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836 1 Cor.3.10-17 Building on the Cross

1 Corinthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God Will Judge His Workers

Date: 23-06-19 836 Echuca
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- This is a very funny clip, but it shows that rock is as solid as it comes
- There was no arguing with the lighthouse since it was founded on rock
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- In the challenge toward the end of the sermon on the mount, Jesus compares the wise man & the foolish man by what ground he chooses in which to lay his foundation – the foundation, you could say, of life’s decisions
- The 2 foundations are rock & sand
—24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
Matthew 7:24–27 NASB95
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
- In Jesus’ illustration, the house that is built on the rock is the life built upon the words of Jesus
- It is the person who hears what Jesus says, takes it to heart & then acts upon His words
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- Prior to this warning, Jesus had just spoken about the bearing of good & bad fruit & this point is linked to building on the words of Jesus
- Everyone who builds on the words of Jesus, will become a good tree that bears good fruit
- However, if the person does not base their lives on the words of Jesus, then they will correspondingly become a bad tree that is stunted & bears bad fruit
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- This passage from has a similar warning in it
- Each person has a ministry from God – we serve the Lord as His servants, His workers – every Christian has a task
- The world out there is telling us how we should live our lives
- In fact, the world wants nothing to do with God & it wants us to have nothing to do with God because it doesn’t want any challenges to the contrary
- The world is theophobic & christophobic – they are terrified of having to confront the truth
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- But in their threats & in their opinions, Christians can be challenged to depart from their beliefs in the truth
- They can be coerced & sucked in to the vortex of godless opinions flaunted as wisdom & knowledge
- The majority of Evolutionists like to pour scorn on anyone who upholds creation & a Creator
- They like to belittle believers & make them feel inferior & they congratulate themselves that they have a superior wisdom to anyone else
- Yet, the veracity of : stands solid
—21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
Romans 1:21–22 NASB95
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
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- The warning in has to do with what the wisdom of this age does to the church - & what it has done to the church in Corinth is not good
- Instead of being a loving church where each member has loving concern & humility toward each other, they have become bitter rivals & are, virtually, tearing each other apart
- A spirit of one-up-man-ship pervades the church – it is a brag fest over which leaders/preachers/teachers they think are the best
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- In this passage, today, the apostle tackles this issue by likening the church to a building – you should have in your mind the temple building
- The church has been referred to, metaphorically, as the “temple” of God
- In the building of God’s “temple”, His churchhow is it to be built & what do you build it with?
- We look at the 3 areas that Paul raises:- The Foundation, The Materials & The Workmen

1. The Foundation: Jesus Christ

—10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:10–11 NASB95
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
- Having worked as a building inspector & a builder, I know the value of having a good foundation
- One thing we all can agree on is this – the foundation supports the structure, the structure does not support the foundation
- The foundation’s significance is that it supports the structure
- If the foundation is bad, it does not matter what the structure is like, it will all be ruined
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- You see on those TV shows where they are building homes & renovating them - “Renovation Rescue” & some of the jobs they do are exceptionally good
- But it is all a waste of time if the foundation collapses
- I recall being in the area of Palm Beach on the Gold Coast with a health inspector & he wanted me to see, first hand, houses that had collapsed
- Swordfish Court was famous because when the estate was created, the developer, instead of taking away the trees the bulldozers barrelled over to create the house blocks. To save money, they just buried them under tons of sand
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- It was only after 30 yrs, everyone, to their amazement & grief, discovered their homes breaking up & falling into cavities that were underground – all those trees that had been buried had rotted away after 20-30 yrs
- The foundations were floored & hence, a number of beautiful homes were condemned
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Q. What is the apostle alluding to in regard to laying a foundation that is Jesus Christ?
- He’s speaking about the importance of the cross & resurrection
- This is the sure foundation for every aspect of the Christian
- Yet the world, through it’s wisdom, viewed the cross as foolishness
- God used the foolishness of the preaching about the cross to draw a distinction between His ways & thoughts & world’s ways & thoughts
- If a person wants a relationship with God, they MUST come via the folly of the cross
- In the cross, God is found
- He raised Jesus from the dead to confirm this truth
- This is why Jesus Christ is the only foundation good enough to bring you to God – it is God’s ordained way
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- The question is whether you can have any other foundation, other than the one God has laid through Jesus? The answer is you cannot
- The foundation is not the church; it is not a denomination; it is not even, what some call the “mother church” - the catholic church
- There is no other way to God, than through Jesus Christ
- It is this foundation, that the apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists are to be building on – Christ & Him crucified; Christ alone!
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Q. The next question, however, is what will they be building with & what message is in this here, for us?

2. The Materials: Combustible or Non-combustible?

—12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
1 Corinthians 3:12–13 NASB95
12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
- Anyone familiar with metals will know that certain metals are not compatible with one another
- For example, you would not place lead flashing on a tin roof
- Now I’m going back a few years to help illustrate this
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- Lead is a material that is a more noble than tin or zinc
- Putting dissimilar metals together actually creates a reaction & the more noble metal wins out & the lesser metal loses
- The lesser metal will start to corrode away
- One is not compatible with the other, so builders beware
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- Likewise, church preachers & teachers also need to be aware that the Gospel is not compatible with the wisdom of this age
- It is important, then, to make sure that whatever “material” the church pastors, teachers, evangelists use is compatible with the message of Christ crucified
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- Paul uses 6 items to explain the difference between that which is compatible with the cross of Christ & that which is compatible with the wisdom of this age
- 2 categories – one or the other – but 6 items
- However, you will know which is which by how the difference becomes evident
- It becomes evident because it will be subject to fire
Q. Now, of those 6 items, which is combustible & which is not?
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- Well, if you’re like the big bad wolf, who huffed & puffed, the house made of straw blew over, didn’t it, but the house made of brick didn’t
- When fire, rather than wind is used, the wood, hay & straw go up in smoke, yet the gold, silver & precious stones are non-combustible
- So we have material that will survive & material which burns up
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Q. With this testing that occurs on the day of judgement, which materials would you, be rather building with?
- It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it!
- But the difference can be subtle & we can be subtly drawn in by the world’s ways
- The fire on the day of judgement will reveal any shoddy workmanship
- We will not be able to conceal it
- But this judgement is not retribution, but for the purpose of testing the workmanship
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Q. Who is this applying to?
- Primarily & principally, to the apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers & even evangelists who are instructing the church
- The key point, here, is that God will be the one who tests or judges these workers
- In the church at Corinth, the members of the church are judging these workers & fighting over them
- What the apostle is saying to everyone here is that the church should remember that the ultimate sifting of who has been worthy of reward or loss is God
- On the day of judgement, there will be rewards or losses
—21 So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.
1 Corinthians 3:21–23 NASB95
21 So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.
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- However, even though this primarily would be referring to those who instruct in God’s word, it all bears on every church person who serves the Lord
- We are all building using some “material” by which Paul actually means the “process” of Christian ministry
- In other words, it’s what you are using to build into the lives of others
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- The wisdom of this age is what poisons relationships
- The reason the apostle is addressing this is because they have been setting one apostle or church teacher against another
- It is not about whether they have their favourite teachers, but that they reject any other, than their favourites
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- The materials you use to build into others should promote, & be inspired by the fruits of the Spirit
- The wisdom of this age would not be concerned with the fruits of the Spirit, but more about what’s good only for me
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- Jesus certainly exposed the hypocrisy & self-centredness of the Pharisees
- We have a culture today that is falling over itself with what many call, virtue signalling
- They want to feel good about themselves & by doing good & announcing it to the world, it gives them a dopamine rush
- Patrick West wrote a very insightful book called “Conspicuous Compassion” & this little book calls out this sort of thinking & behaviour
- Christians, however, follow Jesus who said to keep the good you do to yourself so that it would be seen by God & that He will reward you ()
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- I find society caught up in so many causes that are, in fact, anti-God
- In your workplace, they virtue signal for climate action, homosexual & transgender activism; feminism promotes their rights to the exclusion of the child in the womb
- What marks all these things out, is that they fly in the face of God’s will & are intensely self-centred – that is the wisdom of this age
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- In a recent sermon, I gave you 4 reasons why the cross is counterwise to the ways of the world
1. The cross symbolised loving surrender to God’s will even if it costs you your life
2. The cross embraces suffering when it is for the good of others
3. The cross demolishes pride in man for it is the only way one can be saved
4. The cross went in the opposite direction from the cherished goals of man – which are victory, success & their notion that “might is right”!
- The church is to build with material compatible with what the cross conveys

3. The Workmen: (who build upon the foundation)

- In these last few verses, I want us to look at the character of 3 different workmen: The Careful Workmen, the Careless Workmen & the Destructive Workmen

a. The Careful Workmen

—14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
1 Corinthians 3:14 NASB95
14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
- Can I suggest to you that the careful workmen are the ones who distinguish between the wisdom of this age & the truth of the cross
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- Modern day psychology can give us helpful insight into what is going on in a person
- I say it can, but it can also give terrible guidance & a Christian needs to be very careful that they do not listen to the precepts of most psychological theories
- As I have mentioned in past messages, the roots of psychology is secular, humanistic & God rejecting
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- Now I know I would have my detractors, especially among Christians who practise psychology
- But here is a rule of thumb to help you detect, whether this stuff is from the wisdom of this age, or from God
- Ask yourself or the person how the notion of sin fits in with their psychology
- That would be a challenge, even to Christians who practise psychology because guess where they source their psychology from?
- It’s from the text books of secular theorists of psychology
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- I remember one Christian psychologist who wrote a book called “Plundering the Egyptians” & he was trying to make the case that you could borrow from secular people’s wisdom the same way that the Hebrews did when they took from the Egyptians when they made their exodus out of Egypt
- But that it plainly wrong & this is what sourcing information contrary to the Bible can do
- If you find something that contradicts what the Bible teaches, the temptation is to harmonise that secular teaching with the Bible
- The Hebrews got Silver, Gold & clothing off the Egyptians, not their counselling theories
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- Now, please understand that I’m not advocating that nothing good can come from studying the soul of a person
- Much can be understood & learnt, but by the same token, you have to be careful where it leads you, & from what I’ve often seen, it tends to deny the basic tenants of Scripture – like giving no prominence to the place of sin
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- You can also include the insistence on affirming the theory of evolution as fact & many Christians have bought into this
- But this is only a theory – it is speculation at best
- In contradicting the Genesis account of a direct creation by God, it undermines God’s direct involvement in creation
- Again, the theory of evolution has not come from a well meaning lot of people who want to glorify God
- Rather, the theory of evolution allows for a person to be, in the words of Richard Dawkins, “an intellectually fulfilled atheist”
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- The careful workmen notes these things & is careful to build using that which is compatible with the Gospel, which is Christ crucified
- When the day arrives, the day of judgement, when God, the chief building inspector, tests our work with fire, the Gospel gold, silver & precious stones will come through unscathed & we will receive a rich reward
"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done".
Revelation 22:12 NASB95
12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

b. The Careless Workmen

—15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
1 Corinthians 3:15 NASB95
15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Brother E. W. Martin tells of a young man who was employed by his father, a building contractor. The son was dissatisfied with his wages. One day the father came to him and said, "Son, here are some blueprints. I want you to have entire charge of this job. Do your best on this house; it is for a special friend." The son thought to himself, "This is my opportunity. I will use shoddy material and cover it up with paint; Father will never know, and I will put the difference in my pocket." This he did. Finally the house was complete. It looked good on the surface. The young man had just been married. A few days later the father came to the home of his son and said to him and his bride, "Son, I know your wages have not been large, but I had it in mind all the time to give you this house. Here is the deed! It is yours." Then the son was ashamed!
The son thought to himself, "This is my opportunity. I will use shoddy material and cover it up with paint; Father will never know, and I will put the difference in my pocket." This he did. Finally the house was complete. It looked good on the surface. The young man had just been married. A few days later the father came to the home of his son and said to him and his bride, "Son, I know your wages have not been large, but I had it in mind all the time to give you this house. Here is the deed! It is yours." Then the son was ashamed!
- God says, "Every man's work will become evident: for the day will show it...by fire."
Q. What kind of material are we using? "Gold, silver, precious stones" or "wood, hay, straw"?
Q. Can a person risk adopting the wisdom of this age?
- It may be popular & self-gratifying, but it is wood, hay & straw
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- When the day of judgement comes & God inspects the person’s work, if he or she has built with wood, hay or straw, the fire will cause it all to go up in a puff of smoke – Why?
- Because they chose to go in the ways of the world, & in adopting the wisdom of this age, chose to build with the popular, the accepting, the values of the world, rather than the values of Christ
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- Israel Folau stands out as an example of someone who has spoken things that the wisdom of this age cannot tolerate
- Yet, it comes from the very words of God
- Those leaders who build with perishable material will suffer loss
- Note here that loss does not involve the loss of salvation
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- This is not a judgement of salvation or hell, but of rewards & losses
- Although, it is a close call for the person who has built with wood, hay & straw
- Everything they built with goes up in smoke & they run out the building hotly singed, with the smell of smoke in their clothes – they escape damnation by the skin of their teeth!
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- It is a terrible thing to find out, in the end that you have laboured in vainnone of us would ever want to have to confront that truth
Q. So what to do about it?
- You will have, from among Christians, views that will fly contrary to the truth
- People tend to go for the line of least resistance – the easy life, the smooth life, the comfortable life (the stuff that sits nice with the world)
- But when we are on God’s side, we will inevitably run into challenges
- The Spirit is set against the flesh & will challenge all to dispense with the flesh
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- One of the key components in securing victory over sin & the flesh is in the choices we make
- We can rest on all the hurts we have been given in life - & we can all claim plenty of those - & feel justified in our slackness as Christians
- Gosh, we can even claim that a little sin here & there is just compensation for the hurts we’ve experienced
- Deep down, however, we need to expose this thinking, as an affront to the grace of God & the truth
- We know this to be absurd & isn’t it time that we dispense with these pathetically sinful justifications for living like the world (like this age)

c. The Destructive Workmen

—16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
1 Corinthians 3:16–17 NASB95
16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
- This takes the meaning of judgement one step further.
- It now shifts from the main emphasis which is the instructors of the church, to the church itself
- The church are all “workmen” as such, as we minister to & build into one another
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- The issue we find here is this: In the building of God’s “temple” (His people), it is one thing to build with worthless materials (the wisdom of this age), it is another thing to attempt to demolish the building itself
- This is one of the strongest warnings in the NT & it is this: if you destroy God’s building (His people), God will destroy you
- This destruction is the threat of hell – the lake of fire
- So the people of God need to be careful to realise this vital truth
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- That the person beside you; the person in the back row; the person in the front rowbelong to Christ & are a part of His temple structure
- If you deny them, seek to harm them, act on your own whims & will to cast them aside, without considering this other persons attachment to Christ, then you put yourself in very real danger of God’s demolition of you
- Now no one seeks to do this, but if the wisdom of this age is what drives us & what we are living with, then we could be very tempted to do just this – tear down the church
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- So let us take these words of Paul to heart today & be a loving community that seeks to build up rather than tear down one another
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