All Rights Reserved Copyright 2008 by Marvin Pressman No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the permission in writing by the author.
Cover and Layout by Jerry Wall
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Dedication This book is dedicated to my wife Joan who is my hero, companion and friend. I have always admired your strength and courage. You have always been my joy and delight! I love you with all my heart! I loved you from the time I met you. I donâ€™t think I have ever seen such faith in anyone. Your faith and strength in Messiah is miraculous.
Acknowledgements I want to thank the Lord for creating this book. It is my prayer that He will use it to draw people closer to Him and that He will cause many to take heed to its message. I want to thank Ruth Pirrie for editing and proofreading this book. I want to thank all my friends who have read my drafts and for your input. I want to thank Jerry Wall for the layout, design and artwork. I greatly appreciate your endless patience with all the revisions. You are a valued friend, great brother and a gifted teacher! I cherish your friendship!
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1Timothy 3:1 “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come”.
Whether the last of the last days are upon us now or remains for some time in the future, only the Father knows. Even so, we realize difficult days are upon us now and things are probably going to get more difficult as time goes on. Marvin has written a book which will strengthen many on the journey that lies ahead for us. “Building A Firm Foundation” will encourage the seasoned amongst us and strengthen the babes as well. Marvin and his wife Joan speak from the heart of God with the voice of experience. Let this book build confidence in your walk. God is faithful! Marvin has been a Godsend to my life as he has with countless others. For those whom you know that may be weak or struggling, put a copy of “Building A Firm Foundation” into their hands. As you read this book you will be blessed! Lou Pressman Pastor, Montrose Christian Fellowship
BUILDING A FIRM FOUNDATION In this present day, when the emphasis in religious circles often centers on what Jesus has done and can do for man, it is encouraging to know that an ever increasing number of people are being awakened to see what Jesus has purposed for Himself! Today, many believers seem bent on using Jesus for their own purposes, for their own welfare, for their own blessing. They almost treat Jesus as if He is their own butler or valet. This way of thinking and believing is wrong. It is selfish and warped. Instead, we as believers should be adjusting and relating everything to Jesus for His viewpoints, for His pleasure, and for His satisfaction! Instead of living in our own viewpoints, where we interpret and relate all things to ourselves, we must allow Jesus to lift us up to an ultimate viewpoint where we can appreciate the glory, wisdom, and design of a Jesus-centered universe! When we give Jesus His own rightful place of glory, we are then able to become all God has intended for us to be. Today, more than ever, I am concerned that we build our lives carefully following the pattern in God’s Word. In order to build according to this pattern, we must build on God’s foundation. Without His strong foundation in our lives, we will either be limited in how largely we build, or our building will end up having cracks in it and may eventually crumble and fall. THE PROVERBIAL HEARERS AND DOERS There were two kinds of people in the days of Jesus. Some heard the words that Jesus spoke and were awed by His wisdom and understanding – yet did nothing about what they heard. Others heard Jesus’ words and acted on them. Jesus said that the people who heard His words yet failed to put them into practice were foolish. He likened them to someone building a house on sand. 1
How foolish, indeed, it would be to build a house on sand. But in contrast, the people who followed what Jesus taught were individuals who would surely be able to weather life’s storms. Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand (Matthew 7:24-26). You never know how well your house is built until it is tested by the elements. Torrential rains reveal the quality of your roof. Wind and cold reveal how well your home is insulated. Heat and sun reveal the quality of your paint and siding. All these elements reveal whether a solid foundation has been laid to make your home a secure and lasting place to live. FIRST THINGS FIRST: LAYING THE FOUNDATION Before something can be built, the foundation must be carefully laid with each stone in place. If you were to build in the natural (a physical building), one of the worst jobs you might face would be trying to re-work the foundation. I remember reading in the papers several years ago that a whole housing community in Miami had to be torn down because of a poor foundation! What would you do if you discovered that your family’s home had a poor foundation and was beginning to crumble because it had not been laid properly? This would be tragic! It would be very difficult, and perhaps very costly, to correct. The same is true in our Christian walk. I sincerely believe that most of our problems in the Church today exist because God’s complete foundation has not been carefully and properly laid. But before we can truly understand this and remedy the problem, 2
we must ask a fundamental question: What is the foundation that men are to build upon? According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-11). What was the foundation which Paul declares he had laid? Since Paul calls himself a wise master builder, there is no doubt that he understood what this foundation was. However, Paul doesnâ€™t explain it. Perhaps this is because Jesus the Messiah had made it so clear when He was here! Perhaps it was something which the Apostles had already shared as common knowledge throughout the early church. Whatever the reason, we must turn back to the words of Jesus for an answer. Letâ€™s look at Matthew 16:13-18: When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Jesus, who never seemed to care what men said or thought about Himself, suddenly put the question to His disciples, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? Then turning from the views and speculations of the others, He went a step further and said, Who do you say that I am? 3
Peter answered, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God! What a confession from the lips of Peter! Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God! As Jesus made it clear, Peter’s confession was called forth by a God-given revelation. Flesh and blood has not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in heaven. What was Jesus implying here? Thou art Peter (PETROS), a little stone, one who is to be built with others into the basic structure of My Church, and upon this rock (PETRA), speaking of another which is the rock, I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Make no mistake about it – the only valid foundation for the Church is Jesus the Messiah! The Church should not be centered on anything else besides the one true foundation, our Lord Jesus Christ. Again I must reiterate. What is the rock? I know that the rock is not a wrestler or an actor. Let’s make this very clear. The rock is the confession based upon a revelation of the person – the Lord Jesus Christ. What could be more important than understanding this rock as the foundation upon which God has intended all building? This was no empty confession coming from Peter’s own personal viewpoint. Rather, Jesus was using this occasion to emphasize that all spiritual building must be upon one foundation, upon the revelation of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. This foundation is not merely facts about Him or about what He did, but upon whom He chiefly is . . . Christ, Messiah, the Son of the living God. Praise the Lord! Either men have seen this foundation and know its importance, or they have not seen it and do not understand its importance. God has designed that His Son shall be the only foundation to support the things men live by. Whatever is established upon Him becomes constant! Whatever is established upon Him becomes unmovable. Whatever is established upon Him becomes steadfast. 4
During His days on earth, there were so many who followed Messiah, who even pressed upon Him and were healed, yet did not know Him. I believe this is like the throngs today who sit in church pews every Sunday and only see Him with their natural eyes. They see Him as the answer to all their needs, like a traveling salesman in the cowboy movies who sells elixir medicine that cures all. Or they see Him as one of the multi-level marketing people today selling cure-alls to everything that seems to ail us. God intends for us to see Jesus as the foundation of our life, the foundation of our ministry. Basically, the whole issue is a matter of enlightenment of the revelation from God. Our present religious problem today is simply that men have not really seen the foundation. Jesus stated it clearly when He said that only the pure in heart shall see! He meant that only those with a pure motive, those without any hope of building a personal kingdom, could see by revelation from God. This clear â€œseeingâ€? was not to be merely a gate one could pass through; rather it was to be a pathway in which one would walk. It is important to understand that once revelation is past, it can become merely a doctrine or a theological tenet. Yet revelation that is continually present, moment by moment participating in Him, is something living! I donâ€™t know about you, but I want life! We see that this rock which Jesus spoke of was not Peter, nor was it a doctrine. This rock, or foundation, was simply our confession of the revelation of Him. Upon this rock God is building a living Church.
DIGGING DEEPER: A PROPER FOOTING Now we need to discuss the footing which supports this foundation. If God intends for His children to live by continuous participation in His Son, and if this living revelation is the foundation of our spiritual life and building, then we must look deeper to consider the footing upon which this all-important foundation rests. Any wise master builder knows that many seemingly good foundations give way because they lack a proper footing. What is a proper footing? The definition of footing is a secure established position. In architecture, the footing is the supporting base or groundwork of a structure, as for a monument or wall. First, we must not only understand how the eternal Father is the proper footing, but we must appreciate the importance of Him as the ultimate footing for all revelation. One can quickly detect from the present religious scene that many people are being sidetracked by various sundry revelations. It is becoming popular these days to have a new revelation every meeting we attend. Brothers and sisters, this is becoming a big snare. It makes me want to kick somebody every time I hear it said that God has a new revelation or that He is doing a new thing! The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11). The father is very jealous that we have one revelation of His lovely Son â€“ and not many revelations regarding good and important things. We are to see Him as everything God desires to share. 6
In these days, some have camped around the revelation of love as the most important thing – so they magnify love. Some have camped around the revelation of faith as the most important thing – so they magnify faith. Some have camped around the revelation of prosperity as the most important thing – so they magnify prosperity. Some have camped around the revelation of truth as the most important thing – so they magnify truth. Some have camped around the revelation of prophecy as the most important thing – so they magnify prophecy. Additionally, some camp around the revelation of miracles as the most important thing – so they magnify miracles. Some camp around the revelation of a social gospel as the most important thing – so they magnify a social gospel. Some camp around the revelation of Messianic Judaism as the most important thing – so they magnify Messianic Judaism. Some camp around the revelation of an outpouring as the most important thing – so they magnify an outpouring. Others have built a camp around some revelation of new knowledge which seems to eclipse all else in the horizon, even the Word of God! However right or proper it may seem to be, they have made “IT” to be the camping place . . . not Jesus! Still others insist they have seen that life is the primary substance of everything in the universe. With their newfound revelation, they have built a camp around “IT” but missed JESUS who is the intended revelation! Please be careful to grasp what I am trying to say. If there is anything started, it will simply become a following around some aspect of Jesus – not Jesus! However good these revelations may seem, God has designed to give one revelation – the revelation of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything else must be seen simply as an out-flowing of Jesus. We must see Jesus as our life! We must see Jesus as our knowledge! We must see Jesus as our love! 7
What are you saying, Marvin? What I am saying is this: Peter saw the revelation of who Jesus chiefly is â€“ not a Savior, not a servant, not a ruler, not a healer â€“ and not merely life, light, or love. No, none of these! Peter saw Jesus as Christ the Messiah, the anointed One who was before, above, and beyond all else the Son of the living God. It is when we see that the Father is before, above, and beyond all else, that He is the Father, then we shall see why all revelation centers on who Messiah chiefly is . . . the Son! We can now more fully appreciate how the Father is the footing for this glorious foundation. It is the Father who purposes for His Son to be central in all of His economy. Just as the footing is not visible to the eye, so the Father is not seen, but He has sent forth His Son whom we do see. Just as we know a son must have a father, likewise a foundation must have a footing. We can understand why the Father is very jealous for His Son. He will not allow any other foundation than the revelation of His Son. Any other revelation than the person of His lovely Son will distract from Him. He is to have the preeminence. Upon Him and only Him are all things to be summed up.
AT LAST: THE BUILDING TAKES SHAPE Finally, we must see the only building which God allows on the foundation. Everyone who learns to live by revelation will know an enlargement and development in footing, foundation, and building. As we plumb into new depths of God the Father, there will be an enlargement of footing. As we discover how the Son is actually everything in life, there will be a real development of foundation in the inner life. 8
As Messiah is built into the inner fabric, it will be evident that only He is proper material for spiritual building. The inner determines the outer. And accordingly, our whole ministry changes. We must realize that there can never be any greater outward ministry than what has been done within our inner man. If there is a proper footing laid in us, then we will produce that footing in our ministry to others. If there is a proper foundation laid in us, then we will produce foundation in others. If there is a proper spiritual building going on in us, then we will produce the same building in others. Our outward ministry is actually the reflection of our inner life. Paul seemed to understand this principle. Let’s read I Corinthians 3:10-15: According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. God may allow our life’s work to stand momentarily, but He will not allow anything to remain on the foundation which is not proper building material. What is this wood, hay, and stubble which Paul speaks of and which God will not allow as building material? One may look at Pastors who have spent years gathering people into their congregation. To the visible eye it looks like something has been accomplished. Yet God sees the human energies of man without the help of the Spirit and announces, This is just a pile of boards. I cannot accept them 9
unless they are laid over with gold. And this over-laying is not of man, but a work of the Spirit. God is forced to announce, Have I not told you that I cannot have this on My foundation – for it is something done of man? It is too earthly! I must have gold which I have purified through pressure and through fire! Many of you are going through the purifying, through the pressure, through the fire. Be of good courage. You are going to make it. God is making you into gold. We have seen men build knowledge, doctrine, and theology into people. Yet in the hour of real pressure, all this which has not been translated into reality in their lives will not hold them. It is wood, hay, and stubble that they have been feeding upon, and this can never nourish the inner man nor become building material for God. If we were to be honest with one another, if we really shared our hearts, we would probably admit that all we have known has only puffed us up – but it has not built us up in the inner life. Outwardly we are builders, but inwardly we are in shambles. Brothers and sisters, let’s tear up the wrong foundation and pour in the right one. Many of us find that we have given only lip service to God’s commands. We are faced with the reality that our foundations are not strong enough to weather life’s storms. How do we react when the trials come? Do we fret and worry? Do we take life into our own hands? Do we respond inappropriately when we don’t get what we want? The Lord uses the storms in our lives to help us recognize whether our foundations are sand or whether they are rock. Ask the Lord today if you have built on His rock. If so, you can be comforted to know that you can weather any storm that may come your way. 10