In our lesson last week, we took at the true wisdom of the Lord in the power of the cross and how the message (the gospel) of the cross is foolish to those who don’t believe.  However, to those who are of genuine faith, the gospel is everything.  In our lesson this week, we are going to be taking another look at the foundation of our faith, while also taking another look at the confrontation with faith and worldly wisdom.  This week’s lesson is being taught from 1 Corinthians 3:10-23.

Foundation of Our Faith

You may recall in last week’s lesson – True Wisdom – I spoke about the cross being the beginning of our faith.  Had Jesus not been hung on the cross, there would be no propitiation for our sins.  So we who are genuine in our faith would be lost in sin without Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Adding on the foundation

Our lesson opens with Paul stating, “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” (v.10).  The foundation that Paul is speaking of here is his preaching of the gospel of Christ (v.11).  As we saw in our lesson last week, Paul spoke about being sent to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 1:17).  Over the course of his ministry, Paul preached Christ being the divine one who came to our world in the flesh, died for us, rose from the grave, and will one day come again to receive us unto Himself.

On this foundation of Christ, others, like you and I, build on it when we minister the gospel.  However, let us pay close attention to what Paul warns here in that he warns we should take heed (consideration) to how we build on that foundation.  We should take very great care when it comes to ministering the gospel.  What you say and the actions that you take as a follower of Christ will always speak to the gospel.  All genuine believers are stewards of the Lord and, therefore, we set examples of His gospel.

Foundations, over time, can shift and even crack.  The foundation of Christ, however, is immovable and cannot be broken – nobody can make changes to it.  That said, anybody can build a house on top of that foundation.  Paul points out that some may build with gold and others with silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw.  

The hope is that whatever is added on top of the foundation of Christ is as good as the foundation.  Again, the foundation of Christ is not going anywhere.  However, the structures that are added on top of the foundation are going to be tested time and time again.  Now, structures that are built with the material of the gospel are going to withstand the test of time because they are of the same material as the foundation, right?  However, any material that is not of the gospel will not stand the test of time.

The work is tested

So, the question that I would ask you is this:  are you adding on to the foundation of Christ with the gospel?  Paul tells us that each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare one’s work (v.13).  Now, the Day that Paul is speaking of is the day of the revelation of Jesus Chris.  At that day, Paul states that the work we do will be revealed and tested by fire to see what sort of work it is – good or bad.

Peter spoke on this same thought in his first letter.  Peter wrote, “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,  whom having not seen you love” (1 Pet. 1:7-8).  We know that our building on top of the foundation of Christ is good work, when it is found to praise, honor, and glorify the Lord.  Any work that does not speak to doing any of these things will be found to be poor and not good work.

Paul writes to us that if anyone’s work is not burned in the fire, they will receive a reward (v.14).  As Paul once encouraged, we ought to run the race of faith in a manner in which we will receive a reward for the way that we ran our race (1 Cor. 9:24).  So, in other words, when you are adding on to the foundation of Christ, build in a way so that your works are not consumed.

On the other hand, the works of some will be consumed by the fire – their work was not good (v.15).  Now, something I do want to point out to you here is that Paul is speaking specifically about the work of one who believes.  Paul states, “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”  This is a statement Paul makes about one who believes and not one who is a sinner – convicted sinners won’t be saved.

So, what exactly is the loss that this believer will suffer?  Well, one thing that is clearly not lost is their salvation – our salvation is sealed and cannot be lost.  Paul, again, plainly states that they will be saved.  However, what this one loses is the reward that the good builder receives.  We should certainly add on to the foundation of Christ in a manner to where we receive the reward, right?  Most definitely.

Temples of God

So, Paul then asks a question that ties all of this up for us.  Paul asks, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you” (v.16)?  We are temples that have been built on the foundation of Christ.  As genuine believers, we should be building up and adding on more temples to the foundation of Christ.  Again, the temples that we are building should be built with the material of the gospel.

Now, there are some who work on top of the foundation of Christ in a manner to where they seek to destroy.  Paul says, “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him.  For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (v.17).  Paul was speaking to those who would be false teachers to which there were many in his day.  

Where there are believers whose work will be consumed in the fire, we have to understand that they are not like false teachers.  False teachers work maliciously to tear down and because they work in this manner, the Lord will destroy them.  What is the false teacher working to tear down?  They are working to tear down the temples of God.  We are those temples that the Holy Spirit now resides in, just as the Lord resided in the temple in Jerusalem.

You are Christ’s

Paul concludes our lesson by focusing on the subject of wisdom once again.  We focused on wisdom in our lesson last week, and even in scripture today, Paul referred to himself as a “wise master builder”.  Like Paul, any order for us to add on to the foundation of Christ, we have to be wise master builders.  When you as a temple were built up and added to the foundation of Christ, it took a wise master builder to build you up.

Again, in order for us to build a temple of God, we have to build with the gospel of God – this means that we have to build with the wisdom of God.  So, Paul states, “let no one deceive himself.  If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (vss.18-19).

The wisdom of the world saves nobody nor can it build a temple of God.  The Holy Spirit which dwells in the hearts (the temple) of all genuine believers will not dwell in the hearts of those who are given to worldly wisdom.  Paul tells us that the Lord knows the hearts of the wise, that is according to worldly wisdom, and that those hearts are “futile” – useless (v.20).

In other words, the Holy Spirit cannot use a heart that is given to the world, so therefore, it won’t dwell in that “temple”.  The heart that the Holy Spirit dwells in has been given to God and belongs to the Lord.  Those whose temple is filled with the Holy Spirit, Paul says, “all things are yours” (v.21).

The old temple in Jerusalem was filled with all kinds of treasure in the day of Solomon.  The riches that are stored in the temples that are built on the foundation of Christ are also stored with riches.  These riches, I want you to understand, are not riches that are of the world.  No, the riches in you are riches from the Lord.  “You are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s,” is how Paul concludes our lesson for this week (v.23).

These are words that should stay in the hearts of all of us who genuinely believe in the Lord.  So, let us stand by the wisdom of God.  Let us also build on the foundation of Christ with the wisdom of God (the gospel) as well. 


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