A Plumb Line for Truth ↓

Dr. Dan Hayden •

Living in a one-hundred-and-twenty-year-old farmhouse can be a challenge, especially when things break down and need repair. The day began with a simple maintenance item: fix the dripping faucet in the kitchen. How hard can it be to replace a worn out washer? Well, two weeks and lot of money later, we had a much bigger investment. The worn out washer on the faucet was symptomatic of a gargantuan problem. In the end we had a new faucet, new plumbing, and new sub-floor, and new flooring.

One interesting discovery in the process of that repair was that nothing in the house was either square or level. Hewn logs straddled a crude stone foundation – which had settled unevenly over the years leaving the walls and flooring at a twisted angle. Replacement flooring had to be cut at awkward angles in order to fit. It was an expensive lesson concerning the importance of a good foundation. When the undergirding structure of a building is weak and misaligned, the superstructure cannot remain strong and true.

That is why it was so important for the foundation of the church to be aligned properly. In describing how the church of Jesus Christ was built, the Apostle Paul begins by saying, “having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20).

You see, a church founded upon the teaching of the apostles and the prophets has to, in turn, have a true alignment for that teaching. How do we know if the teaching of the apostles and prophets is correct? Or what if they disagree with each other – as when Paul challenged Peter in Galatians 2? What is the ultimate authority that establishes the plumb line for the authoritative teaching of the church? Paul says it is Jesus Christ – “Christ Himself being the cornerstone.”

The cornerstone of an ancient building served as an alignment stone for the foundation. The Greek word of the original biblical text for cornerstone is akrongoniaios. This is a compound word containing the word for corner (gonia) combined with the prefix word for the extremity or uttermost part of something (akron). Literally, it means “lying at the extreme corner,” and refers to the crucial stone that was laid in setting the parameters for a foundation. The angle of the cornerstone was precise, and it determined all of the subsequent lines and other angles of the building. It was a standard for the bearing of the beams and walls in the construction of the entire building.

This, then, is the significance of Jesus to the foundation of the church. He is the first and foremost element of the undergirding structure upon which everything else is aligned. The teaching of the church must line up with the teachings of Christ. The character of the church as a loving and caring assembly of people finds its orientation in the compassion of Christ. Concern for the eternal welfare of a spiritually lost world, as well as the development of God’s people to maturity, is the true angle of our Lord’s ministry upon which the church is built.

Jesus is the cornerstone of the foundation of the church, and those who would build upon that foundation must be diligent to keep their eyes on Him. Unlike that old farm house, the church of Jesus Christ has a solid foundation where the angles are true and the lines are straight – because Jesus is the cornerstone. ■