Foundation of the Church
Lesson 15 | Sabbath, 9 October 2021
“The church on earth is God’s temple, and it is to assume divine proportions before the world. This building is to be the light of the world. It is to be composed of living stones laid close together, stone fitting to stone, making a solid building. All these stones are not of the same shape or dimension. Some are large and some are small, but each one has its own place to fill. In the whole building there is not to be one misshapen stone. Each one is perfect. And each stone is a living stone, a stone that emits light. The value of the stones is determined by the light they reflect to the world.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 281.
1. What question did Jesus ask His disciples one day? How did Peter answer this question under inspiration?
Matthew 16:13-17. When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
“From the first, Peter had believed Jesus to be the Messiah. Many others who had been convicted by the preaching of John the Baptist, and had accepted Christ, began to doubt as to John’s mission when he was imprisoned and put to death; and they now doubted that Jesus was the Messiah, for whom they had looked so long. Many of the disciples who had ardently expected Jesus to take His place on David’s throne left Him when they perceived that He had no such intention. But Peter and his companions turned not from their allegiance. The vacillating course of those who praised yesterday and condemned today did not destroy the faith of the true follower of the Saviour. Peter declared, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ He waited not for kingly honors to crown his Lord, but accepted Him in His humiliation. Peter had expressed the faith of the twelve.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 411, 412.
The one true, firm foundation
2. Once they understood His identity, what did Jesus say about calling His church into existence?
Matthew 16:18, first part. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church;…
“‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 3:11. ‘Upon this rock,’ said Jesus, ‘I will build My church.’ In the presence of God, and all the heavenly intelligences, in the presence of the unseen army of hell, Christ founded His church upon the living Rock. That Rock is Himself–His own body, for us broken and bruised. Against the church built upon this foundation, the gates of hell shall not prevail.
“How feeble the church appeared when Christ spoke these words! There was only a handful of believers, against whom all the power of demons and evil men would be directed; yet the followers of Christ were not to fear. Built upon the Rock of their strength, they could not be overthrown.
“For six thousand years, faith has builded upon Christ. For six thousand years the floods and tempests of satanic wrath have beaten upon the Rock of our salvation; but it stands unmoved.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 413
3. What do the Holy Scriptures say about the “Rock” that is mentioned here? Is Jesus the foundation of only the Christian church, or also of the patriarchs and prophets’ faith?
Isaiah 28:16. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
“The truth which Peter had confessed is the foundation of the believer’s faith. It is that which Christ Himself has declared to be eternal life.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 412.
“The word ‘Peter’ signifies a loose stone. Christ did not refer to Peter as being the rock upon which He would found His church. His expression ‘this rock,’ applied to Himself as the foundation of the Christian church.” –(Signs of the Times, October 28, 1913) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1095.
“Christ was the foundation and center of the sacrificial system in both the patriarchal and the Jewish age. Since the sin of our first parents there has been no direct communication between God and man. The Father has given the world into the hands of Christ, that through His mediatorial work He may redeem man and vindicate the authority and holiness of the law of God.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 366.
“Centuries before the Saviour’s advent Moses had pointed to the Rock of Israel’s salvation. The psalmist had sung of ‘the Rock of my strength.’ Isaiah had written, ‘Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation.’ Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 62:7; Isaiah 28:16. Peter himself, writing by inspiration, applies this prophecy to Jesus.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 413.
4. What decision was reached by the builders who trusted more in their own understanding and merit than in the Lord? How can one honor Him in his life, activities, and responsibilities, even when under the temptations of difficult circumstances?
Matthew 21:42. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Acts 4:10, 11. Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
1 Corinthians 3:11. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
“He [Peter] had referred to the stone set at nought by the builders–meaning the authorities of the church, who should have perceived the value of Him whom they rejected–but which had nevertheless become the head of the corner. In those words he directly referred to Christ, who was the foundation stone of the church.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 252.
“Christ would have averted the doom of the Jewish nation if the people had received Him. But envy and jealousy made them implacable. They determined that they would not receive Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. They rejected the Light of the world, and thenceforth their lives were surrounded with darkness as the darkness of midnight.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 295.
Growth and endurance
5. According to Jesus, what is the difference between common groups, associations, or organizations and the true church or family of God?
Matthew 16:18, last part; 7:24, 25 … And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…. 7:24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
“To His church, Christ has given ample facilities, that He may receive a large revenue of glory from His redeemed, purchased possession. The church, being endowed with the righteousness of Christ, is His depository, in which the wealth of His mercy, His love, His grace, is to appear in full and final display. The declaration in His intercessory prayer, that the Father’s love is as great toward us as toward Himself, the only-begotten Son, and that we shall be with Him where He is, forever one with Christ and the Father, is a marvel to the heavenly host, and it is their great joy. The gift of His Holy Spirit, rich, full, and abundant, is to be to His church as an encompassing wall of fire, which the powers of hell shall not prevail against.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 18.
6. How urgently does God draw those who tend to be separate and independent from Him into a living relationship as part of His precious spiritual building?
1 Peter 2:3-5. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
“In the temple there is not one misshapen stone. Each is perfect, and in the diversity there is unity, making a complete whole. One thing is sure, every stone is a living stone, a stone that emits light. Now is the time for the stones taken from the quarry of the world to be brought into the workshop of God, and hewed, squared, and polished, that they may shine.”–Reflecting Christ, p. 273.
“The church on earth is to become the court of holy love…. Christian fellowship is one means by which character is formed. Thus selfishness is purged from the life, and men and women are drawn to Christ, the great center. Thus is answered His prayer that His followers may be one as He is one with the Father.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 281.
7. What will happen to all who individually and collectively join Jesus as part of the living temple of God?
Ephesians 2:18-22. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
“The Jewish temple was built of hewn stones quarried out of the mountains, and every stone was fitted for its place in the temple, hewed, polished, and tested, before it was brought to Jerusalem. And when all were brought to the ground, the building went together without the sound of ax or hammer. This building represents God’s spiritual temple, which is composed of material gathered out of every nation, and tongue, and people, of all grades, high and low, rich and poor, learned and unlearned. These are not dead substances, to be fitted by hammer and chisel. They are living stones, quarried out from the world by the truth; and the great Master Builder, the Lord of the temple, is now hewing and polishing them, and fitting them for their respective places in the spiritual temple. When completed, this temple will be perfect in all its parts, the [object of] admiration of angels and men, for its builder and maker is God.” –The Upward Look, p. 281.
“In this world we are to shine in good works. The Lord requires His people … to reflect the light of God’s character, God’s love, as Christ reflected it. As we look unto Jesus, all our lives will be aglow with that wondrous light. Every part of us is to be light; then whichever way we turn, light will be reflected from us to others. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. In Him is no darkness at all; therefore, if we are in Christ, there will be no darkness in us.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 281.
For additional study
“Now is the time for the stones to be taken from the quarry of the world and brought into God’s workshop, to be hewed, squared, and polished, that they may shine. This is God’s plan, and He desires all who profess to believe the truth to fill their respective places in the great, grand work for this time.
“The angelic architect has brought his golden measuring rod from heaven, that every stone may be hewed and squared by the divine measurement, and polished to shine as an emblem of heaven, radiating in all directions the bright, clear beams of the Sun of Righteousness.” –In Heavenly Places, p. 281.