God’s Plumbline: Christ the Tested Cornerstone
How is God a God of order?
How does God create order out of chaos?
What are we to build during God’s order in the chaos of judgment?
God’s Plumbline: Christ the Tested Cornerstone
The Church has spent the last few months with Pastor Rob displaying the Gospel through the Old Testament and Revelations. As one studies and reads the Old Testament and Revelations we discover a lot of rules and rituals that prepare us for the presence of God. In Revelation we discover that God will also judge in chaos destroying through His order. We can see from the Torah as well as throughout scripture that God calls Israel and the Church, His elect out of chaos, into His order through the institution of the law and the fulfillment of this law in Christ. We also can empirically see God in His creation. Creation itself shows God’s order and design. (Psalm 104:5-14) I am not alone in this understanding, in God on the Brain by Bradley L Stickler PhD, Purdue University quotes Cotton Mather, “that earthquakes have physical causes but that they are still rightly thought of as caused by God: ‘Nature’ causes are still under the government of Him that is the God of Nature.” We have heard a lot lately, “follow the science” . Well science shows the order of God in everything from a cell, to DNA, and when we look at the night sky. The order of our science shows the reflection or image of God. The Church father Thomas Watson in A Body Of Divinity says, “The world could not make itself. Who could hang the earth on nothing but the great God? Who could provide such rich furniture for the heavens, the glorious constellations, the firmament bespangled with such glittering lights? We see God’s glory blazing in the sun, twinkling in the stars.” Preacher Charles Spurgon says, “The very form and size of the earth have a connection with the blooming of a flower, or the hanging of a dew-drop upon a blade of grass; and that, if the sun were larger or smaller than it is, or if the material of which the earth is formed were more dense, or different in any degree from what it is, then everything, the most magnificent and the most minute, would be thrown out of gear. Someone of old used to say that God is the great Arithmetician, the great Master of geometry; and so he is. He never makes any mistakes in his calculations; there is not anything in the world that he has made in a careless manner. The mixing of the component parts of the air we breathe is managed with consummate skill; and if you could resolve a drop of water into its original elements, you would be struck by the wisdom with which God has adapted the proportions of each particle so as to make a liquid which man can drink. Everything is done by order and rule, as in the changes of the various seasons, the movements of the heavenly bodies, and the arrangements of divine providence.” God demonstrates consistently through His scripture and the world how He desires order.
I say all this because our lives have been filled with chaos these last few years, chaos through judgment. America and this world has been thrown into chaos with the Covid and fears. Our institutions have failed us. Where do we turn when our towers we have built have fallen and no longer stand. The Church is on the brink in the US and has failed during this crisis. Where do we turn when we have been so blessed and yet everything seems to be falling apart? We turn to the infallible Holy God. We use the Bible God’s word to guide us as we rebuild, repent and pray for His Holy Spirit to give us insight and wisdom. This is called the Plumbline in the Old Testament, which is a line or cord that has at one end a weight or plumb. The Plumbine is the reality we seek (Truth), while the world makes false institutions and a false reality (Truth). As our Church begins a relaunch, I want to discuss with you the Plumbline we use. The gospel is displayed in the Plumbline through Christ this is located in (Isaiah 28:14-17). Christ has been tested by God’s plumbline and Christ has proven straight. Christ is the cornerstone. Everything leads us back to Christ and the gospel.
Let us look at Amos with this background and context. Amos was considered an uneducated man because he was a herdsman, but yet he was able to write effectively. He was a prophet during the reign of Uzziah King of Judia and Jeroboam King of Israel. Both Kingdoms were blessed and stable during this time; the blessing was unparalleled since the days of King Solomon. This was considered a “Golden Age” but it also demonstrated terminal illness. Their wealth came from the expense of the poor. The rich and powerful were systematically oppressing. Their attempt to worship God was them trying to manipulate God to give them blessings. It more resembled the magical manipulation of the pagans. Jeroboam had even set up a golden calf taking us back to Israel at Mount Sinai. (Exodus 32) The story of the golden calf reveals our nature and tendency to build for ourselves and stray away from devotion to God. It is ironic that while Moses was receiving the 10 commandments, Israel has become impatient, and are building for themselves an image that is outside the image of God. So just like Israel at Mount Sinai, God's judgment falls upon Israel and not their enemies. They are held more accountable than their neighbors. Judgment cannot be averted. The first 6 chapters are all about God’s judgment for their cruelty, oppression and rejection of the law. Even in the midst of this judgment Amos foretells of Christ, a King from the line of David, that will save all. When God brings chaos through judgment there is always a remnant left, from Noah, Lot, Israel in all the different chaos through judgment they received, to the disciples. It is through the remnant that God makes arks for the people to be saved from the chaos through judgment.
Amos 7: What do we take away from the plumbline in Amos here? First it is used to construct in order for us to be in the presence of God. The plumbline is used on us individually, as well as the building of this community and Church. Back to the gospel; Christ is the only person (Isaiah 28) that has been tested by the plumbline and has been found Holy. Christ is who we look to, He is the target, so to speak, for us to mimic or reflect the God of order. The Holy Spirit changes our hearts desires to follow the cornerstone. We must recognize the difference between Christ and ourselves and it is only God that can open our eyes to this. (Matt. 16:13-20) Jesus explains here that God reveals to us His plan, it is not by our wisdom. The world even sees the depravity of humanity. Jordan B. Peterson, a clinical psychologist, author, professor says, “I don’t think that you have any insight whatsoever into your capacity for good until you have some well-developed insight into your capacity for evil.” This is an understanding of our total depravity and need for Christ.
Second it is used to test what is built, so as God builds this Church He tests it with the plumbline. When God is at work within us, we become aware how He will transform the chaos to order. The plumbline allows us to partake in the great adventure; to undertake this adventure requires sacrifice necessary to generate a productive meaningful reality. In essence we are living to please God individually as well as communally. Third, it is used in deconstructing what is not found straight, God will judge.
We must trust God as the great builder. If our walls are not built using the (Truth, Word of God), plumbline, then it might be hard to try to use the plumbline after the fact, but if we build professing the gospel and construct according to the rules of the Great Builder, God, it will be possible to test with the plumbline. Everything that God builds as we see through nature, science and scripture point to a God that builds straight, square, and in order. The Church has been filled with the Holy Spirit to provide insight and understanding to these things that are beyond the knowledge of humanity (Job 38:4-7). The world deceives with what it builds; human ambition builds carelessly never considering what might turn out to be wrong. God’s judgment destroys all that the world makes. (Tower of Babel Genesis 11:1-9) After all human merit has been flung out, the Lord begins his gracious work by laying the cornerstone of faith in Jesus Christ, and that faith, though the gospel is reality and truth. Faith and trust in the Builder, God, requires repentance, and then He will build with you something that is of order. When God builds whether it is in an individual or His Church, it is with the plumbline and it builds towards holiness, because He builds with order. If we build in such a style where we are oppressing and benefiting at the expense of others it is worldly. If we build where sin is hidden within the walls it is an impure build and worldly. If we build as an offering to somehow manipulate God to bless us that is worldly. If we are building without reading God’s word daily how will we know if we are building to glorify God? We have been given the full story in scripture. I urge myself first as I am reading through the Bible this year, to be in constant use of God’s plumbline. It is very easy to seek for quick solutions, and neglect what is certain, which is God through scripture.
Churches that are built in a hurry will come down in a hurry; they are built on sand (Matt. 7:24-27). They may look right on the outside, but will look terrible in the burning judgment of God, when the day of the trial by fire comes. God does not promise hard days, or days of chaos, but we must build for the valley of darkness, where God will protect us and dwell with us.
Spurgon says, “The human eye is readily deceived, but the plumbline is not; it drops straight down, and at once shows whether the wall is upright or not.” We must continually use the plumbline upon ourselves and what is built. What is real and what is truth? The gospel of Christ. The Church will need to be tested and tired by the plumbline. Some of you and even myself have built fine mansions, towers, palaces, but when the plumbline was applied these buildings fell. It is God himself who will use the plumbline and the Holy Spirit that will give us insight into what God wants to build. Trust the builder and He will build something of order that cannot be destroyed by storms of chaos that will come.
What is the Church to build in the time of chaos through judgment? The ark to save as many from the coming floods of judgment that we can. Noah built the ark: (Gen. 6) This chapter explains the judgment of God on a sinful world, and God uses an ark to save. He calls us to build an ark and the world will mock us for doing it. Even in this story God gives specific order to how the ark is to be made. Spurgon says, “And when the judgment begins, it will not be without due order, nor will it be without keen perception of all differences. There will hang the infallible plumbline.” We see here that God even judges within order. Open our eyes, Holy Spirit to discern the Lord's infallible plumbline as we build. The American Church might be in the throes of chaos through judgment. We must repent and build arks to save as many as we can. We need to tear down what was built during the prosperity of the American dream. We must repent and build arks that will save the lost through the gospel of Christ. Through this pandemic we see the dead bodies on the water that have been consumed by the world’s sin. For many it is too late; judgment has come. Are you ready to build this ark to save as many as we can for chaos is coming? The mission is to build arks to save the lost through the gospel message. There is always a remnant that God saves to rebuild with His Order. Arks look like the gospel of Christ, our cornerstone, and they glorify God and not ourselves. Arks are made within God’s order from chaos. This will look strange to the world; it does not reflect the world, but reflects the God of order through the gospel of Christ, that has already been tested with the plumbline and found blameless.
Author: Steve Kluge