Building Up The Church (1 Corinthians 3:12–13) - Radical

Building Up The Church (1 Corinthians 3:12–13)

“Now, if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 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.”
– 1 Corinthians 3:12–13

These are pretty sobering verses. So we know, let’s be clear from the start, that through faith in Christ, we have been counted righteous before God. So we do not need to fear His judgment anymore. We know where we will be for eternity through faith in Christ. We have already seen in 1 Corinthians 1 that we will be guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ because of His grace in the gospel. So we know that when we read 1 Corinthians 3:12–13 where it’s talking about the day that will disclose it. Talking about the day of judgment and fire, we know that the whole picture here is not dealing with salvation. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t extremely important.

We Need God’s Grace to be Faithful Servants

Are we exalting God by doing church according to His Word and not our ways? We need Your grace to be faithful servants.

Each one’s work will become manifest. So what’s the work? Well, the work is that which has been done to build up the Church of Jesus Christ, which pastors are obviously doing, other leaders in the church are doing, and every member of the church, every follower of Christ is doing. Every follower of Christ is either building up the church or tearing down the church or ignoring the church, but we’re doing something when it comes to the church. And one day, when we stand before God, it will be clear if the work we have done has been honoring to God. Each one’s work will become manifest.

That day will disclose it because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. Which is a calling then to every follower of Christ. Especially, church leaders, but I would say every follower of Christ, to build up the church in our lives in such a way that on that day the work we have done will stand the test. Will show itself as strong through the fire because we have built up the church according to God’s word.

1 Corinthians 3:12–13 Warns Against Diluting the Gospel

So what would be an example of building up the church in a way that will not stand the test of fire? Well, one example in the church would be taking the wisdom of man and coming up with all kinds of ingenious, creative, innovative plans that actually minimize the word of God. That dilute the gospel of God. That try to make the gospel more palatable for many people and to try to get the crowds to come to church.

And so we dilute the gospel. So we minimize God’s word and we maximize man’s ingenuity, innovation, creativity. We do all of that. In the end, our work will not stand the test. But if we obey God’s word, we proclaim God’s word, we trust God’s word, we proclaim the gospel, the cost of following Christ, and yes, we can do that while still glorifying God through creativity that He’s given to us, sure. But are we exalting God by doing church according to His word, not our ways. According to His wisdom, not our wisdom? That’s the question we must ask because that’s the kind of work that will be disclosed on this day.

1 Corinthians 3:12–13 Prays for Faithful Hearts that Build Up the Church

So God, we pray. I pray this as a pastor. I pray this for other pastors, for other leaders in the church, but for every follower of Christ. Oh God, help us to faithfully build your church according to your word. Maximizing your word, exalting your word, proclaiming your gospel, doing what you have called us to do in your church. All the things we’ll see in 1 Corinthians that you are calling the church to do. We pray that you would help us to do these things.

Help us to live for the purity of the church. For the holiness of the church and for the building up of your body, your bride. And we pray God, I pray, that when I, when we, stand before you to give an account for the work we have done in your church, we pray that, oh, we just want to hear those words “Well done good and faithful servant.” We pray that we will have been faithful to build your church your way. Help us, we pray, that you might be exalted in your church now. That you might be exalted in your church for all of eternity. Help us to build your church wisely, according to your word. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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