I believe there are two construction projects in which all Christians should be interested. Every Christian should be interested in building up the church (Ephesians 4:16), and every Christian should be interested in building personal faith (2 Peter 1:5-11). There is not always agreement among Christians as to how to achieve that growth. Part of our problem in the church today is that we have turned to worldly methods, rather than the Bible, to achieve growth. Is it any wonder that a worldly church is the result?
Notice these words from the apostle Paul." 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, NKJV).In this text, Paul calls himself "a wise master builder" (expert builder - NW). The Corinthian Christians were God's building verse 9. Let us notice some principles for church growth from this wise master builder.
As a wise master builder, the apostle Paul knew the things that made for growth of the church. He spoke of the foundation he had laid." For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" verse 10. Paul's determination to preach nothing "except Jesus Christ and him crucified" had brought the church in Corinth into existence (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). Confession of faith in Jesus Christ is the bedrock of the church (Matthew 16:16-18). The one who hears the words of Jesus and does them is the one who has a spiritual house built on the rock that will outlast the winds, rains, and storms (Matthew 7:24-27).If we would build up the church or our personal faith, we must start with Jesus as the foundation.
A proper perspective of God's servants also makes for church growth." Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believe, as the Lord gave to each one?"(1 Corinthians 3:5).In Corinth, as in many churches today, trust in preacher personalities caused them to overlook God. The reasoning is, "If we will just hire a dynamic personality, this will produce growth." This today, like then, is a fleshly appeal instead of a spiritual one. It demonstrated itself in envy, strife, and division (1 Corinthians 3:3-4). Paul reminded the Corinthians that it was God, not the preachers, who gave the growth verse 6.We need to recognize and appreciate the different capabilities and expertise of God's servants (Romans 12:4-8). God's faithful servants should not be dismissed and discarded but are to be highly esteemed in love for the work's sake (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). However, we need to remember it is God who brings growth to the church and to our lives.
A wise master builder also builds to withstand the fire of judgment." Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 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" (1 Corinthians 3:12-13). Whether the Day referred to is the final day of judgment or testing in life is not of primary importance. The point is our spiritual building will be tested, and we must build to endure.
In 1992, Homestead, Florida, was hit by hurricane Andrew, the most devastating hurricane until Katrina hit in 2005. Within hours, the damage produced by the storm was equivalent to the creation of 20 years' worth of garbage. However, one truth was revealed by the storm: buildings built according to code withstood the destructive force of the hurricane.
Wood, hay, and straw are easily obtained, but just as easily burned. Gold, silver, and precious stones are harder to find, but they will withstand the fire! When we think of the people material of the church or the qualities we are putting into our own character development, we must build with materials that will withstand the fire. Let us not build for the moment, but for eternity!
How is your spiritual building?Care in building up the church or building one's spiritual life will begin with the foundation in Christ. While it will recognize and have a proper appreciation for God's fellow workers, it will seek its growth from God. It will also seek to have a lasting superstructure that is comparable with its foundation.
May each one of us "take heed how we build."-64308 Warne Dr., Cambridge, OH 43725.
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