When building a house, as I did many years ago now, the most important part of the building is the foundation. Changes can be made to the structure of the house at any time – in fact, even now we are remodeling a major portion of our home. Walls, ceilings, fixtures are exchanged frequently but the foundation is created to last.
When building the Church we must be careful how we construct the foundation. Ephesians 2:20 states that the foundation is built upon the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. God has set out for us directions concerning the laying of the foundation. And, we would do well to heed His directions.
Before looking at the actual apostolic-prophetic foundation of the church. First, let’s look at the whole concept of foundations in general..
When God first wanted to establish a relationship with man, God laid a foundation or basis for man to build upon. In the Garden of Eden, the foundation for man’s relationship with God was based upon one command; that they would not eat from one of the trees.
And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17
Man disobeyed God’s command. In doing so, the foundation for his (our) relationship with God was abolished. God knew that He needed another foundation upon which to build a relationship with man. However, from Adam to Moses there was no set foundation or ‘law’ – no foundation upon which people could build a relationship with God and so there was limited interaction.
At Mount Sinai, Moses and all of Israel gathered as God laid the foundation for what we now know as the Old Covenant. It was founded upon the Law. The Law was based in the what are known as the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). The Law laid a foundation dealing with man’s relationship with God, man’s worship of God, and man’s social relationships with one another.
But Israel did not always keep these commands and so willingly removed the foundation upon which their relationship with God was based. This rebellion at times led to exile in foreign nations and occupation by foreign powers during which times God was often silent.
As God disciplined His people this way the prophets – God’s spokesmen – began to prophesy about a New Covenant that would be established between God and man. Another covenant that God would establish with Israel and all of mankind. This New Covenant would not fail like the first. But in order to establish this New Covenant and continue to be in a relationship with His creation He had to lay the foundation.
This foundation is found in Jesus Christ. God, in His wisdom, did not establish His New Covenant upon laws and principles. He established it upon a person. Therefore He sent Jesus Christ into the world, not only to give all people the opportunity to be part of the New Covenant, but also to be the very foundation for it.
“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.” John 3:16
This being the reason for the New Covenant. The foundation for the agreement being Jesus as well.
“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:11
The New Covenant was founded upon Christ and the work that He did on the cross. God did not give man a set of laws and rules to follow, man only had to believe on Him who came to fulfill the Law. Then, through the presence of the Spirit of God, man was able to adhere to the principles and laws originally ordained in the beginning as now summarized in The Greatest Commandment and The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40).
The first foundation God worked through was His command to Adam and Eve.
The second foundation He established was the Law through Moses.
The third foundation He poured – for a permanent and eternal relationship with humankind – was Jesus Christ. He and He alone is the foundation for the New Covenant. Now worship is no longer based on rituals and regulations. Instead, it is founded upon relationship through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
God had reestablished a living relationship with His highest creation – humankind.
So, then, let’s look lastly at the foundation for the church – God’s relationship with His Son’s Body. A corporate relationship with His family.
The Church was, of course, born on the day of Pentecost.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
On the day of Pentecost, God established His will. He no longer wanted to be confined to a building, but He wanted to dwell in the hearts of His people. As He abides in each born again believer, they corporately become the temple of God. Peter called the believers “stones” who are built together to form a spiritual house or temple where God could dwell and relate to His corporate body.
“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5
With the New Covenant, the temple of God is now the hearts and minds of God’s people. Their actual bodies become the habitation of God. Therefore, if the Church consists of people joined together by the presence of the Holy Spirit, then the foundation for the Church would consist of people also.
As Paul wrote to the believers, he revealed to them a very important truth. He told them that they (the Church) were built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ being the head stone.
Ephesians 2:19-22: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
The New Covenant was founded upon Jesus Christ and the relationship we can have with God the Father because of Jesus and His work of atonement.
The Church, like the New Covenant, was founded upon people and relationships, namely, the apostles and prophets. So, man has an active role in the establishment of the Church. And, those with the five-fold calling to fill the role or function of apostle and prophet are to pour the foundation for the church as it is established in any local situation.
The apostles and prophets bear the responsibility for the Church, especially in doctrinal purity and spiritual direction. As Christ formed the foundation for the New Covenant, the apostles and prophets formed the foundation for the Church. Their ministries are foundational and continue to be major influences upon the Body of Christ.
The ministries of the apostles and prophets were needed to establish the Church, and their ministries are needed presently for the furtherance of the Church.
God is raising up individuals who walk under and in an apostolic or prophetic anointing that His glory may be seen in the Church and ultimately by the whole world.