God’s Firm Foundation Stands

by Mike Ratliff

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. (Matthew 16:18 ESV)

My father-in-law went on to be with the Lord several years ago, but during World War II he was a U.S. Navy Pharmist’s Mate. In today’s Navy, they are called Corpsmen. These are the medics who hit the beach or land in the choppers with the Marines or Navy Seals when they go into real combat. My father-in-law hit the beach with the U.S. Marines in the Pacific on the Island of Okinawa not long after they had gone through the holocaust of Iwo Jima. He was about 20 years old at the time. He hit the beach as a boy and left that island at the end of the battle with a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He rarely talked about it. I asked him to describe the battle in which he won the Bronze Star. He had volunteered to go in under fire to treat several wounded Marines then wait for a tank to come in as the means to take them out. That was where he earned that Bronze Star and the second of his Purple Hearts. He had already been wounded before he volunteered. He described the combat as men falling all around him. 

There are times as we observe the carnage in the visible church and it feels very much as if we are in a fight to the death battle with men falling all around us. I know this because I see it myself and I get your emails. The evil forces of apostasy seem to be winning on every side. If we claim to hold to God’s Word as absolute truth then we are very close to coming to that point of being laughed to scorn as Josiah’s men were who attempted to get the survivor’s of the Northern Kingdom’s capture to come to Jerusalem in repentance for Passover. Truth, it seems, has become relative to most people, that is, to those who think within what has come to be known as post-modernism. This disease seems to claim a major Christian leader nearly every week or so. Church after church is found to be consumed with pragmatism or perhaps the leadership has decided to move the focus of the church to become missional. The problem is that these are fuzzily defined words. To some, the word “missional” is not offensive at all and in the context of “missions” decades ago it certainly was not, but now, it has taken on an entirely new focus that includes global Dominionism.

The point of this post is not to define these things. No, that is for another time. In this post, I want us to concentrate on why it does not matter how Satan attacks the Church or what weapons he uses, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. God’s firm foundation stands regardless of anything our enemy and his seed do.

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19 ESV)

What is this “foundation,” this θεμέλιος? This Greek word simply refers to the underlying “foundation” that holds up a structure, but notice that Paul refers to it as a “firm” or στερεὸς θεμέλιος. A στερεὸς object is one that possesses the qualities of solidity, steadfastness, or sureness. In other words, Paul is telling us that the Church has the qualities given to it by God that will keep the gates from Hell from ever prevailing against it. It is not only solid, but it bears the following seal: “The Lord knows those who are his!” We may look at the visible church and view those who once looked solid, but who are now apostatizing and it causes us much anguish and pain, but we must never forget, God knows those who are His and He is not the least bit worried. In fact, we are called, in the very next sentence to depart from iniquity, that is, to walk in repentance, if we are truly in Christ.

This foundation is that upon which our faith rests and it is solid indeed because it rests in this, that in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them (2 Corinthians 5:19). Faith that does not apostatize, genuine faith, relies on the great fact that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) and that Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). He became our propitiation. Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). This propititiation, Christ our Lord became our substitution. Even though our Lord was sinless and perfect he was the vicarious sacrifice for the guilty.

Even though our enemy is working very hard to refocus the Church from these truths to make something other than the gospel that primary focus, we who do know these truths must not only stand firm, but also take heart that God’s firm foundation stands. It not only has stood and is standing now, it will stand forever. Yes, God may allow the enemies of the Cross to appear to triumph at times, but that changes nothing. All that means is that the Church is moving from a time of light in the world to a time of darkness. The Church has been there before. Look at the condition of the Church prior to the Protestant Reformation and during those awful years of persecution with saints going to the stake for their faith refusing to recant while the enemies of the Cross appeared to be in control.

There are exceptions to be sure, but I know from hearing from many of you that you have taken stands in your churches for the truth and it has cost you. I know about that, for that has happened to me as well. It is painful. However, God takes these things and humbles us, cleansing us, and making us more dependent upon Him and His grace. We come to the throne of Grace when we suffer don’t we? What a great place to be! In any case, our God is Sovereign. He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and immutable and these things happening in the church right now that we must stand against are no surprise to Him. What we must do is take our concerns to Him, to come boldly to the throne of grace to seek wisdom and discernment. Our job one is obedience, to line up our lives to His will in every part. We do that through prayer, devotion, and sharpening the mind of Christ, which all in Him have, through communing with Him through the means of grace. When we do this, we become living sacrifices who live for His glory not ours. Then these things that cause us so much stress and heartache may still grieve us, but we will know that our foundation is still as solid as our God and our enemy has no power to come between Him and us.

Soli Deo Gloria!

17 thoughts on “God’s Firm Foundation Stands

  1. Thank you Mike… You are a wonderful brother in Jesus and I know the Lord speaks through what you have written. I am in tears.

    Continued prayers for your ministry. May He bless you.

  2. Thank you for the encouraging reminder, Mike….We continue to uphold His Word, regardless of what we see….We continue to walk by faith, and not by sight….He still has a plan and will see it through until the day of Christ Jesus!

  3. Great encouragement!

    ” . . . the gates of Hell shall not prevail . . .”

    Sweet and precious promises from the Word

  4. Hi Mike
    This was so good to read – I felt myself take a deep breath in a place of peace and inner knowledge that the Gates of Hell shall most certainly not prevail!

    “..Even though our enemy is working very hard to refocus the Church from these truths to make something other than the gospel that primary focus, we who do know these truths must not only stand firm, but also take heart that God’s firm foundation stands. It not only has stood and is standing now, it will stand forever…”

    How much clearer can it to be? :-D Our foundation is Jesus Christ Himself!

    All we see going on in the visible church regardless of which one, is to do with what is said in this passage below by Oswald Chambers and pertains not only to this post, but a couple of others you have posted this past wee while. Lives that are not rightly related to God through being Christ centred, but rather self-centred. Lives that pay no heed to the Lord, but are purpose driven, relevant to the world, missional and where self and self-agendas are fully on the throne. It could be any life in any church, not necessarily only an emerging or NAR etc. As long as these things reign supreme in any life, that life cannot be rightly related to the Lord in the way He intended them to be. Unless Christ is on the throne, we miss the mark.

    “Self must be centred in God. Is my self Christ-centred or self-centred? When I am in difficult circumstances. does the disposition in me make me say, “Why should this happen to me?” That disposition was never in the Lord Jesus Christ. Whenever His consciousness was revealed, it was His Father’s honour that occupied Him, not His own honour. My self is a human edition for God to be glorified in. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Could anything be more practical, or more profound than that command? The mind of Christ showed itself in His actions and in His speech, and our mind is shown in our speech and in our actions. What was it that Satan antagonised in Jesus Christ? God-realisation. Satan wanted to alter that centre: “Do God’s work in Your own way; You are His Son, then work from that centre.” At the heart of each of our Lord’s answers to Satan’s temptations is this—“I came . . . not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” Jesus Christ was tempted, and so shall we be tempted when we are rightly related to God. “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4). All the rest becomes of no account. To get eccentric, off the centre, is exactly what Satan wants. He does not tempt to immorality; the one thing he makes his business is to dethrone God’s rule in the heart. The superiority of Jesus Christ’s Self was that He was God-centred. “He that gathereth not with Me scattereth,” said our Lord; and all morality, all goodness, all religion, and all spirituality that is not Christ-centred is drawing away from Jesus Christ all the time. All the teaching of Jesus weaves round the question of self. It is not “Oh, to be nothing, nothing!” but “Oh, to be something, something!” Aggressively and powerfully something, uncrushably something, something that stands next to God’s throne, on the Rock; to be those in whom God can walk and talk and move and do what He likes with, because self is personally, passionately in love with God, not absorbed into God; but centred in God.
    Chambers, O. 1996. Biblical psychology : A treasure chest for Christian counselors. Simpkin Marshall.: London”

    Have a blessed day and thank you! :-D

  5. Hi Mike,
    Such encouragement…thank you! :-)
    Psalm 7:10 “And those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; for Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee.” The Lord will not let us go.
    I like what Hebrews 6:17-19 says about God and His faithfulness…”the unchangeableness His purpose…
    impossible for God to lie…this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil…”
    Our hope… anchored in His firm and steadfast foundation.
    God bless you, Mike.

  6. Amen Diane, our God is immutable as well as omnipotent and that steadfastness and firmness makes for us foundation into which we are firmly anchored. Yes, the world hates our Lord and, therefore, us and His truth, but they cannot not change anything about our position in God’s Kingdom. Isn’t it interesting that so much of the attacks against these truths come from WITHIN the visible church now instead of from the world. That should make it clear that it has become consumed by the world and now there is no difference. This makes it “so strange” for those of us who do know the truth when we look at the Christian landscape now. We see men and ministries who are partly right and partly compromised or are totally apostatized and a few that are still faithful. It can be so trying. It can cause us much doubt et cetera. This is why the Lord gave us these passages and we must learn them and now that we in these ‘strange times’ live by them.

  7. Yes, Mike, it is possible they have left their first love, Christ Jesus. I believe God supernaturally places this “first love” kind of love for Him in those that are His…so we will never leave Him because we can not. Nothing the world has to offer can pull us in its direction. Our Christian friends see us as strange…because we don’t wish to do, act, speak as they do. When we try to steer conversation back to Christ, it gets changed around to something else by them. That is happening all the time. We press on because God may use us one day in their lives to help them see the truth. God will supply what we need as we keep Him in His rightful place as our first love. Though we fail miserably at loving Him as we are commanded…we repent continually of this and we are restored in loving communion with Him!

  8. Hi Mike – May I please respond to something that Diane mentioned?

    Hi Diane :-D
    you said, “Our Christian friends see us as strange…because we don’t wish to do, act, speak as they do. When we try to steer conversation back to Christ, it gets changed around to something else by them. That is happening all the time.”

    Yea and Amen!

    When a Christian is passionately in love with the Lord as Oswald mentions above, they want to talk/write about Him, Himself, what He is doing in their life, what they are learning, just anything at all to do with Him. There is always so many things to talk/write about because those Christians live and move and have their being in Him! They know He is their very breath, and so you will find that those who ‘do’ the Christian, as sadly so many do, as opposing to really ‘being’ the Christian, cannot understand what/why those Christians who are really alive to Christ, want to go on the way they do. It either irritates them, or pricks at their conscience, but they find it hard to ignore.

    The Lord will and does join us up with Christians who are alive to Christ in every sense of the word, as He knows how important this deep fellowship is to His children. All it takes sometimes is to ask the Lord for a brother or sister or both, to walk with in this way He always provides in His own good time.
    The Lord brought us both here for such fellowship! :-D
    Bless you!

    Thanks dear Bro :-D

  9. Thanks for this beautiful reminder that Jesus has ALREADY won the victory! Amen to all the above!

    God has historically worked with a small faithful few. Abel was pleasing to God, Cain did evil. Seth was lead by God and his descendant Noah was chosen by God. “Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.” Genesis 7:1 Then the blessing continues through Shem to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4). Now, we come to Moses “So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them…So, I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land flowing with milk and honey;” Exodus 2:24 &3:8 One faithful man committed to the Lord interceding on behalf of God’s people.

    God uses frail people of little strengthen so that no one can say it is by their own power because it is obvious that it is not. We come to Gideon, “The Lord said to Gideion, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’” Judges 7:2

    God’s son Jesus has all ready delivered us if you have accepted as your personal Savior. Praise God for His faithfulness to His beloved.

  10. AMEN AMEN AMEN!!! Shoutin’ ground! as someone used to say “if that don’t get your fire burnin’, your wood is all wet!!!” : }

    Isaiah 28:16 KJV
    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.

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