1 Corinthians 3:10-15

In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 Paul continues his teaching about how ministry happens. He just finished making it clear that whatever happened was because of God’s grace, not his ability or work. And now he makes it clear that ministry isn’t a solo event – many are involved in God’s plan to build spiritually. “…. 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.” When Paul founded the church in Corinth, he set the only foundation that can be laid: the person and work of Jesus Christ. Yet he knew that others would come after him and build on the foundation he set.

How we build on the foundation requires much care. There is only one foundation for the church. If it isn’t founded on Jesus Christ, it isn’t a church at all. So one can’t build on any other foundation; but one can build unworthily on the one foundation. “Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, 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.” The “building” God is constructing in His people, with His fellow workers is His “temple.” It’s not about the building materials – it is completely about the people.

If we build with the wrong materials or focus on anything except Jesus, it’s gonna burn up. There will be a test to be sure that the church is pure and built on the right foundation. If the foundation is Jesus, it will hold together. If it is anything else, it falls apart. Our work will be tested by God and the work of some will be revealed as nothing on that Day. “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.” The amount of the work isn’t going to be evaluated, but the sort of work that has been done. And if it is God’s work, there will be a reward. When our work is tested before the Lord, we will be rewarded according to what remains.

Guzik wrote ‘It is a sobering thought: many, many people who believe they are serving God, but are doing it in an unworthy manner or with unworthy “materials” will come to find in eternity that they have, in reality, done nothing for the Lord.’ “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” The fire does not purify the worker, it tests their workmanship. Failing to do things God’s way does not mean a person won’t be saved, but that the effort they have put into loving and serving and ministering will not last. It was built on the wrong foundation and doesn’t endure the test of time.

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