I Corinthians 3: 9 - 15
Foundations of Faith III
Paul tells the converted Corinthians to make sure that they are building their lives and fellowship upon secure foundations. He says, ‘no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ’ (I Corinthians 3: 11). But he goes on to warn them that there is a right way and a wrong way to build on this foundation.
This passage in Paul’s letter is about the judgement of a Christian’s life and work. Certainly the true Christian can only have one foundation - that is Jesus Christ the Lord - but he can build ‘the house’ of his life and work in two different ways. He can use top quality material such as gold, silver and precious stones, or he can use substandard items such as wood, hay or straw. These perishable materials will in no way survive the ‘fire of judgement’. The coming of the Lord in judgement is often likened to a fire. Malachi says, ‘Who can endure the day of His coming? … For He will be like a refiner’s fire’ (Malachi 3: 2).
Paul makes it quite clear that he is not talking about gaining or losing salvation (v15). What is on trial is the quality of the building the Christian has constructed. ‘If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward’ (v14). What this says to me is that I should put my very best into my Christian life. The best of my time and effort are to be spent on my Christian service - once my life is secure upon the foundation of faith in Christ the Lord. I wish someone had explained that to me when I was younger. How much effort have I expended on things that in the light of the Gospel are worthless and will not stand the test of time or the searching, refining fires of God’s judgement? For the love of Christ we should use the best of materials to build and maintain our Christian lives and service. Our churches and fellowships, in like manner, must receive the best support that we can give. Are we determined to do this?
Help me, Heavenly Father, to review my Christian life and service in the light of Your holy word. Help me to get my priorities right and to put Christ first. In His name. Amen.