Sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:10-23 哥林多前书第3章 第10节至23节June 16, 2019, More from this speaker 更多关于此讲员: Elder Lui Yook Cing (1 Corinthians 3:10-23) For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: 1 Corinthians
Preached at a Bilingual (Mandarin-English, Sunday) service
Preacher: Elder Lui Yook Cing
Do I love the Church? Do I love Jubilee church? Why should I love my church? Before I can say what church means to me, I need to understand what the church is. Let’s read 1 Cor 3:5-23.
How shall we describe a church? It is not a fan club. Not a school or the military. Not a spiritual spa or emotional hospital. In original meaning, the word for church is ekklesia. This refers to an assembly: a gathering of people who are called by Christ who follow Jesus faithfully, set apart for God. If anyone, through words and actions, tears apart this community, that person shall face God’s judgment!
When Paul talks about the problem of people ‘splitting’ the church, he is not referring to separations that resulted from differences in doctrine. We are aware that in the course of Church history, the Church has divided into various major denominations due to theological debates. For instance, today we have Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism.
In the case of the Corinth church, the problem is different. Splits within the church was not due to theological controversy, but due to power struggles in the church community. Members and leaders were doing ministry in a rivalry and competitive manner.
The word schismata describes tearing away of something that was initially whole. Imagine a fishing net being forcefully torn apart. It can no longer fulfil its core function of catching fish. Rivalry and competition threaten the very nature of the church. Paul warns people who engage in such power struggle that split the church: You shall be accountable to God.
Paul uses 3 powerful metaphors to describe what the church is.
1. The first metaphor is Church as a field (v9).
In agricultural context, a field signifies potential. There is possibility for the field to remain barren as useless wild land. Conversely, the field may result in a wonderful harvest that enrich people. Paul describes the church as a field to explain the profound truth of divine-human partnership in the spiritual enterprise of God’s Kingdom.
First, a harvest requires seed-planters. These are evangelists and pioneer workers like Paul. They bring the seeds of the Gospel to hearts that have never heard the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ.
Following this, the field requires farmers to cultivate it e.g. water the plants, add fertilizers, weeding, protect the sprouts from harmful forces at large. These are people like Apollos, Our Pastors, Zone leaders and Cell-group leaders. They patiently nurture believers to maturity.
Sowing and cultivating are acts that humans can participate in, and, to some extent, we have some control and choice over them. But there remains one critical act that belongs to God alone. Growth and transformation are mysteries that only God can perform. No one knows how a seed develops into a tree bearing fruits. No one knows how a foetus conceived comes into a living being. Yet it happens.
Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and transforms hearts. And God invites us to join Him in this wonderful enterprise of cultivating lives. Paul and Apollos, you and I: when we participate in church ministry, we become partners with God in His awesome transformation enterprise. Inevitably, every field has its problem of weeds and pests, challenges that threaten the harvest.
In Corinth church, the problem was engaging in power politics. Members were favouring one minister over another. They see their leader’s ministry as more significant than someone else’s. Some sided with Paul, others sided with Apollos.
Do such mindsets exist in church today? Of course. Church members serve in different ministries and work with different leaders. Some leaders or members may feel that their ministry is more critical than others. Faced with allocation of scarce resources, leaders began to squabble, “My ministry is more important than yours, let me have priority!”
Worship says we are the most spiritual ministry! We minister for people to encounter God!
Missions say outreach is critical for lost souls, we are the seed planters who bring in new believers.
Pulpit Ministry and LED say we proclaim and teach the Word; without us believer do not grow deep in the Truth!
Community and Service Ministry say we need the all the volunteers because there is so much serving to do!
Pastoral and Zone say, put the resources here! We must provide care and support for our newcomers and members!
Children, Youth and Young Adult workers say, put priority here because we are investing in the future!
Golden Years says, we ensure believers finish their race well in glory! Do not neglect the last lap!
So, which ministry is the most important? Today’s passage urges us to get a right view of our pastors, leaders and ministries. V5 asks, what is Paul? what is Apollos? Not who but what? Drawing our attention back to the roles of these super leaders rather than their personal contribution or charisma.
Paul and Apollos are first and foremost servants of God. They are leaders yet both belong to God. They are not separate, unrelated individual servants. But co-laborers working together
in the same field belonging to God. Neither one can lack the work of the other for the entire ministry to succeed.
We must therefore hold a correct view of our ministries. Not elevate our work at the expense of another. Or belittle our contribution in the overall work of the Kingdom.
Each servant of God has his allocated role in time and place. Whatever God has called us to do,
Whether the responsibility appears big or small, we do our best to complete it in God’s grace and strength. My personal motto is not to be the weakest link That deters the progression of the rest.
Church is God’s field. The field belongs to God. Our ministries belong to God. When you succeed, I share the fruit of your success. My success will always be a fruit of your contribution. Let us collaborate rather than compete in ministry.
2. The second metaphor is Church as Building 9b-15. What are the main points with this analogy?
First, a building requires solid foundation. The church has only one foundation: Jesus Christ and His finished work. V11: if the church does not rest on the foundation of Jesus Christ, it is not a church. At best a fan club. God’s assembly cannot be centred on any individual’s cult personality.
Second, a building is held together by component parts e.g. the nail, beam. Individual parts are knitted together. Mutually dependent and integrated to hold the building in place.
The church is communal. It cannot function by individualism or any one person’s authoritarian autonomy.
Third, a building has the sense of “building upward”. This ‘building up’ or edification of fellow believers in Christ is the mission of the church.
Paul then goes on to talk about builders and workmanship. A building is the fruit of a team of builders who bring it into its glorious existence. Workmanship defines the quality of the building. Paul describes this in terms of the building materials being used.
As a builder, you can choose what materials to use and how to build. Gold, silver, gems, diamonds signify materials of that are long-lasting, albeit very costly. Wood, hay, stray represent superficial materials; they appear to get the job done and do not cost you much. But there is no substance and permanence in them. When a storm or fire comes, the building is completely wiped out.
Lives are at stake when developers build using sub-standard materials. In our ministry, people’s lives in eternity are at stake. If we carry out our ministries sloppily and superficially, whatever fruit we seem to bear now will not withstand the trials that come with time.
What personal empire am I building right now? Am I investing my time and resources in things that have eternal significance and impact? I know for sure that building lives for God’s Kingdom
Is investing in eternity. When we each face God on judgment day, our service shall be revealed for what it really entails. Will we hear from the Lord “well done faithful servant!” Or regret bitterly over lost time and wasted opportunities?
3. The third metaphor is Church as Temple
In ancient beliefs, a temple is the place where gods live in. For the Israelites, God’s temple is the sanctuary where God is present. God is holy; by association the temple is made holy by God’s glorious presence. Israel understands holiness as being set apart for God. For example, certain people or tribe were set apart to serve the holy God: these are the Levites who served as temple priests. Animals were differentiated as clean or unclean. The clean ones are set apart
To be offered as sacrifices for sin redemption. Certain days were set apart to commemorate God’s acts such as the Sabbath. Certain objects and areas were set apart as the location where God would appear, such as the Ark inside the Tabernacle.
The church is set apart as holy. The church is holy not because people in it are goody-holy and made it holy. Rather, v16 declares: the church is holy because God’s Spirit dwells in it. God lives amongst us, the assembly of His people. God’s holy presence is with us, amidst us. Even now, He is present here, this very moment.
We that are members of Christ’s church, are set apart for God, sanctified by the Spirit and belonging to Christ. Since the church is holy due to God’s presence, there are serious consequences for anyone who threatens to defile the temple. V17 in the original text arrangement reads this way: If it is God’s temple that someone destroys, destroy that person will God. If anyone deconsecrates the church’s holiness, he brings upon himself God’s judgement.
What may defile the church? In the passage this morning, Paul highlights words and actions that split in the church. Rivalry and competition in ministry erode the very identity of the church as people who belong to Jesus, who are set apart to embody the way of the Cross.
How so? The Cross of Jesus Christ is manifestation of God’s self-giving, mercy and forgiveness.
The Cross of Jesus Christ opposes the very nature of arrogance and rivalry that puts down others in order to elevate self. When church leaders and members carry out ministries in a competitive manner, when people’s words and actions feed the splits in church: we are mocking what Jesus has completed for us at the Cross, we despise the love of the Cross and the humility of Jesus Christ. In fact, such actions profane the holiness of Christs church. Paul issues a stern warning: brace yourself to face the Holy Spirit who has sanctified the Church.
Let me conclude.
Do I love the church? Do I love Jubilee church? Yes, I do. The Church is the special gift of Jesus Christ to us. I am very blessed to be part of it.
The church is God’s field. We always have great potential for a bountiful harvest.
The church is a special assembly that rebuilds lives in God’s Kingdom.
The church is the holy sanctuary of the almighty and living God. In this community I have every opportunity to experience God’s grace and forgiveness, His strength and reconciliation power.
We are the Church. In God’s Kingdom enterprise, whether your role is farmer, contractor or priest, let us joyously and confidently fulfil our given role to sow, to cultivate, to build, and to restore all broken relationships between God and men.
1 Corinthians 3:10–23 (Listen)
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
18 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. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.