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The New Jerusalem—A Pattern For Living—Part Three—Foundation—The Apostles and Prophets
Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
— Revelation 21:14
The chief cornerstone in was about the Father's love for us shown through the life and death of Jesus as learned in part two of this lesson. This is the beginning and the base of the entire structure of our lives. The foundation stones are a reflection of how that love is worked out in the lives of those who would come to faith in Jesus Christ as evidenced by the lives of the apostles.
It is interesting to note that most of the apostles died a martyr's death with the exception of one, John who was exiled to the Island of Patmos, and it is unclear how he died so it isn't to say that he didn't die a martyr's death, It simply is unknown. Nonetheless, he died while imprisoned for his faith in the Lord and Savior Messiah.
Most of their deaths were torturous, brutal, and for the most part gruesome. Was it simply a religion that they died for? Who would do that? Consider that to avoid these tragic events all they had to do was deny this religion if that was all it was. What was it about their faith that they knew and understood and made them willing to suffer and die such horrible deaths? I believe it was Love. I believe the love of the father truly had entered the Holy of Holies of their being through their faith in His Son and it is so "rock solid" that nothing could penetrate nor destroy it.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:37-39
They had learned a kind of love that they did not want to be separated from no matter what the cost.
What makes the apostles such a firm foundation is that they were all eye-witness testimonies of the Lord's life, death, and resurrection. Secondly, it was solidified by the fact that they were willing to die for Him. Who would die for something that was a lie? When a person gives a false witness it is generally to protect and preserve themselves. To have died for this love establishes its validity.
.... “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”
— I Corinthians 13:1
We see above the two witnesses that establish the truth.
There are people in the world that call themselves martyrs using their own lives to destroy others such as suicide bombers. This would actually be reverse martyrdom in that they are dying for the reason of hate. This convinces no one of anything but the hatefulness and spitefulness of man. It is controlling, manipulative, and evil.
It is, however, telling and highly persuasive for a person to be so full of the love of God that they could not help but live their lives to convince the world of that love even at the expense of their own lives.
So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
— Acts 4:18-20
God wants to fill our lives with the knowledge of Him and our experiences with Him that we cannot help but speak about what we have seen and heard.
According to Luke 6:45 our mouth will speak what our heart is full of and nothing is more convincing than a genuine enthusiasm about the things we have seen, heard, and experienced. This is our witness.
Earlier in Acts Chapter four Peter is being confronted with healing a man and preaching Jesus and His great love to the people. The Chief priests and rulers want to know by what power and whose name they are doing this. Peter explains:
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
— Acts 4:8-12
Peter says that the foundation and cornerstone were Jesus showing the love of the father to fallen humanity and it was this love that they were rejecting. A man is made whole by being loved by God through His Son Jesus Christ is the foundation.
One last note I would like to make from Acts chapter 4 that is relevant to our study is this.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
— Acts 4:13
Do our lives give witness that we have been with Jesus? It is vital to the foundation of our structure (life) to be so permeated with His love from being in His presence that people marvel not because we are smart, funny, or pleasant to be around but that we emanate the scent of being around Him that reaches out to others. This love must be witnessed in our own lives in order to build a solid structure. The man standing with them healed and made whole by the sharing of this great news could not be argued with it was a firm foundation.
IFor we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life...
— II Corinthians 2:15-16
This solid foundation is being laid and pulled together in Revelation.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
— Revelation 12:11
- The blood of the lamb. (chief cornerstone) The foundation is laid upon our reception of this love shown through the life and sacrifice of Yeshua.
- The word of their testimony (Apostle foundation) built upon this chief cornerstone is the sharing of this love with others by those who have been witnesses to it by experience.
- And they loved not their lives even unto death (Apostle foundation) solidifying the whole thing is the knowledge of this love so deeply that their own lives were inconsequential in comparison to living for Him.
We might be tempted to think that these were special men and had something maybe we don't.
Let me quote a portion of an introduction from "All the Apostles of the Bible" by Herbert Lockyer. It is rather lengthy but He quotes so eloquently the points of this study.
"Some time ago, The Readers' Digest carried a most illuminating article by Ernest Hauser on The Miracle of the Twelve, which bore the subtitle, Hand-picked by Jesus, they were the missionaries of a message that changed the world." Who were these men whom Jesus chose, in whose honor cathedrals have been built, around whom legend has spun golden webs, and whose names have been used naming multitudes since? How was it that principally through the evangelistic efforts within three and a half centuries, proud imperial Rome succumbed to the glad tidings of the Redeemer from the East?
A fact we cannot deny is that no body of men, few or many, has ever exercised so vast an influence on the world as the small circle of ordinary men Jesus called, trained, commissioned, and empowered to further His cause. surveyed from the human angle, the twelve had meager equipment for the great tasks before them. They are referred to as being "unlettered and ignorant men," which means they were unprofessional men absolutely outside the current schools of philosophical, political and religious thought.
To all appearances no mission seemed more hopeless than theirs. Were they not facing and enterprise doomed to failure, seeing they had no social status no organization behind them, no wealth of their own or wealthy backers? How could they then expect success in the world wide campaign awaiting them? They became companions of a Man who was born in poverty, spent most of His years in obscurity, never had any position in life, never wrote a book, was gibbeted as a felon between two thieves, and who lived for only 33 years. How could they expect to bring the impact of their witness to bear upon the world as followers of One who was despised and rejected of men? Yet forward they went to summon the world to His feet, and the world came - and is still coming, for in spite of the godlessness of our age, there are millions today in the world who love this Man of Galilee...
...they were men with like passions as ourselves. With all their noble qualities, they had their imperfections and limitations...He called them to follow Him, not because of what they were in themselves when He met them for the first time, but because of what under His tuition, and by His power they would become...
...It is not what we are, in ourselves, when we hear and respond to Christ's call, but what by His grace and power He can make us as we company with Him. When Jesus called those first disciples, He said,"Follow me, and I will make you" - and there are no self-made Christians in His service;...
...those whom the Lord wants and wins are those He is able to fashion into human books to tell the story of His love and grace. As did those He gathered around Him in the days of His flesh, disciples today begin their apprenticeship by following Christ, daily learning of, and from Him (Matt. 11:29). Then as they grow in grace and knowledge, they become more fitted to represent the Savior in a world of sin and need...
...To us, the apostles were not exceptional men, strangers to our weakness, temptations and difficulties. Jesus chose twelve typical representative men...He chose those who were poor and teachable as the clay out of which to fashion spiritual greatness...
...The twelve Christ chose, then, were twelve men, distinguished by marked degrees of difference and varieties of temper and disposition...
...These twelve types were selected as a representation of a narrow circle of the whole human race, in which there is a great variety of types...
...It has been suggested that in the choice of the twelve, Christ was experimenting on the entire human race. If He could bring these twelve under His power and subdue them to His qualities, it would be proof that all men might be made to yield to His sway. It was a prophetic demonstration that His salvation was adapted to all classes with varieties of disposition and qualities. The selection was also proof that Jesus was both willing and able to employ all manner of gifts and all manner of natures in His service. Doubtless if the choice had been ours we should have left several of the twelve out, and chosen others....
The names of the twelve appear on the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem which their devotion and dedication helped to build"...
...Twelve is the number establishing governmental perfection...it is a clear illustration to the tribes of a new people. It happily expresses that Jesus was the Divine Messianic King.(end of quote)
It is interesting to note that when looking at how the disciples are listed in different order in the various Gospels, Peter is always mentioned first. Could it be that he had one of the more difficult of personality types to deal with thereby showing that even the most difficult of personalities can be saved and transformed especially when much is made of Peter's personality traits in the Gospel accounts of him?
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
— II Corinthians 3:9
The foundation and provision for all types of temperaments were laid to ensure the possibility that anyone who wants to know the love of the Father that was founded on Jesus the Chief Cornerstone, who come to make the Father's love available to all of humanity by paying the penalty for our sins, may come.
It is not human personality that prevents people from knowing the Father's love it is sin that separates us from Him.
Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
— Isaiah 59:1-2
May we never see anyone as impossible including ourselves. The only thing standing between God and any person now is the unawareness of the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ.
...And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
— Mark 10:26 -27
There is no circumstance or personality that can keep the Love of the Father from a heart that yearns to know Him. Our sins are forgiven and the debt has been paid. There is now nothing standing between ourselves and the Father's divine love.
The foundation stones of this structure were described as gems which I believe is symbolic of something.
The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.
— Revelation 21:19-20
Gems are naturally occurring crystalline forms of a mineral, which is desirable for their beauty and they are valuable in their rarity and durability.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
— I Peter 2:9
Gems are made up of minerals, inorganic substances made up of two or more elements. This represents the solidity of the witness and agreement of two or more things.
...“By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”
— II Corinthians 13:1
Here we have twelve. According to Revelation 12:11 the stones were made up of their testimony and loving God more than their own life laid on the foundation of Jesus the chief cornerstone. We have a witness from heaven, and two witnesses from the earth.
that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
— Hebrews 6:18
We can be sure of the Father's love. All the evidence is in confirmed and reconfirmed in the lives of faithful believers.
How do we become everlasting gems? First, we must be cleansed from our sin (foundation) by the blood of the lamb. Next, we need to experience the gracious love of the Father and be a testimony to others of it. (by the word of our testimony). And thirdly we must love God more than ourselves. (love not our lives even unto death) Revelation 12:11
As Herbert Lockyer said :
"It is not what we are, in ourselves, when we hear and respond to Christ's call, but what by His grace and power He can make us as we company with Him. When Jesus called those first disciples, He said,"Follow me, and I will make you" - and there are no self-made Christians in His service;...
...those whom the Lord wants and wins are those He is able to fashion into human books to tell the story of His love and grace. As did those He gathered around Him in the days of His flesh, disciples today begin their apprenticeship by following Christ, daily learning of, and from Him (Matt. 11:29). Then as they grow in grace and knowledge, they become more fitted to represent the Savior in a world of sin and need..." (end of quote)
A transformation must take place in order for these materials to become gems. Usually, heat and pressure are required.
“O you afflicted one, Tossed with tempest, and not comforted, Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, And lay your foundations with sapphires.
— Isaiah 54:11
“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
— I Peter 4:12-14
There is no way to avoid the tribulations of this life. Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble according to John 16:33. Do we let them crush us or do we surrender to the love of our Father and allow them to transform us into a beautiful jewel as we trust in Him?
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we areperplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed
— II Corinthians 4:8
Each experience is a new opportunity to learn who God says He is to us.
Gems have no light source of their own and their beauty can only be beheld when the light is absorbed by it and only the color that is not absorbed is reflected. We are reflecting qualities of God as we absorb the light of His love. When we absorb the Love of God something of His character is reflected through facets of our particular personality and experience.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;...
— Genesis 1:26
We were originally designed to be reflections of His goodness and character.
...And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
— I Corinthians 15:49
We reflect which every realm we dwell in. flesh, the man of dust or spirit, the heavenly man.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
— Romans 8:5
Each stone is individual and unique. His love is not generic. We are not a speck in a sea of faces. Every human being that has submitted their lives to Him becomes another facet and reflection of His light and glory. Whatever material we are made of we will be the only one of its kind.
You shall also be a crown of glory In the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem In the hand of your God.
— Isaiah 62:3
Gems are usually mined and resurrected from dead dry stone. Oh, what a lovely thought that the Lord could find something of value in the dead dry life I have given Him and to know that He can make something beautiful of it thrills me to pieces.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
— I Corinthians 4:7
*“Taken from "All the Apostles of the Bible" by Herbert Lockyer. Copyright ©1972 by Zondervan Publishing House. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com”
© 2010 Tamarajo