“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 3:11 (read 1 Corinthians 3)
The well-known hymn verse by Samuel Stone reads: “The Church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ, her Lord; She is His new creation By water and the Word. From heav’n He came and sought her To be His holy bride; With His own blood He bought her, And for her life He died” (The Lutheran Hymnal, #473).
The Church of Jesus Christ is built upon no other foundation than Jesus Christ and His cross. He created His Church by dying on the cross and making atonement for the sins of the world and then sending out His disciples with the good news of forgiveness of sins and life eternal through faith in His name.
As believers in Christ and members of His Church, we “are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20). The “foundation of the apostles and prophets” is none other than their teaching, which is recorded for us in the Holy Bible, the Word of God.
And what is their teaching? It is Christ and His cross! It is the teaching that we are sinners who have come short of God’s holy demands but that we have been redeemed by the shed blood of Christ Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. It is the teaching that through faith in the crucified and risen Christ, we sinners have forgiveness for all our sins and everlasting life in heaven.
In John 3:14-16, Jesus said: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Are other foundations ever laid? Most certainly! But, when other foundations are laid, and Christ and His cross are no longer the foundation and chief cornerstone, those who are built upon those other foundations are not Christian and their assemblies are not the Church of Jesus Christ in that place. Rather, their assemblies are cults — man-made organizations which lead only to destruction!
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). And, the Bible also says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Apart from Christ and His blood, shed upon the cross for the sins of the world, there is no salvation for sinners like you and me! No works which we can do, no religious acts or ceremonies of man, nothing but the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Jesus Christ in our stead can save us from the wrath of God which we deserve on account of our sins. That is why it is so foolish for man to build upon any other foundation but Christ and His Word.
This is why St. Paul says to the church in Corinth: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, 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 Cor. 3:10-11).
St. Paul preached “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2; cf. 1:23-24). He taught that all of us “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” but that all who believe are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-24; Cf. v. 19-28).
St. Paul also taught that we receive this salvation in Christ through faith and not by any merit or work of our own. When we simply believe that in Christ Jesus and for the sake of His cross we sinners obtain pardon and have forgiveness of God, God’s forgiveness becomes our own and we have eternal life in heaven (cf. Rom. 3:28; 5:1-2; Gal. 2:16).
This is the foundation he, by the gracious working of God, has laid. And, this is the only foundation upon which the Church of Jesus Christ can be built and upon which we can rest securely and be saved!
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, grant us Thy Holy Spirit that we might trust in Thee alone for our salvation and build upon Thee and Thy cross as the chief cornerstone of all our teaching. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]