Why The Plumb Line?

January 5, 2017 by Chuck Hartman 0 comments


Plumb Line

Why The Plumb Line?

A Teaching Ministry of Fellowship Bible Church of Greenville

Metaphors and word pictures are a powerful means whereby God has unveiled both His own Person and His plan for the world and the universe in His Holy Word. And one of the most common word pictures found in the Scriptures pertains to the construction industry – the building of a house. Jesus’ pithy saying in regard to the relative merits of building on the rock or on the sand is well know to all. And the Apostle Paul refers to himself as a ‘master craftsman’ who lays a solid foundation, upon which other ministers will build. But a metaphor is only as good as its familiarity to the reader, and many modern readers of the Bible know very little of the construction craft. Do we really understand what it means to say that Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone, when we don’t know what a cornerstone is or does? But even folks who don’t know the operational end of a hammer recognize that there is something wrong with that tower in Pisa, Italy – it isn’t standing up straight! It isn’t plumb. For as long as man has been building things – and that is as long as we have any history of man on earth – he has employed the same device for making sure his edifice is straight: the plumb line. The genius of this device lies in its simplicity, and it hasn’t changed in millennia: it is a tapered cylindrical weight tied to the end of a string. Long before Isaac Newton determined the mathematical equations of gravitational force, men understood that a weight suspended on a string would always point straight down. Masons and carpenters applied this knowledge to the construction industry, and used the plumb line to make sure their walls were vertical, straight up That last phrase is, significantly, the literal meaning of the Greek word orthos. Hence we go to an orthodontist to get fitted for braces, to straighten our teeth. And when we study Scripture and theology, we strive for orthodoxy – which etymologically means ‘the right opinion.’ We might say, ‘the straight stuff.’ Indeed, the words ‘true,’ ‘right,’ and ‘straight’ are all cognates in the Greek language, furnishing us with a visual image of true doctrine: the plumb line. And as with the literal use of a plumb line on the construction site, adjustments often have to be made to bring the foundation or wall into plumb; that is what we strive to do with the teaching at The

Plumb Line. More on that, Lord-willing, in our next installment.

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