Moving Away From the Cornerstone

 

The problem is that many churches have fallen so far, they are apostate and others are on the verge of the same betrayal against our Holy Cornerstone. Understanding that He is our Cornerstone gives us a navigational rendering on how to lead and manage our church in a healthy, biblical way. Understanding that He is our chief cornerstone means

Jesus is the Chief, the Head of the corner. It means our Lord is our All in All—we can trust in Him (1 Cor. 15:20-28)! How wonderful and comforting to be able to allow Him to be our haven of rest, our continual comfort.

At the same time, a warning is given in Scripture to those who reject the Living Stone in the Bible. They will stumble and fall. Stumble, meaning disobedient, refers to condemnation and judgment because a person is so “self willed” and prideful, he or she is not willing to acknowledge God as his or her Lord (Mal. 2:8; John 11:9; Rom. 9:33; 14:20; 1 Cor. 10:32; James 3:2; 2 Peter 2:8).

Fall in Romans and Matthew refers to Isaiah (Matt. 21: 33-46; Isa. 8:13-15; 28:16). Peter and Paul both used this image (Rom. 9:33; 11:11; 14: 4, 21; Heb. 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:6-8), that those who reject Jesus as the Messiah will be judged. God’s Kingdom is portrayed as a rock, and we will be cursed by it if we fight against it (Dan. 2: 34-44; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; Rev 20:12-13; 22:12).

He still gives us His grace—until it is too late and we are called to account. God gives us ample prevision and time to turn from our evil and wayward ways to His True Word, His best Way (Jer. 23:22-23).

He patiently accommodates us (to a point) to give us the time to realize our disobedient conduct, gives us the room to make mistakes, and still calls us back into His arms of love and care. Do not be the one who rejects the Living Stone and causes your church to run askew and away from His call and purpose! We are called to allow our faith to empower our obedience because obedience is what pleases God. Disobedience, from a lack of faith, is detestable to Him and causes us to be lost over dangerous ground. This comes down to “apostasy,” which is the abandonment of one’s religious faith, or skewing it far away from its core precepts.

We are falling away from the Truth and are rebelling against Him when we continue to do this without repentance. We are betraying our Lord and deceiving the ones we are supposed to be leading further into His depths!

The problem with this situation is that most of the leadership in these churches who are failing do not realize that they are, nor do they comprehend that their decisions and the things they chase are moving them away from the Cornerstone and into apostasy. The plumb line from which to gauge where we are is His Word. I am not just talking about moving away from essential Christian doctrine, although this applies. Rather, I am pointing to our not communicating doctrine in love and care and not discipling others so they can know Him more. It is just as bad to have good doctrine and not communicate it as it is to reject good doctrine. The end result is the same玆a Church of Perfidy. Then the person in such a church will not know truth, His will, His call, or recognize opportunities and precepts so he can then act upon them. We become the church of the “pew-sitter” who not only does nothing in a church, but also gets nothing from the church.

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Is Christ Your Church’s Living Stone?

 

The idea is that the cornerstone represents Christ as the Chosen Stone (Acts 4:11; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:6-8). The idea that Jesus Christ is our Living Stone has significant ramifications of His Lordship over our lives and church. These themes refer to Him as our temple, the One who gives us grace, reconciliation, empowerment, and comfort, and He does not disappoint. Living stone means the foundation, the source of something, such as of a building or a family (Psalm 118:22; Isa. 8:14; 28:16; 2 Peter 2:4-10).

This means Jesus is the Spiritual Temple, not just in theory or in liturgy, but in actual practice, living in our day-to-day leadership and management. He is the place and focus of worship and counsel.

The church or temple is no longer a building; it is a community in relationship to Christ. Think of these images from the reality that Jesus was a carpenter in His human occupation, and perhaps frequently worked with stonemasons or did masonry himself. He was personally familiar with building both in practice and in Lordship, and we must submit to His Lordship in order to be a healthy, vibrant church. Make no mistake. This image from the Gospels is not a mere tale or metaphor; He is to be Christ the Stone, our Giver of life, our Source and Foundation. We must manage His Church from the mindset and practice that He is our LORD for all we are and do (Matt. 21:42; John 1:4; 1 Cor. 3:1-3; 15:45)!  

Living stones in 2 Peter 2:5 is plural, denoting that they are the people of the Church. In the context of our spiritual house, it means a living organism, a sacred temple empowered by God to worship God. This idea implies that our union in Him is our dependence on Christ, as He is the One who supports us, lifts us up, and houses us in His presence (Ex. 19:6; Mark 12:10-11).

This should cause us to think and be in the wonders and fears of “awe!” This means Christian community and fellowship is a “spiritual house,” established, organized, and led in Him. We are all one in Christ and we derive our life from Him. Our identity in Him must affect us personally and publicly, synergizing us as a community so our church is managed in His “reckoning” (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 15:45) that is formed, indwelt, and empowered by the Spirit (Acts 2:33).

We are all precious, important, and have a job to do as a moving, living temple, reflecting His love and holiness (John 2:19; Ro 12:1; 1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb 7:26; 10:10).  The fact of what our Lord has done for us shows us that we are to be as a corporate collaboration of people in Him. The call is to come to Christ because He is the Living Stone, as He called in Matthew 11:28-30. This is an image of how our Lord is our direction and foundation in all we do, personally and in church, and how we, as a church, should function, as we are all interlocked and plumbed with purpose to one another by our calls, gifts, and abilities—all in Him (Eph. 4). Christ is constructing a building of faith and eminence to be His Church, made up of the stones of “us” lain upon the foundation of Him. Thus, our faith needs to grow from us personally and then move into our community so we can interlock with one another, fastened by the mortar of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22).  

In Second Peter 2, Peter tells of the incredible transition from the Temple and the priesthood to the Church—foretold, but still inconceivable to the Jewish mindset. The actuality is that Christ is our stone bridge. He gives us continuity and purpose. Jesus is the Foundation, Pillar, and the Purpose of the Church, which means our church, even your church. To facilitate worship, we as His people as gathered are the Church no matter when and where we are at. We are not cold stones that are stationary and that decay; rather, we are living and movable, cemented together as a corporate identity in Him. 

Yet, as perfect and precious as our Living Stone is, we, the people leading His Church, tend not to want to understand Him and therefore refuse to follow His principles out of fear of losing people, not being culturally relevant, or perhaps a fear of conviction, too. His way gets in the way of their way (my way) of leadership, because they have a skewed understanding of the Cornerstone as LORD.

This idea is much like that of the first century Jews who wanted a warrior Messiah, not a Savior and One who convicted their souls. However, when we are in Him, we have no need to fear a loss of relevancy because we more than make up for it with authenticity, which is far more contagious for the faith to those who do not yet know Him. Authenticity means we are encountering and becoming close to Him. Christ alone gives us the comfort, protection, and the deep love we need. Therefore, we can lead His way and not compromise or lose our footing when we are on His footer. Keep in mind that we, too, are precious in God’s sight!  

Our identification as a “corporate” church does not imply a building; rather, it is a relationship of community where we are His priests! The entire sacrificial and priestly system, as God directed Moses to set up, is now obsolete. It has been replaced. Its purpose was to point to Christ and get people ready; now, He is here. He is the Sacrifice, the Altar, and the Temple, and we are the priests (Ex. 19:1-9; Eph. 2:17-18; Heb. 7:27; 8:6; 9:12-28; 10:12-19; 13:15-16; Rev. 1:6). The key is that we have to listen to His Word; we must relinquish our self-absorbed mindsets and focus on Christ as Lord over all. We are called a Spiritual House referring to the O.T. Temple as God’s dwelling place. Now, that house is more than a building; it is also a legacy, a large family, or a dynasty such as the “House of Israel.” Thus, the Church is God’s dwelling place and legacy (2 Sam. 7:5-7, 12-16; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 3:6).

How is your Churches Alignment?

Psalm 118:18-27; Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20 

The church is more than a building. In fact, a church is not a building at all. Rather, it originates with the people being supported on the footer of our Lord and Savior. If we are off in our alignment with Christ, then we are off in all other things, too. Thus, we become a Church of Perfidy. This puts our church in a really perilous position in Him, with one another, and in the community. The perfidy of a church means a betrayal of a trust of who Christ is and what He calls us to do. If our church is not lined up to Him and in His Word, and is not practicing His call and precepts, we will start to fall off the “plumb line” of His foundation and cornerstone. Remember, even a small fraction of an inch off center or off level will cause a building to be ruined. So it is with how we run our churches. When we stray from Him, everything that comes from our church will stray, too. We are called to be “plumb” in Christ. A plumb line is a length of rope from which a metal weight is suspended on the bottom end. This allows the earth’s center of gravity to hold the rope in a perpendicular, vertical line to make sure the building that is being erected is “straight” and “plumb.” This simple device has been used for thousands of years and is still a valuable tool today. If you place studs or stones upon a foundation that is not perfectly level or if you do not use a plumb line, then the walls will not be straight and will not join up with the other walls and be a safe haven. Can you see the parallels here from construction to the practice of our faith and how we lead a church?  

Being off a small fraction will cause a much greater loss down the road. If we start to follow trends, ideas, teachings that are not from God’s Word or are not clearly distilled from His precepts, then the running of our church will be skewed because our “direction-finding” is skewed. 

In navigation, if you are off a fraction of a degree from your course heading at your start, then a few hundred miles away you will be many miles off your mark. This type of error brought down the passenger jet, Korean Air 007 in 1983, when the then Soviets shot the 747 airliner down as it mistakenly veered over their airspace. Conspiracy theories aside, it was concluded that the 747 pilots put the wrong heading in the autopilot. They were off a very small degree that slowly ventured the airliner off its course and the instrument guiding system, ending the lives of the 240 passengers and 29 crewmen and crewwomen aboard. When our churches start to veer off His path even a fraction, down the road it can escalate to heresies or complacency that will lead the people with whom God entrusted us astray. This 747, after flying over sensitive areas, was shot out of the sky by MIG fighters. Take heed. When we veer off God’s path, we too will be held accountable (Matt. 16:27; Acts 2:22-24, 36; 3:13-15; 5:30-32; 7:51-53; Rom. 2:6; 14:12-13; Gal. 6:1-5; Eph. 6:21; 1 Peter 4:10-11; Rev 18:6; 20:12-13; 22:12).

What Type of Foundation Does Your Church Have?

What Type of Foundation Does Your Church Have?  

1 Kings 5:1 to 9:9; 2 Chronicles 3:3 to 5:1; 6:1-7:22; Psalm 118:18-27; 127:1; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4-10 

The foundation of your church will set up the attitude and theme of your church. Thus we need to ask, is our church lined up properly to its foundation? Do you realize that if it is not, your church building will fall off of it? Your church building, if not properly erected on good foundation “footers,” will fail and perhaps collapse upon the congregation, literally. In constituting a building  whether it be a church, an office, or a home–it is absolutely essential that the footers of the foundation are perfectly level and plumb. Footer is a very large block of concrete that is placed in the soil below a building that is being erected. This footer is part of the building’s foundation, which supports the load-bearing portion of the building. Its prime purpose is to prevent the structure from moving or sinking. Footers also provide a stable base upon which the rest of the building is built. If these footers are not lined up correctly, off even as much as a fraction of an inch, then each piece of the building to come afterward will not fit or line up with the other. If we are not personally lined up to Christ, then everything we do will be skewed and will not fit, including relationships, activities, outreach, and the day-to-day activities of a church. All will be off-center and flawed because our alignment is off from Christ who is our Foundation. 

How is your Churches Foundation?  

Is it made from the precepts of the will of man or from God’s Word and Will?

There is something much more important than the foundation materials and placement in constructing a church or in navigational procedures, and that is the understanding of who and what the “cornerstone” is. A cornerstone was a large stone laid at the foundation of stone buildings prior to the 1950s to be a “footer” and to “plumb” the rest of the building so it was square and secure. This cornerstone was the first stone, usually an exceptionally large one, placed above ground on top of stones placed underground at the beginning of the northeast corner of the building. This was essential to the structure of the building. These buildings were laid with cut stones, interlocked by gravity and force and without mortar. They were stacked stone on top of stone, all relying and leaning on one another. Many such structures have lasted for many millennia. Without proper stone placement, buildings in the ancient world would not have lasted long or would have fallen during construction. Here, we have an image of how our Lord is our Cornerstone (Psalm 118:18-27; Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20). 

 

What makes a Church Healthy or Unhealthy?

This comes from a big problem we have in most churches today, that is the tendency of leaders not effectually growing in the Lord and thus do not practice their faith and this dispenses down to the congregation. And the outcome is a church that has missed its point and reason for being; as its people, who Christ has brought in, go without being taught or discipled because the pastors and leaders are not being taught or discipled. Being mature means you know not just Who Christ is, but His impact has gone deep and has occupied all aspects of our life and faith. Life is all about Him and not about selfish ideas or perceptions. We have gone to His throne and His priestly duty has been received, our Milk, and then the meat is feasted upon, His wondrous precepts and Truth. So our faith is real, personal, fully transformed and becoming fully engaged followers of Christ seen by a life well lived. If we want to be an impacting Christian pastor or lay leader in a church that impacts its community and world, we have to be eating the meat of God’s precepts with passion and conviction, in love and in truth and then sharing it with others.

Healthy churches have a deep love and gratitude to Christ and desire to equip and empower the people He brings them!

They seek to serve in humbleness and effectual faith. They value people and do not depend on their programs, rather on Christ; they allow Him to produce what He wants, when He wants. They grow from the inside of their faithful journey before it is exercised outward. Inward faith is formed before outward faith is expressed. The average healthy church is where people feel good about God and others; they display personal, spiritual, and relational maturity and have hope and life in Christ, all because they are growing in the Word and Spirit. Gossip is absent and conflict is dealt with; spiritual growth is glorifying our Lord, and the Fruit of the Spirit is at hand. The pastors and leaders model to the people a faith that endures as they look to Christ.

© 2008, Research from 1998- 2007, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org

Other Significant Growth Factors that come from these top Seven

That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5: 19

8. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have leaders who focus on Christ and serve Him. Their leadership style is not by will; it is by being a servant. “Servant Leadership” is modeled and practiced.

9. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have people that are disciplined and growing in Christ. This is the reason they are loving and caring, practicing the “one another” passages. They are enamored by God’s presence in their church and life, and thus place Christ first, acting on His character and call! They are not selfish or inwardly focused, but care for others and focus on their community and world.

10. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have a system of pastoral care. They train their staff and leaders to immediately respond when they hear of a church member in need. They hire licensed, qualified people and/or train and assign trained deacons or care workers; also, a key person is in charge.

11. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have effective evangelism, stewardship, and discipleship. These programs come from those top seven factors! As people are transformed, they can be taught and motivated. They also tend to spend at least one-third of their resources of budget and talent in outreach and missions.

12. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have a well thought out, biblically empowered vision and mission statement. This is clearly defined by a purpose that points to Christ, and strategies on what God has called them to do and be. In addition, the people know this and are willing to act on it. It is one thing to write it out, but another thing to act it out. The vision does not lead the church; rather, it s a motto that encapsulates the work of the Spirit and the precepts of Scripture that calls, empowers, and employs the church. A vision is a sign to show what is happening and help others see the direction of the church so they know where to go. A vision will not motivate or lead, just as placing a label for soda on a can of water does not make it a soda.

13. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ tend to organize and mobilize their people according to their Spiritual Gifts! The people are more content and motivated so serve in a team manner when they serve in their area of their giftedness. The quarrels and apathy will dry up as the energies are redirected and channeled in a godly way. People will function less in their own strength and more in the power of the Holy Spirit.

14. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ empower the people in their care. They are training, discipling, recognizing, and encouraging their people, especially those in critical roles. They do not see or use volunteers just as helpers or as people to control and manipulate, but as the essential tools and prime resources with which to glorify God, enablers of the goals of missions and needs to be reached. These churches see the pastor as the trainer for the congregation. If the senior pastor feels they do not have the gifts and abilities to equip and train others to do ministry (what the biblical principle of a “pastor” is), the church hires or build teams around them that do! If the training is not done, the church will fail! Some pastors are great teachers, but cannot do anything else. A pastor must operate in his gifted area, and encourage others who will compensate for him in the areas where he is weak or does not have the time.

15. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ are willing to and do confront sin, evil, gossip, slander, manipulators, and heresy in the church—immediately! The leadership puts down gossip and solves conflict quickly. Healthy churches move ahead in purpose and unity.

16. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have pastors who are real, joyful, and authentic, and lead healthy, disciplined lives. Their leaders are learning and growing in community with one another, willing to go beyond their prejudices and fears and embrace Christ. They are willing to publicly repent, apologize for past mistakes, make improvements, and change. They do not have thick skin as much as loving hearts, and they give people grace and room to grow. They are not afraid to step on the toes of others, but remain loving, listening, and firmly uncompromising to the Word.