Recently, on Facebook, I saw a discussion about the foundation of the church. In Ephesians 2:19-20 Paul says, “Consequently, y’all are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone [NIV with “y’all” added to reflect second person plural].” Since the foundation was/is built by the apostles and prophets, is this something entirely past or do we still need apostles and prophets to lay the foundation today? There were responses on both sides of the question.
In 1 Corinthians 3:10-12 Paul says, “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ [NIV].” Note that in the last sentence Paul says, “For no one can lay…” indicating a present reality. He then goes on to say, “…the one already laid…” indicating past tense. As this passage points out Jesus Christ is the proper foundation of the church. The apostles and prophets of the first century clearly laid this foundation under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. So is there a present need for apostles and prophets to lay the foundation?
In Romans 15:20 Paul says, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation [NIV].” This shows that there is a present need for the foundation (Jesus) to be laid by apostles and prophets in each and every place among each and every people group where it has not yet been laid. It will not be a different foundation than that laid in the first century but the same one in a different place in a different time among different people. It is easy to see where this would apply to many areas where people have currently not heard the gospel. But does it apply in the United States today as well? I would say so because there are people groups in this country who have either not heard the gospel or who have only heard a perversion of it. So to construct a household of God among them, a proper foundation must first be laid.