The Church's One Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10–11) - Radical

The Church’s One Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10–11)

“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, for no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
(1 Corinthians 3:10–11)

These two verses are, I don’t want to overuse the word, but they are foundational for understanding the church and how the church is built. So Paul is talking about his work in Corinth in the days when the church there was founded. And he said, “According to the grace of God given to me,” I love that, just the way Paul always emphasizes how anything he has done is because of grace. Anything he is doing is because of God’s grace. So according to the grace given him, “like a skilled master builder,” so this is the way the Bible describes, here in First Corinthians chapter three verse 10, a church planter: as a master builder who is building the church.

We do not have the option of building Christ’s church however we want. Lord help us to play our part in the building of Your church according to Your Word.

Now, it’s really interesting because we think about language in Matthew chapter 16 when Jesus first uses the word church and he says to Peter, “I tell you, you are a rock. You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” So Jesus builds his church. But here we see, First Corinthians chapter three verse 10, that Jesus builds his church through people, through skilled master builders, church planters, people who are planting a church, are skilled master builders.

And what’s the foundation that they lay? He says, “I laid a foundation and no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” So the foundation of the church is Christ. Again, that’s the whole point Paul has been emphasizing all throughout First Corinthians to this point, because they were tempted to look at other people as the foundation of the church, as opposed to Jesus as the foundation.

And then he says, “So I’ve, like a skilled master builder, laid a foundation for the church at Corinth and the foundation is Jesus.” Then he says, “Let each one take care how he builds upon it.” And that right there is an extremely significant, extremely important exhortation to every follower of Christ as we think about our membership in a church, and particularly any level of leadership in the church that God gives to us. But regardless of whether or not we’re in a leadership position, we are responsible, as followers of Jesus, for building his church on the foundation of Jesus.

And First Corinthians chapter three verse 10 says, “Let each one take care how he builds upon it,” so how the church is built on the foundation of Christ. We do not have the option of building Jesus’ church however we want, however seems best to us according to the newest trends, according to what we think will work best. We don’t have that option. We are responsible, for God, for building the church upon the foundation of Jesus in a way that accords with his word and his ways for his glory.

So we’ll dive in more as we flow into the rest of First Corinthians chapter three what that means, but let’s just pause at this point and pray.

God, we want to be faithful to build your church according to your word, your ways, upon the foundation of Jesus. We don’t want there to be any other foundation. Help us to faithfully lay the foundation of Jesus in your church. And everything in your church, may it be driven by your word, your ways. Keep us, we pray, from trying to build your church according to man’s ideas, man’s opinions, man’s preferences, our ideas, our opinions, our preferences. May we throw those aside and may we be driven in every way by your word to build your church your way. Not our way, oh God, your way. Please help us. Please guide us in each of our churches to align with your word.

And God, even as we pray for this, we pray for places in the world where there is no church, where no foundation in Jesus has even been laid, for the Kol people in Central, North Central India. Oh, millions of them, God, and there is no church, no known church among this people group. God, please change that. Please cause the foundation of Jesus Christ to be proclaimed and laid there among the Kol in India. Please raise up churches among the Kol in India according to your word, for the display of your glory among that people group. God, please, we pray for the establishment of your church with the foundation in Jesus in the Kol in India.

Please God, may it be so, and send out people from our churches to do it, we pray. Send out people from the work that’s being done in our fields, in buildings, in our churches. Send out people to make the gospel known among the Kol in India. God, we pray that you’d help us to build your church and expand, spread your church where it hasn’t gone, all based on your word, your ways with the foundation of Jesus in it all. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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