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The Sunday Sermon – 1st Corinthians 3:1-13


The True Foundation!
1st Corinthians 3:1-13

We have seen that there is a great division in mankind. The Natural man and the Spiritual man. The natural man does not, and cannot comprehend the things of God. They are foolishness to him! Now Paul speaks to the Christians at Corinth again, and he declares that when they create divisions in the local assembly over personalities and preachers, they are in fact behaving as unsaved men would behave! 1 Cor. 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
These believers are reflecting the world in their behaviour! So Paul refers again to the subject of division, and he makes a very important point, that ONLY Christ is the only FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH! It is a concept that is worth our attention!

The Foundation Disclosed.
Paul’s ministry was a ‘Foundation ministry.’ He was an apostle! A ‘master builder! (V10 ) Apostles and prophets were the foundation-layers of the church. They were the architects, 1 Cor. 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 who declared the foundational truths, and supervised their emplacement within the church! Ephesians. 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
How did Paul carry this ministry out? He travelled about from place to place. He seldom stayed long in one town, rather he preached, taught, appointed leaders, and then moved on to other places. Some of his stays were as short as a few weeks, (Thess.) some as long a three years (Ephesus) eighteen months at Corinth. As he travelled about, he reached many areas where the name of Christ had never been heard and all that Paul could do was to lay the foundation, preach Christ and him crucified, see the church established, and then move on again.
A building needs a foundation and it needs a structure. Now, the world of construction would be a sorry place, if everybody was an architect! What building work would ever be done? Paul could only lay the foundation; others must continue to build on the foundation that he had laid.
That foundation is JESUS CHRIST! Everywhere Paul went his foundational message was the same. He proclaimed Christ. 1 Cor. 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; He introduced Christ to men! For Paul Christ is the foundation of the Gospel! It is, first and foremost, the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The only good news that we have comes from Him!
Look how often Christ pointed to himself as the only hope for men! John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. John 14:6 And there is no other means of access to the father, and consequently to heaven, but by the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. 1 Tim. 2:5-6 (cf John 8:12 John 8:24 )
But not only is Christ the foundation of the Gospel, He is the foundation of our lives! For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. We seek stability in this troubled world, and we seek some sort of sense amid the chaos of life, and where do we find it? Only on the rock! Only in Christ!
Christ is also the Foundation of our Hope! Mark 13:31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. And He is the foundation of the church! Any church that is not built upon this foundation is not a true church! It may be a pleasant church, it may be an active church, an interesting church, a crowded, packed church, but it is not a true church! It is in effect a cult! Matthew 16:15-18 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. So, the wise master builder, the architect of the church, the Apostle Paul, has disclosed the nature and identity of the foundation of the church. It is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Now, just what kind of a foundation is he?

The Foundation Described!
For Paul here, Christ is an UNYIELDING Foundation! Matthew 16:18 upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. What use would a weak foundation be to a great building like this? This building would need to withstand the rigours of time! It would be abused, it would be cursed by the world. All the demons of hell would rage against this building. This building, the church of Christ, would be embattled for thousands of years, and would need to stand firm!

The great architect Frank Lloyd Wright was given the challenge of building the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, one of the most earthquake-prone cities in the world. Wright’s investigation showed that a solid foundation could be “floated” on a sixty-foot layer of soft mud underlying the hotel, which would provide a shock-absorbing but solid support for the immense building. Shortly after the hotel was completed it withstood the worst earthquake in fifty-two years, while lesser buildings fell in ruins around it.

But this is a far greater foundation than any other!

He is also a UNIQUE Foundation! He is the only foundation suitable for the sinner! Jesus is exactly the right foundation for the life of every sinner! He is right for you! You, as an individual can build your life upon him, and every other foundation will disappoint you and let you down. Matthew 7:24-25 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

And He is an UNENDING Foundation! The foundations of this world will eventually crumble and decay!
When my wife and I bought our first small home, we had to visit a soliciter, so that the terms of thedees could be explained to us. Imagine our disappointment when we learned that we could only have the lease of our first house for 999 years! What will we do after that! Those foundations will crumble away, and we will leave them behind to go into eternity. “Change and decay in all around I see, Oh Thou who changest not, abide with me!” Why build your life upon a crumbling, earthly foundation when we can have Christ as our foundation? Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria rose over 400 feet high, and stood on the island of Pharos in the harbour of Alexandria, Egypt. Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it became so famous that the word pharos came to mean lighthouse.Built during the reign of Ptolemy II (283-246 B.C.) from a design by the Greek architect Sostratos, it rose from a stone platform in three sections. The bottom section of the lighthouse was square, the middle eight-sided, and the top circular. A fire burned at the top of the lighthouse providing light. When the building was completed, Sostratos chiselled his own name on a stone that was part of the building. He did not want it to be readily visible and so he covered it with mud and whitewash. On top of that Sostratos wrote with gold letters the king’s name, knowing that over a short period of time the waves would wash the gold and mud away and his own name would appear. The Lighthouse of Alexandria stood as an architectural marvel for about 1,500 years with Sostratos’ name emblazoned upon it.

The only things that last are those that are carved in the solid rock. Gold and riches soon vanish. Today in prayer, ask the Lord to be your Saviour, to bring you onto solid ground.

The Foundation Distinguished!
Now we have been making the point that this Foundation is DIFFERENT from any other foundation! But throughout the history of the church, many people have tried to lay human foundations. The verse presupposes that this will happen.

1. What other foundations do men attempt to lay? The foundation of human reason! We have seen how these great thinkers and so-called intellectuals and liberals have dealt deceitfully with the Gospel message. In the nineteenth century the Higher Critics declared that they could use human reason to explain God! They done away with the Virgin Birth of Christ, they denied His deity, His Vicarious, Saving Death upon the Cross, His resurrection, His Second Coming. They denied the existence of a Devil, they preached a hopeless gospel of good works, a gospel of morality alone, no salvation and no hope for eternity! The foundation of false religion! Today they operate by more subtle means. They sometimes even call themselves evangelicals. But all that glitters is not gold! Today the attack on the true foundation is more subtle. A too inclusive ecclesiology, homosexual ministers, homosexual marriages. The foundation of good works!
2. Why would any man want to lay any other foundation – When this foundation is sufficient for all? What a great foundation this is! There is ample sufficiency on this rock to accommodate every sinner who will come! There is room at the cross for you! Though millions have come, there’s still room for one!When this foundation is God’s appointed foundation? When to do so is eternal folly? To ignore this foundation is to leave one’s soul in eternal peril! There is a judgement day coming, and only those who are in Christ on that day will be able to enter into heaven with the Saviour for ever.

Another possibility is that someone would come along and begin to build upon the true foundation, but to build in such a way that is not in accordance with God’s plan. It was happening at Corinth, and it has happened ever since. There will be human ideas added to the foundation, and these are described for us, and their feeble nature is noted. 1 Cor. 3:12-14 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 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.

From → Sermon Notes

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