March 19, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it. But each one is to be careful how he builds on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s work will become obvious. For the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will experience loss, but he himself will be saved—but only as through fire.”—1 Corinthians 3:10–15 (CSB)
In today’s passage, we continue to unpack Paul’s plea for unity. Paul states that we as God’s building ought to be built up by one foundation alone—Jesus Christ. Paul warns the believers in Corinth to be careful how they build upon this foundation. Everything that is taught in the church and every doctrine that is preached must have the person of Jesus Christ at its core; otherwise, it’s a false doctrine that will not stand.
While the believers in Corinth were creating factions amongst themselves on the basis of who baptized them (Apollos, Paul, Cephas (Peter), or other church leaders), Paul wanted them to understand that what makes the Church unique and what brings Christians together is the paramount truth that Jesus Christ is Lord. Nothing and no one else ought to bring Christians together other than the fact that we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus. The Church then should gather under one name and purpose, to proclaim the lordship and rule of Jesus Christ on Earth.
Paul goes on to describe different kinds of building materials which many scholars believe represent two out-workings of the Christian faith: doctrines and works. Doctrines and works of believers produced by the Spirit which have Christ at the center are valuable, firm, and durable. In contrast, doctrines and works void of Christ, produced by the flesh, are weak, unstable, and ultimately worthless. Teachings that are rooted in biblical truth will reveal themselves all the more pure on judgement day, whereas false doctrines that don’t support the Word of God will not only show themselves fruitless, but will be utterly destroyed. Likewise, works done for the kingdom out of faith in Christ will reveal itself genuine and be rewarded, but works which are done out of the flesh will not (Matthew 25:14–30).
Friends, God has made us His building. He has called all believers to join in His mission to usher His kingdom here on Earth by proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. This is the truth that unites us; not our stance on political, social, or theological issues, but rather our salvation in Jesus. Let us gather as one body to proclaim the good news and, as we do so, let us remember that we labor because we’re saved, not in order to be saved.
As the words of the hymn “In Christ Alone” profess, may we stand united on this truth alone.
“In Christ Alone”
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my all in all,
here in the love of Christ I stand.
Pause: Is there any area of your life where you’re striving to win God’s favor or to feel as though you’re truly saved?
Practice: Confess what those things are and reflect on how God’s grace changes your need to strive for salvation or approval.
Pray: God, You sent Your son Jesus to live the life I could not live and to pay the price for my sins. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, I am now a new creation and Your child. Help me to live my life under this truth alone. Teach my heart to receive Your grace daily so I don’t strive to work in my own strength, but in Your power at work in and through me! Amen.
Gabriella Bemis serves as a volunteer for Calvary’s communications and worship teams. She holds an M.A. in psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about integrating her knowledge of human behavior with the truth of God’s word. When she is not writing resources or singing at church, Gabi loves to paint, cook, and enjoy time outdoors with her family and friends.