A FIRM FOUNDATION
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 12 February 2023
Princeton Christian Church
In order to be successful in any endeavor, you must pay attention to the fundamentals. Those basic fundamentals serve as the foundation and the building blocks for success.
For example- In the late ’60s, Vince Lombardi, just after winning the first Super Bowl and on the eve of a new season, gathered his team in the locker room and stepped up onto a bench for a speech. He reviewed last year’s season, then began to talk about the plans for a return trip to the great game and how they would accomplish it. “We’re going back to basics,” he said. And with that, he held up a game ball, and said slowly and deliberately, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Coach Lombardi knew what too many of us fail to remember – the way to stay on the winning team is to work on the fundamentals of a strong foundation.
The same holds true in spiritual matters. If we want to be spiritually successful, we need to pay close attention to the fundamentals of the faith. Then, we can build upon that firm foundation and be assured that what we build will be pleasing to God.
1 Cor. 3:10-15 --- 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. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 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. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
We must be careful how we build. If what we build is not pleasing to the Lord, it will not last, and it will not bring us a reward. It will not have a firm foundation.
Only by remembering the fundamentals and building upon the proper foundation, which is Christ, can we expect to build something that will last. It will not have a firm foundation.
Those who are built as living stones in the church of the Living God- who are faithful and true will be able to endure the trials of fire. It will not have a firm foundation.
Those who are built as living stones into the church of the Living God- who are hypocritical and false will be as stubble- they will be burned up by the trial of fire and be lost. It will not have a firm foundation.
Today, I want us to consider the fundamental foundations of faith concerning the Lord’s church, so we can be sure that we are “wise builders” supported by a firm foundation. To do this, we begin by…
I. UNDERSTANDING THE NAME.
The Bible was written in a language known as Koine Greek. In the first century, this was the language that the common man on the street and in the marketplace spoke.
The Greek word for 'church' is ‘Ekklesia' = “Those called out.” (assembled)
It does not automatically have a religious association at all. This word is used to describe a mob of people who were upset with Paul's teachings in Acts 19:32,39,41
“32 Some, therefore, cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together…39 But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly…41 And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.”
In this context, the word Ekklesia is translated as an assembly and in this case, it has absolutely nothing to do with a religious gathering of any kind.
Rom. 16:16 We see it used in a different sense.
“Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.”
Here we have an example of this word being used to represent assemblies of Christians. This refers to individual congregations of the Lord’s people. The ekklesia at North Gibson Street in Princeton, Indiana.
Col.1:24 The word is used in a third sense.
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.”
Now we see the word used in scripture to represent the one universal body of Christ. This is the church universal as one entire assembly. Notice that Paul writes of the body.
We have to look at the context of the Scriptures to see how the word is to be used. It can represent a secular assembly (mob), or assemblies of congregations, or the one universal assembly throughout the world.
Regardless of how it is used, this teaches us that the church is a people and not a physical thing.
The word Ekklesia was never used to describe any physical structure in the New Testament. The church is not a building, it's not a place or a location.
An Ekklesia, or church is the assembly of people. We are the assembly therefore we, the people, are the church.
1 Peter. 2:5 says this:
“You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
How has the world’s concept of the church affected us? Have you ever said, “OK everybody, let’s get in the car, it’s time to go to church?” I have to confess I have said something like that more than once. We probably all have.
But here is the error in that statement. That assumes that the church is a place or a structure. That is not accurate. What we ought to say is “OK everybody, let’s get in the car, it’s time to go to worship. It’s time to go to the assembly.” That is more in keeping with Biblical principles.
First, by understanding the name, we now have a better understanding that we are the church, the assembly of God, who is called out to worship Him.
Secondly, we continue in the fundamental foundations of faith by…
II. UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH
Many people in the denominational world understand the nature of the church based on Jesus’ discussion of the vine and the branches in John 15:1-8
“1 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
To those in the denomination world, each branch on this vine is one of the various, Christian denominations. There is a Baptist branch, a Catholic branch, a Methodist branch, a Presbyterian branch, etc.
However, if you look closely at the Lord’s words, it is clear that He is talking about Individual Christians and not denominational groups. Look at the passage again, it is filled with pronouns that represent individuals. If you abide. If He abides. Clearly, the Lord recognizes each branch as an individual person and not a denominational group.
This passage does not discuss or support the existence of denominations. Rather, it teaches the individual responsibility of each and every Christian to be fruitful in the service of our God.
As we examine the scriptures, it is clear that Jesus is speaking to us as individuals and that the Lord’s church is singular and not plural.
Let’s look at Matthew 16:13-18:
“13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter and, on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
On this occasion, Jesus is questioning the disciples about what is being said about Him. He really doesn’t have to ask the question because He knows the answer. He knows what is being said about Him. The reason He asks the question is to get to who the disciples think He is.
They say that the people think that He is one of the great prophets come back to life.
Then He asked them what they thought. Peter hits the nail on the head. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
After this declaration of faith and knowledge, Jesus makes a great pronouncement about the church- “…you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church” Peter (Petros) = “small stone.”
It is not Peter that the church is built upon, as some believe, but it is the truth of his confession, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. That is the foundation of the church.
Here, in the context of this passage, notice that the Lord only promised to build one church. He says it clearly - “I will build My church.” The Lord’s church is singular. It is not plural. There are multiple congregations, but they all make up the one universal church.
2. Eph. 1:19-23 Paul also addresses the nature of the church
“19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.” 20 which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
In this passage of scripture, Paul states that by God’s mighty power, He raised Jesus from the dead and enthroned Him in heaven.
Jesus has been exalted above all powers, and He is now reigning over all things.
And He is now the head of the church. By this, we see that Jesus is the supreme leader of the church. All authority rests upon Him as we see in Matthew 28:18.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
All authority and all power are invested in Jesus.
Notice that the church is described as His body. He is the head, the authority, we are His body. If a church is a building there is no life there. It is simply wood, brick and other man made materials. But the church is alive.
We are his servants, His hands, and His feet, to do His will.
3. Now, consider what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1-6
“1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Notice the number of times Paul say the word, “One” in that passage. The number 1 signifies something that is singular, not multiple – single. One is not zero. One is not two. It means one, all by itself.
The text says that there is one body. Now we already know that Christ is the head of that body from Ephesians 1:22-23.
We also know that the body is the same thing as the church- Ephesians 1:22-
So, since there is one body, and the body is the church, Jesus only built and established one church.
The idea that the Lord established multiple churches and that you can join the church of your choice is completely unbiblical.
There are many denominations created by man but only one church established by Jesus Christ. It is His church.
By understanding the nature of the church, we come to understand just how unique and distinctive the Lord’s church is. There is only one.
When we remember the fundamental foundations of faith, we are able to build upon a firm foundation and the things we build will be pleasing to the Lord and will last.
Those fundamentals concerning the church will help us to have a better understanding of the church as designed by the Lord. It is His church, and we must accept it as He has given it to us.
Not only has the Lord given us His church, but He has also given us instructions on how to enter into His church.
1. Believe (John 8:24) “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
2. Repent (Luke 13:3) “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
3. Confess (Mt. 10:32-33) “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.”
4. Be baptized (Ac. 22:16) “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”
5. Live faithfully (Rev. 2:10) “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
6. Do this and the Lord will add you to His body, the church (Ac. 2:47) “And the Lord and, was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
And there you have it – the Gospel message. Everything anyone needs to know to begin a walk through life side by side with Jesus our Lord. When we have done what He has commanded us to do we are added to His church – the Ekklesia – the One Body of Christ.