Today I was doing my 1 & 2 Corinthians Journable that I received for Christmas. (If you don’t know what Journables are, check them out here!! ( http://www.graceandtruthbooks.com/category/the-journibles )
Right now I’m in chapter 3, and I got down to verses 11-13.
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, 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.”
We know from verse 11, and also from Ephesians 2:20 that Jesus Christ is our foundation and chief cornerstone. Each one of us is another stone in that building which is the church. But we can take this illustration a step farther. We have our own building, our spiritual bodies, which is to be the temple of God. (1 Corinthians 6:19) And we alone are in charge of building and strengthening our spiritual temples.
So number one, we must make sure that our foundation is sure. Our foundation is to be on Christ. Not man and his wisdom. Not what we think God would like. Not what we think is a good idea. Only what we see revealed as truth in God’s word. If our foundation is bad, then the whole building will be bad. The foundation is the most important part of anything, so we must be doubly sure that our foundation starts off right, and that it never cracks.
But a foundation alone will do nothing for us when trials and tribulations come, and the elements of Satan rain down on us. Without walls and a roof, we will find ourselves demolished by whatever comes our way. This building will also never have a completion date, until God calls us home. We need to keep building day by day. If we ever find ourselves saying “I’m strong enough”, or “I’ve learned enough about the Bible”, Satan has already given us faulty materials, and we put them right into our structure. Each day whatever we do, whatever we say, and however we act is another brick on our personal building. We have the choice as to what building materials we use. Are we using peace, joy, love, selflessness, and forgiveness? Or selfishness, envy, strife, anger, and cowardice? Just one faulty piece is enough to bring the entire structure down. Furthermore, our structure must be built with all of the same materials. We can’t have some silver and gold, and then a few pieces of wood or hay. The pieces that differ will surely be prime targets for Satan’s darts. A strong structure is built on truth, and truth alone. We should not have even one issue where we deviate from God’s will. Our walls must be firmly connected to the foundation.
Secondly, we must test our materials to make sure they are sound. An architect doesn’t just take whatever materials are available. He researches and tests what is available, to determine which ones are sound and built to last. So we cannot blindly take whatever is out there to build up our temple. Anger and spite may feel good for a moment, but down the road they will destroy relationships. Forgiveness and love will be durable throughout your life, and will be doubly rewarding. We must also be constantly testing the truth, and determining if it is from God or man. Our building is also to be a fortress. It is what is to be used against Satan and his forces. It is to be built with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shod with the preparation of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. As we grow, we are better able to learn where our defenses need more stability and fortification, and use that knowledge as we build.
But thanks be to God, that if we do use faulty materials at times in our temple, we can have those taken away through forgiveness, if we but ask. But we must make sure to replace it with stones better quality, lest the bad materials come back seven-fold, as we see can happen in the parable of the man with demons in Matthew 12:43-45
As I continued on in my Journable, verse 15 of 1 Corinthians 3 gave me a little bit of trouble.
“If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
All the commentaries I was reading interpreted this passage to mean those who preach or practice error, as long as their heart is right, will still be saved. I don’t see this as being harmonious with the rest of scripture, so I believe that Paul is going a different direction. I believe it conveys the idea of a man tried by the fire of God’s word, and being convinced by the light of all the errors his structure contains, will burn every single last piece of his structure down. Because he knows that with it being built of erroneous materials, he will not be able to enter the kingdom of God. So we must be willing to do the same if we are to inherit eternal life. Don’t be afraid to throw all that you know and are comfortable with in the fire. It’s worth it.
Another way to look at this verse is in light of 1 Peter 4:12-18
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgement to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now ‘If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.”
Sometimes trials are what bring us closer to God. Trials attempt to burn everything we have to the ground. Take Job for example. But though his temple was bombarded,when the smoke cleared, it was found holding fast. He was burned, but also saved, through fire. His faith passed through the refiners fire, and while he had some moments of doubt, it came out free of impurities.
We are never allowed to be apathetic or lazy about strengthening and building our structure. because as we see in 1 Corinthians 3:13 that:
“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.”
No one will want to be found with a faulty building, or an unfinished building in that day. We will all pass through a refiners fire, and some will withstand and be found true, while others will fall and be destroyed. Matthew also tells us that in his gospel.
Matthew 13:47-50 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
In Matthew 25, we have the Parable of the Talents. To paraphrase, there are the three servants who receive varying amounts of talents. Two servants go out and use the talents and receive even more than they had been given. The last servant decides to hide his talent. The master comes back and commands that the servants come to him and give him the rewards of their work. Then in verse 30:
“And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Thirdly, we must remember that we are also to be aware of our other builders who are on the same foundation.
“Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
We are not alone in this structure. We all have an influence, whether it’s good or bad. If we are a faulty stone in the building of God’s church, it causes the whole to be faulty. Disease spreads, and if we have the disease of sin, it will only spread to other stones. We need to be grounding ourselves with the other stones around us with the mortar of love and unity.
So as tomorrow starts a new year, let us all commit to being better builders, using better materials, and better supporters in this short life.