1 Corinthians 3: 13
As I have said before I have been kicking around the church all my life and it is my observation that the true love of the Father is rarely to be found within its walls. It pains me to say this – but it is true. People love their denomination – love their tradition and heritage – love there ministers and preachers – love their theology and may love those who love them and attend “their church” – but the gratuitous love of the Father is, for the most part, absent. In the final analysis all these loves will be shown to be wood, hay and straw [1 Corinthians 3:12].
Perhaps today we need to give heed to the warning of the Father and recorded by the Apostle of Love –
“Think about how far you have fallen! Repent and do the works of love you did at first. I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place of influence if you do not repent.”