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Building Materials that Last

Building Materials that Last

Words of Faith 5-5-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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1 Corinthians 3

[10] 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. [11] For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. [12] If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, [13] 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. [14] If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. [15] If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

[16] Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? [17] If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

It makes a big difference what you build with! Just ask folks around Florida where we have had ferocious hurricanes from time to time. It makes a big difference if house was built to code and if the materials are high quality. The same is true in the life of the Spirit.

The biggest problem among the Corinthian believers was division. This was not division based on heartfelt matters of doctrine or a deep seated issue of conscience. It was division rooted in an immaturity that esteemed leaders above the Gospel message itself.

Many believers at Corinth had not taken on the Mind of Christ by allowing the Spirit to work in them. Even though they were saved, they were carnal or fleshly in their tendency to divide over which leader had brought them to Christ or which one they were loyal to. This was childish.

Paul made it clear that while one leader plants, another waters and still another harvests the fruit of salvation in our lives. While we are certainly supposed to honor leaders we are not supposed to worship them (Hebrews 13:17).

The problem was apparently not just one of how the people looked at their leaders. There was also a responsibility of the leaders in how they built the church. Paul was not directly critical of any leaders, but he used the metaphor of building a structure to illustrate the way that ministers involved in building the lives of believers have a responsibility, too.

The foundation of every believer and of the local church must be Jesus Christ. Churches that are founded on anything else will eventually crumble. Lives built on anything else will erode and fall. Paul was confident that he had laid the foundation of Jesus Christ expertly among the Corinthians. But the other leaders that followed may not have built using materials that will last. Some materials that seem spiritual will be easily burned away. The Day of the Lord will bring to light exactly what every believer and every part of the church is made of but the test will come even sooner than that.

Paul says that fire will test the quality of each man's work. He was probably talking directly about the work of leaders and ministers. Of course, we are all ministers with ministry gifts that are part of the Body of Christ, but Paul seems to be speaking specifically about the accountability of those who labor to build God's church in an area. There will be an accountability for the things that we build into the lives of believers. Eventually, we are all tested by fire. Hard times come. Difficulties ensue. Tough circumstances follow. This is the test of what has been built in the name of Jesus upon the foundation of salvation in Christ.

Don't miss the compassion of Paul in all of this. Paul reminds every believer that you yourselves are the Temple of God and that God's Spirit lives in you. Anyone who destroys the sacred Temple of God will himself by destroyed. God has a fiercely protective heart for those He is saving and bringing to Himself.

So what does this say about being a Christian in the twenty-first century?

We live in a consumer culture where the message of the Gospel is often shaped in a way that will communicate to the modern world. This is not entirely bad. Paul writes later in this letter-- "To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings" (1 Cor. 9:20-23).

The problem is not the effort to communicate with the culture. The problem occurs when ministers or leaders compromise the Gospel in an effort to better sell it. Even when the foundation of Jesus Christ is solid, some will build a Christian life of wood, hay or straw on top of that foundation.

In the free market of the world, sound theology is often compromised. The call for regular repentance is lost. Christianity becomes a marketable lifestyle that is "me centered". This is cheap and shoddy workmanship that in no way "meets the code". None of this will stand the test of wind or fire.

On the personal side of this, we are all called to build into our lives character that is grounded in the Spirit and manifested as the Mind of Christ. We are not called to a life of comfortable fluff. We are actually called to daily deny self, take up our cross and follow Jesus. Defining and walking out those three movements is truly the task of the Christian every day until the Lord comes. The goal and hope is to build with gold, silver and costly gems-- the durable qualities of a character fashioned after the image of Christ Himself.

So what are you building these days? What materials are you using? What are you building into the lives of others? Are you building the character of Christ and the Mind of Christ? What are you building into yourself these days by your surrender to the Spirit? Are you building with durable materials or with fluff that will easily burn away?

Lord Jesus, I give thanks for the Cross of Christ. The value of the Cross is immeasurable. But I want to build on that foundation, in my life and in others. I invite Your Spirit to be at work in me. Shape me into the image of Christ. In Jesus' name.