I Corinthians 3:9-11
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
I am intrigued by what Saint Paul wrote in I Corinthians 3:9 through 11:
For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Paul worked in Corinth for 18 months (see Acts 18:1-11). Apollos, a Jewish believer (see Acts 18:24), came to Corinth after Paul had left, and “…he greatly helped those who had believed through grace….” (Acts 18:27). Paul calls Apollos and himself, “…fellow workers…” in verse 9. The problem that the apostle was addressing was that immature Corinthian believers were dividing themselves into cliques described in verses 3 and 4 (Good News Bible):
When there is jealousy among you and you quarrel with one another, doesn't this prove that you belong to this world, living by its standards? When one of you says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos” — aren't you acting like worldly people?
So Paul uses two metaphors to correct such unchristian thinking:
- Agriculture in verses 6 through 8 (summarized in verses 6 and 9 ) – “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase….you are God’s field….”
- Building a structure, verses 9 through 11 – our featured Scripture (summarized in verse 9) – “…you are God’s building.”
The focus of this Gem is “…you are God’s building…”!
- In verse 10 Paul says, “…as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation….” And in the next verse he identifies that foundation: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” All of our Christian life is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ!
- Our job (with His guidance and power) is to build on that foundation!
The next four verses, 12 through 15 of chapter 3, give a fuller picture of the building process:
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, sil- ver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
We can chose what materials to use in the structure we are building on this foundation!
- Building with gold, silver, and precious stones is what is done for the glory of God! It is when we say to the Lord with conviction, whatever we are facing in thought, word, or deed, “…not my will, but Yours, be done…” (Luke 22:42), and then we follow what we know to be His leading, His will!
- Building with wood, hay and straw is the opposite! It is living for self, our own will and way. It is in effect, saying, “Not Your will, but mine be done!”
Whatever we choose as building material, it “…will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.” What fire, what kind of fire, is referred to here? It is the fire of Jesus evaluating the lives of Christians at what is referred to as the Bema Seat Judgment! It is not the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11 through 15. At the Bema Seat judgment all those being judged will enter heaven! (See verses 14 and 15 above).
But what kind of fire is it? In Revelation 1:12 through 16, the Apostle John, exiled to the island of Patmos, experienced a vision of the glorified Christ! In verse 14, he describes two details of how Jesus appeared to him: “His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire.” When the Lord reviews our Christian lives, all He has to do is gaze upon our works! Those eyes like a flame of fire will reveal the strength and durability of gold, silver, and precious stones; or will reduce to ashes the selfish works of wood, hay and straw!
We still haven’t covered what is implied by this Gem’s title, Build To The Very Edge!
- How large, how expansive, how big and strong and stable is the foundation of Jesus Christ?
✞ A Bible study I taught one time met in the basement family room of a friend’s home. The room was large enough to accommodate the dozen or so regular atten- ders. On the floor was a comfortable nine by twelve rug. I used that rug as an illustration of Build To The Very Edge! ✞ “If this rug represents the foundation of Jesus Christ,” I said, “what kind of structure could it support? How big, how heavy, how substantial?” “You could build anything!” someone said. “Could you use gold, silver, and diamonds? They are very heavy for their volume, you know,” I re- minded them. They were in agreement, “Of course you could!” “If you built a huge castle, a cathedral, a sky scraper, would the foundation hold it,” I asked? “Yes!” was the answer. “Could you build right to the very edge of the foundation,” I asked them, “and would it hold?” Again, several answered, “Yes!” ✞ “Why, then,” I posed, “do so many build with wood, hay, and straw? And then when they finish with construction, all they have is a ten-by-ten tumble- down hut in the middle of this vast and strong foundation? And what will happen to that hut, that life invest- ed for self?” They knew the answer, “It will be burned up!”
- With your life build the biggest structure you can!
…the Foundation will hold!
Build with materials that will last forever!
…the Foundation will hold!
Build to the very edge!
…the Foundation will hold!
Build for the glory of God!