Christianity – Its Foundation

John 1:29-42

Four things — the Foundation of Christianity, its Power, its Centre, and its Activities — come before us in these verses. In John, Christianity is unfolded to us, not so much in terms of doctrine as in the love, power, and joy which belong to it. Reading carefully through this Gospel, we are struck by the number of times that the Lord Jesus Christ uses the possessive pronoun "MY." He speaks of My Father, My Father's house, My peace, My joy, My glory, and so on. It seems as though He was in the midst of His treasures, things most precious in His eyes, and which He could call His own. He is in the midst of them, however, not to abide alone in the enjoyment of them, but inviting others to come and share them with Him.

So when He calls the two disciples in this chapter to "come and see," it is as if He said, "I want you to come and let Me share with you the things that are Mine." To those who respond to His invitation, His love

"… gives not as the world, but shares
All it possesses with its loved co-heirs."

Some folks imagine that Christianity is a mere set of doctrines, that it consists in rendering assent to a creed and believing certain dogmas. On the contrary, Christianity is a throbbing, living, vital thing. It is characterized by power, joy, blessing, and knowledge that moves the soul and mightily affects those who possess it. It is no dry system of theology to know that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is our God and Father; and that His own joy He imparts to us, His peace He leaves with us, and His glory He has given us.

Of all these wonderful things we read in the Gospel of John. They belonged to the very essence of Christianity.

We may rightly speak of Christianity under the figure of a building. For in John 1 the Lord marks out Peter as "a stone, by the new name which He gives him. He was to have a place in the spiritual house which God would build.

A shanty intended to stand for only a few weeks needs no very solid foundation. But for an edifice which is to stand the wear and tear of centuries a foundation deep and strong is necessary. Now, as God's building is to last throughout eternity, He must have a good foundation. And what better one could be found than this that is brought before us in verse 29: the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ? He is the Lamb of God, and upon His sacrifice, upon what He has wrought on the cross, God builds. And the building is like the foundation, strong, sure, immovable, absolutely flawless and perfect.

Is it upon this foundation that we have taken our stand? Many are building upon their own works, imagining that they have in them a sufficiently strong foundation. They are terribly deceived, for their works are but shifting sand, and the day is coming when the winds of judgment will blow, and the floods of righteous wrath uplift their voice. Then will their vain hope perish, their building collapse, and they themselves be left shelterless for ever in a lost eternity.

The only sure foundation is the Saviour's atoning work. There must rest our undivided trust. It will not do to depend partly upon what Christ has done and partly upon what we can do. The tabernacle in the wilderness was made of boards covered with gold. Each had two tenons, or feet, which rested in silver sockets. Silver, in Scripture, is figurative of redemption, and like these boards we are to stand with both our feet, as it were, upon the basis of Christ's redemptive work. To stand with one foot on His work and one upon some work or effort of our own is to deceive ourselves with a false confidence.

Besides affording a sure foundation upon which our souls may peacefully repose, the death of Christ opens up wonderful things to our astonished and worshipping hearts. It is to us a great lesson book, and will be such for ever, for therein the great truths of God stand fully revealed.

The death of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the first instance, is the utter condemnation of sinful man. By it God declares that there is no good thing in the flesh. Throughout the Old Testament ages God was testing men. Not that He did not know what was in them. He knew perfectly.

But it was necessary that the truth as to the condition of men should be declared, and the final test, which brought out the full truth, was applied when the Son of God came into the world. For when they saw Him they said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill Him, and the inheritance shall be ours." Self-enrichment and self-gratification controlled them. They would not acknowledge the claims of God. Now this putting self before God is the root of all sin, and is the very nature of man in his fallen condition. This being the case, God could not build upon what man is. The material is utterly bad, nothing can be made of it; it must be condemned.

Is any good to be found in the creature who could spit in the face of the Son of God, who could crown His sacred brow with thorns and nail Him to a malefactor's gibbet? And this after He had displayed in all His ways and words how full of grace, love, tenderness, meekness, and long-suffering He was.

Let no one say that it was the act of the rabble. It was not. The princes of this world crucified the Lord of glory. The three elements of world-power, represented by the three languages in which the accusation upon the cross was written, Hebrew (religion), Greek (wisdom), Latin (political government), combined to cast Christ out of this world.

As were the leaders, so is the whole family or species, and nothing else can be evolved therefrom. We all belonged to that family once, to the man of sin and shame. Thank God a thousand times that by the death of Christ we have been freed from that connection, transferred from Adam to Christ.

In the death of Christ, too, God not only judged our sins, but condemned sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3). The judgment of God, which is death, passed upon Christ, who in wonderful grace became the Representative of sinful men. So that now the believer can say that not only were his sins atoned for on the cross, but what he is as a sinful child of Adam was condemned there and his history closed before God. And now God has begun a new creation, and all who believe in that wonderful Lord and Saviour who died, but who lives again, have part therein.

But not only was man fully exposed and condemned in the cross of Christ, but God, in His very nature, was perfectly revealed. Every attribute of God blended in the out-shining of that light which shall fill eternity with glory. There goodness was victorious over evil, there righteousness was declared in its judgment and holiness in its abhorrence of sin; there truth was told out without any mixture of error, and there love was manifested in the fullness of its desire, in the precious blood that is the undeniable and everlasting pledge of a love that would save men even at such a cost. We stand amazed at this revelation of God, and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ becomes our chief boast, for there "mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Man condemned, God revealed, Satan defeated, the lie unmasked, and salvation, full and free, obtained for sinful men. Now it is upon what that death has disclosed that God builds. His righteousness, love, holiness, and mercy: these are the everlasting foundation, which no conspiracy of evil can undermine nor weaken. Upon this He is building, and here in sovereign grace He has placed our feet.