And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.Genesis 1:9, 10
On August 9, 1173, the foundation was laid. Five days later, construction of the bell tower at the began in the Camp del Miracoli mere feet away from the Pisa Cathedral Five years later, trouble began to be visibly apparent as the soft soil began to give way on a shallow foundation. It took 482 years of stops and starts in construction due to continuous foundation repair, multiple wars, and financing difficulties for the bell tower to be completed with the installation of the final bell in 1655.
It was here that legend holds that Galileo conducted his experiments on free fall gravitational acceleration. During World War II, Allied forces suspected the Germans of using the bell tower as a lookout observation post and were prepared to destroy it, but the beauty of the architecture of the cathedral, the baptistry, and the tower saved it from being attacked.
Over the next 800 years after the initial foundation was laid, the Leaning Tower of Pisa would continue to list until in 1990, the tilt had reached 5.5 degrees. Between 1993 and 2001, remediation construction work was done to correct the lean to a less dangerous 3.97 degrees, in order to prevent collapse. In 2018 it was reported that the tilt was reduced further by 4 centimeters to 3.9 degrees. The remediation efforts are said to keep the tower stable for the next 200 years, before there will be a need to remediate again.
Fickle Foundations Falter
Fickle foundations foster faltering followers. Jesus knew the value of laying proper foundations before beginning to build a house. His earthly father, Joseph, was a carpenter, so it is reasonable to assume that he [Joseph] was aware of basic construction principles and would likely teach these principles to Jesus. I have a good friend, Matt, who owns a home construction business in Austin, TX and he once described the process of building a home in the dry arid land of central Texas.
He described how before you even lay the foundation of the house, you have to drive concrete pillars deep into the bedrock of the Texas soil. While central Texas soil is typically rather hard, it’s constantly shifting and loose making it critical to set a deep firm foundation when building a home. Otherwise, you will eventually have to spend thousands of dollars on inconvenient foundation repairs that are typically not covered by homeowners insurance due to natural settling of soil.
Jesus drew on this comparison near the end of the Sermon on the Mount:
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.Matthew 7:24-27
Foundation of Faith
The foundation that Jesus refers to are the principles of faith that He laid out through the Sermon on the Mount. Beginning with the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:2, He describes in intricate detail and wonderful illustrations what the life of a disciple looks like. Poor in spirit. Mourning over sin. Hungry and thirsting for righteousness. Merciful. Salt. Light. Not given to anger or lust. Faithful. Not vengeful. Loving your enemies. Charitable. Prayerful. Fasting. Peaceful. Measuring your priorities in light of the Kingdom. Nonjudgemental. Humble. Ultimately fruitful.
The first command that God gave Adam and Eve was “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) But what does it mean to be “fruitful”? What does “fruitfulness” look like?
Fruitfulness is a sign of the capacity to reproduce. You cannot “multiply” unless you are “fruitful”. Fruit in the botanical world is born through the joining seed of the pistil to the stamen of a flower. This process of reproduction produces a fruit that contains within it the seed that produces more plants of the same kind. Different fruit trees can be cross bred to create new kinds of fruit. However, in many cases this can produce inferior fruit that cannot reproduce properly.
Fruitful trees also require care to prevent damage. Sometimes it requires pruning of dead leaves and limbs in order to grow healthier limbs and leaves and produce sweet peaches and plums. Pruning can indeed be quite painful in the spiritual life because it is a cutting away of that which is dead and diseased and negatively impacts the ability to produce good fruit.
A Fruitful Foundation
A life that is characterized by a properly laid foundation is a life that is fruitful for the Kingdom. The fruit of the kingdom is a fruit of obedience to the Words of Jesus, which produces the fruit of the spirit as described by Paul in Galatian 5. Paul begins by talking about putting aside the “works of the flesh”, the pruning of the unfruitful life. “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) Almost all of these will find a negative parallel in Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount.
But Paul doesn’t stop there. He goes on the offensive and explains what it means to be fruitful: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:22-24)
Fruitfulness begins with crucifying the flesh, the carnal passions and desires that lead to sin and separation from God. It is a conversion process of transitioning from self to sacrifice. Fruitful foundations foster faithful followers. In order to be fruitful for the kingdom, you must begin with an appropriate foundation. The beginning of building a life in Christ is beginning with the foundation of the Word of God. It is imperative that believers make the regular study of Scripture a priority. It is not optional. It is critical and will make all the difference in the world as you walk with Him.
It is also important, especially with new believers, that study is guided and that a mature believer is available to answer questions and encourage the new believer in the study of God’s Word. There are many passages that will likely not make sense to a mind that is not yet fully transformed and renewed. That is why God gifted believers as “apostles [missionaries], prophets [preachers], evangelists, shepherds [pastors], and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:11-14, commentary notes mine)
If you are new to the faith, find a teacher of Scripture who stands firmly on the foundation of the inerrancy of the Word of God. If you are a teacher of Scripture, stand firm on the foundation of the inerrancy of the Word of God and seek out those who need to be taught the principles that produce fruitful lives. No other foundation has been able to stand the test of time. No other foundation ever will.