Bible Study Tools / Character

Building on a Sure Foundation

by UNC Contributor
Photo by Scott Blake on Unsplash

For any other foundation can no one lay than the one being laid, who is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

Christians need to establish a foundation upon which to build their spiritual building.

In the 1990s, I was one who got dragged down by the religious turmoil and confusion that was created in the atmosphere of our former association. I did not visit the United Church of God (or any of the groups that had been established to retain the traditional teachings), until 2001. Leading up to that time, I found many of my former beliefs very shaken, and I was not completely sure what was true anymore. I was also somewhat ‘turned off’ and for a period of time was not attending church anywhere.

However it eventually became apparent that I had to do something. And that something was to once again build a foundation, even if I had built a similar foundation many years before. And that rebuilding ironically even involved going back to re-establish the validity of very basic beliefs.

Here are some of the principles I followed that were important to understand and apply again. And as a foundation was rebuilt it acted as a springboard for greater achievement. It is a benefit for the church to have a unified and a spiritual membership.

Problems in Not Building

One of the things we need to realize is that we all need to be building - and building all the time. If we do not keep building we can reach a point where we are getting nowhere spiritually.

First, I found that I had to answer really simple and basic questions (even if I had answered them once before). I had to build from the tiniest facts and conclusions before I could move onto something bigger. I had to go back to basic questions such as, “Is God real?” “If God is real, does He have authority?“If He has authority, where is it spelled out?” “When does His authority apply?” In a sense, I found myself rebuilding my original faith foundation. I debated a number of these questions at length, and would not move onto the next question until I was completely satisfied of the answer. I did not just make assumptions or skip issues, and I gave myself all the time that was needed. However, I did have some advantages from being in church before. I did have some church background and had experienced some miracles in the past which also helped me realize that God was real.

The well-known phrase ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’ rang true, in that I did have to start somewhere and build from there. Unless we try to build a complete building, there are a number of problems that can exist in our Christian life.

We will not be growing as fast as we should; will remain at least partly confused in certain areas; will lack focus and direction; cannot build faith, but are held back by doubts; have a defective building or foundation—we know some things to be true but are not sure about others, creating an inconsistent response to life’s trials and challenges.

We can often get blind-sided, because we do not know the answer for certain situations or know where we stand; become vulnerable, especially to false ideas, because we are not sure about the correct ones.

But Jesus Christ did emphasize that those who overcome (are building) will be saved (Revelation 3:12).

One thing I discovered was that some of my spiritual or theological problems were related to an uneven foundation that I had built in the past. I was strong in certain areas, but not in others, which made me susceptible to distorted doctrinal issues that thereafter led to some religious confusion.

How God Has Built

God also has set us a pattern for building. A good scripture is: “Now therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:19-20, MKJV).

We can note from this Scripture that God’s plan for mankind was built in steps over time by working through the various individuals He chose. We know from our own experiences, that building character and bringing about changes in our life takes time - often a long time. Perfect character cannot be created instantly. Also if we were one of those who slipped for a period of time and then returned, we cannot just resume where we left off, but need to rebuild in the areas where we lost ground.

We should also note that God has a hand in what we are building. Our responsibility is to walk in the steps that He has laid out for us: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, MKJV).

From this Scripture there is a need to be cautious that we are building a proper foundation. We should not boast in doing it all ourselves, for God has a hand in our building since we are His workmanship. Today in our world, we see people who think that building something valuable includes such transitory things as making money, establishing a career, or building a reputation with others. But the revealing of the Kingdom of God gives us special and different priorities.

Our Job in Building

When we establish a foundation it might be quite small in the beginning. But as we establish truths and build faith, the process becomes easier. Our building may well include the need to disentangle the misinformation and bad education of our past. Otherwise this will hinder our progress. Unfortunately in one early church example (Hebrews 5:11-14), the Hebrew members were actually not building very well. And were scolded as still being children in the faith, not yet equipped for higher doctrinal teaching. This is a situation we should avoid. We cannot move on to bigger and better things if we do not have the basics straight.

We can so easily just passively accept church literature, or rely on various beliefs of friends and relatives in the church. We do need to firmly establish what we personally believe, based on God’s Truth. Otherwise, any underlying doubts can come back to plague us down the road. Of course, our beliefs must align with God’s revelation in His word. The Church provides marvellous resources to explain and assist in applying God’s life plan for us. When we live in a society plagued by scepticism and doubt, you might even be surprised to find you are not as solid as you think in understanding and believing even the most basic questions: “Does God exist?” “Is the Bible authoritative?” “Is there a true religion?”

I maintain a personal list of answered prayers and miracles that can help encourage me in times of doubt and discouragement. When we do not have a strong foundation, we become vulnerable to any cleverly deceptive ideas and can easily lose our footing.

It is therefore no surprise that Christ used the analogy of a man building his house upon a rock. He contrasted it to another man building his house upon the sand, with the latter experiencing a major disaster when his house had a major fall, as it was poorly grounded: “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock. And the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. And it did not fall, for it was founded on a rock. And everyone who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them shall be compared to a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain came down, and the floods came, and the wind blew and beat on that house. And it fell, and great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24- 27, MKJV).

One of the benefits I have seen from the little storms that arise from time to time, whether it be tests of faith or trials, or encounters with heresy, is that they do reveal cracks in my foundation which need to be repaired. These problems in my foundation need to be filled or repaired in a different way than was done before, so that such cracks do not appear again, or at least not of the same size or in the same manner.

Building a solid foundation may at first take a long time. And at first any progress being made may not be visible. I have noticed a number of times when passing by construction sites that much activity is going on. Some workers are surveying and measuring, trucks are arriving, labourers are pouring cement, materials are being brought in, and other workers are bustling around. But nothing visibly is going up, and that is because they are working on the foundation. But once the foundation is laid, we can see the rest of the building go up much faster than we ever expected.

When we spiritually build a good foundation, we have a solid footing. We have confidence and faith in God. We can spiritually grow to something bigger. And we will no longer be victims of various ideas or life pressures, but instead masters of them.

We can take great comfort in Paul’s words, that “If anyone’s work which he built remains, he shall receive a reward” (1 Corinthians 3:14).

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