Lives On A Solid Foundation
It was late at night, but Leroy Shively couldn't
sleep. He was in Chicago for a convention, and across the street from his
hotel a new building was being constructed. At the moment, workers were
laying the foundation in the half-block-sized hole. Cement truck after
cement truck wheeled in, waited in line, dumped its load, and drove off
for another load. Workers had begun at dawn and were still going strong.
As he was tossing and turning, Leroy wondered
what was going to be built on that foundation. It surely had to be a skyscraper.
Then he thought, "Wouldn't it be funny to come back in a year and find
a hot dog stand on all that concrete!"
Strong foundations aren't intended for small
buildings. The same is true in the Christian life. Jesus Christ is the
solid foundation on which we must build our lives, but what are we building
on that foundation? Is it a palace worthy of Him?
The Church at Corinth’s Beginning
A solid foundation doesn’t guarantee that
a palace will be erected upon it. The church in Corinth is proof of this.
The beginning of the Corinthian church is recorded in Acts.
"After this, Paul left Athens
and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus,
who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius
had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because
he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every
Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
"When Silas and Timothy came
from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying
to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when the Jews opposed Paul and
became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your
blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on
I will go to the Gentiles."
"Then Paul left the synagogue
and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus,
the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and
many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.
"One night the Lord spoke to
Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.
For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because
I have many people in this city.’ So Paul stayed for a year and a half,
teaching them the word of God" (NIV).
The Corinthians had believed the good
news about Christ and were baptized into Christ (Acts 18:8). Paul
referred to the believing Christians at Corinth as the church of God that
had been sanctified in Christ. They became the church of God through accepting
the message of a crucified savior. However, Paul was concerned about the
kind of lives the Corinthian’s were building upon Christ's foundation
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
"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. For no one can lay
any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
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" (NIV).
The Corinthians had accepted Jesus Christ
as the foundation of their lives, but they were building shoddy lives upon
that foundation. As a result, the church of God in Corinth was in shoddy
condition. Paul was writing to encourage them to take heed how they built
upon Christ foundation.
1 Corinthians 3:1-4
"Brothers, I could not address
you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk,
not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still
not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling
among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when
one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not
mere men?" (NIV).
Paul wrote the church at Corinth saying, The
Corinthian church had accepted the crucified savior, but they were not
living the crucified life. They were allowing the world to dictate how
they lived their personal lives. Paul writes, "I have been crucified
with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live
in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself
for me" (Galatians 2:20).
The Church of Corinth’s Troubles
The quality of the church is dependent
upon the quality of our personal lives. The true church is nothing
more or nothing less than personal lives built upon the solid foundation
of Christ teaching.
We must see the crucified life as an integral
part of the spiritual growth of Christ’s church. Growing up in our salvation
is crucial to the church. "The irony is that God is so big, but he thinks
so small! He changes the world one heart at a time, one life at a time.
And the difference between God's approach and our approach is---God's approach
works!" (D. James Kennedy, Led by the Carpenter, Thomas Nelson Publisher,
1 Peter 2:1-6
Therefore, rid yourselves of
all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow
up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, the living
Stone-rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him-you also, like
living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood,
offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For
in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never
be put to shame" (NIV).
Each of us must see ourselves as an integral
part of the stonework of God’s house. You are a living spiritual stone
in God's spiritual house, which is the church. The way you go about living
is extremely important.
Paul made an appeal to the church at Corinth
to examine themselves to see if they were in the faith—he asks them to
test themselves (2 Corinthians 13:5). For each of us to become true to
God's purpose for the church each of us must know our own heart--and the
evil it is capable of. We must look to God for a sober assessment of our
The greatest saints of history have acknowledged
themselves to be the greatest sinners. Paul is not asking the Corinthians
to do something he was unwilling to do. Listen to what Paul says about
himself: "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful
nature . . . So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is
right there with me" (Romans 7:18, 21 NIV).
"My ears had heard of you but
now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust
and ashes" (NIV).
1 Timothy 1:15
"Here is a trustworthy saying
that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save
sinners-of whom I am the worst" (NIV)
Sin is a reality of every heart.
Yet if we deny the sinfulness or our own hearts, we cut ourselves off from
the redemption of Christ. The closer we get to God the greater the awareness
of our sin.
"The heart is deceitful above
all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
"I the LORD search the heart
and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according
to what his deeds deserve" (NIV).
We may not be examining our own hearts,
but God is---he is also rewarding us according to what our deeds deserve.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13
"So, if you think you are standing
firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except
what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted
beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide
a way out so that you can stand up under it" (NIV).
To come to a true understanding of how our
sinful nature affects Christ's church today we should look beyond the first
century church into Israel's past. We should study the problems of the
children of God after they experienced the deliverance from Egypt. There
we see the struggles common to every child of God today.
All of what we learn in life is either from
our own personal experiences or the experiences of others. Paul writes,
"For everything that was written in the past was written to teach
us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we
might have hope" (Romans 15:1-4 NIV).
Paul reminds them of Israel's failure after
crossing the Red Sea. In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul is also encouraging us to
learn from Israel’s forty-year wilderness experience.
1 Corinthians 10:1-10
"For I do not want you to be
ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the
cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized
into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual
food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual
rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God
was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the
"Now these things occurred as
examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.
Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people
sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry." We should
not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did-and in one day twenty-three
thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did-and
were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did-and were
killed by the destroying angel" (NIV).
God was not pleased with them (v. 5). They
were disapproved; they lost their lives because of sin. They lusted (Num
11:34); they worshiped idols (Ex 32:1-14); they committed fornication (Num
25:1-9); they tempted God by deliberately trying His patience (Num 21:4-9);
they complained (Num 16:41-50). What a list of sins! Yet, God had to judge
their sins even though they had been wonderfully delivered from Egypt.
Spiritual privileges never give us license to sin. Rather, they lay upon
us the greater responsibility to obey God and glorify Him.
In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul interprets Israel’s
exit from Egypt in light of Christ and the Christian experience as he warned
the Corinthians to flee evil. Paul tells the Corinthians specific things
they must not do:
"Do not be idolaters" (v. 7)
"Do not engage in sexual immorality" (v.
"Do not put the Lord to the test" (v. 9)
"Do not murmur" (v. 10
Amazingly these are the same things
that plague the Lord’s church today. It is hard to understand why
Israel struggled so hard with obedience, but in reality they were no different
than each of us. We struggle with the same problems. God has revealed these
stories to us to remind us of our human tendencies and the reality of sin
in our own lives. The Bible constantly warns of the dangers of slipping
back into sin. Immediately after these verses Paul issued a warning, "So,
if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!"
(1 Corinthians 10:12).
"We must pay more careful attention,
therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if
the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience
received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great
We Must Focus On God
Paul endeavored to keep his focus on Christ
as he dealt with the problems at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
"When I came to you, brothers,
I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you
the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with
you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and
fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with
wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power,
so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power"
The first thing God did after Israel's deliverance
was to give them a law to change the way they thought and behaved.
"These commandments that I
give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands
and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses
and on your gates" (NIV).
An old American Indian tale recounts the story
of a chief who was telling a gathering of young braves about the struggle
within. "It is like two dogs fighting inside of us," the chief told them.
"There is one good dog who wants to do the right and the other dog always
wants to do the wrong. Sometimes the good dog seems stronger and is winning
the fight. But sometimes the bad dog is stronger and wrong is winning the
"Who is going to win in the end?" a young
brave asks. The chief answered, "The one you feed."
Paul wrote the Corinthians, "If anybody
thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that
what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. If he ignores this, he
himself will be ignored" (1 Corinthians 14:37-38 NIV).
"We have much to say about
this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact,
though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach
you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk,
not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not
acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for
the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish
good from evil" (NIV).
Some seem to expect the Word of God to hit
them like a jolt of adrenaline each time they read or study it. Although
the "jolt" may hit us periodically, the benefits of the Word of God act
more like vitamins. People who regularly take vitamins do so because of
their long-term benefits, not because every time they swallow one of the
pills, they feel new strength surging through their bodies. They have developed
a habit of consistently taking vitamins because they have been told that,
in the long haul, vitamin supplements are going to have a beneficial effect
on their physical health, resistance to disease and, general well-being
The same is true of reading the Bible. At times it will have a sudden and
intense impact on us. However, the real value lies in the cumulative effects
that long-term exposure to God’s Word will bring to our lives.
I read about a Detroit homeowner who went
to check on his five-bedroom house, only to discover that it was gone.
Completely baffled, he asked the Detroit Free Press to help him find out
what was going on. A reporter learned that not only was the house gone,
but the deed to the empty lot was in someone else's name. What had happened?
For one thing, a few years had passed since the homeowner had left the
city without providing a forwarding address. In addition, he had failed
to make arrangements for someone to keep the property in repair. Therefore,
the house was torn down because a city ordinance called for the removal
of neighborhood eyesores. This unusual and unexpected loss was the consequence
So too, we forfeit our fellowship with God
and the enjoyment of His blessings when we neglect our time with Him. We
would never want that to happen, but we allow it when we become preoccupied
with any person or thing that comes between us and Christ. We must establish
priorities that honor God! Then we will avoid the inevitable loss that
comes through the neglect.
There is only one message that provides a
solid foundation for the church; it is the message of Christ. There is
not another message that will provide a solid foundation.
"I am astonished that you are
so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and
are turning to a different gospel-which is really no gospel at all. Evidently
some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the
gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach
a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!
As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to
you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!"