Publication: Pastoral Letter, November 1999
Dear Friend in Christ:
I hope you will receive this letter as a personal one, and that it will reinforce the foundation of your life. What I will write is an expression of my own life’s message.
THE PARABLE – THE FOUNDATION
Matthew 7:24-27 records a brief parable given by our Lord. It is about two men who built houses – one on rock, and the other on sand. The storms came to both houses. The one built on the rock stood; the other fell mightily. Today, many “houses” are being built on inadequate foundations.
Jesus said that those who heard His words and acted on them were like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
THE STORM – THE TEST
We have heard a lot about storms this year…tornadoes, hurricanes, and even earthquakes that have torn down structures, leaving thousands dead. Some were great buildings, others were beautiful houses…all blown away or shaken down. The foundations were usually poor or inadequate. Jesus was warning those who heard Him speak, “Life has storms, and foundations are necessary to survival.”
I remember a story that my father told. He asked an old man who was building boats, “Is this boat built for the calm or for the storm?” The old man answered, “I build all my boats for the storm.” Life also must be built for the storm.
THE FOUR PILLARS:
What is the foundation that will enable us to not only survive, but thrive in the tests that come? I want to offer four words, which are theological pillars that can support us through all seasons.
FIRST: THE COVENANT…WHICH IS THE CONSTITUTION FOR LIFE.
God made a New Covenant with us in the blood of Jesus Christ. A covenant is a blood-bond between God and His people, that makes them one with Him and one with each other. He makes the New Covenant to secure us and supply us, in order to accomplish His purpose. We are saved, secured, supplied, and sustained by His faithfulness to His Word. His Word is – as we receive it – the extension of His nature and His will into our lives. It is as divine as He is, and as trustworthy as He is. We must hear it and build on it in order to endure and prosper in all seasons.
Every word that goes out of His mouth is a covenant word. He cannot lie…He never changes, and guarantees in Christ’s blood that He will never leave or forsake us. His Word is our constitution, and it is the constitution that He lives by.
The word “covenant” is “berit” in Hebrew. It means, “to cut.” In ancient times, people “cut covenant.” That is, they killed an animal…usually cut it in halves and walked between the pieces. This signified a bond in blood, unto death, for a common purpose. Or, they might cut themselves and co-mingle their own blood, to signify – by oath and by cutting – their common life and loyalty until death. In all ancient societies, such bonds were stronger than natural brotherhood. Jesus is our covenant sacrifice, the Lamb of God. He is God and man; He represented both God and man, and we are one with God in Him.
The word for “covenant love” in Hebrew is “chesed,” which is very difficult to fully translate into the English language. Approximately 40 different words are used in the attempt; words such as love, loyalty, goodness, mercy, kindness, faithfulness, and loving kindness are some of the words used to describe “chesed.” God’s covenant in Christ, and His unchanging love, form the foundation of our lives, and our pillar of strength in all seasons. It is our constitution – the basis for our eternal life.
SECOND: THE KINGDOM – THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE COVENANT
Constitutions are administrated by the government. The government is not unrestrained or spontaneous. It is limited by the Constitution, and by its pledge to administrate the Constitution. So it is with God. His Son, Jesus the King, administrates and performs His Word – the New Covenant Word.
Throughout the Old Testament, God promised a Deliverer King Who would fulfill His Word to us. Jesus came as God had promised and cut the covenant. The Lamb of God took our place in judgment, arose from the dead and ascended to His heavenly throne. He was the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:6-7, and many other passages. Peter confirmed this at Pentecost, when he preached that Jesus was both Lord and Christ.
While Jesus walked the earth, He also preached the kingdom of God (see Matthew 4:17 and following). He told us to pray for the Kingdom to come (see Matthew 6:9-13), and He told us to seek the Kingdom first (see Matthew 6:33). Our task is to pray according to His Word, and pray for Him to govern His Word in our lives. We must obey His Word and leave the rest to Him. He promises – and He performs His promises – as we obey.
When we pray according to the covenant and walk under His government, the result is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (see Romans 14:17). His Kingdom is unshakable; it is the rock on which He builds His house (see Hebrews 12:28).
THIRD: THE CHURCH – THE REVELATION OF TRUTH
In Matthew 5:14, Jesus told His disciples, “You are the Light of the world…a city set on a hill.” He later said, “I will build My Church on this Rock…and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it” (see Matthew 16:18).
I do not believe that the Church is built upon Peter. It is built upon the “Rock” that Peter confessed: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The Church is built on the Rock, Christ Jesus, and reveals the life of Christ.
The Church is also called the pillar and support of truth (see 1 Timothy 3:15). The Church founded on Christ holds up Christ, the Light of Truth, to the world. The Church is made up of those that have gathered to Christ. It is those who are organically joined by a living faith to Christ and to each other. It is His Body. It is the King’s household – His family – that reveals His nature, purpose, and message to the world. Our message to the world is the same as His: “Seek ye first His Kingdom.”
The Church is not the Kingdom…Christ’s Kingdom extends to all power and dominion. But the Church is a tangible revelation of His Kingdom to a world in darkness. We are called to show forth the excellencies of Him Who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (see 1 Peter 2:9). The call of the Church is to testify to the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to draw all men to Him.
What is the Church?
- It is two or three gathered in His name.
- It is believers gathered in a home.
- It is a local body of baptized believers taking communion together.
- It is the gathering of such believers in a given area to celebrate Christ’s life.
- It is those from every age and nation who gather around His throne.
- It is those who are committed to His Word, His Reign, His ways, and His will.
His Church is a pillar that we can build upon – a pillar that supports the Truth. His Church endured and will endure as the revelation of truth to the world.
FOUR: FAITH – THE APPLICATION OF THE COVENANT TO LIFE
We are given such great promises; thousands of them. God has blessed us with innumerable benefits. But between those promises and the fulfillment of them, we must have faith in His Word. We must apply the truth of His Word to life’s opportunities and challenges.
Faith is not the mere believing in God, or even believing that the Bible is true. The enemy also knows these things. It is not joining a church or holding to some doctrine. It is applying God’s Word to life. It is a substantive knowing and acting upon what He said. Without faith, nothing works. We cannot please God and doubt God at the same time.
Faith is a gift from God. True faith is a divine grace that enables us to believe beyond reason and beyond our own ability (see Romans 4, Romans 10, and Hebrews 11). Faith comes as we hear the Word of God. The Word is living, active, and powerful. It penetrates the mind and goes right to the heart. It activates our bodies and moves us on into God’s will for our lives. It is what we build upon and what we declare.
It is not accurate to simply say that we must have faith and works. It is accurate to say that we must have a faith that works.
A faith based upon the Word will stand. It is a sure foundation. Without it, we are on shifting sand…a tragedy waiting to happen. Building on other philosophies, psychologies, or passing methodologies will often produce a beautiful result – until the storm comes.
These four pillars are all vital. I would not encourage anyone to have a “one-legged stool” or even a “two or three-legged stool.” We need all four “legs” – Covenant, Kingdom, Church, and Faith. Such a foundation will serve us well in testing times, and prosper us at all times.
Please continue to remember CSM in your prayers and in your giving this month as we proclaim these vital truths. This proclamation is bearing good fruit in more than 70 nations. While we rejoice in the many testimonies we have received from around the world, we also soberly recognize the costs of resources to continue. Our resources are extremely stretched at the moment. Thanks to all of you who so faithfully stand with us each month! May the Lord bless you and yours during this wonderful season of giving thanks to Him.
Charles V. Simpson
Scripture References: Matthew 7:24-27; Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 6:9-13; Matthew 6:33; Romans 14:17; Hebrews 12:28; Matthew 5:14: Matthew 16:18; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 2:9; Hebrews 11; Romans 4; Romans 10.