"I am the vine, you are the branches"
Elementary Teachings, Part 3
United on the Foundation
We have been studying, the last several newsletters, at 1 Corinthians 3. We started by laying a foundation of the elementary principles in Hebrews 6:1-2. Now that we have laid that foundation, we want to build upon it and continue looking at this chapter in 1 Corinthians on foundational living.
We saw that the Corinthians were acting in the flesh when they squabbled about who was taught by a better man. They were looking toward man rather than God. In verse 5 we see Paul telling the people, "What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one." Now, what we are going to look at is very important for all who belong to a church family, for all who belong to the body of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).
Paul goes on to say in verses 6-8, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor." We see in Amos 9:13 this tag team of gardeners in the Messianic age: "‘Behold, days are coming,' declares the LORD, ‘When the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; when the mountains will drip sweet wine and all the hills will be dissolved.'" Even in the perfect age, the days to come, it will be important for God's people to work together. Paul tells the Romans in Romans 12:5, "So we, who are many, are one body in Messiah, and individually members one of another." We are one in Messiah, like a Bride and Groom become One (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:8, Ephesians 5:30-31).
1 Corinthians 12:12-24 tells us, "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don't need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it."
We see here something very important. We are not only one body, but we see here that all members are equal and deserve respect. There can be no politics in our assemblies. We must be united and work together. As our body works together for our good, so we are the body of Messiah and we represent Messiah, and because of this, we must remember that God is love and we too must love one another.
Verse 25 goes on, "So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." Is this something that the church has lost? 1 John 3:17 tells us, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" John tells us in the verse above that this is how we know that we love God: by laying down our lives for the brethren. There are so many people in our churches that are afraid to ask for help because, well, it may be seen as not having faith, or maybe they are an elder or the head of a ministry or secretary or even the pastor, and it would not be politically correct. This must stop in our congregations.
James tells us in chapter 2:15-17 that if a brother or sister is without the necessities of life and one says, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? We can not allow political correctness in our churches. It must be Biblical correctness! We cannot just pray for a person, but we must step out in faith and put legs and action to that faith. Our churches must be a sanctuary, a refuge, and our church should be a place without walls. We must go to the streets and to the highways and byways, searching for those in need. If we are part of Messiah's body, then we must be his hands and his feet and his mouth and so on, and we must see the needs and rush to the aid of those who are in need and be His hand to hold and comfort His people.
"Now, you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts," (1 Corinthians 12:27-31). Each one of us has a gift, each one of us has a calling, and we must use what God has given us for the kingdom.
There is too much division in the church. This is what was happening in the Corinthian church. People lost sight of things, and they allowed politics to enter in by arguing who they followed, as if one was greater than the other. We are all equal in the body of Messiah. Our churches must be a place to plant seeds and bear fruit.
Paul now leaves the garden and begins speaking about building. In 1 Corinthians 3:10, he says, "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it, but each one should be careful how he builds." The foundation Paul speaks of is his foundational principles that we began this series on, found in Hebrews 6:1-2.
He goes on in verse 11, "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Yeshua the Messiah." How important it is that we have godly pastors who hear from God and teach and preach the truth, and this requires time in prayer and study of God's word. We need to do all we can so our pastors have that time to do what is required of them, even if it means that we need to go and cut their grass or shovel their snow.
Paul goes on to say in verses 12-15, "If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." Yeshua tells us in Matthew 7:24, "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it." And again in Luke 6:47-48: "Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built."
We can settle for wood, hay, and straw in our lives, or we can be vessels of honor for God and build with gold, silver, and costly stones. But if we choose the first, we take the chance that when the wind and the storm, those trials and tribulations in our lives, come, we may not stand. We may even fall such a fall that we may not get back up. We can also live for God halfway, and on the day of judgment find that we come up suffering loss and be impoverished in the kingdom. Or we can give God our all and find on judgment day a great reward.
All of this is a result of us living a godly life which consists of growing and maturing in the things of God and living by the word of God. We must insist on an atmosphere in our community of believers (our church fellowship) and our worship of the quality that represents a holy God. Remember, our sanctuary represents the heavenly tabernacle in which God resides. Phones and coffee and anything less than sincere worship and adoration for God in our sanctuary is nothing less than an abomination to God, and do not let anyone tell you anything but. We must hold our Pastors to a high standard, for they were called to this and they must be our example. Does this mean that they are not human? Of course not, they are very much human and they too need our prayers and support and should be open to our rebuke if it is consistent with the Word of God. Even the Bereans searched the Word to see if Paul was preaching to them the truth (Acts 17:11).
Verses 16-17 in 1 Corinthians 3 goes on to tell us that we are the temple of the Lord and that God's Spirit dwells in us, and God's temple is holy. For this reason we too must be holy. Paul ends this chapter with these words: "Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,' and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.' So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
Let us not be deceived, but let us lay that foundation that Hebrews 6:1-2 tells us to lay, and though we must hold our leaders in high esteem, let us always remember that they too are mere men who are growing also in the Lord.