Ephesians 2:20-21, “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”
I’m a sucker for reviews. As I scan through them, I find myself believing the glowing recommendations for the product that will change my life. The only problem is- some, inevitably, are not so rosey. Pretty soon I’m on page 4 and about to decide I’m not equipped to make such a difficult decision as to which dry-erase markers should be purchased.
I’m stuck with questions, doubt, and while it’s a silly example- I don’t think I’m alone. The truth is we live in a world of hesitation. The abundance of trial programs and hassle-free returns show us we’re a people looking for assurance.
Deep down we are familiar with asking ourselves, Is this really going to work?
As we move into verses 20 and 21 of Ephesians chapter 2, we find Paul addressing these very questions for his Gentile readers. So far in the chapter, they have already been affirmed of their inclusion in the glorious gift of salvation. They were reminded how the walls of division between Jew and Gentile have been removed. And as we reach verse 20, Paul spells out for them why these are truths they can hold onto with unwavering assurance. To that end, he gives them the basis for their confidence in the ground-breaking church God has instituted.
Paul tells them they are, “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”
Instead of appealing to the church’s knowledge, their good works, or even their love as their assurance- he points them to the completely trustworthy foundation. Their confidence should be upon the cornerstone of Christ.
Both in ancient and modern times a cornerstone is the most important block of a building. It was the first block laid, and the block that every single one after is positioned in reference to. As you can imagine, if the cornerstone was laid incorrectly- even by a hair, the rest of the structure will inevitably exaggerate the fault.
The cornerstone of Christ is the foundation of the faith of the Ephesians, and it is our hope today. We can be sure of our salvation and sure of our union as a body not because of ourselves, but because we all stand on the cornerstone of Christ. Unlike the people in our lives who have let us down or the products that have failed us- we have a trustworthy foundation. Christ is the holy one, he is the truth, he is faithful, he is love- and he is the one who secures our salvation and unites us as his church.
Paul goes on to say that not only do we have the cornerstone of Christ, but we have the foundation of the prophets and the apostles. We take in the words and the lives of those who saw, and touched, and heard Christ. We learn from the faith and words of the men who listened and proclaimed the word of the Christ who would come. In a world where our relationship with Christ is often made so individualistic, we would do well to remember that it is a glorious hope to be in the body of Christ. When we serve, when we learn, when we disciple- we do it as one member of a community of believers- whether they be beside us or whether they are saints long passed from earth.
We are given hope and stability from those who go before us, and we do the same for those who go after us. And as we do we will grow “into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21). A temple that unites Jews, Gentiles, rich, poor, executives, farmers, introverts, and extroverts- and not only brings them together but builds them into one body for the glory of God.
Perhaps along with the Ephesians, you find yourself hesitating. Perhaps as you look at your own salvation, or look to the body of Christ around you are wondering, “How can I be sure this will work?”
The answer lies not within ourselves, but outside of it- in the nature of the one that we are built upon. We can’t guarantee a life of ease or perfect churches- but we find hope in the cornerstone we are held to. He saved us, he holds us fast, and it’s he who will build us into his glorious church. And we can stake everything on this truth.