The Only Foundation!William Nicholson, 1862
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ!" 1 Corinthians 3:11
A Foundation is the groundwork, or lowest part of a building, which supports the other parts; as the foundation of a house, of a castle, of a fort, tower, etc.
Just so, Christ is called a foundation, Isaiah 28:16. On him, as the foundation, the Church is built. That is, the members of the Church depend upon his saving grace, his atonement, resurrection, and his intercession — for acceptance with God. By his Spirit and Word, the materials, (that is, converted and believing people,) are collected together; they rest upon him, and are a holy temple unto the Lord. See 1 Peter 2:4-6; Ephesians 2:19-22.
In the preceding verses the Apostle denounces undue partiality to ministers, who are to be recognized as mere instruments. Christ alone is worthy of supreme exalted attachment, as he is the only basis of all spiritual and eternal happiness. He has become for his Church, that which neither men nor angels could ever have done." For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ!"
I. The Necessity of This Foundation.
1. It is necessary, because man is a sinner. He is a transgressor, lost and hopeless. His heart is impure. God is against him. Divine justice condemns him.
2. It is necessary, because man is helpless. "Without strength," Romans 5:6. Man is totally incapable of removing or avoiding the awful penalty.
His state, therefore, was helpless, and Jesus, the Mighty One, appeared as his Savior, when he was without strength. Could man perfectly conform to the law? Could he endure its curse? Blessed Savior! you alone were able to save! Glorious announcement to the universe! "Lo! I come to do your will O God!"
II. The Properties of This Foundation.
1. Its origin is divine. It was planned by Jehovah, and consecrated to the great purpose of redemption by him. "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed!" Isaiah 28:16. I consecrate and lay this rock as a foundation.
Behold the infinite compassion of God. He looked down upon earth — no Savior was to be found there — all had corrupted their way. He looked upon the angels and seraphs surrounding him, but they were created intelligences. Man required a Godlike salvation — infinite and eternal. "For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants!" Hebrews 2:16.
He delegated and appointed his Son for this purpose. He knew what was needed . . .
to vindicate the honor of his throne,
to exhibit the purity of his law, and
to display the riches of his sovereign grace!
Then he is gracious and says, "Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him!" Job 33:24.
2. A foundation is laid low in the ground to render it firm and secure. So Christ, the only foundation, was laid very low, that he might meet our necessities. He stooped from Heaven, to earth. He bowed the heavens and came down. He was "in the form of God," etc . Philippians 2:6.
There were several steps of his humiliation:
(1.) The assumption of human nature. He became a worm, and no man, and despised of the people. This was a great step downward. The "image of the invisible God" was clothed in clay!
(2.) Conformity to the law. "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." Galatians 4:4. He was placed under the law's restraints; and made obedient to its ceremonies and observances. Hence he was . . .
presented in the temple;
bound to go up to all the feasts, etc., etc.
(3.) He was subjected to great trial and conflict. He was born in poverty; lived in poverty. "Foxes had holes, and birds have nests — but I have nowhere to lay my head." He was incessantly reviled and persecuted — the contradiction of sinners — his character traduced, etc. The hand of violence was lifted up against him. He was spurned and trampled upon.
(4.) He was in subjection to penal sufferings and death. Think of that bloody agony. So intense that it brought angels down from Heaven to strengthen him!
Look at that scourging!
Listen to those taunts and revilings!
Mark those lacerations!
Hear the driving of those nails, and then the uproarious shouts of derision, etc. etc.
And this was the Lord of life and glory! How low he stooped!
(5.) He was consigned to the grave — the place of corruption. This and his consequent resurrection, were necessary, proving the reality of his death and atonement. See 1 Corinthians 15:1.
3. A foundation must have strength and stability, in order to support the superstructure. Christ is called a Stone. A stone is the most suitable material for a foundation. Christ is a stone, a rock. Isaiah 28:16; 1 Corinthians 10:4. He is an immovable Rock. All who build upon him, are rendered secure and strong. Isaiah 45:24; Ephesians 6:10; John 15:5.
4. Christ is a precious foundation. Though all stones may be useful in their place — yet they are not all precious stones. The topaz, the emerald, the diamond, will not be selected as foundation-stones. But Christ is more precious than rubies. He is an elect and precious foundation-stone — the most precious stone in the universe. "The chief among ten thousand," etc. Saints say of him, "Whom have I in Heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:25-26. "Unto you who believe, he is precious." 1 Peter 2:7. To sinners, he is a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.
5. Christ is a tried foundation. "A tried stone;" completely adapted to all the sublime and gracious purposes for which it was laid.
God tried him by laying upon him all our guilt.
Men and devils tried him by their sophistry, persecutions, and temptations — but he repulsed them.
Divine justice tried him, and he answered all his demands.
Saints have tried him, and found him not only to answer, but to exceed their expectations. Ask the blood-bought throng before the throne, as to the result of their trying him.
6. Christ is an everlasting foundation. "His name shall endure forever." Psalm 72:17.
Other foundations may be razed to the ground; earthquakes may destroy them, and time will be sure to decay them. The foundations of kingdoms, nations, empires, etc., may be convulsed and destroyed — but against this rock, the gates of Hell shall never prevail.
Error cannot destroy it. The sophistry, infidelity, and bitter hostility of man, cannot undermine this foundation. "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed!" Isaiah 28:16. He shall not be driven to and fro in confusion, never be ashamed, never be confounded; for he shall be safe, he shall feel himself safe . . .
in the darkest opposition,
in the struggles of death,
and the terrors of judgment.
III. It is the Duty and Privilege of Believers to Build, or Rest upon this Foundation. This Implies —
1. Credence. A belief that he is appointed of God to be the foundation — the Savior. His claims are acknowledged. His right is indisputable.
2. A conviction that this foundation is necessary — necessary for us. That Christ is as necessary to the salvation of our souls, as the foundation-stone is to the erection of any building. We must feel our need of it.
3. The abandonment of all other grounds of trust.
4. Dependence upon him. Even as a stone is placed upon the foundation, so must we place our souls upon Christ the Rock. Look to him for pardon and justification. Build upon him alone.
5. Be careful what you build upon this foundation. Do not build error upon it — your own favorite notions, human creeds, ordinances and opinions, loose and careless walking, etc. This will be but wood, hay, stubble — instead of gold, silver, and precious stones.