Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

God serves us through His gifts! 2/23/2014
Dear friend,

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you today and always.

A few years ago when it came time to raze our former church building, the leadership of our congregation was very careful to explain to both the congregation and to the public of the reasoning as to why it was best to remove the old and decaying building from the site.. This informing process was done for good reason as many congregational members and community members had been blessed through the fellowship that had occurred in that building over the years.

It was graciously explained as to how the church building was a gathering place for the believers in Christ, but that it was the indwelling presence of God through His Holy Spirit in His people that defined the church/congregation. The main substance of our explanation to people could be contained in the question that Apostle Paul posed to the Corinthian congregation in the the letter that he wrote to them and which is our memory verse for this week:

KJV 1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

He is reminding them in question form that the Holy Spirit dwells in their individual hearts by faith and that collectively they are the temple of God. We understand that the invisible and universal church of Jesus Christ can never be divided (Mattthew 16:16-18) as it is impossible for Christ to be divided against Himself. But yet an outward representation (such as ours) of the invisible and universal church is not immune from envy, strife and division so as to make it needful for Paul to clarify to them that though they have come to Christ individually they in a collective/corporate sense are the temple of God. May we be able to understand this reality and of its implications in our congregation as we consider this teaching from the Holy Word of God, the Bible.

Today we conclude our short series in Paul's letter to the Corinthians, a letter which was written largely to address the division that had come into that congregation. Paul had planted the church by laying the foundation in Jesus Christ but since that time envy, strife and division had plagued the congregation at Corinth. Let us read the concluding verses of chapter 3, from 10-23, asking the Lord to speak to us through His Holy and gracious Word.


1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.


Ye are Christ's and Christ is God's. Christ has purchased us by coming to us in a rescue mission because of their love for us. It is important that whenever we pick up the Bible to read it, or when we come to hear Him speak to us in such a gathering as we are in this morning, that we remember that He loves us and He from eternity had and still has our eternal interests first and foremost in His mind. Let us not forget that all that we receive from His hand is always from a heart that wishes to bring us to the realization that He loves us and therefore, He wants us to know and understand His love for our eternal and undying soul. He is not against us, but He is for us.


Last Sunday morning, Mark Johnson,was driving near Litchfield and came upon the burning home of Darrel and JoAnn Walberg, (Betty Inselman's nephew) of Litchfield, who were by this time out of their home and sitting in their vehicle in order to stay warm. It was quite an ordeal for them to get to car which had gotten stuck in the snow after attempting to move it away from the house. One wonders what was going through their minds as they sat and watched their home go up in flames.
If this was a newer home built of wood, all that would be left is the concrete foundation....


If their house was newer home, it most likely had a concrete foundation and if they so choose to do so, they could rebuild upon that foundation, or if need be have a new foundation poured. All earthly structures must have a foundation before building upon it. The foundation must be out of material that will keep the building so that it will remain straight by preventing it from settling as it ages.

That is the first point that the Apostle Paul makes in our lesson today, as he speak of how he has laid the foundation of their congregation, for he was the one who planted the church in Corinth. He had told them in verse 9 that they (Paul and Apollos) are God's fellow workers. ye are God's field, ye are God's building. As he uses an illustration that all people of all time can relate to, he begins to speak of the importance having the right foundation as well as the importance of correctly building upon that foundation.

In this letter, Paul has clearly defined the foundation as being the cross of Jesus Christ, which we remember from the first two chapters and which he wrote to the Ephesian congregation about.

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

It is clear that our foundation is Jesus Christ who is the chief cornerstone, and we are the individual parts that are formed together to collectively form the holy temple in the Lord so that within the corporate union we are built together for a dwelling place of God through the Spirit.

Now he begins to address them about the building of their spiritual building. Now let us remember that he had just spoken to them in a straight forward manner of the reality that they were yet babes in understanding and had not progressed very far in their knowledge of Christ. It is noteworthy to say that perhaps the reason Paul tells them to take heed as to how they begin to build is that he understands the human nature that is in all of us. Perhaps those who would have heard and received what he had to say would perhaps go hog wild in trying to grow as fast as they could. This can happen for we as humans tend to go from one extreme to another. He begins....

3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

There are six building materials listed here, three cannot be burned while the last three will burn up. Having a good foundation is the starting point, but how one builds is all important. He then contrasts the two building materials with the following statements:

1. That which is built will be clearly seen as it forms a structure.
2. The structure will be revealed by fire.
3. That structure will be tried by fire.
4. If the structure does not burn, the builder will receive a reward.
5. If the structure does burn, the builder will suffer loss, but the builder will be saved, yet so as by fire.

What does all this mean? He seems to be pointing out that the secondary teachings and doctrines that we build upon the Gospel of Christ will at times be tested by the Holy Spirit which speaks according to God, Christ and the Word. Having received the Gospel of Christ through faith, we begin to grow in our knowledge of Christ through the Scriptures. And being affected by the fall of mankind into sin, we are not always going to get it right and at times we are going to be building with hay. wood and stubble.


We are not always going to be building with gold, silver and precious stones. Therefore at times, it is necessary for God through the Word and Spirit to come to us in love in order to show us that we have begun to build with earthly or human materials. He not only shows us but He comes to us with the fire of His Holy Spirit to burn away those things so that we could be brought back to the foundation in Christ Jesus.

I am not sure what is meant by the reward mentioned in verse 14. I understand that these verses have been and are used to build an understanding that there are different rewards in heaven based upon one's faithfulness here in earth, but I have never done any study on such a teaching. What is clear in the Scriptures, though, is that all who remain faithful to the end trusting in Christ Jesus and His finished work as the means of their salvation will receive the reward of eternal life. We could also glean from these verses that there is a warning here that there is a possibility that without burning away of combustible building materials, one could become deceived and in the end consider the foundation of Christ as non essential and consequently, lose eternal life.

16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

He then asks them a question, after speaking to them on an individual basis. He is telling them in question form that they are collectively the temple of God for the Spirit of God dwells in them.

KJV 1 Corinthians 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

This is serious! Let us remember that he is speaking to a congregation that is divided by people who are favoring one minister over another, and which has caused envy, strife and division. What is the meaning of this? Isn't that very very harsh? God will destroy one who defiles the temple!! What must they have thought who were listening to this letter being read? Let us consider the following information.

5351 fqei,rw phtheiro {fthi'-ro}
Meaning: 1) to corrupt, to destroy 1a) in the opinion of the Jews, the temple was corrupted or "destroyed" when anyone defiled or in the slightest degree damaged anything in it, or if its guardians neglected their duties 1b) to lead away a Christian church from that state of knowledge and holiness in which it ought to abide 1c) to be destroyed, to perish 1d) in an ethical sense, to corrupt, deprave

This should cause us to cry out to God with the question: Lord, where am I in this? Am I one that is building upon the foundation in a false way and because of that I am slowly eating into the foundation of Christ and Christ alone? Oh, Lord, help me to see it if I am, Lord, send someone to me to speak to me about my error, speak to me about my sin, Lord, send the fire of your love through the Holy Spirit to burn away those things that are not according to your will, for my best interests eternally and for our congregation's best interests eternally......

Lord, help me/us to see the reality of how destructive envy, strife and division are in your congregation. Send your Spirit, Lord, to do His work in all your people....

And Lord, through this teaching, we are reminded that it is your church, you will take care of it and those, and Lord, forbid that it be us, who cause division and strife in your congregation we leave to you to deal with. But give to us as leaders the courage to teach and maintain proper order in your congregation by holding accountable ourselves as well as others to live in submission to your Word in all its teachings.

18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

He closes out with an admonition and sets them straight as to how they have everything that they need from God. He first tells them not to be so foolish to think that the worldy wisdom is the way to go, but tells them to become fools for Christ. In other words, keep trusting in the merits of Christ for salvation through His suffering, death and resurrection. All is seen by God, so why be so foolish to think that we can pull one over on Him.


He then points to the three men, himself, (Paul) Apollos, and Peter, which is easy to understand in the context of this letter so far. What he is saying is that instead of lifting one up over another, look at it as a blessing to be able to utilize them all in your encouragement, teaching and instruction in your Christian growth. That is what he is saying, that God has gifted these men in particular ways for your blessing, so why rob yourselves of greater blessing and even worse, be responsible for causing envy, strife and division in your congregation?

Then he points to the world, to life, to death, to things present and to things to come. We can understand the first part of verse 22 when he pointed to the three gifts of the men, but what is all this about, when he says, "all are yours" Well, let us think back to the main point of this letter which should help us understand his point here. Let us ask ourselves a question: What is the underlying problem in the congregation? What is the underlying problem in our heart when we are one that is found to be causing strife in a congregation? Is it not carnality, as he said in chapter 2? Is it not a selfish spirit which selfishly looks first to what is in it for me?

It seems to be saying that just as the three men have been given by God to serve His people, everything else which could be called life's circumstances are given to serve us. That is what the last category seems to point to, for he says: "All are yours" But not to own, or dominate, but to allow them to help you/us in our journey to heaven. For when we look at this entire three chapter teaching, perhaps it would have been better to start from verse 23 where is written: And Ye are Christ's and Christ is God's.

What did we say in the beginning of this writing? We noted of the importance of always approaching God's communication to us by remembering that He loves us, He is for us and in all His communication to us, both verbal and experiences in life, are always sent from the heart of a loving and concerned Father. So therefore, since Christ is God's and we are Christ's doesn't it make sense that He would utilize everything at His disposal including gifts of His people as well as life's circumstances to cherish and nurture us in our relationship with Him?

I have an older brother who has one adult daughter, and every year he presents her with a dozen red roses to express his love for her. And in that gesture of love I am reminded of how our Father in heaven gave us the Rose from heaven.

The chorus the Michael W. Smith song Above all has a wonderful closing thought for us today.

CHORUS
Crucified
Laid behind a stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all

He loves you and wants you to know His love for your soul even more than you realized before today.

May His wonderful grace be upon you today.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 23 Feb 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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Help is on the way Isaiah 40.1.11
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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