I’ve never been confused for a builder, but I have heard it said that the most important part of the house is the foundation. In fact, a quick internet search turns up an article written by Laurie Brenner for SF Gate that says, “but of all the elements in building a house, the most important part, the foundation, is usually ignored by the majority of new homeowners”. I have no reason to doubt Laurie on this. She goes on to say that the reason the foundation is the most important part of the house is because of what it provides for rest of the house. It provides stability and bears the weight of the entire structure. It provides a level base for wall construction and separates the wood framing from the termites in the ground. The foundation is the most important part of a house because of what it provides for what is built upon it. Although the foundation is the most important part of the house, no one would look at a completed foundation and think the house is move-in ready. If all you have is a foundation, you don’t have a house—you have part of a house. Below, we’ll be exploring the truth of God’s Word as the foundation of the Christian life.
We see throughout Scripture that the Biblical writers—who were inspired in their writing by the Holy Spirit—were very concerned with the purity of the message within the church. In Acts 20, Paul is speaking to the Ephesian elders on his way to Jerusalem and he warns them in v29-32 that fierce wolves will come up from among them and they will speak twisted things in order to draw the disciples away from the truth to follow them. In the pastoral epistles (1&2 Timothy and Titus), Paul is charging his co-workers in the faith to protect the church from those who would teach any different doctrine. In the qualifications given for elders in the church, it is a requirement that he must hold to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he will be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9). In Ephesians 4:14, Paul states that there is human cunning and craftiness in deceitful schemes (which Satan is ultimately behind—Ephesians 6:12). The occasion for writing many of the books of the New Testament was some heresy that was threatening the church (Jude 4, Galatians 1:6). Some of the clearer examples of this are: Galatians, Colossians, the aforementioned pastoral epistles, 2 Peter, Jude and 1&2 John. In the book of Jude, he changed course altogether to appeal to them to contend earnestly for the faith (the standard of truth) that was once for all delivered to the saints (v3). There was a specific message of truth that they were to intently defend and promote with skill and commitment. He had intended to write to them concerning their common salvation, but instead, he was inspired to write to them to urge them to be a people who prioritize truth and refute error.
There is overwhelming Scriptural evidence that there is a standard of truth and whatever is not truth is error. The Spirit inspired writers of Holy Scripture didn’t hedge on truth and leave room for contradictory “truths”. In Galatians 1:8, Paul writes that if there are any who are teaching a gospel that is contrary to the truth he is to be accursed (separated from Christ—doomed). In case there was any question in anyone’s mind as to whether or not Paul intended to come across so strongly, he says it again in v9, “As we have said before, so now I say again; If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed”. Does Paul (or more importantly the Holy Spirit) have a post-modern mindset of individual truths, which are rooted in personal experience and emotion? This is not God’s way of thinking and therefore cannot be how His children think about matters of God’s transcendent truth and that which contradicts it. We, as Christians, are to be people who love the truth. There is a call on the life of every believer to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). We can say with complete confidence that the truth of the Word of God is to be the firm foundation for the Christian life. Too much of Scripture is devoted to the refutation of that which contradicts the truth to come to any other conclusion. To hold a different view is not to hold to some variant truth, rather it is to be in error.
Why is the foundation of truth the most important part of the Christian life? Like with the house, the foundation of truth provides immovable stability for what is being built upon it. I am persuaded that this is why Scripture puts such a premium on the truth. It’s not so the Christians would be the ones with the best and strongest foundations. It is so that Christians would have the necessary foundation to provide strength and stability to the manner of living that is built upon it (Philippians 1:27). This is what makes the foundation of truth so vitally important.
The truth of God’s Word is not the end in itself, but it is the means to the end. The reason that Paul pounds sound doctrine throughout his epistles and the reason that Jude changes what he was going to write about in order to strengthen and embolden his readers to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints is not simply because there is a great danger that the people of God would not simply know truth, but because it is only through this message of what is true that the people of God know and learn how to fulfill holiness in love for one another which ultimately binds the people of God together in peaceful unity. It is only upon the foundation of truth that we live a life which accords with truth.
It is through the truth that we are renewed in our thinking (Romans 12:2) to desire what is good, right, true, holy and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). It is only through this truth that we are transformed into a people who are brought into peaceful harmony with one another in love that is completely informed by what is true. I am convinced that this is the reason that the Holy Spirit inspired the biblical writers to prioritize truth and to refute error because it is through this message that we are sanctified to be holy in our manner of living (John 17:17). It is not merely so the people of God can be the right ones—the ones with all the right information about God—but that we would be the transformed ones—the ones sanctified in the truth of the Word of God. It is so that we, Christians, would be the ones on the earth who are dying to self, living in humility of heart, putting pride to death by the power of the Spirit so that we would be renewed in our minds and transformed in our behavior to live as the new creations in Christ that we have been born again to be by the grace of God. In short, so that the people of God would be the ones more clearly bearing His likeness on the earth. As the people of God, we testify to the world about our Savior not only through our words, but also through our manner of living (James 1:19-27).
What is the ultimate end of God’s transcendent truth? I’ve made the assertion that it is not God’s ultimate goal that His people would be the right ones but that we would be the renewed and transformed ones. The reason for this is that God is glorified. His glory is the ultimate end of His people being transformed by the power of the Spirit through the truth of His Word. Is God most glorified when prideful people who were ruled by selfishness, arrogance, impatience, envy, irritability, resentment, and who were rejoicing at wrongdoing merely say true and right things about Him or when those very same people are transformed and sanctified in the truth of God’s Word to become self-sacrificing in love for one another, patient, kind, not arrogant or boastful, not insisting on their own way, not irritable or resentful and a people who rejoice in the doing of the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-6)? Certainly, God is glorified in the proclamation of truth in word, but more so when the one who is called by His name proclaims the truth in both word and manner of living.
God is most glorified in the world when His people die to the pursuit of living unto self (autonomy) and are unified with one another in truth to do works of righteousness to the glory of Christ our head. This is why the truth of God’s Word is so vital and so important for us to know, study and grow in. It is the truth of the Word of God which informs our good works—not our own imagination (Ephesians 2:10). If we have false teaching invading the church as the pastoral epistles, Jude and other New Testament books are protecting against, this promotes division within the body. If lies from Satan are allowed to pass for the truth that was once for all delivered to the saints, then there will be confusion, a lack of conformity to the image of Christ, a lack of self-sacrificing love for one another, and a lack of unity of mission which glorifies God.
In this post, the life of the new creation in Christ has been compared to a house that is being built by the Holy Spirit who is referred to in Scripture as the Spirit of Truth (John 15:26). Like the homeowner we discussed in the introduction, we can’t neglect the foundation of the house as it is the most important part. This is why we are to put such a high premium on being a people of the truth. It is because without fidelity to God’s transcendent truth, there can be no sanctification in the truth (John 17:17-21) and without Spirit-empowered sanctification in the truth, there can be no self-sacrificing love which brings forth the unity in the Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-7) that we are called to in Christ which ultimately glorifies God. It’s plain to see, the truth of the Word of God is foundational to the people of God being renewed and transformed to bear God’s image—to share in His divine nature—among creation to glorify Him on the earth (2 Peter 1:4). So we must be a people who treasure God’s truth and seek to mine it’s depths with humility of heart desiring to be built upon a firm foundation into a beautiful home—not built by human hands—that ultimately glorifies the Lord.