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Demonstrate A Fully Obedient Faith
Develop a Mature Faith
1 Corinthians 3:12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
Subsequent teaching in a local church may be of varying degrees of value. For instance, some teaching is of lasting worth, and might be likened to gold, silver, or precious stones.
Here precious stones probably do not refer to diamonds, rubies, or other gems but rather to the granite, marble, or alabaster used in the construction of costly temples.
On the other hand, teaching in the local church might be of passing value or of no value at all. Such teaching is likened to wood, hay, and straw.
This passage does not refer primarily to all believers but rather to preachers and teachers. What can we learn from this?
1 Corinthians 3:13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
In a coming day, each one’s work will become clear. Day refers to the Judgment Seat of Christ when all service for the Lord will be reviewed.
The process of review is likened to the action of fire. Service that has brought glory to God and blessing to man, like gold, silver, and precious stones, will not be affected by the fire.
On the other hand, that which has caused trouble among the people of God or failed to edify them will be consumed. The fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
1 Corinthians 3:14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
Work in connection with the church may be of three types. In verse 14 we have the first type—service that has been of a profitable nature. In such a case, the servant’s life work endures the test of the Judgment Seat of Christ and the worker will receive a reward.
1 Corinthians 3:15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
The second type of work is that which is useless. In this case, the servant will suffer loss, although he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
E. W. Rogers points out: “Loss does not imply the forfeiture of something once possessed.” It should be clear from this verse that the Judgment Seat of Christ is not concerned with the subject of a believer’s sins and their penalty. The penalty of a believer’s sins was borne by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, and that matter has been settled once for all. Thus the believer’s salvation is not at all in question at the Judgment Seat of Christ; rather it is a matter of his service.
An interesting thought in connection with this verse is that the word of God is sometimes likened to fire (see Isa. 5:24 and Jer. 23:29). The same word of God which will test our service at the Judgment Seat of Christ is available to us now. If we are building in accordance with the teachings of the Bible, then our work will stand the test in that coming day.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Paul reminds the believers that they are the temple (Gk., the inner shrine or sanctuary) of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in them. It is true that every individual believer is also a temple of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but that is not the thought here. The apostle is looking at the church as a collective company, and wishes them to realize the holy dignity of such a calling.
1 Corinthians 3:17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
A third class of work in the local church is that which may be spoken of as destructive. Apparently there were false teachers who had come into the church at Corinth and whose instruction tended more to sin than to holiness. They did not think it a serious matter to thus cause havoc in a temple of God, so Paul thunders out this solemn declaration: “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him.”
Viewed in its local setting, this means that if any man enters a local church and wrecks its testimony, God will destroy him. The passage is speaking of false teachers who are not true believers in the Lord Jesus. The seriousness of such an offense is indicated by the closing words of verse 17: “For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”
1 Corinthians 3:18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
In Christian service, as in all of Christian life, there is always the danger of self-deception.
Perhaps some of those who came to Corinth as teachers posed as men of extreme wisdom. Any who have an exalted view of their own worldly wisdom must learn that they must become fools in the eyes of the world in order to become wise in God’s estimation.
Godet helpfully paraphrases at this point: If any individual whatever, Corinthian or other, while preaching the gospel in your assemblies assumes the part of a wise man and reputation of a profound thinker, let him assure himself that he will not attain true wisdom until he has passed through a crisis in which that wisdom of his with which he is puffed up will perish and after which only he will receive the wisdom which is from above.
1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;
Man by searching could never find out God, neither would human wisdom ever have devised a plan of salvation by which God would become Man in order to die for guilty, vile, rebel sinners.
Job 5:13 is quoted in verse 19 to show that God triumphs over the supposed wisdom of men to work out His own purposes.
Man with all his learning cannot thwart the plans of the Lord; instead, God often shows them that in spite of their worldly wisdom, they are utterly poor and powerless.
1 Corinthians 3:20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”
Psalm 94:11 is quoted here to emphasize that the Lord knows all the reasonings of the wise men of this world, and He further knows that they are futile, empty, and fruitless.
But why is Paul going to such pains to discredit worldly wisdom? Simply for this reason—the Corinthians were placing a great premium on such wisdom and were following those leaders who seemed to exhibit it in a remarkable degree. How are we challenged with this same pattern of thought today?
1 Corinthians 3:21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours:
In view of all that had been said, no one should boast in men.
And as far as true servants of the Lord are concerned, we should not boast that we belong to them but rather realize that they all belong to us. All things are yours.
1 Corinthians 3:22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours.
Someone has called verse 22 “an inventory of the possessions of the child of God.” Christian workers belong to us, whether Paul the evangelist, or Apollos the teacher, or Cephas the pastor. Since they all belong to us, it is folly for us to claim that we belong to any one of them.
Macdonald, Farstad Grady Scott, Hindson, E. MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006).