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Magazine - Our Sure Foundation -   November 2014

The Unchanging Basis of the Sinner’s Hope.

By Alan Greenbank.

“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation” (Isaiah 28 v16).

Here we have another of Isaiah’s clear prophecies concerning our Saviour. There can be no doubt about the verse’s Subject because Peter quotes this verse in 1 Peter 2 v6-7 and refers it to the Lord Jesus. So we have here God’s provision of a Foundation for our lives that will stand sure amid all the storms that life can throw at us, (Matt. 7 v24-27), and will guarantee us a place in God’s eternal kingdom.  When we receive the Lord Jesus as our personal Saviour, we start to build on the one and only secure Foundation, indeed the Foundation laid in eternity by the Lord God. 

So let us split the verse into four sections and enjoy the wonderful truths it brings us.

1. The Lord Jesus is the Timeless Foundation Stone.

Note that this Foundation was laid by God Himself. The eternal God, the Almighty God, the Creator of all things, has given us a foundation on which to build our lives. How foolish to ignore or reject God’s provision and to build on the sinking sands of earthly foundations such as fame, power, riches or popularity!

Why did He lay this foundation? The clear answer is found in the well-known words of John 3 v16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God’s heart of grace and love towards fallen human beings prompted this provision. 

When did God provide this foundation? The answer is surprising, it was not back in the time of the prophets or the time of the Levitical sacrifices that God made the decision to provide a Saviour.  It was not even in the Garden of Eden when sin entered the picture with all its devastating consequences.  1 Peter 1 v20-21 gives us the answer to the question, “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” We can truly say that the Lord Jesus is the Timeless Foundation, because the plan was in the mind of the eternal God before creation had taken place.

2. The Lord Jesus is the Tested Foundation Stone.

Isaiah says that God will lay a ‘tested stone’. When the Lord came to this earth some two thousand years ago, He came to do battle with man’s two great enemies, SIN and DEATH.  If He was victorious, it would mean that He could cleanse those who believe on Him from SIN, (1 John 1 v7) and deliver them from the fear of DEATH as we see in Hebrews 2v14-15, “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

So how did the Saviour fare in His battle against SIN?  Hebrews 4 v15 gives us the answer. “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.”  We read of His victory when confronted with three specific temptations but surely there was never a day when the Lord was not confronted with some temptation. But he never yielded. He alone could say, “The prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on Me,” (John 14 v30). He alone could say, “The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him,” (John 8 v29). He was the undisputed Victor in that battle.

The same is true, of course, in His battle against DEATH. Of the fact that the Lord Jesus died there can be no dispute. A soldier who was checking the state of the prisoners saw that He was already dead but, nevertheless, thrust his spear into the side of our Saviour. His lifeless, limp body was unpinned from the cross, wrapped in temporary grave-clothes and placed into the unused grave of a man called Joseph of Arimathea. 

The High Priest was taking no chances. A large stone was rolled across the door of the tomb and a guard of soldiers was posted to ensure that no one removed the Lord’s body. But that grave contained ‘The Prince of Life’, (Acts 3 v15), and the One who said, “I am the resurrection and the Life,” (John 11 v25). How could that rocky grave hold the very One who had created the rock originally?

The stone was in vain, the soldiers were in vain and neither Satan himself nor all the powers of darkness and hell could restrain our Saviour. He arose in triumph and might, having trodden down principalities and powers, (Col. 2 v15).  We can say with unshakable certainty that our Saviour was the tested Foundation Stone who came through victoriously in the battles He fought on our behalf against SIN and DEATH.

3. The Lord Jesus is the Treasured Foundation Stone.

“A precious cornerstone,” says Isaiah and Peter confirms this in 1 Peter 2 v7, “Now to you who believe, this Stone is precious.” It is one of the marks of a true believer. People in the world would not speak of Jesus as precious, such an idea would make no sense to them. But those of us who know that He suffered and died on the cross for us, agree with the hymn writer’s sentiments, “I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today”.

In Matthew 13 v45-46 we have one of the Lord’s parables about the kingdom of heaven. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Here was a man who made his living from trading, buying something one day and selling it at a profit in a different market on another day. As he browsed the stalls on this occasion, his eyes lit upon a magnificent pearl, the like of which he had never seen. He enquired about the price which was very high. He thought about it for a moment and realized that to purchase this outstanding pearl would mean him having to sell his entire stock built up over many years of work. But he gladly did exactly that and purchased the pearl because owning that precious pearl was more important to him than owning anything else.

That story always reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 3 v7-8, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yes indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” In the earlier verses of that chapter Paul speaks about the pride he felt in his orthodox religious pedigree. But one day, he came face to face with the Lord Jesus in that glorious encounter that took place on the road to Damascus and it meant that things could never be the same again for Paul. He was prepared to jettison everything that had been dear to him and count it but loss because he had found the Lord Jesus, the Pearl of Great Price.

4. The Lord Jesus is the Trustworthy Foundation Stone.

“A sure foundation,” says Isaiah. We think also of Paul’s words, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” (1 Cor. 3 v11). But how do we know that our faith is in the right person? Millions follow Buddha, Mohammed or other religious leaders. How can we be sure that we are not being led astray? 

Once again we turn to some words from the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 v17-21, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.”

The fact that the Lord Jesus rose again sets Him apart from any other religious leader. As Paul says in Romans 1 v3-4, “Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

We can therefore say that our faith is in the One who showed in all His words and His actions that He is truly Divine, who died for us on the cross so that we might be reconciled to God, Who rose again on the third day, ascended back to heaven, sat down at the right hand of God the Father and is able to save to the uttermost those who come to the Father through Him, (Heb. 7 v25).

Edward Mote wrote the hymn that starts, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,” with the chorus, “On Christ, the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” Yes, indeed, that is yet another lovely description of our Saviour!  Our position is one of total safety and security because we are building on the Foundation that the Creator God Himself has provided for us.

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The Editor’s Letter.

My Dear Friends,

"God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: 'The Lord knows those who are his', and, ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness'.” (2 Tim. 2 v19).

In the last edition of the magazine we looked at the need to run with patience and we now look at the solid foundation on which we can build our lives as Christians. God has laid this foundation in the person of His dear Son and we can be sure that not only do we stand on solid ground as we depend on Him, but that He is with us moment by moment in all the situations of life.

May we each know this sure foundation, and find in all things that He is faithful and goes with us each step of the way.

Yours in the Saviour’s Name,

Michael Metcalfe.

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