God’s Word for You
Colossians 1:23 Your foundation
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, March 23, 2018
23 provided that you continue in the faith, firmly founded and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Paul compares the ministry of the gospel with putting up a building. First, the foundation is laid. This is the word themelióō (ϑεμελιόω). The Bible uses this term for the creation of the world: “Were you there when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4); “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth” (Psalm 102:25). Laying down the foundation of faith begins with baptism, which gives the forgiveness of sins (“Be baptized and wash your sins away,” Acts 22:16). Put another way: “Baptism saves you” (1 Peter 3:21). It isn’t our faith in baptism that saves, but the gift that baptism gives. That gift is forgiveness (salvation), and that means that baptism gives the faith through which we are saved. But the foundation is also “the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). So the foundation is also the teaching of the Bible, the complete body of Christian doctrine. This goes beyond a catechism course, beyond a few Bible classes—but notice that our education term “course” is both the direction of instruction, like the course of a river, and also a new level of a wall. In bricklaying, each level of bricks is called a “course,” so that a building or a mind is reinforced and built up course by course by course.
The foundation continues to be laid as we mature and grow in our faith throughout our lives. As we continue to hear the word of God read, sung, and preached in worship, the cobwebs are swept out from the corners of our understanding, and we visit and revisit all of the well-laid blocks of our foundation. This is what keeps us “steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel.”
Do not think that during your lifetime you will be a finished building; a completed house. Maybe it would better to think of yourself as a bus station, or a train station, or a hotel. People come to you on their way to somewhere else, and they are refreshed by you—but you need repair from time to time. Refurbishing, expanding at times, downsizing at other times, you change as needed to supply what’s needed by the people in your life. But they come back to you because you have the good foundation, and they are helped, guided, and even built up by your words, attitude, and actions.
Once again Paul calls to mind the effects of the preaching of the gospel on more than mankind. This is a mystery, and we don’t need to venture too far down this side-hallway in the great gallery of the Scriptures, but Paul says that the gospel has been preached to “every creature under heaven.” Do not trouble yourself by debating the gospel’s effect on those without minds or souls. Rejoice that it has had an effect on you, on your mind, and on your soul. That effect is the foundation of faith and the vast bedrock of Christian doctrine. Keep inspecting your foundation. Test it. Visit it and revisit each of its parts, like a tour you take month by month, year by year. The easiest way to do this is to be given a tour by your pastor through the preaching of the gospel throughout the church year as we move from Advent through the seasons of our beloved festivals: Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Trinity, Pentecost, and the End Times. The foundation is both the Bible and your faith in Christ. Review the guidebook to your foundation, which is your Catechism, and be reminded of how richly God has blessed you.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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