Alistair M Brown

Isaiah 28: 16

Luke 6: 46-49 

Philippians 1: 6

         I have before me the matter of the “foundation” that God has laid, which is spoken of by the prophet.  Isaiah was a prophet.  The prophets bring in God’s mind.  The prophet Isaiah is speaking here of a very great matter in God’s mind, that He was going to lay a “foundation” - God’s “foundation”.  He was going to lay it in Zion; that is in the hill, the elevated place, of God’s holiness (Ps 2: 6) where God dwelt among His people of old time, the Israelites.  The prophet then expands on the words: “I lay for foundation in Zion” by adding four things - “a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation”.  Who was Isaiah referring to when he says that God was going to lay a Foundation in Zion?  We know, because the apostle Peter quotes this scripture in speaking about the Lord Jesus.  The prophet here refers to Jesus.  The prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus came in.  Every prophecy has been, or will be, fulfilled through the Lord Jesus.  He is a wonderful Person.  He is the subject of all the Word of God in the Scriptures.  In the Old Testament and the New Testament you can find Jesus from beginning to end.  God starts with Jesus and He will end with Him.  Everything for God’s pleasure is contained in what begins with Jesus and ends with Him.  The matter of the Foundation is the beginning.  God begins with Jesus.  He loves to have Jesus spoken of.  He loves it when people listen when Jesus is spoken of.  God spoke through the prophet, probably 2,700 years ago, or thereabouts.  You can work that out for yourself.  All these years ago, Isaiah spoke about this Person. The Lord Jesus had not yet come, but we know who the prophet was speaking about.  We know who the Foundation is that God was going to lay in Zion.  There has been no reason for God to change in any detail, or in any respect at all, the Foundation that He has laid.

         Jesus is God’s Foundation.  The prophet speaks of Him first of all as a stone.  That is what is dependable.  You can put weight and pressure on a stone and it does not move.  It is strong; it is reliable; it is dependable.  God has made Christ the Foundation, the Stone.  He is the One upon whom God relies.  There is no other man, no other person, that God can rely upon entirely.  There have been very great people throughout the history of the world.  In the Scriptures we learn about men like Noah, Abraham, Joseph and Daniel.  Many of them are spoken about in the faith chapter in Hebrews 11, which speaks of many of the greatest people morally in the Scriptures.  Nevertheless, God could not entirely depend on them, though He used them for great things.  But in Christ, there is the Stone - what is entirely and absolutely reliable for God.  God relies upon Christ.  There could never be any suggestion of failure in that blessed One.  We have been speaking about the perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  There is complete reliability, strength and dependability in the Stone. 

         The prophet goes on to say “a tried stone”.  The perfection of Christ was not fair-weather perfection.  It was not just when times were good.  How blessed were the times that Christ knew.  He rejoiced in spirit and He praised the Father (Luke 10: 21), and the lines fell unto Him in pleasant places, Ps 16: 6.  There were other times when there was great pressure upon Him.  He was “a tried stone”.  The extent of pressure brought out the strength of God’s Foundation, the moral perfection in one blessed Man.  Christ pleased God in every step of His pathway here and every circumstance, in every private moment, in every thought, every word and every deed.  Think of divine perfection in a Man!  One on whom God can entirely rely, God’s Foundation.  Then the prophet speaks of Him as “a precious corner-stone”.  There is something else added.  You have the “stone”, and the “tried stone”, and then the prophet adds to that the “precious corner-stone”.  The thought of preciousness involves the affections.  There was something in this One - indeed everything about this One - that drew out the affections of God as laying in Zion the “precious corner-stone”.  He was of infinite value to God.  The corner-stone has in view the shape and dimensions of the building.  What is in mind is God’s building.  It is precious: the Lord Jesus, as precious to God, is going to give the dimensions and the characteristics of all that is to be for God’s pleasure.  Everything for God is to be founded on God’s Foundation, God’s precious Corner-stone.  The “corner-stone” is also referred to as the “head of the corner”, see 1 Pet 2: 7.  That is, He is both the Foundation and the Topstone of what is for God.  He is the One from whom the whole construction takes its character and dimensions.  This scripture gives us some impression of what Christ means to God. 

         To God, He is the Stone, the tried Stone, the precious Corner-stone, and then the sure Foundation.  The footnote to that is ‘a foundation well-founded’.  We have been speaking about Christ’s perfection and His reliability and His trustworthiness, the fact that He never did or said or thought anything that was outside the pleasure and the will of the Father.  Then there is a further thought suggested in coming back to the sure Foundation.  God has this One as His Foundation, but He wants Him to be your Foundation and mine.  What grace there is in that!  God has provided Himself with a Foundation, One who is perfect and in whom He found His delight.  He pleased God in every step of His pathway.  But God’s heart of love desired that people like you and me might come into blessing.  To come into blessing, we have got to be founded on Christ.  Christ is to be our Foundation.  He is God’s Foundation, the Foundation that God has provided, established there in Zion; and He is to be our Foundation also. 

         God’s desire is that the One whom He has laid as Foundation in Zion should be your sure Foundation and mine.   To bring that to pass, something else was needed.  The perfection of His life here was essential, but something else was needed.  If He was to be the sure Foundation for sinners like you and me, if we were to come into blessing, then He had to die.  The gospel tells us about the love of God for us.  It also tells us that He is a holy and a righteous God, and we in our sins are at a distance from Him.  But God is not frustrated by that.  God’s love is not turned aside by the fact that sin has come in.  My sins and yours are a result of the intrusion of sin into God’s universe through the pride of Satan.  “I will ascend”, he said, Isa 14: 13.  That principle of sin came in and it has infected the human race.  Man, made upright in the image and likeness of God, was affected by sin coming in right at the beginning.  God had the answer in one Man, this blessed Person, Christ.  But it required the Lord Jesus to die, so that God’s answer might be available for you and for me.  He had to give up that precious and perfect life of His.  It required the death of that precious One for Him to be the sure Foundation for you and for me.  What a matter that God gave up His beloved Son, the One whom He loved, the One who had given Him infinite cause to love Him in His pathway here.  He was His only-begotten Son, who drew out the affections of the Father; drew out, you might say, the feelings of heaven.  “This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight”, Matt 17: 5.  Think of the feelings of the Father towards this One.  He has laid Him in Zion as a Stone, a sure, a trusted Stone; and a precious Corner-stone.  This involved God giving Him up in death, so that He might be the sure Foundation for guilty sinners like you and me to trust in Him, and come to salvation.  Wonderful matter!  The suffering of the Lord Jesus in taking and drinking that cup meant that He who was flawless and perfect, sinless, upon whom sin and death had no claim whatsoever, had to go into death.  There was no reason in Himself that He should die.  But in order to provide a sure Foundation for you and me, He had to go that way.  He had to take on Himself the matter of sin.  Indeed He was made sin.  Paul tells us that in his epistle to the Corinthians: “Him who knew not sin he has made sin for us”, 2 Cor 5: 21.  The One who was entirely without sin, was made what He hated most.  And the result was to bring in that awful forsaking, the awful suffering at the hands of God.  For it was God who made Him sin.  Christ bore that and in His perfection He exhausted God’s judgment upon sin.  Only one who was this Stone, this tried Stone, could have exhausted God’s judgment.  And He did!  He said at the end of these three hours of darkness, “It is finished”, John 19: 30.  The fire of God’s judgment upon sin was completed and the offering was alive through it; and then He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.  The Lord Jesus actually died.  And then He shed His blood, because “one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water”, v 34.  The Lamb was foreknown.  Peter in his epistle tells us that we have been redeemed “by precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot …of Christ, foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world”, 1 Pet 1: 19.  That is that God had in mind that He would provide this sure Foundation for your salvation and mine before even the physical creation had its existence.  That is what the Scripture says, and the Scripture cannot be broken.  God had us in mind for blessing, and He had in mind to give His only beloved Son.  It came into actuality when the Lord Jesus came here.  It was when He came here that the word was fulfilled: “Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee” (Heb. 1: 5); it was a matter of divine counsel.  That precious Lamb was in the mind of God before the foundation of the world.  What a sure Foundation!  Friend, God relies upon Christ as the Foundation.  He is the Stone, the tried Stone, the precious Corner-stone, and God can rely upon Him and His precious work absolutely.  The blood that He shed gives God a righteous and eternal basis to forgive us and to bless us forever.  “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin”, 1 John 1: 7.  God looks upon that blood and He is satisfied.  He has a righteous, immoveable basis for forgiving you and me now and forever, and every single person on the face of the earth who accepts Christ.  God is able to save to the uttermost, to save absolutely, all those who approach to God by that blessed One, the sure Foundation.  He is God’s Foundation.  Will you make Him yours?  He becomes my Foundation by my believing in Him, by my taking God at His word and accepting that God has provided this precious One as Saviour.  He has made Him available through death, so that the effectiveness of that work of His, in suffering and dying and shedding His blood, might be available for every one who believes on Him.

         I appeal to everyone here to take God at His word, to place your trust in Jesus as the One who is able to save.  As you trust in Him, He does save.  He saves you absolutely and He saves you forever.  Then you find that you have for your sure Foundation the same One that God has laid as His Foundation.  God holds Him forth to you as the blessed attractive Object for your trust, for your belief and for your affections.  I would appeal to all of us to place our trust in Christ.  I sincerely hope that all have done so, but the preacher cannot assume things.  And so I say again to all of us: put your trust in this blessed One.  He is the sure Foundation.  He is a living Person.  He died once - He shed his blood.  He is living now, in the presence of God, giving Him delight.  God would hold Him forth to us, and to the entire race of mankind, as the object of faith for the forgiveness of sins and so that we might know blessing.  The matter from our side starts through faith, through repentance, through acknowledging that we are sinners.  Then in Him we have the forgiveness of sins.  I know that that blessed One bore my sins in His body on the tree.  He took away sin that so offended God.  He took that away from God’s sight.  He exhausted God’s judgment against it.  Sin had to be judged.  But your sins are forgiven if you believe in Christ, because He bore them.  For those that believe in Him, he bore our sins.  Not the sins of all - the scripture does not say that - but our sins, those who believe in Him.  He bore our sins in His precious body on the tree.  When He was suffering there under God’s judgment, He bore our sins.

         What a matter!  The work has been done.  Christ’s work is completed, and God would beseech us - as the scripture says: “God, as it were, beseeching by us… be reconciled to God”, 2 Cor 5: 20.  That is, we are to accept what He says, accept God at His word and make Jesus our Saviour.  We are to make Him our Foundation, our sure Foundation.  We are talking about things that are eternal in their effect.  Trust in Jesus in time, and the effect of that is eternal: it never loses its value.  The work of Christ in the eye of God is of eternal and incomparable value and worth.  You can plead it forever.  You can have it as your title forever.  There is a hymn that says,

         The sinner who believes is free,

         Can say, The Saviour died for me;

         Can point to the atoning blood

         And say, This made my peace with God.

                                         (Hymn 357)

That is somebody who appreciates the blood of Christ.  May we all appreciate the blood of Christ.  We will never appreciate it as much as God does.  The hymn writer wrote these lines, and God delights in the feelings expressed.  He delights in a repenting sinner who is able to point to the blood and say, ‘I appreciate this.  I have placed my trust in the One who shed his blood because He gives me peace with God’.  What a matter.  Your portion can be joy and peace in believing in the One who is the sure Foundation.

         In Luke’s gospel where we read there is another reference to the foundation.  It speaks about those that hear the word and do it.  I do not want to say very much about the second man who heard the word and did not do it, because the normal outcome of hearing the Word of God, and hearing the Lord speaking, is that we believe and we ‘do’.  That would be normal; but there is a certain responsibility placed on the hearer - to hear and to do.  That is carried forward in the parable here of the builder of the house.  There is a Foundation being laid.  The apostle Paul says, “For other foundation can no man lay besides that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ”, 1 Cor 3: 11.  But then the question is, ‘How do we build upon it?’.  Do we make the Foundation ours by belief, by believing in the Lord Jesus?  How are we going to build?  This man, who heard and did, dug and went deep until he found Christ; he found the Foundation.  And he founded his house on the rock.  In digging and going deep, you have got to dig through whatever material lies on top of the Foundation, the Rock, until you come to it.  And then you can base yourself on that Rock.  I am presenting the Lord Jesus as the Rock, as the sure Foundation and the precious Corner-stone.  We have got to displace things to reach Him.  And what we have to displace is clay and earthy material that really represents what we are naturally.  It has to be dug through until we come to the Rock, to Christ.  There is no point in relying on ourselves, on our own merit or worthiness, or whatever it may be.  God is not interested in that.  That has got to be dug out until we get to the Rock.  There is no other Foundation - no other Foundation can man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ, 1 Cor 3: 11.  So we have to be prepared to displace ourselves, and that is a very testing thing.  What we are naturally, the clay and earth, gets in the way of placing our faith and our reliance on Christ Himself.  We might have our own ideas, and we might think that they are as good as anybody else’s, but if they come from our minds naturally, without reference to God’s mind and God’s word, they must be dug out and discarded.  We have to displace them.  That is a testing matter, but how worthwhile it is when we get through to the Rock.  It is totally dependable in its character.  Men’s ideas change.  Many people in the West nowadays are caustic, sceptical and cynical about Christianity, about God’s word in the Scriptures and about the Lord Jesus.  The world will not have the One whom God has laid in Zion as the Stone, the tried Stone, the precious Corner-stone and sure Foundation.  The world’s system would not rest on such a Foundation.  It could have no contact and no congruence with the moral Foundation that God has laid.  If you went back centuries you would come across the same infidel thoughts of man expressed as to Christ.  It is no different now.  The believer digs through all of that and gets to the Rock.  It is a wonderful thing to reach through to the Man upon whom we can absolutely depend. 

         There is the side of displacement as we have been speaking of it.  And then there is the side of building.  This man built his house; he built his house on the rock.  When we speak about building, we speak about basing our lives on Christ.  God desires, and Christ desires, that the life of the believer should be based on that One.  So that our relationships, our experiences, the responsibilities that we take on, and the things that we do are all to be based on that blessed Corner-stone, that sure Foundation.  This man built his house upon the rock.  He built his house so that it had the shape given to it by the corner-stone.  So much of our lives can be spent on what is going to be taken away.  In that Scripture in 1 Corinthians 3, Paul speaks about building with gold and silver and precious stones.  That is the same idea as this man building on the rock.  Paul adds a warning about building with wood and grass and stubble.  There are houses that fall down when the testing comes, as here when the rains came.  The house is worth nothing then.  Paul speaks of the person as saved, as though through fire, but their work is burnt up and destroyed.  But the work of the believer, in the sense of our lives here in fulfilling our responsibilities, is not to be burnt up.  If it is built on the Rock it has lasting value.  It bears a testimony.  There is a testimony in the work, life, activities and bearing of the believer to the value and worth of that.  And it stands the test.  The great feature of what is based on the Rock is that it stands the test.  The Scripture speaks about ‘a great cloud of witnesses’ who have placed their faith in Christ and whose work was tried but stands on the Rock.  In these cases that are spoken of in Hebrews 11, some were tried by fire, literally - they were tried by the sufferings of death.  The works, the lives of these people of faith, persisted and stood fast.  And in more modern times there have been those whose work in that sense stood fast in the face of suffering and death.  Even now there are believers in other countries who stand fast in the face of threat and persecution.  They give their lives because their faith and their lives are founded on the Rock.  Well, we are not called upon, at this time anyway, to give our lives, but we are challenged as to what our lives are founded upon.  May we be among those who hear the word and do it.  Then our lives will be founded on the Rock.  We will take our character from that One who is the Foundation.  We will be pleasing to God.  There will be blessing and divine approval. 

         In Philippians, we see that as we build our house on the Rock, we are building along with God.  He has begun and He is going to complete His work.  We spoke about what He started, how He begins with Christ.  Here we see that He will complete things to Jesus Christ’s day.  That is, He will bring about the fulness and perfection of His work in myriads of believers.  God is doing that.  He has finished it in many, those who have gone before, believers who have already died; God has finished His work in them.  But in those of us who are here today, as believers, God is still working, and He will complete that work unto Jesus Christ’s day.  The question I would leave with us in closing is whether I am with God in that building.  Am I conscious that God is doing a work in me?  Am I with Him in it?  It is possible that I might not be.  I might be indifferent to it, or I might be doing different things, perhaps building to a plan that is different from God’s divine plan.  That would be a sad matter.  But how blessed to be with God in what He is doing, completing His work in each one of us, to Jesus Christ’s day.  Another scripture in Peter speaks about believers as living stones.  He speaks of Christ as the Living Stone, and then it says “yourselves also, as living stones”, 1 Pet 2: 5.  We are to come to Him and as doing so we are built up together into a living habitation for God.  “To whom coming, a living stone”, 1 Pet 2: 4.  God is building something glorious. He needs material for His building and He finds it in believers who hear the word and do it.  They are on the line of building what is for God and of Him, on that sound and sure Foundation. 

         As I said, God begins with Christ.  He wants us to begin with Christ too.  God also ends with Christ.  He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end”.  You can read about that in Revelation 22: 13.  God will have everything for His pleasure and His glory and His praise for ever in Christ.  The results will go on eternally, but in the present scene of time, God is securing people for His pleasure forever.  And every one that He is securing is secured on the basis of the work of Christ, that Foundation that He has laid.  God wants us to be building with Him.  You might say He is the great Master Builder, ineffably wise and discerning and loving, too.  He is putting things together according to His plan, all founded on Christ.  He wants you and me to be with Him in that building.  He is building what is of eternal value for His glory and testimony now and for our blessing now, too, because God has blessing in mind.

         May these things be for our comfort and encouragement and stirring up, for that is needed.  We all need stirring up for His glory.  For His Name’s sake.

Glasgow

3rd November 2013