Paul! Apollos! Cephas! – Part Five

1 Corinthians 3:1-23 This week’s lessons teach us that Christ cannot be our Savior without also being our Lord.
One Lord, one faith, one birth.

Yesterday we began looking at strong and weak foundations in 1 Corinthians 3. Paul is saying, “Look, if you have any responsibility as a minister, as a teacher, as a parent, be careful to build well. You do not have to build in a flashy manner, but you do have to build with solid material. You have to take time to do it. A person can throw up a straw building in a hurry, but then strong winds come and blow it all down. It takes much more time to lay bricks and to do it well.” But Paul says, “That is what you ought to do. You ought to realize that you are not building for six months, one year, two years, or even ten years. You are building for eternity.”

What you are trying to do is build the theology of the Word of God, the dynamic of the Gospel, into individuals who are eternal souls. You do not have to see results right away. You just build it right. You take your time. You teach it carefully. You share it. You weigh that brick by brick. Then you allow God to bring the increases in his own time, and God will do that. I am convinced this is the way churches have to be built. It is not important how fast we do it, but whether we do it right. And if we do it right, God does bless it. Over the years, there is growth and it is solid growth. The people who were trained and grow within that context go out to influence people far beyond any expectation that you might have had. That is what Paul’s talking about. That is what we want to do.

We come now to the end of our passage in 1 Corinthians 3. Paul brings his point back to this matter of divisions, and to the world’s wisdom, and to the unity of the church. It is all wrapped up in what is really a very brilliant paragraph. He says, “Look, I leave you with this. Think how foolish these divisions are. First of all, they are based upon the world’s way of doing things and the world’s way of doing things is folly in the sight of God. You do not want to be like that. You want to follow after God. God catches the wise in their craftiness. He turns the wisdom of the world to self-evident foolishness before everybody. These divisions are part of that. You do not want to be part of that.”

Secondly, he says, “When you choose in the church between one man and another man or one thing and another thing, what you are really doing is opting for a part rather than for the whole, because if Paul is a true minister of Jesus Christ, and if Apollos is a true minister of Jesus Christ, and Peter, and whoever else may be ministering at that particular time – they are all yours. The gifts God has given are all yours and you are richer by having all of them and poorer by choosing only one.

And lest we look at that merely on the human, earthly level, he wraps it all up in the godhead, saying, “Don’t boast about men, because everything is yours – whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or the present, or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ and Christ is of God. There are no greater riches than that or any greater destiny than that. There is no greater cure for the kind of divisions that harm our church and discredit our ministry.

Study Questions
  1. What principle helps us persevere in building on a strong foundation?
  2. Why is quality more important than quantity in spiritual growth?
  3. How does striving for unity build up the church?

Key Point
It is not important how fast we do it, but that we do it right.

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