|Volume 23 Number 6 June 2021
The Right Foundation
The foundation is ever so important when constructing a building. Concrete reinforced with rebar is the usual construction method. There are building codes and constant inspections to ensure regulations are met. Builders are held accountable for any errors in the foundational support. Constructing a building without these codes could cause the building to collapse.
According to God, it also makes a difference where we build our spiritual foundation. Christ gave the example of one who built his house on sand. Many heard the sayings of Christ but did not do them. When the winds came and the rain descended on the house, it fell because it was not founded upon rock (Matthew 7:24-27). Here, the rock for us is the Word of God. All of the church’s activity must be founded in the rock of the Word of God.
In another sense, Paul told the Corinthians that “no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (l Corinthians 3:11). Many churches claim attachment to Christ, but unless they have submitted to His will, they are not His church. Therefore, Jesus Christ is not their foundation.
Notice that in Matthew 16:15 Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16). In verse 18 Jesus said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Jesus built His church on the fact that He is the Christ. He is the foundation and the Head (Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18)! Any organization that builds on some other foundation or has a different head is not the church of the Bible. The gates of Hades shall not prevail against the Lord’s church. Any institution founded by man cannot stand against Satan. Only the church of our Lord will, in the end, stand.
It is grand that our foundation is the Christ our Lord! We recognize that He is the only One Who built the sure foundation – He is the foundation! Therefore, when we build with His will – the Word of God – we build upon the Rock or Foundation, Who is Christ. Examine your foundation and determine whether it is from man or from God. If from man, then discard it. If from God, then forever cling to it. Think about it!
Shepherds and the Congregation
Mark T. Tonkery
Hebrews 13:17 reads, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (ESV). It is essential that each congregation of the Lord’s church continue to appoint men who will lead the congregation as shepherds or elders. First Timothy 3 and Titus 1 both give the qualifications of the men who are to fulfill this function of leadership in the church. As important as it is to find men who are mature Christians and who meet the biblical standards of leadership, one must keep in mind that this is only one part of what helps a congregation function as God designed. Another part of having a faithful congregation is having faithful followers.
Hebrews 13:17 states that the congregation must be one which faithfully follows godly leadership. This passage teaches members of a congregation that they are to follow in such a way that they help their elders enjoy their job as shepherds. This is done in part of being good followers.
I am sure we have been in a situation at one time or another, such as at school or at work, when it seemed that there were too many coaches and not enough players. In situations like that, nothing gets accomplished, and the same is true in a congregation. If a congregation did not have leaders to lead and followers to follow, the congregation would debate every idea and situation that came along, and nothing would be accomplished.
Wise shepherds are open to suggestions and advice. “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). Yet, despite all the counsel and advice elders may receive, they still need to make decisions and give direction to the congregation. Sometimes shepherds must make hard choices (e.g., how to deal with the pandemic). It is during difficult decisions elders need the understanding of the congregation and good followership so that as Hebrews 13:17 says, “Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Of course, Hebrews 13:17 does not encourage following an eldership that wants to deviate from God’s Word of truth and lead people away from God. However, as an eldership follows Christ, the congregation should follow the direction of its eldership.
Being good followers helps the church to function with unity, with a single mind, and helps the whole congregation to function in brotherly love (1 Corinthians 1:10). It is essential to have godly men shepherding the congregation, but it is also essential that we have faithful members following Christ and our elders as they strive to help each member on his or her journey to Heaven.