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1Corinthians 3 -- Hidden Truths in Plain Sight

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As if Paul has not driven home the supremacy of Jesus Christ enough he reminds us that even the small role we play is only provided through the grace of God. When reading the writings of Paul one always comes away with a profound sense of humility. He considered himself the least of the apostles because he once persecuted the church. We see far too many entitled Christians today. People devoid of this humility and who have forgotten where God found them. They have forgotten the bar, crack den, or the divorce God found them in. Over their years in churchianity they have begun to confuse the righteousness of Christ as something they earned and own. God is not our co-laborer beloved. He is our Lord and our King.

The next observation is critical. The preaching of the Gospel is foundational. It is what faith is built upon. The Apostle Paul was a skilled master builder, in that he preached the uncompromised and entire Gospel of Jesus Christ. He did not try to water it down, dress it up, sugar coat it, seeker friendly-ize it, or make it purpose driven. In order to be a skilled master builder it must always be about Jesus Christ and Him crucified, lest the power of the cross be emptied of its power. The work of those claiming to preach the Gospel will be made manifest on the Day of Judgment. The true and unvarnished Gospel is likened to gold, silver and precious stones. These materials will stand the test of fire that awaits them. People whose faith is built upon this foundation will enter into eternal glory and reward. There is however a contrasting reality for some people. When the testing fire of the Lord comes upon them in the last Day they will discover they built their faith upon the shifting sands of this world. It will be as if they were standing upon wood, hay or straw and the fire will reveal and consume it.

There is an interesting third point here. Those that are in the second group are those people who follow false teachers their whole life. But note that they themselves remain saved! He will suffer loss. His reward will be scant. His salvation is assured however! It is important that we differentiate who these people are. These are not the people standing before Christ in the last day saying Lord Lord in Matthew 7. Those people He never knew. These people were saved. Do not be confused beloved. There are two groups of people in this category. The first are those that heard the true Gospel, believed, and then fell for the pablum of false teaching. Never maturing in Christ. They are virtually useless for the King here on earth and forfeit their reward in heaven. None however may be plucked from His hand. The cost is dear but they remain saved. The second group however never was saved to begin with. The gospel they originally heard was not true and thus had no power to save them. To make matters worse they stayed in their purpose driven poisoned church, thinking they were serving the Lord only to discover when they stand before Him -- He never knew them. Do not ever underestimate the damage of false teaching within the body of Christ. That is why Jesus called those who preach falsely thieves. They steal the rewards of people. They kill the hope of those who might otherwise been saved. They destroy the plans of God.

Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. -- 1Corinthians 3: 16-17 (ESV)

To any churchgoer these two verses must sound familiar. What is so awesome about staying in the Word and reading it faithfully as a Berean is you are often confronted with the uncomfortable notion that how you have been taught regarding a specific verse may not have been accurate. Such is the case here. I have usually heard this preached in relation to how we maintain our physical body. Hey! Put down that Twinkie! Don't you know your body is the temple of the spirit of God! It is true that Paul uses this same phraseology in the sixth chapter of this book and we will deal with sexual immorality when we get there. Here however, Paul is not making a case against sexual immorality or Twinkies. Nor is he making a case against alcohol, which these verses are often leveraged to speak against. Beloved, we must approach the Bible to hear from God. I love my pastor but I do not want to hear thus sayeth my pastor. This is why the first and only imperative rule for biblical interpretation is -- context. If you read these two verses without the surrounding context of the chapter you could easily infer that it is speaking against bad food, drinking, smoking, or anything else the corrupts the physical body. The fact that it is not speaking against those things by the way does not mean that they are acceptable. Remember, everything may be permissible but it may not be beneficial. So what does the context reveal for us regarding what God actually is saying here?

This chapter starts with Paul admonishing the Corinthians for not yet advancing to spiritual meat but being stuck as babes in Christ. Paul points out the carnality of their arguments in saying some follow Paul and others Apollos. He reminds them that the speaker is just the vessel for God. That some plant and others water but only God can give the increase. Thus only God matters. We are merely God's workers and we all are God's building. As a skilled and master builder, one lays a foundation of the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ. This leads to spiritual growth and maturity that has value measured in terms of gold, silver and precious stones. If you have built your faith upon something false however, it will be as hay and stubble -- burned up easily upon testing. So what is Paul talking about beloved? He is talking about growing mature in Christ through the consumption of His Word without compromising it with the false doctrines that only serve to divide the body of Christ against itself. So we come back now to verses 16 and 17 and let us see how one commentary explains it:

If any man defile the temple of God,.... By the wisdom of the world, through philosophy, and vain deceit; by bringing in false doctrines, errors, and heresies, and hereby corrupt their minds from the simplicity that is in Christ; and make rents, factions, and divisions among them:

him shall God destroy; body and soul in hell; for as their wicked principles and heretical notions are pernicious to others, they are damnable to themselves, and will bring upon them that judgment which lingereth not, and that damnation which slumbereth not. The false prophet, as well as the beast, and the devil, shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. God is not only an avenger of all immoralities committed against his righteous law, but of all false doctrine and false worship, and of everything that is contrary to the Gospel, and to the order and ordinances of it. -- Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)

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