How Firm A Foundation
Ronald G. Christian
Indepth Devotional Study of The Basic Truths of Christianity
Helen Irene Christian
who taught me from my youngest childhood (2 Timothy 3:15) to build my life upon Christ - "The Firm Foundation"
One of the great hymns of the Church is entitled "How Firm A Foundation". The title of this devotional book is named after this hymn. Notice the words of this hymn's first verse:
"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?"
The Christian has a firm foundation upon which he may build his faith. It is no less than the foundation of God's Holy Word–the Bible. In an age in which people are building their lives upon the crumbling foundations of the world's false philosophies, ideologies, and religious systems, it is encouraging to know that the Bible is a sure foundation. The heavens above and the earth beneath may pass away, but God's Word will never pass away.
In an age of confusion and chaos, both in the changing circumstances of life and in the hazy thinking of modern man, it it important to recapture the basic teachings of the Bible. As sincere persons who wish to live lives of integrity, we must "stoutly defend the truth which God gave, once for all, to his people to keep without change through the years." (Jude 3, Living Bible)
We are "no longer to be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different, or has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth". (Ephesians 4:14, Living Bible)
He who builds his life upon Christ (the Living Word), as He is revealed in the Bible (the Written Word), is the one whose life is built upon a 'firm foundation'. Said Jesus, "All who listen to my instructions and follow them are wise, like a man who builds his house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents, and the floods rise and the storm winds beat against his house, it won't collapse, for it is built on rock", (Matthew 7:24-25, Living Bible)
This devotional book is intended to be a guide to 'Basic Christianity'. Because many devotional books are written primarily for 'dedicated' Christians, I have instead chosen to write a devotional book which is not only suited for the more mature believer, but one that is also designed to help the sincere nonbeliever, whose mind is open to investigate the claims of 'Basic Christianity'. I have sought to cover all the 'fronts' of 'Basic Christianity', from the most elemental stage of investigating the case for believing in God's existence, to the more advanced stages of fundamental Christian teachings–the Fall of Man, the personal Incarnation of God, the meaning of the life and death of Christ, the bodily Resurrection of our Lord, the reign of Christ and the Kingdom of God.
Most, if not all of the basic teachings cited in the ancient 'Apostles Creed' are discussed in some detail in this devotional book:
"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord; that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin mary, that for our sakes he suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died,
and was buried; that he arose again on the third day, that he ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, from which place he will come again, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of the church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and everlasting life after death."
The book can be used in several ways. It can be used as a daily devotional guidebook, with the reader reading one page each day for approximately five months. Each page includes, along with the practically-oriented devotional reading, an appropriate Scriptural reference, a written Prayer for the Day, and a written Affirmation for the Day. Because the book is divided into twelve chapters, the layout of the book is designed in such a way that it can easily be used for an adult Sunday School Course. The individual chapters contain enough content, and yet are short enough in length, that they could also well serve as material for small midweek study groups within a local church. Because there is a developing theme throughout the book, it can also be used and read like any other 'regular' book.
Peter, the great apostle of Christ, wrote in his epistle, "But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence". (1 Peter 3:15)
An intellectual understanding of Christianity is vital, for Jesus commanded us to love God with all our minds as well as with all our hearts. As one said, "My heart cannot rejoice in what my mind rejects".
An unexamined faith is not a faith worth having–and is indeed dangerous. One must know that his beliefs are based on objective truth, for it is the object of belief that determines the value of belief. To accept anything in an unthinking way is possibly to accept error. Also, to accept truth on the basis of dogmatic authority, without thinking it through yourself, is to accept a secondhand faith. A secondhand faith is a dying faith.
Often, if not always, the writing of a book is the result of the author's own intellectual or spiritual struggles. This book is no exception. My life has not been lived without the challenges of doubts, but I have learned to see that even doubting can be an ally rather than an enemy of my Christian faith. I am learning to work out my salvation with the aid of honest doubts which will lead me to the outcome of honest beliefs.
Once you have staked your entire life on God and His will and His revealed nature, then, using this commitment as your stable center, you can go as far afield in honest doubt as you need to in seeking a satisfying intellectual and soul answer to your questions. Develop a reasoned faith. Struggle to understand. Ask any honest question. Do not fear to probe. Develop a thorough inquiring mind. Only as you question will the answers be forthcoming. God encourages this process: "Come, let us reason together", saith the Lord. (Isaiah 1:18)
It is important for one to keep his mind alive and inquisitive. Honest doubts are compatible with an honest commitment to Christ, and in fact the degree of commitment to Christ will be reflected in the degree of serious thinking one does in finding a satisfying answer to the difficult questions of life. One will not find all the answers to life's questions, but not to find the answers is no sin. However, never to ask the questions is a sin against one's God-given intelligence, and is evidence of spiritual as well as intellectual sloth! One cannot fully live until he learns to accept the challenge of hard thinking.
Ask God for a tender heart and a tough mind–a heart tender in response to God's love and a mind tough to grapple with life's mysteries. We are not meant to understand all of God's ways or all of life's perplexities, but we would understand many more of them if we but had the courage to think and to ponder! Those mysteries that will never be unraveled by the reasoning process must be accepted by the tender heart of faith and receptivity.
All the mysteries and perplexities of life are not solved–even within the teachings of Christianity. However, there is no more satisfying system of thought than that of Christianity. But Christianity is more than a system of thought. Christianity is embodied in a Person–the Person of Jesus Christ. The purpose in writing this book therefore is not simply to present an intellectual defense of 'Basic Christianity', but to help persons to know the Living Christ!. Tough thinking regarding the truths of Christianity will hopefully lead one to loving fellowship with the Christ of Christianity!
It is my prayer that the positive Christ who has been altogether precious to me since my personal conversion on March 12, 1956, will use this earnest, but feeble effort of mine to help hundreds of people to place their feet on the solid foundation–Christ! "How Firm a Foundation!"
Ronald G. Christian
Fort Collins, Colorado