9 For we are God’s coworkers.[e] You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 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 must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day[f] will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.[g]
[e] Or are coworkers belonging to God
[f] The day of Christ’s judgment of believers
[g] Lit yet so as through fire
(1 Corinthians 3 Holman Christian Standard Bible)
In last Sunday’s Straightalking, we concluded our consideration of the Apostle Paul’s church building instructions in our text.
We first reviewed what it was that the fire of the Anointed King’s future judgement will disclose – the building materials used by the builder (considered the previous Sunday) AND the quality of each one’s work. The latter was the focus of our discussion.
We noted that the Apostle had set the standard for building skill:
I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder
So what skill is required in church building that Paul exhibited as a master builder? What Paul was actually doing gives us the clue. He was preaching the Good News of the Anointed King and teaching and training those who believed in the way and teaching of the King. How did he do it? He did it by the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9:17; 13:4,9; 16:6,7; 19:6; 20:22,23) He declared this directly in the previous chapter of 1 Corinthians:
When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. 2 For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, 5 so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.
We then briefly reviewed the inseparable roles of the Word of God and the Spirit of God throughout God’s communication to the human race. The last words of Israel’s King David (2 Samuel 3:1-4) were:
The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me,
His word was on my tongue.
We traced this theme through Isaiah 59:20-21, Zechariah 4:12, Acts 4:23-31, to conclude with a second Apostolic statement of this essential reality in 1 Thessalonians 1:5:
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance.
We concluded that the skill required by church builders is to ensure the Word of King Jesus is taught (spoken, written and lived) by the power of the Spirit of Jesus. ‘How may this be done?’ we asked. And concluded by being filled with the Holy Spirit as Acts 4:31 describes:
When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness.
Of course, this is not surprising. Jesus said (John 6:63):
The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Jesus says repeatedly, “He is the Spirit of truth”. (John 14: 17; 15:26; 16:13)
So, if we are to speak his message to minister life, we will also speak then through the Spirit.
It then remained for us to understand how we may be filled by the Holy Spirit. We recalled that we received the Holy Spirit on believing in the Lord Jesus. If so, what could “being filled” with Spirit mean? Of course, the Spirit could not be in residence with us partially. He is there (and we are redeemed) or he is not (and we remain lost). To understand what the New Testament writers meant by “being filled” with the Holy Spirit we examined Paul’s teaching on the subject:
16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:
19 speaking to one another
in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,
singing and making music
from your heart to the Lord,
20 giving thanks always for everything
to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
21 submitting to one another
in the fear of Christ.
Ephesians 5 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
In Galatians 5 we examined:
- How “walk by the Spirit” in Gal. 5:16,17 is contrasted to living for ourselves and the entrenched warfare between these two ways of living our lives
- How “led by the Spirit” in Gal. 5:18 is contrasted to being subject to legal duty
- The contrasting “fruit” of these differing lifestyles in Gal. 19:19-22
- How habitual self-focus is overcome by ‘crucifying’ it (Gal. 5:24) prompting us to remember Jesus invitation to say ‘No’ to self, ‘die’ to its habitual self-focus and ‘come’ after him in Luke 9:23
- The clear instruction, “Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit” (Gal 5:25) intimates being filled by Spirit is equivalent to following him and echoes Jesus statement in the previous point.
- How “be being filled by the Spirit” makes sense in this context and the consequence of it as explained in Ephesians 5:15-21
This understanding permitted us to complete our overview of the Apostle’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 3 as follows:
|1. Building…||Serving the King & one another||Seeking first the kingdom of God & his righteousness! (Matt 6:33)||Reorder our priorities to service & fellowship!|
|2. To God’s building code?||Exclusively based upon King Jesus himself (1 Cor 3:11)||Accounting every life goal offensive waste vs, the incomparable worth of knowing Jesus Messiah; power of his resurrection, fellowship of his sufferings, conforming to his death (Phil 3:8-10)||Reorder our life’s values to know Jesus Messiah as our consuming passion!|
|3. With the best materials?||Exclusively those proved by the King’s judgement ‘fire’ (1 Cor 3:12,13)||The Word of the King - spoken, written & lived (by teachers, by believers & in community, i.e. church CULTURE||Know, teach & live the King’s Good News well - personally & collectively!|
|4. With skill?||Exclusively by the Spirit of the King (1 Thess. 1:5)||Being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31)||Be in step with…, be led by…, follow…, live by…, the Spirit!|
So how are we doing on the action?