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Demonstrate A Fully Obedient Faith
Develop a Mature Faith
1 Corinthians 3:7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
Looking at it from this point, we can readily see that the planter and the waterer are really not very important, relatively speaking. They have not the power in themselves to bring forth life.
Why then should there be any envy or rivalry among Christian workers? Each should do the work that has been allotted to him, and rejoice when the Lord shows His hand in blessing.
1 Corinthians 3:8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
He who plants and he who waters are one in the sense that they both have the same object and aim. There should be no jealousy between them.
As far as service is concerned, they are on the same level. In a coming day, each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. That day is the Judgment Seat of Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.
God is the One to whom all are responsible.
All His servants are fellow workers, laboring together in God’s tilled harvest field, or, to change the picture, working together on the same building.
Erdman renders the thought as follows: “We are fellow-workers who belong to God and are working with one another.”
1 Corinthians 3:10 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.
Continuing with the idea of building, the apostle first of all acknowledges that anything he has been able to accomplish has been due to the grace of God.
Then he goes on to describe his part in the beginning of this assembly at Corinth: “As a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation.” He came to Corinth preaching Christ and Him crucified. Souls were saved and a local church was planted.
Then he adds: “And another builds on it.” By this, he doubtless refers to other teachers who subsequently visited Corinth and built on the foundation which had already been established there.
However, the apostle cautions: “But let each one take heed how he builds on it.” He means that it is a solemn thing to exercise a teaching ministry in the local church.
Some had come to Corinth with divisive doctrines and with teachings contrary to the word of God. Paul was doubtless conscious of these teachers as he penned the words.
1 Corinthians 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Only one foundation is required for a building. Once it is laid, it never needs to be repeated. The Apostle Paul had laid the foundation of the church at Corinth. That foundation was Jesus Christ, His Person and Work. What other foundations can be found?
1 Corinthians 3:12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
Subsequent teaching in a local church may be of varying degrees of value. For instance, some teaching is of lasting worth, and might be likened to gold, silver, or precious stones.
Here precious stones probably do not refer to diamonds, rubies, or other gems but rather to the granite, marble, or alabaster used in the construction of costly temples.
On the other hand, teaching in the local church might be of passing value or of no value at all. Such teaching is likened to wood, hay, and straw.
This passage does not refer primarily to all believers but rather to preachers and teachers. What can we learn from this?
1 Corinthians 3:13 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.
In a coming day, each one’s work will become clear. Day refers to the Judgment Seat of Christ when all service for the Lord will be reviewed.
The process of review is likened to the action of fire. Service that has brought glory to God and blessing to man, like gold, silver, and precious stones, will not be affected by the fire.
On the other hand, that which has caused trouble among the people of God or failed to edify them will be consumed. The fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
1 Corinthians 3:14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
Work in connection with the church may be of three types. In verse 14 we have the first type—service that has been of a profitable nature. In such a case, the servant’s life work endures the test of the Judgment Seat of Christ and the worker will receive a reward.
1 Corinthians 3:15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
The second type of work is that which is useless. In this case, the servant will suffer loss, although he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
E. W. Rogers points out: “Loss does not imply the forfeiture of something once possessed.” It should be clear from this verse that the Judgment Seat of Christ is not concerned with the subject of a believer’s sins and their penalty. The penalty of a believer’s sins was borne by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, and that matter has been settled once for all. Thus the believer’s salvation is not at all in question at the Judgment Seat of Christ; rather it is a matter of his service.
An interesting thought in connection with this verse is that the word of God is sometimes likened to fire (see Isa. 5:24 and Jer. 23:29). The same word of God which will test our service at the Judgment Seat of Christ is available to us now. If we are building in accordance with the teachings of the Bible, then our work will stand the test in that coming day.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Paul reminds the believers that they are the temple (Gk., the inner shrine or sanctuary) of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in them. It is true that every individual believer is also a temple of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but that is not the thought here. The apostle is looking at the church as a collective company, and wishes them to realize the holy dignity of such a calling.
1 Corinthians 3:17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
A third class of work in the local church is that which may be spoken of as destructive. Apparently there were false teachers who had come into the church at Corinth and whose instruction tended more to sin than to holiness. They did not think it a serious matter to thus cause havoc in a temple of God, so Paul thunders out this solemn declaration: “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him.”
Macdonald, Farstad Grady Scott, Hindson, E. MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006).