(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
If you are working through this TB in a small group, brainstorm on all the things you are building these days. Let me give you some ideas, family, trust, career, walk with God, friendship, rebuilding health, a house, etc. Now take some time to talk about what it means to build carefully. Why is building carefully difficult sometimes?
Text: 1 Corinthians 3:10-23.
Read through the text and note Paul’s admonition to build carefully (v.10) and note what the project is (v.16).
Note the value God places on the church in v.16.
- The pronoun “you” is plural, referring to the body of Christ.
- They collectively are being referred to as a “temple”. Temples were a common sight on the landscape of Corinth, like Tim Hortons in our day.
- Note that the temple is a place where the Spirit of God lives and it is sacred. Again, for the original context this would have been a real contrast:
“The distinctive cult of Corinth was veneration of Aphrodite, goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, who is identified with the Roman Venus. The summit of Acrocorinth was dominated by a temple dedicated to her worship, served by over 1,000 sacred prostitutes or slave-priestesses. Associated with such religious practices was a general moral degradation. Corinthian morals were notoriously corrupt, even when compared with pagan Rome.” Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (514). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
- Note the harsh judgment for anyone that destroys God’s temple.
Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians is to build carefully.
Big Idea: Build Carefully What God Treasures Deeply
There are three ideas that Paul develops as he talks about building carefully:
1. Make sure we have the right match - foundation and structure v.11,12
Paul had laid the foundation (v.11). He had been in Corinth for about 18 months. Now others were building on it (v.12). The problem was that some were not building carefully. The structure did not match the foundation, and there was even the very real possibility of them changing the foundation all together.
How does Paul demonstrate in v.12 that we need to choose wisely what kind of structure we build on the foundation?
Much has been said about the various elements listed, but suffice it to say that we are being encouraged to choose wisely as we build, whether it is our own lives or whether it has to do with the body of Christ.
Read the following verses to see what the wood, hay and straw materials were in Corinth: 1:12, 31; 2:5; 3:3-4, 18-23.
They were guilty of attempting to build the church around a personality.
Think of our modern day situation, what are some faulty structures the church has been built around? Let me list what I talked about on Sunday. Do you have other examples? Which ones resonate with you?
- Tickling of the ears (just saying what people want to hear)
Botox Church is guilty of not matching the structure with the foundation. This, then, can lead to changing the foundation to match the “improved” structure.
See what Jesus had to say about this issue of foundations when it came to how carefully we build our personal walk with Him (Matt. 7:24-27).
Talk about seasons in life when your structure did not match the foundation of Christ.
For example someone might say that they are a Christ follower but are harbouring an unforgiving attitude.
Does your community have the courage to speak into your life when they see structure issues in your life? Are you open to that kind of accountability?
In light of Christ being our individual and corporate foundation, how important is it to be in the word of God? What is the connection?
2. Build with accountability in mind (v.12-15)
How does accountability encourage us to build (whatever) with care?
Comb through the verses and discuss what they teach about accountability.
“Day” was a reference to Christ’s return
“Fire” was symbol of testing and
“Reward” - this and other texts don’t tell us much about the nature of the reward - lots of mystery. 4:5 sheds some light. One person said, “What more reward would one want than to hear- ‘Well done good and faithful servant.’”
Note that Paul is talking about Christians.
Note the incredible grace of God in v.15. Even though people have knowingly built carelessly, they are still saved. V.15 is not about salvation, but about accountability and rewards.
How often do you think of your accountability before God with regards to how you are building your life or the church that you are part of? Do Christians think of being accountable? If not, why not?
Do you think Paul wants us to experience some sick, twisted, perverse motivation where the only reason we do what we do is because of accountability?
What scriptures would demonstrate that our relationship with God is rooted in love, not the fear of accountability? (Check out 1 John 4:7-21) How do we strike the balance of living with a sense of accountability and also resting in the grace and love of God?
3. Understand how much we matter to God (v.16-17)
We are back where we started.
Obviously Paul is not talking about Christians in v.17. In v.15 he has just said that Christ followers will be saved but just by the skin of their teeth. They will have that “smoky smell”. The person in v.17 must be unregenerate and bent on destroying the church. Pretty sobering words!
Have you ever seen such destruction in a church by wolves in sheep’s clothing?
Take some time to pray into this all-important issue that Paul raises. Here are some prayer tips:
- Pray that the leadership at Bethel would carefully build the right structure on the Foundation of Jesus Christ.
- Pray that, as individuals, we would be quick to remove any wrong structures that do not match the foundation of Jesus Christ.
- Pray that we would live with a greater sense of accountability.
- Pray against accountability becoming an unhealthy driver.
- Pray for Christ followers who have been defiled, that God would restore them to health and wholeness.
- Pray for the city of Kingston, that Churches would be built on the solid Foundation.
Build carefully, pray faithfully!
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact firstname.lastname@example.org
REFLECTION ON SCRIPTURE
- People: Who are the people in this passage and how are they like us today?
- Place: What is the setting and what are the similarities to our world?
- Plot: What is happening? Is there any conflict or tension? How would I have acted in that situation?
- Point: What was the intended message for the first people to hear this passage? What did God want them to learn or feel or do?
- Principles: What are the timeless truths?
- Present: How is this relevant in our world today?
- Parallels: Where does this truth apply to my life? At home, at work, at school, in church, in the neighborhood?
- Personal: What attitude, action, value, or belief needs to change in me?
- Plan: What would be my first step of action?