The Berean Expositor
Volume 45 - Page 71 of 251
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pp. 86 - 89
In the section of the epistle we are dealing with, the Apostle Paul elaborates the theme
of Christian service, using the figure of a building, with its foundation and superstructure:
"According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise master builder, I
laid a foundation; and another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he
buildeth thereon. For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is
Jesus Christ" (3: 10, 11 R.V.).
The exceeding grace of God which had been manifested in his salvation, still
continued with him and enabled him to serve faithfully.  As a wise or skilled
master-builder he had laid the one Foundation, Jesus Christ. This great Foundation is
true and unchangeable for all time, and for the whole of God's redemptive purpose. Paul
was the original evangelist through whose ministry the first converts at Corinth had
responded. He had faithfully preached Christ and this Foundation had been well and
truly laid by him. But foundations are made for erections or superstructures and the
Corinthians are now being told that they are all builders, but of what kind? Good
builders or otherwise? "Let each man take heed how he buildeth thereupon." The
materials used are all-important:
"But if any man buildeth on the Foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay,
stubble; each man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it
is revealed in fire" (3: 12, 13- R.V.).
The workman may use shoddy materials, and when the future Day of testing comes,
there will be no possibility of concealment. Judgment by fire is not new in the Scriptures.
"Our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12: 28, 29). The fire of testing will not touch the
workman, but his service:
"And the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work
shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be
burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire"
(verses -13-15 R.V.).
Nothing could be clearer than the distinction here made between the believer who has
been saved by grace apart from his works, and his service to the Lord which consists of
his works. Because his salvation depends entirely upon the Lord's redemptive work on
the Cross, nothing can affect or alter this. Nothing can separate him from the love of
God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8: 39). But it can be very different with
his service.  There are unfaithful children of God; there are those whose service has
not conformed to the pattern of His will.  Wrong motives have entered in.  Self
aggrandizement, error and other works of the sinful old nature have got mixed up with
his actions. All this is likened to "woods, hay and stubble", which will be completely
destroyed in the day of testing. The Apostle goes on to warn the Corinthian church that
they constitute a temple of God, inhabited by the Spirit, and if this temple is marred by
their conduct, God will destroy the offenders. The local church, a manifestation of God's