Building on a firm foundation

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1 1 Corinthians 3:10-23 Building on a firm foundation 1. Building God s building- let us make sure of our foundation. a. Paul has laid the foundation of Jesus Christ b. God has made Christ as the one and only foundation (11) c. Each of you must be careful how you build (10) 2. Each persons work will be tested let us work wisely a. Some will build with gold, and others will build with straw (12) b. Each persons work will be exposed on the day of Christ c. If your work survives the fire, you will be rewarded (14-15) 3. We are God s building let us be holy for we are His temple. a. God s spirit lives in us (16) b. We are holy before God and we belong to him (17) c. Let us cling to the firm foundation of the gospel and not this world s wisdom.(18-23) 1. Building God s building- let s make sure of our foundation. a. Paul has laid the foundation of Jesus Christ How do you teach spiritual truths? How do you describe an eternal, invisible kingdom? How do you explain how it grows? Some concepts are hard to get across. Some even seen counter-intuitive: such as the first shall be last and the last shall be first or Blessed are the poor. Even in our readings from 1 st Corinthians, we have already seen that the message of the gospel comes across as complete foolishness to those who don t believe and it is this way so that no-on might come to know God through their own knowledge, wisdom or human reasoning. All of us can know God only through taking a leap of faith and choosing to believe what can seem at times quite foolish. Because people often find it hard to grasp spiritual truths, Paul employs, as did Jesus, examples from everyday life that people will understand. In vss.1-9, we find that God s kingdom people is described as God s field and the gospel is described as the seed. The apostles were those who planted and watered the seed, but it was God who gave the growth. Now in verse 10 we read But you are God s field. You are also God s building. Changing from the well-understood planting metaphor to the building metaphor, Paul highlights new aspects of the task of building God s kingdom, a task that we all participate in, apostles and disciples.

2 As Paul the apostle was the one who planted the seed of the gospel in the Corinthian soil for someone else to water (Apollos), Paul now is the master builder who has laid the foundation of Christ for someone else to build on. In our DIY society and with fascination for shows such as The Block or Better Homes and Gardens maybe this metaphor is a good one for us to use today. b. God has made Christ as the one and only foundation (11) Paul is the master builder who has laid the foundation for God s kingdom building. What is the foundation of God s kingdom? It is Christ. God s whole plan of salvation for mankind is based on Christ. Without Christ, we are estranged from God with no way to be reconciled with him. Without Christ we are lost with no way home. Without Christ there is no king and no kingdom. Many people live their lives without making Christ their foundation. We might live a nice life and even find happiness in the things of this world, and we might even be oblivious to what we are missing, but without Christ, we are told in the scriptures, we have no hope of eternity and no sense of the true, God given purpose of this life. Can there be any other foundation for our lives or for God s kingdom? Many people will build on other foundations, but Jesus tells us that building your life on anything but his teachings is like building on the sand. He said in the Sermon on the Mount: So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25 The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, and the wind blew hard against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. 26 But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain poured down, the rivers flooded over, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was! Matthew 7:24-27 There are other foundations and people build on them all the time, but they will not stand firm when the trials of life come. The only true foundation on which we should build our lives is Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is the only foundation that God has made for his kingdom to be built on. c. Each of you must be careful how you build (10) Paul tells us in verse 10 that he has already done the work of an expert builder and laid the foundation that is Christ. Now he calls us, and his Corinthian readers, to continue the building and to build it wisely and carefully. What building is he talking about? He tells us back in verse 9 that we are God s building; the building for which Paul laid the foundation which is Christ. As we seek to build the building which we could describe as God s kingdom, or even God s people, we too need to be careful. Overall, we need to make sure that we are building on the firm foundation that is Jesus Christ, and not on any other foundation. People have tried to build God s kingdom on other foundations such as good works, good liturgy, and good living, but none are the firm foundation that is needed to survive the trials and difficulties of

3 life. Christ is the only worthy foundation that will endure for eternity and survive the days ahead. 2. Each persons work will be tested let us work wisely a. Some will build with gold, and others will build with straw (12) People build with all kinds of materials and techniques. It s a bit that way too with how we build up God s people. I knew a pastor in Chile who tried to build God s church with bribery. He offered a small nearby school significant funding if the teachers could manage to get a minimum number of families from the school to come to his church. Furthermore, each new family to come would receive a gift pack of clothing. What was he building with? Was it gold or stone that will last? Or was he just building with straw that would be blown away with the slightest wind. There are others who promise a cheap gospel of prosperity for all who come to them, but they are just building with grass and the message only lasts as long as the money. Even simple challenges will prove will prove to be too much for such materials. b. Each person s work will be exposed on the day of Christ If our work will not even survive the daily trials of life they will have no hope of surviving the day of Christ. Jesus warns us that a day is coming when he will return and everyone s heart and work will be exposed. Just as the NAB threatens to expose dodgy and delaying tradie s through its advertising campaign on the Block with dob-in a delayer, so too will everyone s work be exposed. It sounds pretty serious, what Paul is saying here. The problem was that meddling in the church at Corinth were others who pretended to be apostles, who spoke ill of Paul and Apollos, and who led people astray with false teachings and false promises. They built their building for God on inferior materials and lies. The house made of straw will come tumbling down and their dodgy workmanship will be exposed for all to see on the day of Christ, when he returns. c. If your work survives the fire, you will be rewarded (14-15) How will it be for you on that day? If God asks well, what have you done to build up my kingdom? will you have anything to show him? Have you added anything to his building, the temple, which is the church? We are told that any work not built on the foundation of Christ, or not built with the precious materials of the gospel, will not last. They will burn up in the fires of testing. Paul, speaking to the Corinthian believers says in vs 15: But if your work is burnt up, then you will lose it; but you yourself will be saved, as if you had escaped through the fire. You yourself will be saved. Your place in God s kingdom is not based on your works but on your faith in Christ, but your labours in building will have resulted in nothing permanent.

4 But if you have built wisely and well on the foundation of Christ, God will grant you his reward. Furthermore, you will bring with you into God s eternal kingdom all whom you have rescued from this world and that in itself will be a great reward. We will be tested on what we have built, so let us work wisely and not lazily. 3. We are God s building let be holy for we are his temple. a. God s spirit lives in us (16) I ve been watching The Block a bit lately with the boys and there are some similarities in it with what we have been seeing. Certainly a good foundation is essential as everything takes its lines from it and rests upon it. People won t get away with shortcuts. Beware, they will find you out and you will be exposed horribly on national TV. Good workmanship on The Block results in rewards, as does good workmanship on God s house. Finally though, in The Block, you live where you build. Even as we build this building for God, which is his people, his kingdom, his church, we too are part of it. We are not disinterested tradies that come and go. We are stakeholders. We are building, in a sense, our eternal home, and God isn t just an auctioneer or real estate agent; He also lives there. This building we are building has a holy destination because it is the dwelling place of God s Holy Spirit. b. We are holy before God and we belong to him (17) It houses God s Holy Spirit and indeed it is holy because, we, who make up God s building, or temple, are also holy. He has made us holy. We aren t building a barn, or even a bathroom. We are building God s holy temple so all the more reason to build wisely. We live each day already in God s presence and in his holy church, so all the more reason to be careful also about how we live, not as ungodly, but as God s Holy People. We have a holy calling, and we have been washed and made holy through Christ to whom we belong. As we live holy lives, pleasing to him, let us not live just as lazy guests in God s house, but let us serve him as builders, adding each day to his house, building well upon the firm foundation of Christ. c. Let us cling to the firm foundation of the gospel and not this world s wisdom.(18-23) Finally, let us not fool ourselves about all this but be frank. Christ might seem like foolishness to the world, but not to us. To the world our labours might seem like foolishness, just like Noah s friends regarded him as foolish, but like Noah we build something that will last. We share with God in the task of building his kingdom so let us get on with it. We can t make it grow, only He can, but He uses us just the same, building on the foundation of Christ, laid by the apostles. For this reason we have nothing to boast

5 about as it is He who brings the growth, but even so, He will reward those who have built well. The contestants in The Block get told each week what they are going to build but even so, they are given a lot of freedom and say about how they will build. The Lord has decided in our cases very often, the big questions of what we will build, yet He leaves us so many choices regarding materials, styling and colours, that we have a multitude of choices before us each day about how we will contribute to building God s kingdom. What part of God s building will you start on today? How will you make sure that it lasts? Indeed, are you building God s kingdom, that will last, or are you simply building a little something for yourself?

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