Let Christ Be All in This Building!

March 6, 1988 | by John Piper | Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:10–17 | Topic: Church Issues Series: 1 Corinthians: The Present Power of Christ Crucified Knocking the Props Out from Under Boasting We saw last week that the way Paul tries to overcome the jealousy and strife described in verse 3 is to knock the props out from under the boasting described in verse 4. The root of jealousy and strife is pride that likes to get vicarious praise by boasting in somebody else's bandwagon: "I belong to Paul!" "I belong to Apollos!" And the way he knocks the props out from under this boasting is to compare his work and the work of Apollos to farm slaves. One planting—that's Paul. The other waters—that's Apollos. But God alone gives the increase. So God should be the one we boast about, not men. Compared to the greatness of God's work, ours is as nothing. "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord!" I hope we are getting the point in these first three chapters of 1 Corinthians! A New Picture of a Building Then at the end of last week's text Paul mentioned another picture of his and Apollos' work. This picture gives him another chance to put Christ at the center and warn against any teachings or attitudes that detract from his centrality. The first picture was of a field of grain with Paul and Apollos planting and watering. The new picture that we haven't talked about yet is of a building with Paul and Apollos laying a foundation and then building the superstructure. We see it first in verse 10: "For we are fellow workers for God; you are God's field [that's the first picture], God's building [that's the second picture]." In other words Paul shifts from an agricultural picture to an architectural picture. In the one the church is a field where some plant and water; in the other the church is a building where some lay a foundation and some build the structure. Look down at verse 16 to see this confirmed: "Do you not know that you are God's temple?" So the building Paul has in mind in verse 10 when he says, "You are God's building," is a kind of temple. The church is like a field that grows and bears fruit, and the church is like a temple where the Spirit of God dwells. How Paul Uses the Temple Building Image Now what does Paul want to tell us about this temple building? He begins in verse 10: "According to the commission of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it." This is the same as verse 6: there he said, "I planted and Apollos watered"; here he says, "I laid the foundation and another is building on it." Laying the foundation of the building corresponds to planting the field. And building on the foundation corresponds to watering the field. Now what is Paul going to do with this picture of the church? He is going to tell us

" This is not so much a warning to Apollos as it is to all the new teachers that are rising up at Corinth claiming to be good builders on Paul's foundation." In other words the CE program at Corinth has really flourished! There are teachers and counselors galore. So he warns them to be very careful in how they build. and why. Does it make sense to say: Watch out what kind of windows you use because the foundation is Christ! Watch out what kind of roof you build because the foundation is Christ? Watch out what kind of wiring you use because the foundation is Christ! Yes it does make sense if the foundation controls the shape and quality of the building. giving guidance and teaching in the Christian life. Not only is he at the bottom of it all holding it up. and that there are a lot of people trying to build on it. "For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid. he is a foundation layer and others are builders. Look at 4:15." So Paul is a father to the church and others are guides. In other words what Paul is doing with the new image of the church as a building is the same thing he did with the image of the church as a field. The Foundation and How You Build on It And that is the point: There is only one foundation: Christ. you do not have many fathers. hay. Here Paul introduces a third picture of his work in starting the church and the work of those who came later: "For though you have countless guides in Christ. and . and another man is building upon it. And who he is controls the shape and quality of the church. And the point I want to stress is that now it is not just Apollos in view but "countless guides. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. and whatever detracts from the fullness of his truth is wood. and that they better be real careful what sort of materials they build into this temple. which is Jesus Christ.what the foundation was. he is a planter and others are waterers. Paul's Concern and His Warning to Teachers The next thing to notice is that Paul is real concerned about what they are teaching—what they are building into this temple." There is the warning! Why Teachers Must Be So Careful Then he starts to give the reasons why we need to be so careful about the materials we use to build the church. Everywhere you turn in the church. Verse 11 says. The Flourishing Christian Education at Corinth Notice the end of verse 10: "Let each man take care how he builds upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. his influence must be utterly pervasive. wherever anybody is teaching anything or building anything." Do you see the connection between verse 10 (Watch out how you build on the foundation!) and verse 11 (Christ is the only foundation!)? What that means is that the foundation must control the materials used in the superstructure. we must see the mark of Jesus Christ! Whatever lifts up Christ in his true greatness is gold and silver and precious stone. He is exalting Christ as absolutely pre-eminent. Verse 10b: "I laid a foundation. Otherwise the connection between verses 10 and 11 makes no sense.

stubble—each man's work will become manifest. precious stones. for the Day [of judgment] will disclose it. Three Consequences of Shabby Building So what Paul does now is to warn pastors. Christians can have much doctrine wrong. and the fire will test what sort of work each one had done. The Builder's Loss of Reward The second consequence of shabby building is that the builder will lose his reward. God will destroy him. counselors.stubble." There will be shame on that day. Not one of us will escape this chastisement. and stubble to others in their Christian service only to see it go up in smoke at the last day. Verse 12: "Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold. Destruction of the Church and Ourselves The third consequence of shabby building is that it can become so contrary to the foundation that we destroy the very church in which we serve and ourselves with it. And rewards will be lost because of shabby building on the matchless foundation of Christ. hay. wood. 3. For example it happened repeatedly in New England 150 years ago. Sunday School teachers. Injury to the Church The first consequence is that the church will be injured. for none of us is a perfect teacher or parent or counselor. Verse 14: "If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives. he will suffer loss. parents. silver. and the church will be the lesser for it. rightly handling the word of truth. For God's temple is holy. If any man's work is burned up. Churches that were once . that there are three dangerous consequences of building the church with materials that are not in keeping with the greatness of Christ the foundation. then the fire of judgment at the end of the age (which 1 Peter 4:17 tells us begins with the house of God!) is going to burn up that wood. they can have attitudinal blind spots. hay. and they can impart this wood." In other words it is possible to be a Christian and to be a harmful teacher in the church. though he himself will be saved." This is a dreadful thing. 1. It happens all the time in one place or another. We should labor to build into the church doctrines and attitudes and behaviors that will come forth from the fire of testing like gold and silver and diamonds to the glory of Christ. Like Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:15: "Do your best [study!] to present yourself to God as one approved. because it will be revealed with fire. and it is not hypothetical. and stubble. But O how vigilant it should make us to know our Bible well and to live it well. Verse 17: "If any one destroys God's temple. a workman who has no need to be ashamed." In other words if you build into the church doctrines or attitudes or actions that do not fit with the foundation of Christ. hay. 2. but only as through fire. and disciplers of all kinds. and that temple you are. he will receive a reward.

Let's take the attitudes of our church and set them down on the lines of the foundation and see where we might be off-base and in need of correction. The other is to slowly and subtly reshape the edifice so that its contours don't rest on the foundation anymore. Jesus Christ (that we have in the Bible). let the gold and silver and precious stones not be in our sanctuary but in our doctrine and in our lives. One is to attack the foundation directly and break it up. there are two ways to remove a foundation and destroy a church. and let's ask: do they fit? Do the lines match up? Let Christ be the one and only foundation of Bethlehem Baptist Church! Let his influence be utterly pervasive in all we do! And as we S*P*A*N the NINETIES. If a teacher does that to a church." (Compare Acts 20:26–27. And let's bring all our ministries and all our building plans and all the financial goals of these next weeks and lay them like a transparency over the blueprint of our foundation.") Application to Our Lives The application of this to us at Bethlehem plain: Let us be vigilant to keep Christ as the foundation of our church. At first he did not declare himself openly. a link to this document on our website is preferred. Website: desiringGod. for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Paul says. For web posting. And within a matter of years you could look down and realize that the structure was now so out of line with Christ that it no longer rested on the foundation. "I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you.org Related Resources Flesh Tank and Peashooter Regulations (Sermons) The Gideon Venture (Sermons) The Isaac Factor (Sermons) Urban-Suburban Partnership (Sermons) . Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God. © Desiring God. he will pay with his eternal life: "If any one destroys God's temple. God will destroy him. You see. © Desiring God Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction.evangelical with Christ as the foundation got a Unitarian pastor. Let's make sure that the building blocks of our doctrine follow the beautiful contours of our foundation and not go off and try to make some little porch on the side that has no foundation under it. but began to build a structure which little by little changed the edifice. Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper.

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