Foundations

Psalm 11:3 “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

If you’ve ever built any kind of a building, you know how incredibly important the foundation of that building is.  Some years ago, I was at a meeting at Penn State University in one of the fairly new buildings there.  While I was there, I noticed that there was major construction going on within the building. I asked one of the professors with whom I was meeting “What is going on?”  He explained to me that this huge building with its multiple stories had a serious problem with the foundation. As a result, the rest of the building had begun to shift and crack.  It was a real mess that now had to be rectified at a significant cost.  Yes, foundations are incredibly important in all areas of life.  They are important in the construction of a building, and they are just as important in other endeavors.

For example, in recent years I’ve been tutoring high school students in various mathematics courses. One of the things you realize very quickly is that there is a progression in education. There are prerequisites, foundational training and skills, that must be mastered before you go onto higher levels of math. If you can’t add, subtract, multiply, and divide, you are not going to be ready to tackle Algebra 1. And if you’ve not had Algebra 1, Algebra 2 will be a mystery to you.  Spiritual foundations are, likewise, critical.  Jesus talked about those who heard his teachings but didn’t put them into practice. He likened them to a person who would build a house on a foundation of sand. He warned that if a person did this, there would come a time when troubles came (which he likened to such things as rain, floods, and the wind) and that house, i.e., that life, would come crashing down.  By contrast, he likened those who heard his words and put them into practice to a house built on a rock. He said when the storms came into that life, it would stand (Matthew 7:24-27). 

Throughout scripture God continually points people to foundations, beginnings, underlying and foundational truths.  He did this by commanding that memorials be constructed so that later generations would be reminded of the great things God had done, e.g., the crossing of the Jordan River on dry land by the nation of Israel as they entered the Promised Land.  In the New Testament Jesus instituted what we call “The Lord’s supper,” i.e., communion. He told us to participate regularly in this ordinance and to do it “in remembrance of (him).” Jesus wants us to always keep before us the historical fact of the cross, for it’s on that foundation that the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life stands.  He likens the assembly of believers as a spiritual household “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).” One of the primary things he is pointing to with this metaphor is the foundational teachings of these same apostles and prophets in the Word of God. And of course, Jesus himself is called the Word of God in John 1. 

In the verse above from Psalm 11, the critical nature of spiritual foundations is again emphasized. The psalmist warns of great danger to God’s people if our spiritual foundations are destroyed.  Of course, our greatest enemy, Satan, knows this, and thus his constant attacks on foundational spiritual things. He and his followers constantly attack the Scriptures.  He works to cast doubt on the foundational truths in its pages for he knows that if this foundation goes, our faith in the things it says and in the God who said it, will crumble.  These attacks are perhaps most acute on the book of Genesis, the first and foundational book for all the rest.  He is behind the assaults on the Creation story, for it’s in that story that the foundations are set for such things as marriage, the family, man’s relationship to nature, the origin of sin, etc.  As these foundations are attacked, the result is a mish mash of substitutes that will weaken and bring great damage to the institutions and truths that God’s Word lays down for us in this book of beginnings. This is the underlying reason for the attacks on Genesis, and on the God of the beginning, of whom we are told “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands (Psalm 102:25).”  Throughout the New Testament the writers talk often of our need to be reminded of what the Bible says (e.g., 1 Cor 4:17, 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2 Timothy 2:14, Titus 3:1, 2 Peter 1:12, Jude 1:5). We need constantly to go back to the teachings of God’s Word, for it’s the foundation on which our faith stands.  Foundations: they are so critical in every way. May we constantly keep before us the sure foundations the Lord has given us. And may He help us to remember the admonition that, “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught . . .  (Colossians 2:6-7),” for indeed, if these foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do?!

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