A Sure Foundation


sure-foundationAuthor's Note:

All scriptural quotations are taken from either the King James or the New International translations of the Bible. The choice of version was made upon the basis of which translation the author felt best communicated the subject.

Except for the quotation of the scripture verses themselves, the author's preference is to use the Hebraic name "YHVH" for the name transcribed, "LORD" in English versions. This reference to the original Hebraic transcription should not pose a problem for most Christians and avoids bringing offense to our Jewish brethren in Messiah.

A Sure Foundation

By Randy Schroeder

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-5)

Where I grew up in central Illinois there were detestable little insects called termites that lived in colonies and ate wood for sustenance. They thrived in the dark, dank concealment of the interior of support beams forming the foundations of buildings. My father had battled these destructive vermin under our front porch for several years. As a result, he became the neighborhood's resident expert at discovery and treatment on how to rid a house of these pests.

An infested home could look beautiful above the ground level for all to see, but have a foundation that had disintegrated so badly the home would literally be falling into itself, tilting on a corner and/or slowly be turning to dust. I remember my father being requested to visit several neighbors' homes to check for termites. He would use a slender screwdriver to poke the foundation beams at suspicious places. It was amazing to watch as he'd show me a perfect looking 2"x12" support beam, only to see it fall apart once he started poking around and easily penetrating it with his screwdriver.

The foundation beam would look good on the outside, but had no substance left within. What began as a solid foundation for the building became as dust when wood's enemy invaded and devoured it. Additionally, except for the occasional pile of wood dust on the basement floor, nearly all of this destruction was hidden from the naked eye.

In this day, I sometimes wonder if our heavenly Father doesn't have His screwdriver out inspecting the foundation of His church and modern western Christian theology. The prophet Isaiah records the word of the Lord in telling us that Yeshua/Jesus is to be our sure foundation:

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; the one who believes will never be dismayed. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge of the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place. (Isa 28:16,17)

However, as I listen to some of the most popular preachers expound theologies of prosperity, universal salvation, and escapism from righteous suffering, they don't sound like the messages recorded in the scriptures that our Messiah spoke. The measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness has been undermined by humanistic driven reasoning. Some of the "gospel message" being preached has turned the grace of our Lord into a lasciviousness that has eaten away at the foundations of our faith.

Jude spoke of this at the beginning of the problem when he said:

"...certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

How do they deny the Lord, Elohim and our Lord Jesus Christ? They deny the truths of Father, YHVH and the Lord Jesus Christ which were given to the church through the apostles and prophets. In speaking of Christ's work in grafting us gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel, Paul said:

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens 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 corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: (Eph 2:19,-21)

Since both the saints of old and the new believers in Messiah were built upon the same, singular foundation of the prophets and apostles with the Rock (Christ) as the chief cornerstone, we understand that Paul was speaking of the apostles and prophets of old such as Moses and Isaiah. In preaching the true gospel, even to gentiles, Paul most often quoted and clarified the foundation as it was delivered in the Old Testament (Tanakh).

For example, in explaining the simple faith that saves, we often quote Paul's letter to the Romans in chapter 10, which says:

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Rom 10:9-13)

But don't we reject the word of the Lord when we deny the very foundational source from which Paul is quoting? In other words, in our exuberance to proclaim our freedom from the condemnation of the law, have we so neglected the instructions of YHVH given through the Old Testament apostles and prophets that we have allowed the termites of neglect to eat away at our foundations of faith?

As his introduction and proof for this simple faith in Yeshua/Jesus, Paul was quoting scriptures – to the Romans - that were proclaiming the viability to keep the precepts and instructions of YHVH in faith. He wasn't negating the commandments, but rather showing the difference between self righteous observances versus obedience by faith. Compare these verses:

Christ is the end (i.e. goal or objective) of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them." But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down) "or 'Who will descend into the deep?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: (Rom 10:4-8)

The Source Scripture:

If you obey the LORD your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. (Deu 30:10-14)

From this comparison we can understand that Paul was proclaiming the word of faith that Moses taught – the same foundation! Paul's proclaimed "word of faith" is a belief and confession in the salvation offered by "the Rock" (Yeshua/Jesus Christ) that is near (or accessible) to us through the proclamation of our mouth and our belief ("in your heart").

And yet, even Moses prophesied that once Israel became prosperous, our spiritual forefathers would turn their back on YHVH and forget the instructions which form the foundations of our faith.

And the LORD said to Moses: "You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. (Deu 31:16)

But Jeshurun (the "upright" one) waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. (Deu 32:15)

Even the adamant dispensationalists recognize that these prophesies for the "upright" (Jeshurun) in the latter days are not for the Jews only (The term "Jew" is a definition which didn't exist as an entity until after Judah's exile to Babylon in 586 B.C.). But, rather, these prophesies also encompass the believers in Yeshua/Jesus in the latter days. Moses prophecy, and the covenant, was given to those who would initially come into the promise land, but it was not only for them; it was for those of us who live in the latter days.

Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; but with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day: (Deu 29:14,15)

We, who have confessed with our mouth and believed by faith in the blood atoning sacrifice of Yeshua have been grafted into the spiritual root of Israel. Thus, the scriptures call us Israel – Jeshurun – the "upright." For as we know it is Israel and Judah with whom Eloheim made the new covenant: Heb 8:8 But God found fault with the people and said : "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." Thus we, the believers in Yehshua, are to understand that we are Israel by our faith.

Just like physical Israel, we have abandoned the blessings of following the instructions and precepts of the first covenant. Instead of understanding that all of YHVH's covenants build on each other, we have neglected the foundations of our faith. We understand that confession and belief in Yeshua/Jesus' atoning sacrifice will save us and give us eternal life. However, have we neglected the daily salvation and love Yeshua offered for spiritual and physical blessings by neglecting the foundation of our salvation in His commandments.

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (John 15:9-11)

Just like the commandments given through Moses, obedience brings blessings and disobedience brings curses. Not only does obedience promise a physical provision and peace, but, as we just read, the joy and love of Yeshua is promised to dwell in you.

These promises were experienced in greater measure in my own family as we observed YHVH's Feast of Tabernacles. Initially, our observance was motivated as much by a desire to protect our grandchildren and escape the negative influences of the Halloween season as it was to keep the commandment. Never-the-less, as we gathered, worshipped, and taught/read the Word, YHVH showed up and we experienced Him and a greater love for each other.

It wasn't always comfortable as the holy fire requires each of us to die to our own flesh. Yet, year by year sibling rivalries and childhood woundings were replaced by a greater bond of love, comfort (peace) and mutual respect – just as the Word promises! Today, we all excitedly anticipate gathering from the four compass points to meet YHVH for a precious time of fellowship and love in obedience to His Word. We have experienced a yearly increase of His love, revelation and His joy. Through our obedience, we have genuinely apprehended more of His kingdom of "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost."

However, the minute someone suggests following YHVH's commandments, many think of obedience by adherence to a set of legalistic, Talmudic laws and traditions enforced by intimidation and coercion rather than the love and leading of the Holy Spirit. In Romans 10, just before telling us about the word of faith Paul proclaimed, he explained the difference in following YHVH's commands through self righteousness versus faith in the righteousness of YHVH:

For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end (goal) of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Rom 10:1-4)

I once heard a little story that exemplifies the obedience to YHVH's instructions through a right heart attitude:

"Many years ago, I told my little daughter to pick up the mess on her bedroom floor. An hour later, I checked her room. "Daddy, daddy!" she exclaimed. "I cleaned my floor as you told me. And look, I also made my bed and dusted my shelf and cleaned my desk!" My daughter kept my command and far exceeded it because of her desire to please her beloved daddy.

Likewise, we are to follow the commands of our Heavenly Father with the same spirit of love and understanding of Yeshua/Jesus as we are led by the Holy Spirit. Most Christians say that they love YHVH and do many "good works." However, the majority never acknowledge YHVH's standard for loving Him or others. YHVH's "test" of love is if we obey His commandments. Why? Maybe because in His commandments are the heart of the Father (and the Son) which we are to reflect in our beliefs (hearts) and in our deeds. The apostle John explained YHVH's standard when he wrote to New Testament believers:

And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. (2 John 1:5,6)

The attitudes of many brethren remind me of playing cards with my beloved mother. As our family time entertainment, we grew up playing all sorts of card games. (We didn't know that playing cards was offensive to some religions.) Because I had seldom read the rule book for any of the games, I forfeited or lost several times because my mother would point out that "Mr. Hoyle's" rules of cards said I couldn't do something I thought I could. Many Christian's are the same way. For example, many think that simply giving their money, time or gifts are being obedient to YHVH's commandments – even when they are only giving for a tax deduction or are begrudging giving or belittling the need, circumstances or station of the one they are giving it to. Like my mom would say, "Ah..ah..ah..ah....! Read the book, or you'll lose." For YHVH's children, it is the heart attitude that determines if an offering will be "silver and gold" or only wood, hay and stubble to be burnt up.

Let me come to the heart of this matter. For years we have understood that we are free from the condemnation of the law through our faith in Messiah's atoning sacrifice. We have walked in the hope of our salvation and know that we have eternal life. Now, let me pose the tough question. Can we, as the body of Christ, say that we are closing in on perfection (maturity) as evidenced by an increasing and overwhelming love toward both YHVH and man? (Remember Yeshua's summary of the commandments: 1) love YHVH and 2) love your neighbor as yourself.) The love that is (and within) Christ is the goal of our earthly walk.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Follow the way of love.... (1 Cor 13:13, 14:1)

We may say we love YHVH and our neighbor, but do we evidence love according to the Word or only by the definition of man and our comparative reasoning? As the love of YHVH fills our hearts we will desire to please our Lord and it will not be burdensome (or legalistic).

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, (1 John 5:1-3)

So, we come back to the question posed in the beginning, have we allowed the foundations of our salvation to be eaten away by termites – the doctrines and theologies of man? Is it time to get the screwdriver out and poke at some of the support beams to be sure they line up with the word of YHVH? Is the love of YHVH in us so that we are obeying His commands? Or, are we following, "a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death." (Prov 14:12)

Although the scriptures are clear, many will twist this message and the Word and cry "legalism" and "Judiaser." "You're trying to put us back under the law." No, the Word of the Lord is trying to show us the pathway and the law of righteousness for greater freedom, blessings and the love of Christ. (Isn't that what was conveyed by the scriptures we just read?)

Others will say, "The commandments were for a different dispensation. Those commandments were for the Jews." And yet, the Word we've quoted, about true faith and love, were the New Testament writings of Paul and John, respectively. And, they were given to the believers in Messiah! How long will we reject the Word Himself, but accept the theories of man?

YHVH testified that David was, "... a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will." (Acts 13:22) While David's worship touched YHVH's heart, I believe David experienced the heart of YHVH through His Word. David testified that he loved YHVH's law some six times in Psalms 119 alone. Listen to David's cry of love:

I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies. It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way. (Psa 119:125-128)

The Word is calling out a people of YHVH to come into alignment with the prophecy YHVH foretold when he showed our spiritual forefathers the two different paths of obedience and disobedience – blessings and curses. For YHVH prophesied that His "upright," faithful, Israel, after being dispersed throughout the nations, would return from their disobedient ways and obey Him with all their heart and soul.

When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. (Deu 30:1-3)

When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in latter days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him. (Deu 4:30)

Most Christians recognize that we are living in the "latter days." I'm excited that the time is nearing when our Messiah will return to consummate the marriage vows made with His spotless bride "that has made herself ready." It is a call for intimacy and unto the purity of holiness, even as He is holy. The Holy Spirit is not leading Messiah's bride from one system of rules or one man's teachings to another. He is calling each one of us individually to know and experience the intimacy of His heart in the bosom of His love, according to His righteousness.

Earlier we shared the verses from Romans (1:1-4) that said that our spiritual forefathers didn't know that righteousness was only from YHVH and they tried to establish their own – which is self righteousness. We may recognize that the story of their failure is an example for us (...for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness – 2 Tim 3:16), but are we willing to see the similarities of our own self righteousness and errant thinking in accepting the rules/standards of man over YHVH's? We must walk by faith in His salvation, but not in the rationalizations of our minds. We can only worship Him and come into that intimacy by the Spirit and in the truth of His Word.

Is this the time that the Lord is calling us to begin building up the waste places , renew the foundations, and truly hear the Word of the Lord with a new heart attitude? "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."

By His Grace & Abounding Love,