Psalm 11: If the Foundations Are Destroyed

Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible

If the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do? (Ps. 11:3)

What are the foundations whose destruction leaves the righteous wondering what they can do?

Psalm 11 is a short psalm. It focuses on two things only: wickedness and righteousness. “The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence his soul hates. On the wicked he will rain he will rain blazing coals; fire, sulfur, and scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous. He loves righteousness. The upright shall see his face” (vs. 5-7).

The foundation of God is simple. The apostle Paul describes it in 2 Tim. 2:19 as well:

God’s firm foundation stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness.”

Today, many things other than righteousness are offered as a foundation, while the true foundation of God is being wrecked by false doctrines.

The most frightening doctrine of all is our modern view of the atonement, for several reasons:

  1. It is close to the truth.
  2. It has an emotional appeal and an almost universal acceptance that makes it hard to assail.
  3. It makes an easily acceptable alternative to the apostles’ Gospel.
  4. It destroys the foundation of God by teaching people that they do not need to depart from unrighteousness.

The Atonement and Righteousness

Is it not common in Christian churches to reference the atonement of Christ and announce that our works don’t matter?

One of the most important verses in the Bible for the church today is 1 John 3:7: “Little children, let no one lead you astray. He who does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.”

Our understanding of faith and works is clearly skewed. Because of our interpretation of Paul, we contradict Paul. Because of our understanding of faith, works, and the atonement, we announce that the unrighteous, who are not really unrighteous because of the atonement, will surely inherit the kingdom of God. Paul tells us …

Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Don’t be deceived. (1 Cor. 6:9)

The Apostles’ Gospel and the Atonement

Every major evangelism program that has spread through Evangelical churches, such as Dr. D. James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion and the Southern Baptists’ “Continuing Witness Training,” has substituted inaccurate teaching on the atonement for the apostolic Gospel.

Apparently, very few people have thought about reading through the Book of Acts to find out what the apostles preached to the lost. Instead, we study the letters to the churches, letters in which the apostles are talking to already saved Christians, and we teach theology meant for Christians to the lost.

A trip through Acts gives a much different outline of the Gospel than is given by Evangelism Explosion and “Continuing Witness Training.” The Apostles Gospel, which ought not to be reduced to an outline, can be summed up in one nonetheless:

  • Jesus came to the earth working miracles.
  • He was crucified by his own people.
  • God raised him from the dead, thus proving him to be the Messiah (Christ), the Son of God, and the Judge of all the earth.
  • God chose and sent the apostles to be witnesses of this resurrection.
  • All who believe, repent, and are baptized can have their sins forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit.

This Gospel of the apostles produces actual righteousness that was lived out. Paul described his Gospel as being:

I … declared first to them of Damascus, at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance. (Acts 26:19-20)

If the Foundations Be Destroyed …

If the foundations are destroyed, what are the righteous to do?

The answer is that many of them are perishing. Peter tells us that it is hard for the righteous to be saved (1 Pet. 4:18) and that it requires us to “be more diligent to make our calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10).

If we do not give that diligence, Peter warns that we will be “blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from [our] old sins” (2 Pet. 1:9).

We will give that diligence if we know to give it. In fact, we will give that diligence only if we are exhorted and encouraged to give it. Otherwise, we face the danger of being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin:

Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God; but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called “today”; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm to the end. (Heb. 3:12-14)

The foundations are being openly attacked. The attack is veiled, hidden behind a doctrine of the atonement that sounds so good and so loving.

Any doctrine, however, that teaches the saints of God that they need not depart from iniquity is an attack on the foundation of God, and if the foundations be destroyed, what are the righteous to do?

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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2 Responses to Psalm 11: If the Foundations Are Destroyed

  1. Jon says:

    I’m not so sure that all preaching of penal substitutionary atonement implies antinomian living. Actually, I’m not sure even the majority does. Indeed, did those that supposedly invented this doctrine (a claim I am skeptical about) such as Anselm, Bernard and Calvin preach a doctrine that states it doesn’t matter how one lives? I have never heard a preacher say that because the cross, our works don’t matter (tough it is said that our works don’t earn us salvation, a statement that I still firmly stick by).

    Actually, forget atonement for a minute. If you think about, ANY doctrine of forgiveness of sins opens itself to the risk of being abused in some kind of licentious way .

    • Shammah says:

      I was never notified of this comment. Strange.

      The preaching of the penal substitutionary atonement does not imply antinomian living. I wouldn’t even say it produces it. Instead, it justifies antinomian living. It’s not that people hear about penal substitution, then decide they will live unholy because they believe they can. It’s that people live unholy because they are unholy, but their obstinance against God is strengthened by a doctrine that says they will be rewarded eternally despite their unrighteousness. Their should be fear because those who practice the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God, but that fear is undercut by this very common false doctrine.

      I have no objections to the possibility of a doctrine being abused. Any powerful spiritual truth is a dangerous spiritual truth if misused. The problem is, the substitutionary atonement is a false doctrine that draws false conclusions and also removes fear from unrepentant sinners, and in fact assures them of the reward of eternal life when in fact they are sure to perish.

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