Wednesday, 30 April 2014
According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 1 Corinthians 3:10
In this verse, Paul begins with “According to the grace of God which was given to me…” Paul was, as he states himself several times in his writings, a soul needing God’s grace and mercy. In 1 Timothy 1:12-14, he describes his former life this way –
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”
Despite his previous life, God bestowed His great grace on Paul, calling him as an apostle. But more than that, he called him to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. The very thing which would have been most repugnant to him at one time, became the passion of his soul. In his calling, he became “a wise master builder.” Here the Greek word is architektōn; an architect. He was given the responsibility to design the new structure of the gentile church by the wisdom God had ordained him with. His personal instruction, followed up by his letters are what provide that structure for churches even today.
In this solemn task, he “laid the foundation.” There at Corinth (the body he is addressing), he proclaimed Jesus Christ. This is the one and only foundation of any true church. He describes this in detail elsewhere –
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22
“The foundation of the apostles and prophets” is the word pronounced throughout the Bible which speaks of Jesus Christ. The entire body of Scripture testifies to Him. Therefore, the foundation Paul laid in Corinth is that foundation he writes about to them now (as will be seen in the next verse).
He laid that foundation, “and another builds on it.” This is referring back to what he stated earlier, that he planted and Apollos watered. Each had his own role and neither is to be exalted above the other. All are working toward the same goal which is a mature church founded on, and which proclaims Jesus Christ. Because of this, care was and is required. Any departure from this truth can only lead to eventual apostasy. And so he warns them with the words, “But let each one take heed how he builds on it.”
Throughout the history of the church, people have crept in with personal agendas, unbiblical teachings and traditions, and the mixing-in of false worship. As churches are so influenced, they degrade to the point where very little is left of true worship and pursuit of Christ. When this occurs, people either stagnate and fail to grow, or the congregation simply dies off as a Christian entity (see Revelation 2:5). Those who love Jesus Christ and His word will move to start a new church body which returns to the foundation which Paul speaks of here, Jesus Christ.
Life application: Without adherence to the Bible, and a sound interpretation of it, churches will very quickly fall away from the truth. “Jesus Christ” may be on their lips, but He is far from their hearts. Be attentive to the word of God and be ready to defend it.
Lord God, there is one Foundation to the faith, Jesus Christ. I will pray to no other, I will praise no other, and I will stand on the truth of the Bible rather than the traditions of man. Give me courage to defend its truths, wisdom to properly explain them, and the ability to turn wayward souls away from misguided religion and back to the pure worship of You through Jesus my Lord. Amen.