By Beth, May 28 2015 10:08PM
Psalms 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.
I’m no expert on building a house. Not physically, anyway. I don't know very much about carpentry, masonry, plumbing or wiring (but, boy, do I admire very much those people who do!)
Still, even we who lack in skilled labor expertise can recognize some basic truths about the process:
1. A house must be built on a solid foundation. (Obviously.) The wisdom of this principle is fleshed out in Matthew 7 when Jesus explains:
Matthew 7:24-25 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
As Christians, we recognize that Jesus was likening a home’s physical foundation to our life’s spiritual foundation. And we understand that Jesus is that Rock -- the solid spiritual foundation for our lives. We know that our spiritual foundation is established through:
A. Recognition that Jesus is God (and we are not);
B. Admission that we have strayed from our original creation in His image by our choosing to engage in destructive behavior patterns known as “sin;”
C. Confession of our sin to God;
D. Genuine, deep personal repentance;
E. Baptism (as an expression of our decision to accept Christ and our public declaration that we may be held accountable for the responsibilities of that decision,) and;
F. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, gently guiding us to choosing productive and creative behavior patterns known as “righteousness.”
Okay. So we’ve got that. But now what?
2. Once the foundation is laid…the house must actually be built on it.
I know, I know – brilliant epiphany, right?!
But I wonder… without a house, what was the purpose of the foundation in the first place?
And the truly great puzzlement is:
WHY ISN’T THE CHURCH BUILDING HER HOUSE?
Why does she continue to lay the foundation, over and over and over again?
How many times have we gone to church (various places, various denominations) hoping to find encouragement, admonishment, and inspiration…only to be preached a salvation message (yet again??)
Is this really what God intended for His church?
Let’s take a look at these verses, written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Hebrews:
Hebrews 6:1-2 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Hebrews 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.
Have you EVER heard that taught before? Ever?? And yet, there it is!
How about this one?
Romans 15:20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation.
Wait a minute…wait a minute.
Do you see that? He strived to preach the gospel…but not where Christ was already named??
I’m pretty sure Christ has been named and publicly acknowledged by the Church as a whole.
So what should we be teaching in our churches??
Well, Paul tells us just a few verses later:
Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
Aha! We ought to be learning about the things that accompany salvation!
So what are those things?
Peter explains them to us in his second letter:
2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
2 Peter 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
2 Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
So once we have the foundation of faith, we are to add to it:
6. Brotherly kindness
(As an aside note, isn’t it interesting how, if you flip the whole thing and see faith as the foundation and the good fruits growing upward, charity ends up on the very top? It reminds me of that verse: 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.)
So, really, THIS is what we’re supposed to be learning about and discussing in church. The teaching of, as Paul puts it, “better things” and “things that accompany salvation” ought to be our focus.
In fact, in Chapter 12 of his letter to the Romans, Paul gives a remarkably helpful and detailed list of what it looks like to be a Christian:
Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Romans 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Romans 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Pretty comprehensive, isn’t it? Can you imagine how different things would be if Christians were actually taught to live by these principles?
Instead, we’re taught week after week that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. Praise God that He did!!
Now tell us what to do next!
(How about going ahead and building the house now?)
And what is the importance of having a house actually built on the foundation that was laid?
Well, what benefits does a house offer? Shelter…safety...comfort… just to mention a few.
It’s a place where we seek nourishment; where we rest, and regain our strength; where we grow and nurture our children into strong healthy adults.
And speaking of children, what would you think of parents who sought to feed all the hungry people outside their home and neglected feeding their own children?
How about parents who sought to discipline all the neighborhood children and failed to discipline their own?
What about parents who seek to protect other children from death, but leave their own to wander into its icy grip?
How effective is this tactic??
Our churches must be places of learning and growing and nourishing; protecting, admonishing, and inspiring the saints – not just reaching out to the lost!!
Many churches are focused almost exclusively on “winning the lost”-- and they are teaching us to focus on the same, rather than helping us to grow in our understanding of God and His Goodness, and rather than teaching us to live Godly lives full of temperance and patience and charity.
Our leaders have become blind to what it really means to be a Christian, believing and teaching that it is defined as someone who goes out and tells people (who, incidentally, oftentimes already know) about Jesus.
Remember what Jesus had to say about this scenario:
Luke 6:39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
Alas, both our churches and their parishioners are being led straight into a ditch of sin and stagnation.
Because the truth is, if you are not committed to growing and learning, renewing your mind daily, leaving your old sin behind you, taking responsibility and repenting when you slip up now, listening for and obeying that still small voice of the Spirit within, and exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit more and more as a whole, then you have no business evangelizing.
Why? Because you do not really honor God with your life.
God certainly does not expect us to be perfect, but we ought to be changing, moving toward perfection.
Psalm 55:19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
We need to be equipped to live our lives in such a way that others are moved by our example and the evidence of our spiritual growth more than our words!
A life well-lived is a far greater evangelism tool than simply “telling people about Jesus.”
(You can quote that and you can take it to the bank.)
How come the churches don’t know that?
The saints need to be nurtured, admonished, and encouraged to grow in the direction of God!
And though I don’t know much about physically building a house, I am called upon by God to spiritually build my home, and to build it well:
Proverbs 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
How much more, then, are the spiritual leaders called upon to build a proper house for the children of God?
When we ignore the needs of the members of our own household, we pluck down our house with our own hands.
Are you a CHRIST-ian?
Live your life in such a way that truly honors God and His Goodness.
Minister to your own family.
And make it a point in your own life to exhort and strengthen the saints to the best of your ability, just as Peter was directed to do when Jesus told him:
Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Oh yes. . .and pray, pray, pray for the Church.