Thursday, June 28, 2018

2018.06.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 3:9-17

Questions for Littles: To whom do the fellow-workers belong (v9)? To whom does the building belong? What was given to Paul so that he could build (v10)? What was he privileged to lay? Of what must future builders take heed? What other foundation can be laid (v11)? What foundation has been laid? With what might one build (v12)? But by what will the building be tested (v13)? What will believers receive if their building endures (v14)? Through what will we all be saved (v15)? What is the church (v16)? Who dwells there? What will God do to the one who does the church harm (v17)? Why? 
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn that there is much more at stake in ministry than satisfying the opinions of men. The workers don’t belong to the church; they belong to the Lord. What pastor fears his congregation? What pastor indulges competitive thoughts about other pastors? Let him remember that as a worker, he belongs to his Master—regardless of whom else he might be working with. And let him further remember that the work does not belong to him but to his Lord!

In one sense, this is a great comfort. The Lord will surely accomplish all that He has planned to accomplish!! That’s a cause for humility too—if the outcome is guaranteed before we begin, and sustained by grace while we labor, is there really any room at all for boasting? Absolutely not.

In another sense, this is a great caution. Because it is only the Lord’s eternal work that will stand the fire of the transition from time to eternity. v15 isn’t describing the fire of judgment. It is a reference to the fact that when the Day comes that we enter eternity, then at last we will see what fruit was eternal, and the results may be surprising indeed.

What is the solution? An endless cycle of vision statements, surveys, statistical analyses, and performance reviews? To listen to the ministry experts you sure would think so! No, rather. The answer is Bible study that gets put into action.

The Lord has only one foundation: Jesus Christ. And He has already been laid down by the apostles and prophets. And the Lord also has His own building materials: gold, silver, precious stones. Oh, there is a temptation to embellish with whatever we can. Organizations, affinity groups, programs and the like may make for a much larger structure, but they will not survive into eternity.

So what? Isn’t the only point to “get saved.” Of course not! The great point is to glorify God! And we should cherish the opportunity to serve Him in bringing Him that glory!!

And the second point is like it—to do good to others. The horrifying part about potentially seeing an entire life’s ministry go up in smoke is that the fruit of that ministry was being measured in people, eternal souls. Shall we really hate them so thoroughly as to sacrifice them on the altar of our own self-importance and job satisfaction (or volunteer ministry satisfaction)?!

Let us build the Lord’s church only, ever, with the Lord’s materials given in Scripture: the ordinary means of grace. Our ever-merciful and over-generous Lord even super-adds another incentive: rewards. If our work endures, we will receive a reward. Not because of how well we have done in ourselves—but because whatever genuine good is done is always done in Christ, and He Himself is the worthiness of the work. But, still, the Lord gives us rewards!

There are those who, even understanding it in this way, shrink back from the idea that the Lord gives rewards to His people for service well-done in this life. But it is such a repeated point in Scripture, that we will leave them to argue it out against the Holy Spirit. Instead, accepting this truth at His Word, let us marvel at His grace and generosity, and see how richly He has laid before us motivations to serve according to His instructions rather than our imaginations!
What service are you doing in the building of Christ’s church? From where in the Bible is your method?
Suggested songs: ARP119I “According to Your Word, O Lord” or TPH402 “Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation”

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