Build the Building (1 Corinthians 3:9-17)
Build the Building Message Introduction
Today, we’re continuing our message series called “Bondservant.” When you’re a servant to a master, the master has tasks for you to do as you serve them. So, if you’re a believer here this morning, you are a bondservant of Jesus Christ. And Jesus has tasks for you to complete for Him in your life. In fact, those tasks are not just a part of your life, those tasks are your complete life. We have no life of our own outside of serving Jesus.
Last week, we spoke of the race that Jesus has created you to run. If you missed the message, I’d encourage you to listen to it online on website, Facebook or Youtube. This week, we’re going to talk about “Build the Building.” How many here like to build things? Building and constructing things is something that God created us to do. People build all kinds of things. Some people actually build buildings. Others build companies, some build computer programs, others build people through teaching, yet others build relationship and families and the list could go on and on.
When we build things, we follow the example of our creator, God Himself. God is the ultimate builder. He built or created the universe, including our world, from nothing. He simply spoke it into existence. As builders, we want to build things that will last, that will stand the test of time. Things that will actually last for eternity. That really narrows things down fast, doesn’t it? The actual buildings we see around us aren’t going to last forever, nor will the companies we work for.
Today, we’re going to talk about building something that is going to last forever. What is going to last forever? It’s people who are connected to their creator. The Bible calls those people believers. And believers who are connected to their creator and one another are part of the church. The church is going to last forever, spending eternity as the bride of Christ.
Ephesians 2:21-22 (NIV) In him [Jesus Christ] the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
The church is not a physical building, that’s just one of the places where we meet. The church is the spiritual building consisting of believers who are joined together with one another in the Lord. When believers are built together in a church, God lives within their midst in a special way by His spirit. Every believer is not only part of the spiritual building of the church, they are also given the task of building the church. The church that is going to last forever.
Many today, don’t understand the supreme importance of the church in God’s plan. So some, don’t bother in being connected to a church at all. Others, drift from one to another, looking for the latest excitement. Our task, as bondservants of Jesus Christ is to help build His church, the church we are fitted together in.
Not only are each one of us, part of the puzzle, that God is putting together to build His church, we are also part of building that puzzle. Fitting together with others and finding missing pieces of the puzzle that are needed to complete the puzzle of the church that Jesus is building.
Today, we’re going to look at a passage from 1 Corinthians 3 to better understand our task of building the building of the church.
You are God’s building
1 Corinthians 3:9 (NIV) For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
The book of 1 Corinthians is a letter written to the local church in the city of Corinth by the apostle Paul. In the passage, Paul is talking about different people who have worked on building the church at Corinth. Everyone who works to build the church is God’s fellow worker. Working together with God to construct the church.
The church is called God’s building. The church is not “owned” by the people, or by the pastor or the leaders, the church is owned by God, it is His building. So, I say Life Church this morning, you are God’s building.
We build upon a foundation
1 Corinthians 3:10 (NIV) By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.
Just as a physical building is built upon a foundation, so God’s church is to be built upon a solid foundation. If a building is not build on a solid foundation, it will not survive the test of time. If a church is not built upon the correct foundation, it will not last.
Paul, here says that he laid the foundation of the church at Corinth, because he planted the church. Now other workers are building upon the foundation that was laid. Some years ago, my wife Carol and I laid the foundation for Life Church and we continue to build upon it. The foundation of Life Church and …
The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ
1 Corinthians 3:11 (NIV) For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
The can be only one true foundation of a local church and that foundation is Jesus Christ. What does it mean that the foundation of a church is Jesus? It means that the church is based on faith in Jesus Christ and the Word of God.
What other foundations are church’s built upon? Some churches are built upon the personality of the pastor, often a great entertainer. Other churches are built upon false doctrine that is not in line with God’s Word. Yet other churches are simply built as a social gathering of people in a community. And there are many other foundations that churches may be built upon. However, none of those other foundations will survive for eternity. Only churches that are built on Jesus will last forever.
In 2010, two types of homes were tested for how well they would withstand a hurricane. Two 1300 sq ft homes were constructed at the Institute of Business and Home Safety in Richburg, South Carolina. The first home was built using normal building practices. The second included reinforcement straps which connected each level of the building to the foundation.
The researchers turned on giant fans producing wind gusts up to 110 mph. Both homes survived the first couple of trials, but on the third trial, the first home, built without the reinforcement straps collapsed, while the second stood firm. Both homes were built on the same foundation, but the one which was tightly bound together and to its foundation survived the simulated storm.
In the same way, Life Church is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Those here whose lives are built on the same foundation and who are committed to one another will withstand the storms of life. Be sure that you are anchored to the foundation of Jesus here with your connection steadily growing stronger. Now, let’s talk about building on that foundation.
Be careful how you build
1 Corinthians 3:12 (NIV) If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
In verse 10, we have already been warned to be careful how we build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Every believer’s task is to help build the church on the foundation of Jesus Christ, not just pastors or leaders. Everyone doesn’t do the same job, but we all work together to build the church.
Here, six building materials are listed. The first three are precious and costly, they are materials that were used in the construction of the Old Testament temple. The second three and common and not very costly. At least wood may be used in the construction of homes. Just as a hurricane will test a home’s construction, God’s Word warns us that …
Your work will be tested
1 Corinthians 3:13 (NIV) his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.
Our work on God’s building, the church, will be tested on the Day of Judgment. The test of Judgment Day will be by fire. The work of your life on God’s church will be subjected to God’s fire to see with what types of materials you built with.
Good work will be rewarded
1 Corinthians 3:14 (NIV) If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.
Which of the building materials that have been named will survive the test of fire? The first three, building materials of gold, silver and costly stones will withstand fire. These materials represent building with appropriate materials for the foundation of Jesus Christ. They represent giving to God our best for His service.
To build with gold, silver and precious stones is to follow Jesus’ teaching and example with our lives, as we seek to build His church. Those whose work stands the test of fire, will be rewarded in eternity for the service they rendered in this life. On the other hand …
Poor work will suffer loss
1 Corinthians 3:15 (NIV) If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
If someone builds on the foundation of Jesus Christ, with wood, hay and straw, that work will be consumed with the fire of judgment. The believer, will still be saved, but he will suffer loss, as one barely escaping through the flames. Why? He has not been a faithful servant of Jesus in building the church appropriately.
How would someone build with wood, hay and straw? To build poorly would be to give God’s church your left overs. To put other things ahead of eternal things in your life. To build poorly would be to try to build God’s church your own way, rather than by the ways outlined in God’s Word. There are differing rewards in heaven. Those who build well will be richly rewarded. Those who build poorly will have little reward, so be careful how your build.
In 2002, a wildfire began in the Angeles National Forest in California. Sigrid Hopson was alone in her home with 3 dogs when she noticed the fire racing toward her house. She called for help and two deputies got the call. They drove their Ford Expedition through walls of flame along remote mountain roads to reach her.
As one of the deputies, John Rose, ran up to the house, he heard a shot. When he got closer, he saw Sigrid holding a gun to her head and a dead dog lying by her. He called out, Don’t shoot. The walls of flame were racing toward the vehicle and the house. John grabbed Sigrid and got her in the vehicle and they races back through the flames.
Two tires melted, but they kept on driving. The engine seized because of the fierce heat, just as they crossed the fire line. They were all able to walk to safety. In the same way, you don’t want to be as one escaping through the flames, because the work of your life was burned up on Judgment Day.
Do your part to build God’s church with the best materials. Every day of your life, seek God’s direction to how you can draw people to Jesus, so that they will be part of eternity. For you see …
The church is God’s temple
1 Corinthians 3:16a (NIV) Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple …
The church, today, we’re talking about Life Church, is God’s temple. That’s incredibly important, isn’t it? What is so important about God’s temple?
God’s Spirit dwells in His church
1 Corinthians 3:16b (NIV) … and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
Here, God’s Word is speaking about the Spirit of God living, not only inside each individual believer, but living in a special way inside of the community of believers in a local church. As we build God’s church, God’s temple, the presence and power of His Spirit will increase in our midst. Where the Spirit of God is, here is joy, there is wisdom, there is healing, there is strength. We need more of God’s Spirit living in our church.
What of those outside the church?
God will destroy those who destroy His church
1 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV) If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
The true church is where God dwells. Here, God gives a stern warning, that those who seek to destroy God’s church will ultimately be destroyed. Unless they repent and become part of the church. This warning, is of course, for those who would seek to destroy true churches, built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. There are many false churches built upon other foundations, which should be destroyed, by bringing the people within to the truth of Jesus Christ.
God loves the church. The true church is Jesus’ bride for eternity. He is working together with His servants to build His church into everything He has destined it to be.
Yet, many today consider the church irrelevant, an outdated concept. Nothing could be further from the truth. The church is God’s temple, filled with His Spirit. Together the church worships God and hears from God. Then we go out into the world and continue the work of the church in our jobs, in our families and in our neighborhoods.
Our small groups are designed to be expressions of the church across the St Louis area. Probably most of us know people who have dropped out of church or been burned at an unhealthy church. Others may have never had an experience of a true church. As we continue our 40 days of Seeking God for the City, let’s continue to focus our prayers on a spiritual awakening of the lost and broken people in the St Louis metro area.
As we all learn to build God’s church with gold, silver and costly stones, the church will be increasingly glorious, filled with God’s Spirit. More and more people will be drawn to hear from God and have their lives radically changed by Jesus. Let’s build the building, here at Life Church, the spiritual dwelling of God.