Saturday, June 2, 2018

180603 Working on a Building

1 Corinthians 3:10-13 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
Paul wrote this letter from Ephesus. His purpose was to pull the church in Corinth back to a solid basis of belief. At the beginning of chapter 3 he begins to lay out the very serious problems caused by party politics in the church. The reports that had come to him indicated that the church in Corinth was very immature. The church had become a hotbed of jealousy and strife. Apparently, some of the believers there had claimed that they were followers of Paul himself. Others were claiming to follow Apollos or Peter. Those who were particularly snobbish claimed to be followers of Christ himself. None of this had been intended by Paul when he started the church in Corinth. Let’s look at what he did intend.
Paul knew that he did not deserve the grace that God had poured out on him. We all need to recognize the fact that there is nothing we can do that makes us qualified to be children of God. Later in this letter (chapter 15) Paul describes himself as a person born at the wrong time. He views himself as unworthy to be called an apostle. Yet, that’s what he was! Whenever we think that somehow we have special talent or ability we need to remember the words of the apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am”. Anything that we have of spiritual value we have because of God’s grace not our goodness. Throughout his life…
Paul operated on the basis of grace. Let’s look at Romans 12:3-5. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
We need to be very careful not to assume that we deserve anything other than death and hell. We have all sinned and the wages of sin is death! No matter how you look at it that’s bad news! However, God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us — the ungodly. He did not die for good people he died for the ungodly. Do you know why that’s true? It’s simple. He died for the ungodly because that’s all there are, ever has been, or ever will be. No one is born godly! If we build our lives on the concept of human goodness we are deluded. John, the beloved apostle, would later write these words: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8). In the human realm we recognize that people who delude themselves — who tell themselves lies and believe the lies — are mentally not competent. The same is true spiritually. There are no good deeds we can do to overcome the evil of our past or our day-to-day spiritual activity. Last week, when Justin brought in the cross with all of the ordinary sins we commit on it I was impressed. We do daily, many times daily, sin. What do I mean by that? The Bible describes the works of the flesh, or human nature, are: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like this (Galatians 5:19-20).
We all live or die on the basis of God’s grace. Paul knew that and…
He recognized the necessity of a firm foundation. Let’s look at the words of Jesus found at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:24-27. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 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. 26 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. 27 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.”
Obedience to Christ must characterize our life. Jesus himself said that hearing his words is not enough. We must hear and obey. If we do this we are building our house on the rock.

Ruth Jones wrote a song about our need for a solid foundation. That song is titled “In Times Like These”, the first verse and refrain go like this:

In times like these you need a Savior, In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure, Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One, This Rock is Jesus, the only One;
Be very sure, be very sure, Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock
When she wrote this the “times” she spoke of was World War II.
We think that things are tough today as we look at the news coming out of the Middle East and around the world. During World War II dead and wounded combined equaled approximately 300 men a day. I am not trying to say that these losses today are not to be mourned — they are! We should live in a world where no young man or woman gives his or her life in defense of freedom. Every life is precious but only God is sacred. Every effort should be made to bring our military personnel home safely. But, the federal government is not a rock to build our life upon. We live in a time of great uneasiness. There is a desperate need for…
A foundation laid by God. Let’s look at Paul’s words to the church in Rome Romans 9:30-33. What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
All of the efforts made today to give stability to a life are futile. Nothing that humanity does is ever going to give stability. In fact, today we face the same problems that Paul did in his day. The world around us stumbles over Jesus. I never cease to be amazed at how Christianity is attacked. More and more, public figures feel free to make fun of Christianity. Even to the point of saying that a person who hears from God has a mental illness.
We desperately need people who build their lives on the rock of Christ to take public positions that strengthen the faith of others. God will lay a foundation in our life as we grow spiritually. Our entire life is erecting a building that the Holy Spirit lives in and reaches out through.
Some 700 years before the birth of Jesus Isaiah heard the words of the Lord that Paul quoted in the passage above. “I” — God himself said that he was laying a stone. God does not promise that he will recognize the stones we pick up. He lays the stone that counts and that stone is Jesus. And, God promises, whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.
Now, I’m not talking about something that happened 2000 years ago or 2700 years ago. I’m talking about what happens even today. The cornerstone is Jesus, the foundation is Jesus but more than that…
That foundation is Spirit-filled people. Let’s turn to Ephesians 2:19-20. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
We are members of the household of God. We are not strangers and aliens! We are citizens — fellow citizens with the saints — we are the temple for the Holy Spirit.
I have often made the statement that God’s sanctuary is in us individually. That concept has been pushed in recent years. The passage I have read to you does not say that we are individually temples. What this passage says is we are together the temple of God. We are individually parts of the temple. We are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household. The cornerstone of that temple is Jesus Christ and the foundation is the word of God. Here characterized as “the apostles and prophets”.
We are growing into a holy temple in the Lord and being built into a dwelling place for God. Not individually but corporately! The concept of individuals being the temple of God can lead a person to believe that they no longer need others. This passage does not say that we are individually temples of God. This passage, and many others teach us that as a group we are God’s temple.
When a physical building is erected code enforcement tells us that we must build it safely. It must have the strength to stand the test of time. Spiritually, the materials we use to build must be of the highest quality. In fact, we are told that…
The materials we use will be tested. Let’s look back at 1 Corinthians 3:12-13.  Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
The Bible tells us that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. The purpose of our appearance at the judgment seat is so that we can receive what is due us. Jesus told the parable of the king who went away trusting his resources into the hands of his servants. When he returned he rewarded each of them differently according to how they managed the resources he entrusted to them.
The work that we do in working on the building that is to house God Jesus identifies six different building materials. Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw identifies the materials we use. One thing we need to be very well aware of: the material is going go through the fire of judgment. The materials we use to build and the kingdom did not determine whether we get in or not.
The Bible tells us that if anyone’s work is burned up he will suffer loss. While the materials are burned up the worker will be saved.
There is a severe warning in this passage! It may well be that the material we use will be burned up and we will be saved arriving at the judgment seat smelling of smoke. Even worse, if anyone destroys God’s temple God will destroy him. Be very careful how you discuss churches. Never do anything that does not encourage and grow the church!
Don’t think that I’m saying that all churches are all right and should not be notified of any error they have in them. They should be notified when they are wrong. We are not the judge or jury. We simply need to do the very best that we can to allow the Holy Spirit to bind us to other believers as part of the temple of God. We must remember that…
The building erected is God’s temple. Let’s read on 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
The word “you” in this passage is plural. It is referring to the body of Christ not us as individuals. Local churches are never perfect. We should look at each local church as a flawed part of the perfect whole that is the church of Jesus Christ. Remember, we are not to judge others churches. We are to look carefully at our own part of the body and make every effort that it should be a good representative of Jesus Christ.
The world we live in is filled with division and hate. I wish I could say that it was not true in the church. However, the church is not exempt from attitudes that cause division. Jealousy and strife are designed by our Enemy to destroy the church of the living God. If you are watching the news you will soon see the divisions in the Southern Baptist Convention because the annual meeting of convention delegates will be in Dallas, Texas, June 12-13, 2018. Most of the meetings will be uplifting and inspiring. However, some of the reports will be negative. In the meantime, we need to focus on the Lordship of Jesus Christ! He is my Lord is he yours?
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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