Wise Builders (1 Corinthians 3:1-15)

February 19, 2023

Anyway, guys, it’s great to see all of you and thank God that we have this time together each week, and we praise God for it. For those who are visiting with us, especially if you’re from out of town, welcome. We are glad to have you with us here today in a very special way. And you can’t say enough about the Grant family. Oh, my goodness. I felt like we had our sermon from the two kids. We could just go ahead and leave. They did it. It’s like, my goodness. Amazing. I was very grateful that they did that for the first service as well, because my two grandsons were here. Talk about an upper call for every other kid who’s in the auditorium. And the adults. I had one brother come to me and confess. He said? Eddie I don’t know that scripture. I was, okay, bro, you better go to them and learn it then.

But, yeah, they did a fantastic job. Really grateful for the Grant family. Glad they’re here. And welcome to all of you who moved in. We’ve had folks who moved in from other places. Make Orlando your home, and let us just treat you with, like, a king or a queen or whatever. You may be a king or a queen already, so we’ll treat you the way you deserve. But one other thing I want to point out before we get into the message. How many of you were fortunate enough to be here yesterday for the teen and young teen thing? Let me see some answers. Okay, good. A bunch of you got to be here. It’s funny. I have them again, my grandsons, and they’re not quite old enough to fit in just yet, but I thought I’ll bring them anyway, get them out of the house. And they had a blast. It was fun. So, Kudos to Marcus and Amy, I don’t know who all pulled it together, but I know you were key to it, and I’m sorry. Okay, well, we’ll just let God decide who gets the pat on the back. But a fun time, and it was a great prelude to camp.

It was a good day. I even got out there and did tug of war. I have not done tug of war in a while. I’m thinking, my legs are too old for this stuff. But it was still fun. But the best one I got to share this. Best one was at the very end. Khalid said, okay, we want the dads against the moms. And I’m thinking dads against Moms. And they said, Three, two, one, go. And what do you think happened? The women just let go of the rope. It was awesome. And I had just told the guys, I said, look, guys, if the women beat you, you lose your man card. I mean, that’s just it. I was getting them ready. But we have the best women, the best moms in the world, because they said, we love our men. We know that their self esteem would be irreparably broken, so let’s just let them win. So thank you, Amy, for leading the charge in that and whoever else who did it. So, anyway, great to be together.

Let’s go ahead and get into 1 Corinthians, chapter three. Now, and the title of the lesson is simply building wisely. Building wisely. The three distinct sections here. Okay, there they go. Three divisions. I’ll tell you what they are briefly. The deadly disease of division. Paul got into this in chapter one, and he’s revisiting it again here in chapter three. Second section is Christ will judge the foundation. What we build will be judged one day. Where we invest will be judged. And then the third section is Wisdom and Foolishness. Now, I don’t know that we’ll get to all of that. We probably won’t. But what we don’t get to today will pick up there next week. So let’s go ahead and start in chapter three, verse one. Brothers and sisters, I cannot address you as to people who live by the Spirit, but as people who are still worldly- mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you are not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worthy? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, I follow Paul, and another I follow Apollos, are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants through whom you came to believe. As the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it. But God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything but only God who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are coworkers in God’s service. You are God’s field, God’s building.

Now, before we get into the text today, I want to start by saying one thing that’s probably very obvious to all of you. But the Christian life is difficult. The Christian life is hard. And it’s hard for two primary reasons, I believe. One is that we are called to go against the grain of the world. We are called to be very much opposed to this world’s system and how the world does things. And so, in a sense, it’s sort of like the whole picture of the salmon trying to go upstream. You see them fighting against the current. When, when we become followers of Jesus, God calls on us to fight against the current, to be very different.

That’s why in Romans, chapter twelve, he says, don’t be conformed to the things of this world, but be transformed. So God calls us to be very different, and yet the world’s pressure is there. And so that’s the external pressure that’s on us every single day. We are always under a microscope. We always have those tendencies around us that want us to be like them. And the Corinthian Church faces, and we’ll say more about that in a moment. But again, also, not only do we have the world’s pressure, that external pressure, we also have this internal pressure. We still have a sinful nature. So no matter what’s going on, we still have that to battle against. Satan doesn’t let up. You remember when Jesus got baptized, what immediately happened? Takes him into the desert to tempt him for 40 days. I remember when I got baptized, right after my baptism, some things came up and I thought, where is this coming from? But that’s because the sinful nature doesn’t go away. Paul described it this way in Romans seven. He said, for in my inner being, I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in me waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

I remember reading that as a young Christian. It was one of the things that helped me a lot because I thought, doggone it, I got baptized. I made Jesus Lord. Sins have been forgiven, but I still have this battle going on. And when I read this from Paul, I said, okay, there’s not something wrong with me. That’s because the tendency to sin is something that we are born with. Now, I’m not saying we’re born in original sin, okay? Ezekial 1820 says, the soul that sin shall die. The son doesn’t suffer for the iniquity of the Father, neither does the Father suffer for the iniquity of the Son. The righteousness of the righteous will be on him. The wickedness of the wicked will be on him. So I’m not born a sinful person, but that tendency to sin means that every single person, except for our Lord, sins. We all do. Romans, chapter three talks about how all have sinned and falls short of the glory of God. So we have this tendency to sin and it’s always going to be there. But the good news is that salvation, God breaks the stranglehold of sin and he gives us the Holy Spirit to subdue sin in our life.

Romans eight talks about that. It’s through the Spirit that we put to death the misdeeds of the body. And that’s a good thing. It’s an exciting thing. But what God does not do is to remove the tendency to evil in our sinful nature. So guys, we can look forward to eternity with God. We’re going to be saved, okay? We get to have a relationship. We get to be with God for all eternity. But along the way, you’re going to have a lot of battles that you’re going to lose because the tendency to sin is still there. That I hope will make it easy for you to be honest when you sin. You’re not weird. There’s not something wrong with you. I mean, it should be very easy. You know what, bro? I’m going to church and last night I watched some pornography on my computer and I just want to get that off my heart. I want God to forgive me. It should be very natural. I had the opportunity to do good to this neighbor and I was just too lazy. I just didn’t want to do it. Guys, it should be easy for us to just say, yeah, I fell short. I messed up. Problem with Corinth is like you and me, they were succumbing to the pressure of the world around them. And so from chapter one all the way to chapter 16, Paul deals with sin after sin after sin in various forms. He says guys we got to deal with this. And here in chapter three, he continues to talk about division.

Now, why were they divided? Because of their worldliness. They were being affected by the philosophies of the world, and they were bringing those philosophies and those viewpoints into the church. And that’s the temptation we all feel, right? Because we hear it on the news, we hear it from the neighbors. Everybody has their view, and if we’re not careful, the world will try to squeeze us into its mold. And so these guys were having to deal with the same things that everybody in the world were dealing with. A number of Christians were trying to gain status and wider respect for themselves through their association with different speakers. Who is the new rising star? They were doing the same thing in the church as people were doing in the world. And Marcus referred to that last week. I thought he did a great job.

But then what’s the cause of their division? Okay, what’s the problem? How did they get there? I think the real key is in chapter three, one through three, it says, brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit, but as people who are still worldly, mere infants in Christ. The cause of their division was not just the environment around them, although the environment was weighing a heavy toll on them. Okay, that was there. It was also not just worldly pressure. What he says here is that it says they are wordly, that they are carnal in their thinking. It was their weakness in their flesh. Paul says, I couldn’t speak to you as the spiritual people, but as to wordly people. Now, keeping in mind, essentially he refers to them as brothers and sisters. You remember he did that in chapter one. I think it was great that he did that because this is his way of saying, hey, you’re my family. I’m with you. I am not preaching at you. I’m not preaching down at you. I am with you. We’re together in this.

But I can’t talk to you like my spiritual family because you’re so worldly. And this is really kind of sad because I’m going to come back to this, okay? It’s really kind of sad because what he talks about here and yeah, it’s got my Greek word up there. Marcus, how did I say that? Okay, sarkino. And the word simply means flesh. Okay? It means flesh. It means worldliness and this kind of thing. Paul is telling these guys you’re made of flesh, okay? But he goes even further there’s another word that’s used as sarki koi, which means not only made of flesh, but dominated by the flesh. So he is not giving them a compliment at all here. He said, yeah, you’re fleshly. Now keep in mind the very fact that you’re a human being means you’re fleshly, okay? But he’s going beyond that. He said, you guys are pretty messed up right now. He said, you’re dominated by your flesh. And that view was dominating their outlook and their actions. It was affecting the church in a great way. Paul refers to them as infants. Now some of you have infants in the family. Infants are cool.

You just got to love them. Some of them have the most kissable cheeks in the world and all you just love upon them. But when he’s talking about infancy, he is talking about people who are spiritually ignorant. Now one commentator said he could have used the word spiritually stupid, and yet a lot of you, could say ooh you said stupid. You really did something bad. But that may not be far away from how he’s feeling about him. Now granted, he said, you’re my brother and sister, I love you. I’m not doubting you, but I got to tell the truth to you. You’re spiritually ignorant, you’re spiritually dull. Now you could say, okay, Paul, cut the people some slack. You weren’t there that long. I mean, come on, you were there a year and a half. I mean, cut them some slack. Maybe if you had been there longer it would have been better. But I asked you, how long was Paul a part of Ephesus? Anybody remembers? Three years. So three years and in three years he gave them the whole council of God. He says that in Acts chapter 20. How long was he at the lecture hall of Tyrannus? I think it’s in Acts 18. It says, in two years they were able to get the gospel to all the Jews and Greeks in the province of Asia. So in two years they get the message to the whole province. In three years, he gives them the entire council of God and he’s here with these Corinthians for a year and a half. And you’re not going to tell me that he didn’t preach the word while he was there. Okay, I know they got a lot from Paul while he was there for a year and a half, so let’s not give the excuse. That okay, you weren’t there long enough. My guess is it was probably uncomfortable talking to Paul in fellowship because he would just tell you what the deal was and where you were at. More of us need to be like Paul, so let’s not you give them an excuse there. You could come back and say, well, maybe they didn’t have a good leader after Paul left. Maybe after Paul left things just went downhill. But who took over the church in Corinth after Paul left? Anybody knows that? I think you probably know. It was Apollos.

Now, what do we know about Apollos? He was an amazing teacher. Even before his conversion, he taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John, Priscilla and Aquila come along and they said, man, you are awesome. God’s going to do great things with you. Let’s get together. Let’s talk. We need to shore you up in some ways. And the Bible says he kept right on going after that. So they had Apollos. They didn’t have a slouch. He was a good guy. He was a good person for the church in Corinth. So the bottom line for Corinth is that they had influence from Paul, from Apollos. Some commentators believed perhaps Peter, and that maybe some of them were eyewitnesses of Jesus himself. And yet, what does Paul say to them? He is still concerned that they are spiritually ignorant and haven’t moved forward. And so the question I would have for you is, how are you doing spiritually? How are you doing? Are you growing spiritually? Are you becoming more like Jesus? Are you more giving? Are you more loving? Are you more gracious? Are you getting better at fishing for men? Jesus told the guys, come follow me, and I’ll make you fishers of men.

Are you getting better at being fishers of men? What about your attitude towards service? Guys, whenever Marcus or Keith or someone gets up here and say, hey, guys, we need volunteers, we ought to have to turn people away, because the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve. It’s like Jesus to have a heart of service. We should be growing. We should be becoming more like him in that. And so Paul is really concerned about these guys because they’re not advancing spiritually. He says guys you’re still on milk. You should have progressed beyond this. He said, I have to talk to you like I’m talking to someone who’s not saved. He said you’re filled with strife and division and jealousy and quarreling. He said, you are a mess. He said there are worldly splits over personalities. The church is being polarized by personalities. I mean, he just lays it out with these guys. And like I say, it takes 16 chapters to deal with everything. But the thing that I thought about as I prepared this, I said, okay, well, what might he say to you and me? Because that’s kind of where they were at.

What might he say to us? Well, he might bring up pride, because I’m sure that was a problem back then too. But we can be pretty prideful. I think we know it all. Maybe independence. The Bible says we’re a body and each part is dependent on each other. Maybe you struggle with independence. Maybe that’s where you’re at. Maybe selfishness or laziness. Maybe you’re not one who volunteers to serve. Maybe you’re conforming to the world. You think about the world, and you’re letting the world squeeze you into its mold. Maybe that’s the concern. But on the more positive side, maybe you’re not praying much. Maybe quiet times and I won’t do this to you, but if somebody were to ask, how much time are you spending with God from day to day? Did you set aside time every day this past week to be close to God? And again, I’m not asking you to raise your hand, but did you set aside time every day to spend with Jesus? No matter how long it is, but just to spend with God? I mean, Jesus said, man doesn’t live by what? Bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

You ate yesterday, and you probably ate this morning. Are you eating spiritually? Are you getting what you need from God there? What about your focus on the lost? What about your focus on serving your brother and sister God? There’s a lot to do, and that’s why I love it when I hear, like, Marcus lifted up. I think Trey Reed was involved, too. But you got James Jenkins and Trey Reed and others who have been coming over. They’ve been giving up their Saturdays to come over here and work on the building, and they want this place to be a great beacon for those coming up. When people walk up to the door, man, you feel like, wow, somebody cares about this place. They’re taking the time to make it look awesome. That’s inspiring. We need more people to just say, yeah, give me a place. Let me find a place to serve. What? These two kids, one is a six year old. The other, I think, is eight. And I’m listening, and that’s okay. I can quote a lot of what they’re saying, but they did it better than I would off the cuff, for sure.

That’s inspiring. You got to ask yourself, how are you doing spiritually? Are you growing spiritually? And I commend. Lepatic one of the things she does every year is she’ll decide on what her focus is going to be for that year. It may be service. It may be giving. It may be grace. It may be showing mercy. Who knows what it will be. Now she’s better than me. I wished I could say I had just as good of a heart, but you got to give credit where it’s due. I just get up, and I’m like the ever ready bunny, man. I got stuff to do, so I do it, you know what I mean? But sometimes you have to slow down and take stock and take inventory and say, okay, where do I want to go? How can I be more like Jesus? And that’s the whole thing about this second. Paul is saying, guys, you should have been farther along by now, man. I was with you 18 months. You’ve had Apollos since I’ve been gone, you should be farther along. And guys, I dare say that he might say the same things as some of us, that we should be farther along.

But he says, don’t lift us up. Honor God. Let your focus be Jesus. Okay? Don’t say I’m a Paul and Apollos. Let your focus be on Jesus. Let’s go ahead to the next section of 1 Corinthians, chapter three, verse ten. And the foundation and the builders, verse ten. According to the grace of God, given to me like a skilled master builder, I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now, if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and straw, each one’s work will become manifest, for the day will disclose it because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. What Paul is saying is our works will be tested. The day of judgment will disclose how you have built in this life.

Paul was motivated by this. He was motivated by the prospect of Jesus’s return. He was motivated. He ran to win. He fought to win. He said, I don’t beat my body. I beat my body and make it a slave. He said, I don’t box like I’m shadow boxing. He said, I want to make it, and I want as many as possible to make it. And some of you were in playmakers. I remember back in the day, and this was before Jake Jensen, but back in the day, playing, playmakers, and it was a blast. It was a lot of fun and all that good stuff. I was never into any sporting activity to get a participation trophy. I don’t believe in those things. I’m there to win, all right? I am there to win. That saying about is not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. I say, yes, it is whether you win or lose. That’s just the way I am. I don’t want to just be there just to waste my time. I could go watch TV and do that. But Paul wanted to win, and he wanted the people that he worked with to make it.

He did not want them to get to before God and not make it. That would be a very sad thing. A day is coming when our works will be tested. In Revelation 22, I’ll just read this for you. Jesus says, Look, I am coming soon. My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. God is coming. Jesus is coming. And what motivated Paul’s Ministry? He’s motivated by coming judgment. In 2 Corinthians five, verses nine and ten, I love what it says here. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we’re at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Paul’s ministry was motivated by the coming judgment of God. He was motivated by that. But if you look a couple of verses down, he was also motivated by Christ’s love. For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died, and he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.

So Paul was motivated by judgment. He was also motivated by Christ’s love. And so, looking back at 1 Corinthians three, verse 13, it says, each one’s work will become manifest for the day. We’ll disclose it because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.

See, the Bible talks about judgment in a bunch of different forms, and he’s saying that our works are going to be tested on the day of judgment. Let me give you a slide. And these are some things that you could probably keep in mind. If my head wasn’t in the way, you could probably take a picture. But anyway, just keep in mind these are different forms of judgment that the Bible talks about, and you can go through them at your leisure. Judgment of sin. Jesus did that on the cross. Judgment of self. In other words, if there’s self judgment, if we take care of our lives, then God wouldn’t have to discipline on so many points. Judgment of Israel, Ezekiel 20. Judgment of the nations, Matthew 25. Judgment of Satan and demons, jude six, and judgment of the disciples works, which we’re talking about today.

Christ is the judge. He is coming to judge. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think enough about coming judgment. But it is coming, and we want as many as possible to make it. So all of us are building a building. We’re building something, and we need to be aware of that. In 1 Corinthians three, verse ten, paul says, by the grace of God, I was a master builder. Now, when he says a master builder, he isn’t saying, okay, I’m a master builder. So Apollo and all these other people, they’re lesser. So just listen to me. And the reason why I know that’s not what he’s saying is because chapter one, he condemns this idea of I follow Paul, I follow Apollo, I follow Peter. So that’s not what he’s saying. He simply said, I have a role to play in the building of God’s church. Just like Apollo did, but God makes it grow. You have a role to play in the church. God has a plan for your life, and he wants you to use it. That’s why I love it when people step up and they do what they can. They do their part, and they’re willing to serve in whatever way they can.

Every member has a ministry. Now, the challenge is you’re either building with combustible materials or fireproof materials, okay? Combustible, wood, Hayes straw. Once the fire is set to that, it goes up in flames. Or you build them with fireproof materials. Gold, silver, costly stones.

Now, the amazing thing about it, he says, okay, you’re going to make it. You’ll be saved, but you’re going to suffer loss if you build with the wrong stuff. Yeah, I struggle with that when I read that, because to me, it’s almost like God is saying the investment that I put in Keith’s life to try to love up on Keith and help him. The investment I put in Megan’s life to try to help her or Carlos or Jeremy, the investment that I give in all these lives. We come before you, God, on the day of judgment. And all that I’ve been invested in gets lost. What that says to me is there’s something wrong with how I’m building. I mean, let me give you a simple example. Every Christmas, I was always the guy who put stuff together for Christmas morning. Whether it’s a bike or a swing set or something, I was always that guy.

So I’m up half the night, and you know how you have 15 screws and you count it out? Some of you can’t relate to this because you just start doing stuff. I don’t like you. I don’t like people like you. If they say you have 15 of one inch screws and you have ten over half an inch, you got to count them and you separate them out. You got to do it the right way. I mean, if you do it the wrong way, repent. You can repent of that today. But here’s the deal. If you’re busy putting that thing together, and you put it together and it’s out there and it looks good, and somebody goes and sits on it, and the moment they go back, the whole thing comes crashing down. There’s something wrong with me and how I put that thing together. So I got to still marinate on that, because the idea of losing what I’ve invested in is heartbreaking. And I think that’s why he says, you’ll suffer loss, and it says, I’ll make it, but only there’s one escaping through the flames. In other words, by the skin of your teeth.

There’s so much more we could say. Let me give you this next thing. What do we get when we’re judged and God decides that we’re going to make it? We get a crown. There are lots of places where the Bible talks about crowns. Lots of places where it talks about the incorruptible crown for those who are faithful to God. A crown of righteousness for those faithful and to Jesus returns. Crown of rejoicing for those who win souls. Crown of glory for those who are faithful among the elders and pastors. A crown of life for all who love him sacrificially. 1 Corinthians 3:13-15. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. We do the best we can, folks. We need to build with the best materials we can come up with. Now, next week, we will start at verse 16, and we’ll pick up there so you can read ahead, go over it, marinate on these things. This week, the only kind of living water challenge I want to give you. And let’s see. I’m not moving, so flip to the next one for me is to just ask yourself, how are you doing, spiritually?

What are you doing to make sure you’re on a continual path of growth, spiritually? Maybe you need to make a decision similar to what Lepatic does. Bottom line of what I’m saying is this- it’s time to get going. Okay? It’s time to get going. I hated COVID. All right? I’ll just say it. Maybe one day when I see God in heaven, I’ll say, okay, God, what was the deal with COVID? I’m going to also ask him, what was the deal with letting me get cancer? I’d like to understand a little more. It seemed like I still have this residual crazy cough. No, I’m not sick. I’m good. And I’m thinking, really? But as I look around this room, I see one, two maybe they’re more math. Two math. Guys were back, and it’s time for us to all decide. I want to get engaged. I want to do my part. I want to help win this world for Jesus. I want to get the message out to the big East. I want to be the first to sign up if there’s a service opportunity, I want to do my part. We have two new people on stage. They have meagan up here and miss Emily on the keyboards. I said, come on, baby, this is awesome. But that’s the way it ought to be. We ought to have so many people saying, sign me up, Marcus. Sign me up, Amy, sign me up Lepatic and let me do something. Let me give. Guys, there are a lot of people in the city that are waiting for us to reach them. It’s time to get going. Let’s go there together. God’s going to do great things. Let’s not be the corinthians. Let’s not be those ones who are still back there, but let’s continue to grow. Amen. Amen. Thank you, guys.

Orlando Church