The Apostles being mentioned when the foundation of our faith is mentioned only goes to show us their unique position and the power that came with it. We already the Apostles were special and their importance to the establishment of the church and propagation of the gospel. Let’s dig in some more…
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 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.” – Ephesians 2:19-21 (Emphasis added)
Anyone in construction knows the importance of a building’s foundation. In fact, a building is only as good as its foundation. A building cannot exist without a foundation. A building cannot stand without one.
However, there are a couple of key points to note in the context of this debate:
- A foundation is always laid ONCE. It is never repeated in the building process, no matter how many floors the building has. The design and layout of each floor may be repetitive, but never the foundation.
It is unique and one-off.
Just as the Gospel/Christian Faith was delivered ONCE for all time (Jude 1:3), so there will never be another set of people like Christ and his Apostles and Prophets.
Just as Christ made a single, ONCE for all-time sacrifice (Hebrews 10:11-14), the foundation of the Church was laid once for all time.
Just as there is only one Christ and Lord over the Church, there is also only one set of Apostles and Prophets upon whom the entire church is built. And this includes ALL generations of the Church. This one foundation God has laid is sufficient to hold up the Church firmly for all time until the Lord returns.
To borrow Paul’s words, no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).
- Secondly, a building’s foundation is always out of sight! I have never heard of or seen a building with its foundation sticking out. Foundations are always buried underground and out of sight. However, the effects and benefits of its work are ongoing, visible/observable, and continue throughout the lifespan of the building. The very fact that the building is on its feet as it were, is evidence the foundation is not only there, but doing its job – even though unseen.
What is the relevance of this to the discussion? Cessationists contend that the foundation of the Church (the Lord and his Prophets and Apostles) are no longer with us and are a unique part of God’s building-a phase that has passed- although the benefits of their work continue with us till Kingdom come. Some Continuationists see no reason why we cannot have more Apostles and Prophets like back in the day.
We say this is because their purpose, by God’s deliberate design, was meant for the birth and foundational stage of the Church only. What continues with us and has proven remarkably sufficient to keep the Church going and shield her from all of Satan’s schemes, is their work, their testimony, their character, their fruits. The rather strong desire to have new Apostles and Prophets along with the working of Divine power that attended their ministry is misplaced and betrays a poor understanding of what they were really about.
This leads us to the question, Why exactly did God give some people the power to work miracles?