Summary: Exposition regarding 1 Cor 3:10-17 about rewards and losses and destruction to those harming the church
Text: 1 Corinthians 3:10-17, Title: Shell Out the Big Bucks, Date/Place: NRBC, 8/15/10, AM
A. Opening illustration: either building a house in Maine, or cheating in the US
B. Background to passage: Again, undermining their divisiveness, he says that not only is this foolishness to the world, not impressive to the world, not the true wisdom of God in Christ, not only is this carnal, culpable, but it is costly. Here he reminds them of their accountability before God as individuals, and as a church body. And he also brings into the discussion, rewards and loss and the bema seat of Christ.
C. Main thought: in this text we will see the costs of building, and that we must “take heed” how we do it
A. Foundation is Exclusive, Free, & Secure (v. 10-11)
1. Notice that Paul’s laying of the foundation is “according to grace” not of his own efforts; this is key as he must be careful when giving instruction on works and rewards, in order to avoid a willpower religious system. Also note that he used the “wise” to link back to the wisdom discussion. Also notice that Paul didn’t design the foundation, but simply laid it, for it was designed in eternity past by God Himself. Remember Paul is trying to leave the impression that this is all not about him, but about Christ. And that foundation, Jesus Christ, is eternal, steadfast, and unshakable! And there is no other lasting foundation. He is the Rock, the Chief Cornerstone,
2. Isa 28:16, Matt 7:24-27, 21:42-44, 1 Pet 2:4-8, Ps 127:1,
3. Illustration: Leaning tower of Pisa, 1174, 18 feet out of straight now, Had an interesting conversation about historical theology and the use of Trinitarian language among the church fathers, and afterward as I was researching and contacting a few experts, one reminded me that “Our authority does not rest with the early church fathers but with Scripture,” I heard the story of a boat that sank. One crewman was able to escape by swimming to a huge rock that was immovable against the waves. Trembling, the poor crewman clung to it. Soon the crewman was rescued by another passing boat. The sailors asked him if the crewman was afraid while hanging on to the rock. He replied: "Yes, I trembled with fear, but the rock didn't!" tell about the family member and Tom Spampinato subverting the obvious commands of scripture.
4. He is speaking to the church as a whole and the individuals in it, and primarily to the leaders who are building the church. Ultimately it is Christ who said he would build his church. Exclusive gospel. Can’t build it on church teaching, tradition, rules, rituals, councils, leaders, good deeds, or false gods, but Christ alone. All other foundations will crumble. The church is built on the foundation of Christ with Christ as its head. Remember that Paul is dealing with division in the body, and so he is saying that this is the foundation that they/we are all founded on—the gospel. Our church and our lives are founded on the gospel, and nothing else. We must learn to discern the things that are gospel importance and let the other things go. We have a choice to make as to what foundation our lives are built on. Choose Christ, hear His words, submit and obey, and let His instructions lead us. This foundation will never fail us as a church, or you as a believer.
B. Structure is Costly Either Way (v. 12-17)
1. Paul then lays out the materials that churches and individuals build on the foundation of Christ with—eternal, imperishable things vs. temporary, soon to be burned things. 1) Gold, silver, and precious stones were the materials used to build the Temple, and symbolize things of the Kingdom. These were costly materials, and required great investment up front. But maintenance costs were low, and eternal rewards were high. Paul says that all our works would be tried by fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This would be a place were warriors were given their crowns after a victory. Only believers will be here, only those with a foundation of Christ (our judgment for our sin was already carried out); everyone else judged at the Great White Throne judgment. Those who have labored in their lives for the true advancement of the kingdom will receive crowns here (crowns that will eventually go to the feet of Jesus). The bible speaks of four or five crowns (depending on who’s counting): an imperishable crown for maturity in the faith, a crown of rejoicing for soul-winners, crown of life to those who suffer for the kingdom, crown of righteousness to those who look for His appearing, and a shepherds crown for faithful pastors. 2) Next Paul speaks of materials that will be revealed as worthless. Wood, hay, and straw were cheap, easily accessible materials that didn’t last long, and didn’t stand up to fire. These are things with no kingdom value and they will burn up. And Paul says that these believers, although their eternity is not in the balance, they will suffer loss. Not sure what kind of loss (could be shame, because of poor battle performance, loss), but it was a motivating factor, “Don’t act this way, for it will not be rewarded, in fact, you will suffer loss.” 3) Finally, Paul speaks to those that are trying to destroy the church in the last two verses. Commentators differ as to whether He speaks to them as unbelievers, or as 1 Cor 5 believers. Usually destruction is not leveled against believers. Ecclesiology, the Spirit dwells within the church—“you” is plural. Notice that God moves swiftly when people attempt to destroy the church, whether their goal is destruction or not. Remember those that were destroying the church in this instance were those that were causing division.