In civil engineering, the foundation is perhaps the most important aspects during the construction of a building. The stability of any building depends upon its foundation. Positioned at the very bottom part of a building, the foundation works by transferring loads from the whole building to the ground. A foundation needs great strength to be able to bear the weight of the whole structure. The higher the building, the deeper down the foundation goes. The foundation primarily serves to anchor the building against sliding and overturning that may be caused by stresses, strains, wind, floods, earthquakes or any other elements the building may be subjected to in its lifetime. Extra care ought to be taken when laying the foundation of any building to ensure it stands firm and stands up to the test.

The Bible has much to say about foundations. In Psalm 11:3, the Bible says, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” In Matthew 7:24-27, the Lord Jesus illustrates (through a parable) the significance of building one’s house upon a solid foundation. In the parable, Jesus makes the point that everyone who hears His words and obeys it will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And when the rain fell, and the floods came, and the wind blew and beat on that house, it did not fall because it had been founded on the rock. But those who hear His words and disobeys it will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And when the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, it fell, and great was the fall of it.

“To be grounded in the word of God is to dig the foundation of your life down to bedrock, where you take that word and you embrace that word, and you are able to stand against anything the world, the flesh, and the devil throws at you. But if you don’t have that foundation, you are building your house on sand. And when the storm comes, what you will experience, dear friends, is ruins” – R.C Sproul.

The apostles and prophets have given us the Scriptures. This is the foundation on which we are to wisely build. “Submission to Christ entails submission to the words of the prophets and apostles by whom He spoke, both before and after He came into the world.” – Joel Beeke. In Matthew 10:40, the Lord Jesus said to the twelve apostles, “Those who receive you, receive me, those who reject you, reject me.” If the church rejects apostolic authority, it has rejected the very foundation of the church itself.

The role of an apostle was one of great significance and of great authority. In the ancient world, an apostle functioned as an ambassador (one who was sent) of someone in a high position of authority (such as a King or Queen). And they carried with them the credentials of the very authority who sent them. This is why the early church came together and devoted themselves unwaveringly to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42).

In a general sense, an apostle is also one who is sent out by a church. Therefore, any missionary sent out by a church is an apostle. However, it can be easily misleading if anyone today uses ‘apostle’ as a title. “The word ‘apostle’ is so identified with the twelve chosen by Christ and their unique ministry that our use of the term would resort in misunderstanding and the need to constantly explain ourselves. Secondly, we should take the greatest precaution with our use of the term apostle so as not to affirm in any way the claims of the many false apostles who are recking havoc on the contemporary church.” – Paul Washer.

There are some people running around today who claim for themselves nothing less than apostolic authority. Such People claim all the time that they have the qualification to be an apostle today because God called them or spoke to them. But based on what the Bible says, is there anyone alive today that meets any of the following criteria/qualification set out in the New Testament for apostolic succession?

  1. A member of Jesus band of disciple right from the beginning (Luke 6:12-13).
  2. Eye witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Acts 1:12-26).
  3. Commissioned directly and immediately by Christ himself (Acts 1:2).

For anyone to claim to meet criteria no. 1 for apostleship, they would have to had literally walked with Jesus after he was baptised by John approximately 2000 years ago. The Lord Jesus took on the grave and died on the cross at Calvary approximately three years after his baptism which kickstarted his ministry. Then He rose from the grave on the third day before later ascending to His Father in Heaven. I don’t think it is possible that any mere mortal man alive today has lived for almost 2000 years. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that no mere mortal man meets the 1st and 2nd requirement.

The only person who can claim to meet criteria no. 3 was none other than the Apostle Paul. We know through scripture (Acts 9) that the risen Lord Jesus appeared and commissioned Paul’s call to apostleship when Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians. Although Paul did not meet the first two requirement, he was instructed (through revelation) to go again to the Jerusalem Church so to be recognized in that office of apostleship by the Church leaders. And on returning to Jerusalem, Paul met with three Apostles James, Peter (Cephas), and John who quickly realised Paul was called and qualified to be an apostle as they themselves were (Galatians 2:1-9). In 1 Cor 15:8, Paul said that he was the last apostle to be appointed by Jesus and that no others would come after him.

In Ephesians 2:19-21, the Apostle Paul uses the word ‘building’ metaphorically to describe believers in the Lord Jesus – the church, built upon the foundation – the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. The foundation of God’s house was laid once for all by the New Testament apostles and prophets. Revelations 21:14 points out that the Holy City (The New Jerusalem) is built on twelve foundations and on these foundations are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The fact that the apostles and prophets make up the foundation of the church means that these offices have passed away. A solid foundation already laid completely does not need rebuilding.

“We here frequently the idea that Jesus is the foundation of the Church. That is not exactly the way in which the Scripture describe the Church building. Rather, we are told that there is no foundation that can be laid except that which is laid in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 3:11). The general image of Jesus is not that he is the foundation, but that the foundation is laid in him and that he is the Chief cornerstone (Psalm 118:22).” – R.C Sproul. Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be shaken.’” – Isaiah 28:16.

In masonry, the cornerstone is the first stone set during the foundation laying. It is a stone at the outer corner of two intersecting masonry walls which serves as a reference for the laying of other stones involved in the construction. Thus, the cornerstone is regarded as the most important stone in the entire building. “Christ is the Cornerstone of the church. If this first stone is out of place in our local assemblies, then the entire wall will be weakened, and the church’s reputation, which is more precious than gold, will come to ruin.” – Paul Washer.

The Bible tells us that the Apostle Peter and John were both arrested and put in custody for teaching and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:1-3). When faced before the Sanhedrin (the council and tribunal of the Jews), Peter testified and quoted the Old Testament (Psalm 118:22) in the defence of the gospel when he said,

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:11–12.

In Christ alone my hope is found.
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

{Hymn mixture by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend & Edward Mote 1797–1874}