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The Scriptorium

Build on the Foundation

Build for Jesus. 1 Corinthians 3.11-15

1 Corinthians 3 (3)

Pray Psalm 118.7-9.
The LORD is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
It is better to trust in the LORD
Than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the LORD
Than to put confidence in princes.

Sing Psalm 118.7-9.
(St. George’s Windsor: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come)
For the LORD stands next to me; He will give me victory!
Over all who hate my life I will triumph through the strife!
In His grace I refuge find, in His steadfast love so kind.
Trust not princes, trust not men—Christ shall be our haven then!

Read 1 Corinthians 3.1-15; meditate on verses 11-15.

1. What is the foundation of the Church?

2. What is the purpose of our works?

The fundamental mistake of the Corinthians was to think that Paul or Apollos or Cephas was the foundation of their individual church. And each church wanted to be more like the one they regarded as their founder.

Where do people get such dumb ideas?

Paul set them straight. Not only is Jesus the Foundation of the Church (v. 11), He is also the Cornerstone (Eph. 2.19-22). The foundation of a building determines its horizontal shape. The cornerstone shapes the building as it rises. So every church where Jesus is Foundation and Cornerstone should only ever want to look like Jesus. Should only aspire to Jesus, focus on Jesus, makes its aim—both members and congregation—to grow to maturity in Jesus (cf. Eph. 4.12-16).

Everyone has something to contribute to building on the Foundation of Christ (v. 12). Whatever we contribute should go into the project of glorifying Jesus only. Our works will be judged, and those that have not contributed to our becoming more like Jesus, our making Jesus known and glorified in our Personal Mission Field, and our contributing to the growth of His Church and the progress of His Kingdom—works that don’t contribute to these will be purged by fire (vv. 14, 15), though our salvation will remain.

Strive not to be too long in the burning when Jesus comes to judge our works. We’re not saved by works but for them, to do that which proclaims, manifests, and celebrates Jesus everywhere we go, everyone we’re with, whatever it is we’re doing.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Some people arrive in heaven in the same receiving blanket that they were born in”—so said our spiritual mentor Pat Hunter, to explain verses like these: “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3.15). Baby Christians who never grew, never ministered in their Personal Mission Field, and never did the work planned for them to do (Eph. 2.10).

Since we want to get out of that receiving blanket and into big people’s clothes, spiritually speaking, we must first base our faith on the correct foundation: Jesus Christ.

“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation…” (Is. 28.16).

Jesus. The Alpha and Omega, Immanuel, Morning Star, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Lamb of God, The Good Shepherd, The Bread of Life, Messiah, The Word of God.

Jesus said of Himself, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14.6). He is that Sure Foundation upon which everyone can safely build their life, hopes, dreams, expectations, worship, and work.

But we must dress properly for the work at hand, getting out of our baby clothes and putting on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, Gospel-based shoes, a shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the protection of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6.10-18).

In the same way Lazarus had to be extricated from his graveclothes to get busy living his regained life (Jn. 11.43, 44), so we must remove all that encumbers and ensnares us (Heb. 12.1), and get busy with our grown-up, adulting Kingdom work.

Built and founded on Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.

The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is His new creation, by water and the word:
From heav’n He came and sought her to be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.

(Samuel J. Stone,1868)

For reflection
1. How do you experience Jesus as the Foundation of your life?

2. Your works build on the Foundation of Jesus. But which works? When?

3. Whom will you encourage today to build on the Foundation of Jesus?

Let us not dare to join a merely human or a carnal life with a Divine faith, the corruption of sin with the profession of Christianity. Christ is a firm, abiding, and immovable Rock of ages, every way able to bear all the weight that God himself or the sinner can lay upon him; neither is there salvation in any other. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3.10-15

Pray Psalm 118.14-29.
Call on the Lord to be your strength today. Look to Jesus, exalted in glory, and seek the filling of the Spirit to be made more like Him. Be ready to share your love for Jesus as the Lord gives opportunity today.

Sing Psalm 118.14-29.
(St. George’s Windsor: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come)
In the Savior we are strong! He is all our strength and song!
To His grace now raise your voice; in His righteousness rejoice!
For the LORD does valiantly; we shall live eternally.
Praise His works with all your breath, you whom He redeems from death.

All who know Christ’s righteousness, His great Name now thank and bless!
Through His gate the righteous pass, He our saving mercy has.
Cast aside and left alone, Christ is now our Cornerstone!
God has made His Son and Word our salvation: Praise the LORD!

Blessed are they who in His Name come and Jesus’ grace proclaim.
God His light upon us shines in the Savior’s sacrifice.
Praise and thanks to You, O LORD; we extol Your holy Word!
Thanks to You for You are good! Thanks to our great loving God!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable
by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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