Building a Church
1 Corinthians 3:10-17
Introduction: Be careful! How often do we say those words? Paul pretty much says that when he speaks of taking communion. He says to be careful to judge ourselves before we participate in the elements of the Lord’s Supper to make sure that we are not making light of the ordinance by improper actions or motives. To do so would be to eat and drink judgment upon ourselves so we should be careful that we are right with God beforehand.
Paul also specifically tells us that there is something that we should be careful about in our text this morning! He tells us to be careful how we build. His concern here is not that we might maim ourselves with a skill saw or some other tool, but that we might do injury to the building itself. The building that he is concerned about is the church. He is not talking about the physical structure where people meet. He is talking about God’s building that has been identified in verse 9 as the people that God is working with.
If you are going to have a home custom built for yourself, you would want to hire the right builder. You would want someone who does quality work and is dependable. Paul says that when building the church it is also very important to have the right kind of people on the job. In his address to the Corinthians he points out three different kinds of builders and what the results will be from their work.
1. A wise builder
a. Paul identifies himself that because of the grace of God he received the “certification” of being a wise master builder. He was used of God to lay the foundation to the Gentiles across the known world.
b. Paul was the guy who came in and laid the foundation.
c. He states that the foundation for the church is Jesus Christ and that it can be no other.
d. After laying the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ others would follow Paul and lead the ministries in a certain direction. He warns those that are doing so to be careful that the rest of the building is consistent with the foundation that has been set.
e. He wants those that follow in ministry to realize the importance of being a builder and the responsibility that goes with it.
f. Wise builders use the right materials.
a. Only the very best will do for this structure.
b. They are not easily obtained, it takes some digging
c. They are pricey
d. They will last
g. Wise builders realize that the building inspector is going to show up one day.
a. It says that the day will reveal just what kind of materials have been used.
b. They will be tested with fire and the wise builder knows what will withstand the test and uses only the materials that will.
c. “The Day” is the Judgment seat of Christ, when God evaluates all our actions and motives. With the fire of His eyes He will quickly and completely see whether what we have done for Him has been of any eternal value.
h. Wise builders realize that there will be a reward for doing good work
a. It will be very rewarding in that day if we have been wise builders.
b. We hear a lot about getting rewards in this life. Commercials tell us that we need to use our credit cards to earn rewards. Those kinds of rewards are very minimal and fleeting. The rewards that Paul is talking about are spoken of as being reserved for us in heaven never fading, perfect and pure.
i. Would you classify yourself as a wise builder? Some questions to ask ourselves.
a. Am I involved in ministry?
b. Why am I involved?
c. Am I giving it my all?
d. Would I change anything if I knew that the “inspector” was going to show up today?
2. A worldly builder
a. The second type of builder that is addressed is the worldly builder.
b. He is worldly because what he builds does not survive the testing by fire.
c. The quality of his work is sub standard.
d. Although he may have built some kind of structure, it was poorly constructed and the all seeing eye of the Lord will catch it instantly.
e. His materials were cheap and common. They were gathered quickly and easily.
f. What does he have to look forward to? While rewards await the wise builder for him to enjoy for eternity, the worldly builder arrives in heaven barely escaping the flames of hell. All that he spent his life accomplishing simply amounts to a pile of ashes. They will amount to ashes because they were not done for the right reason. A big building is even capable of being constructed, but unless it is built in concert with the foundation of Jesus Christ, it will amount to nothing in the end. He will arrive in heaven with the smell of smoke on him.
g. Questions to ask to identify the worldly builder
a. What does my serving of the Lord amount too?
b. Why am I serving the Lord?
c. Is Jesus Christ being magnified through my efforts or is it being done for less admirable reasons.
3. A wicked builder
a. This last builder is very different than the first two types.
b. He is not really a builder and he is not a believer.
c. His intent is to destroy the temple of God.
d. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 we are told that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Here it is talking about the church. Collectively we are the temple of God, His church. Paul gives a warning to those that would defile or destroy the church.
e. Those that afflict the church will be dealt with by God Himself because the temple of God is special. It has been purchased through the blood of Jesus and God will not allow those who would seek to destroy it to go unpunished.