What Foundation are You Building On?

1 Corinthians 3:5-17

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 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. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 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. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

Vs 5-8:

The bickering and fighting among the Corinthians in the Paul/Apollos camps had become so bitter, they had lost their witness in the city.

Paul had played his part in serving God by planting the church in Corinth. Apollos had played his part as well by coming along after Paul left and teaching them how to go on in Christ. But they were both just servants, all they could do was fulfill their calling as ministers. It was up to God to bring about fruit in the lives of the people.

We cannot make people come to faith in Christ. We cannot make people grow in Christ. Only the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God can effect conversion and growth. Only God can bring forth fruit.

Really, our call is to serve, and let God bring forth the fruit. When we stand before Him, He will not ask how many people we saved nor how many we discipled. The only question we will have to answer will be, were we faithful? The results of our faithfulness are in God’s hands.

vs. 9

Again, Paul reminds the Corinthians that he and Apollos were not envious and fighting. They were fellow-workers, co-laborers in God’s field; by which Paul means, the Corinthian church.

Paul uses a remarkable phrase here: He says that he and Apollos were not just fellow-workers, they were God’s fellow-workers. The partnership was not just with each other; it was with God Himself.

But wait a minute: Isn’t the work of God done? Didn’t Jesus say, “It is finished”? Indeed, the work of PROVIDING salvation is finished. But the task of PROCLAIMING it is far from over.

It was this work that Paul was engaged in, along with Apollos and the other Apostles and Evangelists. But there is a wider application to this than just the Apostles: All Christians are God’s fellow workers. We labor alongside each other in the work of the kingdom of God and as we do, God Himself joins the work.

Cannot God do all the work Himself? He could – but He has chose not to. Instead, He has ordained to use us. The preaching of the gospel has not been committed to angels – though they could certainly do a better job. It has not even been given to just a select group of qualified men and women who have polished skills of oratory prowess or who have earned degrees from a seminary. Rather God has chosen the weak and foolish of the world to be the bearers of the message of eternal life!

I have often wondered why Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on a donkey. Why not a brilliant, fiery white stallion? Here’s why: the King of glory rode on a humble beast so that no one would be distracted by the vehicle that carried Him.

Even so, God delights today in using the humble and meek, the apparently disqualified by the world’s standards to be His witnesses, to carry Him to the world so that when people are won, the praise can only go to God.

Christ died – He rose – and He’s coming again; and in the in between time, you and I have the one message that makes the difference between eternal life and death, between hope and despair.

What an incredible honor this is – to be God’s fellow workers! Jesus says to us – “Come and work with Me. Lend me your hands and feet and mouth. I will use you, send you, speak through you!”

God works with us, and because God works with us, our success in doing His work is sure.

vs. 10-11

Paul often spoke of the church as the temple of God.

Ephesians 2:19-22 You are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined 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.

The only foundation the Church can rest on is Jesus Christ, for it came into being by Him and exists for Him.

Paul was the one who had laid that foundation in Corinth, but Paul gives a warning: He tells them to be careful how they built. In other words, the foundation was solid and secure, but Paul tells them to be careful what kind of a structure they erect on that foundation.

Picture a well built, solid, and mighty foundation, concrete pillars driven deep into the ground all connected by a reinforced concrete pad several feet thick, but then on top of this solid foundation is erected a cardboard hovel with a plastic tarp for a roof. The visible building does not fit the excellence of the unseen foundation.

That is what Paul is warning against here; he then goes on to tell us how we can build in a worthy way.

Vs. 12-15:

Granted, Paul is speaking primarily about the work of people in building the Church, but the principle applies to all of our lives because we ARE the Church. We have a choice in what we will use to build our lives: gold, silver, precious stones or wood, hay, straw.

Notice Paul says that one day what we have built with will be revealed. The Day he speaks of is the Day of Judgment. While the Christian has escaped the judgment of sin and condemnation, he/she will face a judgment of works and rewards. That is what Paul is speaking about here.

All our works will pass through the fires of judgment: some will last – gold, silver, precious stones. Others will burn up – wood, hay, straw.

What are these things? The things of God versus the things of this world

Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”

Over and over in Scripture, the Word of God is described as precious treasure – better than gold or silver or precious stones. Jesus said that heaven and earth would pass away, but that His word would last.

CONCLUSION

We are each building our lives and as we do, we are also building the Church, because we ARE the Church. We have a choice to make in what we will build our lives with: the wisdom of God as revealed in His word, or the faulty, fleeting, and futile wisdom of this world.

The foundation has been laid – And it is mighty! Each decision we make, no matter how small and seemingly inconsequential, is another act of construction in the building of our lives.

What foundation are you building on?

Jesus told the story about two men: One built his house on a rock and when the storms came, it stood the test because it had a firm foundation. Jesus said that rock was Him. The other guy built his house on the sand: beach front property, great view, party time! But then the storms came and the man lost everything!

Life may be fine for you now; this may be the summer time of you living in your beach front property. Trust me – the winter is coming! The storms are going to come, and if you are not on the rock of Christ, you will lose everything!

Build on the foundation of God’s Word…not on the foundation of this perishing world.

What Kind of Christian Are You?

1 Corinthians 3:1-4
1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,”
and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

INTRO

We expect babies to be immature, but it’s tragic when adults act like children. It’s cute when say a 1 year old tries to walk but continues falling down, eats baby food and spills it all over the place, drinks out of a bottle still….but really, it would be tragic if the same baby acted that way at 10 years old.

In this passage, Paul is addressing the immaturity of the Corinthian believers. The Corinthians had been believers for some time, but they were still acting as spiritual babies. Paul in essence is telling them, “It’s time to grow up!”

v. 1:

What does Paul mean by the word “carnal”? We know the natural man is not saved, but the spiritual man in Christ is! What about the carnal man? Is he saved? (carnal here meaning someone who’s accepted Christ, but still acts like the “natural man”…the unsaved sinner…one who embraces the things of the world).

Notice how Paul addresses the Corinthians, “Brethren”, “babes in Christ”. The carnal person is saved, but something is wrong in his/her walk. The problem is this: Though saved, he/she is not walking in the Spirit, they are walking in the flesh.

That is why Paul calls them “carnal.” “Carnal” means “of” or “dominated by the flesh.” He also calls them “babes in Christ.” They shouldn’t have been babes at this point.

Paul was their spiritual father, so to speak. He had planted the church there, had spent 18 months instructing them and nurturing them in the faith. They had had a great start and should have gone on to maturity, but they were still acting as infants act.

What were the Corinthian believers doing that made Paul realize they were so far off base? What marks of carnality and spiritual immaturity marked them as babes?

vs. 2-3a:

The first mark of spiritual immaturity is the believer’s diet. Think of a child: when they are a baby, they drink milk from a bottle; they are unable to digest solid food; but as they mature, they move to more mature food. This more mature food, like meat, takes a bit more work to digest, but it also provides more nutrition for growth. Children also go from being fed, to feeding themselves as they mature.

The problem in Corinth is that long after the time they should have gone on to solid food, they were still sucking on the milk bottle. But what does Paul mean when he speaks of milk and solid food?

The answer to that is found in Hebrews 5; in that passage, the writer is dealing with the same problem of spiritual immaturity

Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Then in the next two verses, the Hebrews writer goes on to explain what he means by milk as opposed to solid food.

Hebrews 6:1-2 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

So, in other words, spiritual milk is the very most basic things of the gospel; it’s a looking back to what Christ has already done, while solid food is more about what Christ is now doing, in and through us.

Another way to look at this is to say that milk is evangelism while solid food is edification. The baby wants to be entertained while the mature wants to be effective for the Lord.

So the first mark of their spiritual immaturity was their spiritual diet.

vs. 3b-4:

The second mark of their spiritual immaturity was their disunity. Part of the process of growing up is learning that life isn’t about always being entertained – it’s about being responsible.

The Corinthians Christians were broken and divided among themselves because of their allegiance to their favorite teachers. Like little children on the playground they were saying, “My dad’s better than your dad.” Of course, what they meant was their spiritual leaders – Paul, Apollos, Peter, and others. The real core of all this disharmony was that they were being selfish, and that is the biggest of all the marks of immaturity.

What’s amazing in all this is that, as we shall see, the church at Corinth was what you might call an extremely Charismatic church. They had all the gifts of the Spirit in operation: tongues, interpretation, knowledge, wisdom, healing, miracles, prophecy.

But Paul calls them carnal, immature. There are some who think that what it really means to be spiritual is to flow in the gifts of the Spirit. True spiritual maturity is not determined by the volume of worship or ministry in the gifts of the Spirit – it is determined by the amount of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.

The spiritually mature realize the gifts are given for building with; the immature think they are for playing with and boasting about – which is exactly what they were doing in Corinth.

An important truth is revealed in these things for us. That truth is this: Our relationship with God is revealed in our relationship with others. We cannot say we are spiritual, and then live in disharmony with others. The truly spiritual Christian is in committed fellowship with other believers.

Let me challenge you to answer a few questions.

What kind of Christian am I / are you? Spiritual? Enjoying the deep things of God, feasting on spiritual tri-tip, enjoying close fellowship with other members of the body of Christ, seeing the fruit of the Holy Spirit born in my life?

Or am I/you carnal? Wanting to be entertained, waiting for someone to feed me, unaware and disinterested in the deeper things of God, constantly finding fault with others and being critical of who they are and what they do?

If this challenge makes you uneasy and defensive, chances are, you are indeed carnal. You see, the spiritual person will hear this and because their heart is tender to God, will take it and ask the Holy Spirit to apply it to them.

But the carnal person will immediately react to it and grow defensive because they see it as an attack. So, if this challenge makes you uneasy and defensive, it would be best for you to spend some time thinking deeply on these things and ask God to turn the searchlight of the Holy Spirit on your heart.

If you aren’t doing these things, you may be thinking, “Christians can be pretty messed up. Wow! So what makes them better than me?” Nothing, they aren’t “better” than you or anyone else.

But they are different; different in the most important thing of all. They have been forgiven of their sins and have the promise of eternal life.

Salvation is not an issue of who’s been good and who’s been bad. It’s a question of who has received the gift of God’s grace.

Outline of End-time events

I. Events Before, During, and After the Seven-Year End-Time Period (this seven-year period is the 70th “seven” of Daniel, Daniel 9:27)

A. Events immediately before the seven year period

1. Church raptured (John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Revelation 3:10)

2. Restrainer removed (2 Thessalonians 2:7)

3. Judgment seat of Christ (in heaven, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10)

B. Events at the beginning of the seven-year period

1. Antichrist (the coming “ruler”) makes a covenant with Isreal (Daniel 9:26-27)

2. Two witnesses begin their ministry (Revelation 11:3) note: some bible scholars say the work of the two witnesses will be in the second half of the tribulation)

C. Events in the first half of the seven-year period

1. Antichrist arises to power over the Roman confederacy (Daniel 7:20; Daniel 7:24) note: some identify Antichrist’s initial rise to power with the first seal judgment (Revelation 6:1-2)

2. Israel living in peace in the land (Ezekiel 38:8)

3. Temple sacrifices instituted (Revelation 11:1-2)

4. World church dominates religion and the Antichrist (Revelation 17)

D. Events perhaps just before the middle of the seven year period

1. Gog and his allies invade Palestine from the north (Ezekiel 38:2; Ezekiel 38:5-6; Ezekiel 38:22)

2. Gog and his allies destroyed by God (Ezekiel 38:17-23)

E. Events at the middle of the seven year period

1. Satan cast down from heaven and energizes the Antichrist (Revelation 12:12-17)

2. Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel, causing her sacrifices to cease (Daniel 9:27)

3. The 10 kings under the Antichrist destroy the world church (Revelation 17:16-18)

4. The 144,000 Israelites saved and sealed (Revelation 7:1-8)

F. Events of the second half of the seven year period. These three and one half years are called “the Great Tribulation” (Revelation 7:14; cf. “great distress,” Matthew 24:21; “time of distress,” Daniel 12:1; and “a time of trouble for Jacob,” Jeremiah 30:7)

1. Rebellion (apostasy) against the truth in the professing church (Matthew 24:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3)

2. Antichrist becomes a world ruler (1st seal, Revelation 6:1-2) with support of the Western confederacy (Revelation 13:5; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 17:12-13)

3. Antichrist revealed as “the man of lawlessness,” “the lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9)

4. War, famine, and death (2nd, 3rd, and 4th seals, Revelation 6:3-8)

5. Converted multitudes from every nation martyred (5th seal, Revelation 6:9-11; Revelation 7:9-14; Matthew 24:9)

6. Natural disturbances and worldwide fear of divine wrath (6th seal, Revelation 6:12-17)

7. Antichrist’s image (an “abomination”) set up for worship (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 13:14-15)

8. The false prophet promotes the Antichrist, who is worshiped by nations and unbelieving Israel (Matthew 24:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:11; Revelation 13:4; Revelation 13:11-15)

9. Mark of the beast used to promote worship of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:16-18)

10. Two witnesses slain by the Antichrist (Revelation 11:7)

11. Two witnesses resurrected (Revelation 11:11-12)

12. Israel scattered because of the anger of Satan (Revelation 12:6, Revelation 12:13-17) and because of the “abomination” (Antichrist’s image) in the temple (Matthew 24:15-26)

13. Jerusalem overrun by Gentiles (Luke 21:24; Revelation 11:2)

14. Antichrist and false prophets deceive many people (Matthew 24:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11)

15. The gospel of the kingdom proclaimed (Matthew 24:14)

16. Israel persecuted by the Antichrist (Jeremiah 30:5-7; Daniel 12:1; Zechariah 13:8; Matthew 24:21-22)

17. Trumpet judgments (Revelation 8; Revelation 9) and bowl judgments (Revelation 16) poured out by God on Antichrist’s empire

18. Blasphemy increases as the judgments intensify (Revelation 16:8-11)

G. Events concluding the seven-year period

1. The king of the South (Egypt) and the king of the North fight against the Antichrist (Daniel 11:40)

2. Antichrist enters Palestine and defeats Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia (Daniel 11:40-43)

3. Armies from the East and the North move toward Palestine (Daniel 11:44; Revelation 16:12)

4. Jerusalem is ravaged (Zechariah 14:1-4)

5. Commercial Babylon is destroyed (Revelation 16:19; Revelation 18:1-3; Revelation 18:21-24)

6. Signs appear in the earth and sky (Isaiah 13:10; Joel 2:10; Joel 2:30-31; Joel 3:15; Matthew 24:29)

7. Christ returns with the armies of heaven (Matthew 24:27-31; Revelation 19:11-16)

8. Jews flee Jerusalem facilitated by topographical changes (Zechariah 14:5)

9. Armies unite at Armageddon against Christ and the armies of heaven (Joel 3:9-11; Revelation 16:16; Revelation 19:17-19)

10. Armies are destroyed by Christ (Revelation 19:19; Revelation 19:21)

11. The beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20)

H. Events Following the seven year period

1. Final regathering of Israel (Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 30:3; Ezekiel 36:24; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Amos 9:14-15; Micah 4:6-7; Matthew 24:31)

2. A remnant of Israelites turn to the Lord and are forgiven and cleansed (Hosea 14:1-5; Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:1)

3. National deliverance of Israel from the Antichrist (Daniel 12:1; Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:1; Romans 11:26-27)

4. Judgment of living Israel (Ezekiel 20:33-38; Matthew 25:1-30)

5. Judgment of living Gentiles (Matthew 25:31-46)

6. Satan cast into the abyss (Revelation 20:1-3)

7. Old Testament saints resurrected (Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:1-3)

8. Tribulation saints resurrected (Revelation 20:4-6)

9. Daniel 9:24 fulfilled

10. Marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9)

11. Christ begins His reign on earth (Psalm 72:8; Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 2:14-35; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:13-14; Zechariah 9:10; Revelation 20:4)