(A Series on I Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 5/3/98 a.m. I Corinthians 3:16-23
PROPOSITION: Every believer and every church is God’s temple and is sacred by His Spirit, reserved for the teachable, and is fully satisfied in the riches of God’s inheritance.
- HOW many of you here this morning believe in the One true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
- HOW many of you believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God?
- HOW many of you believe that Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead to cleanse you of your sins and fill you with His righteousness?
- HOW many of you have put your trust in Jesus’ work of salvation on the cross?
- THAT is what the Bible calls being saved....saved from sin and the wrath of God....saved to be part of God’s eternal family.
- WHY did God save you?
* Because God loves you (John 3:16), Jesus came to die on the cross to buy you back from slavery to sin and death.
* And he also saved you so that your life could be a testimony to the praise of His glorious grace.
- SO, you are not saved by God’s grace, and then just left out there to do your own thing.
- THE quality of your spiritual life is of utmost importance to God....AND he quality of the life of a fellowship like Westgate Chapel.
- THIS is why Paul writes, in I Corinthians 6:19-20,
“You are not your own; (20) you were bought at a price.”
- THE believers in Corinth had forgotten the pit from which they had been saved...and that God’s purpose in them was that He be glorified in their lives...both individually and corporately.
- AND in I Corinthians 3:16-23 Paul has to remind the believers in Corinth that they were not their own.
- IT mattered to God how they lived.
- BECAUSE they are His temple.
ii. god’s temple: sacred by his spirit
- SO, Paul writes to them in I Corinthians 3:16,
“Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?”
- THIS phrase, “Don’t you know...” is used by Paul in several places in his epistles, each time to emphasize an important truth.
- HE believes this truth should be self-evident to them by now.
- THE believers in Corinth seem reluctant to deal with the critical ramifications of being the temple of God....so he uses strong language.
- THE “you” is individual and corporate.....YOU are God’s temple and WE are God’s temple. You can’t separate the two dimensions of this truth.
- THE temple of God is three things,
1. The residence of God....He does not live in buildings made with hands, but in the lives of His people.
2. The manifestation of God....to reveal His nature and His glory to the world.
3 Our meeting place with God....where we commune with Him.
- IN Scripture, God’s temple is always material....not some ethereal notion.
* In other words it is a literal, physical, visible thing...your physical body and this physical community of believers seen and known as Westgate Chapel, or Aurora Nazarene.
* In the Gospels Jesus called His literal, physical, visible body a temple (John 2:21).
* Throughout the epistles the apostles call our physical bodies and the collective body of believers the temple of God.
- AND since the Spirit of God lives in us....we are therefore holy AND called to live out holy lives.
- BUT the believers in Corinth were living like the world....they were mixing the holy and the profane in two significant ways (frequently mentioned by Paul in the first three chapters),
* They were in awe of and were worshipping the wisdom (ways) of the world.
* Their partisan and argumentative spirit was causing division and damage amongst them.
- WE find out later in the epistle that they were also careless in matters of sexual conduct, pride, partiality to the rich, and worship services full of confusion.
- So Paul says to them in verse 17,
“If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” (I Corinthians 3:17)
- THE word “destroy” literally means to mar or injure....and it relates to injuring, marring the purposes of God for His temple.
- WHAT are the purposes of God for His temple?
1. The residence of God.
2. The manifestation of God.
3 Our meeting place with God.
- SO Paul’s words are sharp and filled with urgency.
- IF you mar the purposes of God’s temple in your body, or in the church body, God will destroy you....if not in making your life miserable now, then possibly for eternity.
- CAN you think of a more serious verse in the Bible?
- THE message here is that God has invested His Son to purchase for Himself a bride that is radiant and without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish.....His sacred temple.
- HE may seem slow to act, but He will move to protect His sacred temple.
iii. god’s temple: reserved for the teachable
- IN addition to marring, or injuring the temple of God by ungodliness, another problem in Corinth was that they were being swayed by the wisdom, the ways of the world.
- THEY were acting like they knew it all.
- HAVE you ever been around someone who knows all the answers? They answer, “I know that!” before you can finish your sentences.
- THE problem in Corinth was that you couldn’t teach them anything. They were wise in their own eyes....legends in their own minds.
- HERE is the principle that we will find in the next few verses in I Corinthians 3....God’s temple is reserved for the teachable.
- IN verse 18, Paul writes to them,
“Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise. (19) For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’; (20) and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’ (21) So then, no more boasting about men!” (I Corinthians 3:18-21a)
- PAUL talks about two things in these verses that are the antithesis of the temple of God,
* The standards of this age (verse 18).
* The wisdom of this world (verse 19).
- THE Greek word used for “world” in verse 19 is kosmos, which means the objective world as it appears to us.
- WHAT is the wisdom of this world, the standards of this age, as they appear to us on a variety of subjects?
- ON THE SUBJECT OF SELF?
* The world says,
• Save yourself, take care of yourself, help yourself, pamper yourself, promote yourself.
• You have the brains to figure out your future and solve your problems.
* God says,
• Deny yourself, lay down your life, give yourself away.
• My thoughts and ways are higher than yours, you had better seek Me to find out what to do.
- ON THE SUBJECT OF MONEY?
* The world says,
• Make it your #1 priority.
• Hold onto it tightly.
• Use it as power.
• Buy stuff with it....even when you don’t have the money.
• Your future security depends on having more of it.
* God says,
• You can’t serve two masters....God and money.
• Honor the God your Provider with your tithe and any giving opportunity He presents to you.
• Use the blessings of the Lord materially to advance His kingdom purposes.
- THE wisdom of the world looks good on the surface, but it is deceptive and ultimately destructive....on any subject you can think of.
* Child raising.
- THE wisdom of the world leads to hopelessness and despair. It is a dead end.
- VERSE 19 says that God will trap the wise of this world in their craftiness.
- VERSE 20 says that the wisdom of the world is futile.
- THE solution for God’s people?
- BE teachable! Don’t be a know-it-all. Shake off the foolishness of this world. Reject the ways of the world.
- PAUL says be willing to become a “fool.” (verse 18) In other words, be teachable so that you can receive the wisdom of God.
- THE temple of God is reserved for the teachable.
- AND in the application of this principle to the specific situation in Corinth, Paul says in verse 21a,
“So then, no more boasting about men.”
- BECAUSE man’s wisdom, accomplishments, are nothing in the presence of God.
- BOASTING is the opposite of being teachable.
iv. god’s temple: full of his riches
- PAUL closes this chapter with a wonderful insight on the blessings of being the temple of God .
- LOOK at verse 21b,
“All things are yours, (22) whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future-- all are yours, (23) and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” (I Corinthians 3:21b-23)
- LISTEN carefully now.
- IF believers fill up their time and spend their energy tearing down the temple of God, emulating the wisdom and ways of the world....they will miss the most wonderful promise and inheritance.
“All things are yours.....” (21b)
- WHAT are you fighting your brother or sister over...all things are yours in Christ.
- WHAT are you running after the world for....all things are yours in Christ.
1. Paul and Apollos and Cephas are yours.
• God has given ALL of the ministry giftings that you need to build you up in your most holy faith.
• There is no need to fight over this teaching or that, this prophecy or that, this ministry or that, this doctrine or that, this church or that.
• They are ALL yours....given in the mercy of God to reach all kinds of needs in the church.
2. The world is yours.
• Mount Rainier, the Cascade range, rhodedenruns, daisies, corn in the summer, snow in the winter....are all yours.
• Beef and milk and chocolate....are all yours.
• Fresh air, and evergreen trees, and golf courses....are all yours.
• You may not own much or any of the above....but God has given them to you to be a blessing.
3. Life is yours.
• Not only do breath, health, strength, and laughter all come from Him.
• But peace like the world doesn’t have.
• Hope now and for all eternity.
• Jesus calls it the abundant life....all yours.
4. Death is yours.
• For the unbeliever, the very thought of death fills them with terror.
• But in His death on the cross Jesus took back the keys of death and hell from Satan.
• The sting has been taken out of death.
• The grave holds no terror for the believer.
• To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord....where we will await the resurrection of our mortal bodies, mortality swallowed up in immortality.
• Paul says that for the believer, to die is actually gain (Philippians 1:21).
• So death is yours.
5. The present and the future is yours.
• Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
• He knew you before you were conceived and will present you faultless in the presence of His Father.
• The present and the future is yours.
6. You are of Christ.
• Your life is hid in Christ Jesus.
• You are a joint heir with Christ of all that He has.
7. Christ is of God.
- SO it all goes back to God and belongs to God.
- AND he has written you right into the middle of His plan through Christ.
- GOD’S temple.....which you are....is FULL of the riches of God in Christ Jesus.
- THAT brings us full circle to where we began this message.
- YOU are not your own, you are bought with a price.
- YOU are God’s temple.
1. His temple is His sacred possession....so be careful with your temple and this temple.
2. His temple is reserved for the teachable....so seek Him, submit your life to His Word, and don’t be enamored with the wisdom of the world.
3. His temple is full of riches in Christ Jesus....so be glad in Him this morning and be thankful.
- ARE you His temple this morning through faith in Jesus Christ?
- IF you are not His temple, do you feel like you are on the outside of something eternally important?
- YOU don’t have to be.
- YOU can come into His family this morning.
- YOU can become the temple of God right now.
- HE does not live in building made with hands.
- HE looks for the those who are humble, contrite, and who tremble at His Word....and those are the ones He makes His holy temple.
- HOW about you?