Foundational Pillars of the Church
Churches today are built of many different materials. Some are built on programs. Others are built on people. Still others are built on politics. Congregations meet for various reasons. Some meet for entertainment. Others meet for education. Still others meet for encouragement. At Sparr 329 (Sparr Baptist Church) we are a church founded on biblical foundational pillars.
Our foundation is Jesus Christ. He is the cornerstone. He also is the builder. 1 Peter 2:4-7 describes the church as a spiritual structure on the foundation of Christ. Christ builds and strengthens this spiritual structure with Resurrection Power. Jews reading Peter’s letter would have understood from his word choice that he meant the church was a spiritual temple where the Spirit of God lives and interacts with His people. This spiritual structure is built up with living stones, the people of God who are called to follow Him. The people of God are brought together in unity for a purpose. Peter draws from the imagery of Old Testament priests to emphasize that every believer now has access to the Father through the Holy Spirit. As such we offer spiritual sacrifices on our own behalf out of the overflow of the Spirit’s work in and through us. These sacrifices enhance our relationship with Christ, and as we strengthen that relationship the spiritual body of Christ grows stronger as well. In physical terms, the more connecting pieces you have, the stronger a structure will be.
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus responds to Peter’s declaration that He is the Christ by saying, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
A structure is built on a strong foundation. (Matthew 7:24-27) Here we begin to see another connection between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The spiritual church works together to bring glory to the Father. Built on the foundation of Christ, the church binds together by the Spirit at work within us. How does the Spirit work within us in ways that honor God? First the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to teach us, to correct us, to repair us, and to train us (2 Timothy 3:16,17). Second, the Holy Spirit uses gifts to mold us and to stretch us and to reveal God’s glory (Ephesians 4). The Spirit, then, uses the word of God as the “setting compound” (as with concrete) t make sure that we are firm and settled in who we are supposed to be. Once we are settled in who we are supposed to be, the Spirit works to demonstrate power through fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) and gifts (Romans 12:3-8) to equip us for what we are supposed to do.
To summarize, the foundation of Christ contains Spirit and truth. The Holy Spirit strengthens the community of believers by firmly establishing Jesus as Truth (John 14:6) as revealed in God’s word and by creatively displaying fruit and gifts that reveal God’s glory.
The framework of the structure consists of parts that hold the body together. These are worship, fellowship, disciplemaking (evangelism and missions), and ministry. The church in Acts grew as these four pillars formed a structure for the church.
Because Scripture is a key tool the Spirit uses to strengthen us, we cannot flesh out the framework of the spiritual house (the spiritual church) if we are not familiar with what the Bible teaches about how that framework functions. As a church, we focus on equipping believers in multiple ways of spiritual growth. One of the primary ways we emphasize is the study of Scripture. We will spend most of our time during this session on this topic because once we embrace our own personal study of God’s word the rest of the framework will become more clear.
Today we will talk about how to study the Bible. Some key thoughts to remember as we set out to study God’s word are listed below:
Once we recognize these key thoughts we can move to practical ways to understand what God is teaching us through His word today. How should I approach the study of Scripture so that I stay true to what the text meant while also exposing what the text means today? How will I apply the Truth of scripture to my daily living? Here are some key steps in a process that works for many: