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God's Temple

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
November 14, 2021 6:00 pm

God's Temple

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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November 14, 2021 6:00 pm

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You would please turn with me this morning to first review chapter 3 We Been Making Our Way through this New Testament letter in our Sunday evening services and we come today to chapter 3 will do our best to get through the entire chapter as we see what Paul has to say about how God grows. His church, how he builds a temple of souls who follow Christ and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. First Corinthians 3 verses one through 23 by brothers could not address US spiritual people, but as people of the flesh as infants in Christ, I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you are not ready for it and even now you're not ready for you are still of the flesh. While there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way.

When one says. I follow Paul and another I follow Paulus, are you not being merely human.

What then is a Paulus what is Paul servants, through whom he believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted the policy watered, but God gave the growth so neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth he who plants and he who waters are one and each will receive his wages, according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers, you were God's feel God's building. According to the grace of God given to me like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation in someone else's building upon it, but 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. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones would pay 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 is done if the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss.

He himself will be saved, but only as through fire you not know you were God's temple and the God's Spirit dwells in you. If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. God's temple is holy and you are that temple. Let no one deceive himself.

If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise for the wisdom of this world is folly with God, for it is written, he catches the wise in their craftiness and again the Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.

So let no one boast in men for all things are yours whether Paul or a policy or Cephas or the world or life or death, or the presence or the future. All are yours and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. This is the word of the Lord's prayer Holy Spirit we've just read that you dwell in us. You dwell in your church and if you dwell in us than we are holy, set apart by God to be followers of Christ bearers of his name. As we think about the Scripture before us today. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear, may we not only understand what you say but also believe and obey your word that our souls might be nourished, our wills might be directed to do your will. Our hearts weaned of their attachment to this world and united inseparably to our Creator and Redeemer, would you bless the preaching and hearing of your word now.

I pray in Jesus name, amen. For two chapters now. Paul has been addressing a particular problem at Corinth. The problem of exalting human means and methods above God's means and methods. This problem had become so prevalent at Corinth that the church was beginning to fracture over their divided loyalties to this personality or to that personality to this skill set or to that skill set their whole criteria for evaluating the worth and effectiveness of ministers on their message was coming from all the wrong places.

So Paul began addressing the problem.

He he spoke to them about how unnecessarily divisive this cult of personality had become all the Corinthian Christians were shouting. I am of Paul. I'm of a Paulus arm of Christ all insisted that God's ways are not our ways. He told him the God in fact intentionally uses things of the world considers foolish in order to ensure that God rather than man gets the glory and salvation, and so the church should not be preoccupied with something something simply because the world says it's impressive because the world says its importance all address the centrality of Christ and him crucified. He pointed out that the gospel transcends human wisdom and reason, and that it and it depends entirely on the work of the Holy Spirit in an individual. If there is to be any real comprehension of the gospel will Paul is not finished yet addressing this problem and that he's in a go on for two more chapters and when it's all said and done. Paul will have devoted about 1/4 of this letter did to dealing with this issue of misplaced confidence in worldly wisdom. It must be a big deal in Paul's mind and so we do well this morning to set up and listen to the warning lest we go down that same path as these early Christians at Corinth. I suppose we could sum up Paul's emphasis here in chapter 3, like this keep the main thing the main thing.

Don't let yourself become enamored with a dozen shiny alternatives. Keep what God says is central to spiritual growth.

Always at the center because if we don't, we not only cut ourselves off from those things that will actually mature us in our faith. We also demeaned the God who has given us these means of spiritual growth is the ultimately this misplaced confidence in worldly means is not a methodological problem in the church.

It's a worship problem in the church.

It's a failure to make God and his glory. Our chief and this past spring. Laura and I began prepping our little garden plot for a new crop of vegetables and as I thought about last year's garden.

I decided I would make some improvements to our system. We had been using sprinklers that were mounted upon these high poles and it was it was an efficient half the water would just blow off of the garden. What little water did get to the garden would fall indiscriminately on the good plants in the weeds and it just created a whole lot more hoeing that had to do that be done every week so I decided to install a drip water system.

According to my research, which is a fancy way of saying my googling on the Internet would use very little water and it would only water the specific places the good plants it would minimize the weeds and so I bought all the component side. I set it all up and it was it was beautiful, symmetrical grid of waterlines that was pressurized to just the right amount so that the optimum watering could be achieved even had a timer on the whole thinks it was foolproof friends would come over to our house. We would go look at the garden, and I wanted them to see the ingenuity of this watering system. I was so proud of these beautiful pipes and hoses to know about a month later when the plants are grown in and sprawled and vegetables were beginning to ripen. You couldn't even see my beautiful sprinkler system friends would come over walk around the garden and all they seem to notice were the beautiful vegetables didn't even ask about my pipes and hoses will turns out the reason you grow a garden is to produce vegetables not to show off a watering system. It's about the corn and tomatoes, not the sprinkler. We we chuckle we say will, of course, it's not about the sprinkler and yet when it comes to a far more significant garden garden of souls which we call the church. How easy it is for us to exalt the means above the ends methods above substance. Preachers of the cross above, the Christ of the cross in this sort of misplaced priority is Paul says indicative of an immature fleshly Christianity that needs to be reminded of several things immature Christian needs to be reminded of the source of the church's growth of the foundation upon which that growth occurs, and of the sacred nature of the church source the foundation and the sacred nature of the church. Those of the things that Paul pointed Corinth back to and the things we need to be reminded of whenever we find ourselves enamored with the world's wisdom with man's means and methods over and against God's so. First, Paul reminds us to remember the source of church growth. What makes garden God's garden grow some of the Corinthians were saying well. Paul makes it grow.

He took the time to come. Although it appeared. According spent 18 months are nurturing us and pastoring us. He's the source of our growth.

Other said no, a Paulus makes it grow.

He such a better speaker than Paul. He just looks and sounds so much more pastoral than Paul does.

He's the source, so others were saying you're both wrong. Is Peter then makes the church growing he's he's an apostle's apostle.

He's he's the he's the big one.

He's that he's the rock on which the church is built.

Jesus said so himself. But Paul answers those assertions in verse five. What then is a Paulus what is Paul servants, through whom you believed as the Lord assigned to each. These men were merely means to an end.

Paul says I planted Apollo's watered was the Cedar Paulus was the sprinkler but God gave the growth in areas God is the source of church growth. God is the ultimate and essential means of Christian maturity.

Yes, he certainly is a secondary means like apostles and evangelists and preachers and teachers. But God is the source that makes all of those means effective the verse seven says neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything but God, who gives the growth now we need to realize that that Paul doesn't deny the importance of the secondary means he acknowledges in in Ephesians 4 and other places that apostles and preachers are gifts from the Lord, and their important elements, but they're not the main thing so don't give your first loyalty to them. Keep the main thing the main thing work that Paul and a Paulus did merely helped to establish the conditions for growth God's work, however, was the source of growth. It's interesting how the verb tenses in Greek make this even more clear planting and watering. Here are are in attempts that indicate a one time completed action, but the giving of growth that God does is in attempts that indicate something that starts in the past and continues into the future. In other words ministers come and go, but God's work continues as a careful balance. We need to maintain here on the one hand we don't want to demeaned or neglect the legitimate. Although secondary means that God has established for spiritual growth don't need to stop planting and watering Scripture makes it clear that God is the one who raises up planters and waters to tend his garden so it's not as if apostles and preachers and and ministers of the word and elders and deacons and evangelists and mentors in the faith are unimportant, but that wasn't the imbalance that Paul was addressing a Corinth, the Corinthian church had become so enamored with the means they were forgetting the source. One preacher said the main defect to court consisted in the boldness assurance and enthusiasm which went with which they believe not in God but in their particular leaders and heroes don't have apostles coming through town today, planting churches, but perhaps the modern-day equivalent might be seen in our loyalties may be to do certain Christian conferences or maybe to our favorite study Bible. I am of the Gospel coalition will I am of legionnaire. I am of the ESV study Bible. I am of the John MacArthur study Bible, we have our cubbyholes are are safe places that give us our particular sense of Christian identity and none of those things are inherently bad, but they become harmful and unhelpful. When we begin to view these secondary means as the primary impetus of growth in our Christian walk. This is harmful because it will begin to to foster disunity in the church and it fosters disunity when it begins to create misplaced loyalty to something other than God, which is really just a nice way of saying creates idols of the heart, brothers and sisters personalities and resources are not the source of growth.

God alone makes his garden grow. So we need to remember the source. But secondly, Paul tells us to remember the foundation upon which this growth occurs in verses 10 and following Paul switches metaphors. He begins comparing the church and its growth to the constructing of a building a temple for God and he says in verse 10, according to the grace of God given to me like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation in someone else's 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. The first step in any building in endeavors is the laying of a foundation in this case, the foundation, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who was slain for sin. The Redeemer who conquered sin and death and the devil in the world are our high priest who sits enthroned in heaven.

He is the foundation upon which the church is built. Paul says there is no other possible foundation than Christ. Many have tried to build a Christ list church, haven't they on on the foundation of good works or humanism or some sort of extra biblical revelation, but none of those are the true church. The church of Jesus Christ has and must have Jesus Christ as its foundation as its cornerstone of the apostles laid this foundation in their teaching and ministry within others Apollo's and Timothy in the early church fathers, and countless pastors and bishops and Christians including you and me have come along and have built on that foundation, which was laid by the apostles within. Paul introduces the idea that these building efforts that have been going on for millennia now are of differing qualities that are not all equal.

Some of them are like gold, silver and precious stones is positive, others are like wood, hay and straw. That's negative. In other words some efforts to build the church are long-lasting and permanent like gold others are temporary and easily destroyed like straw soap what what do these different building materials specifically .2. Paul doesn't tell us explicitly here, but I think the context gives us an idea of what he has in mind the particular sin. Paul is dealing with his clients tendency to evaluate good preaching by the world's criteria for them. Preaching was good. If it conforms to Greek standards of rhetorical excellence proclamation of the gospel was bad or poor if it failed to meet that standard. And so the litmus test for for gospel faithfulness and Corinth was being determined by the taste of an unregenerate culture rather than by its conformity to the words of Christ and the redemptive work of Christ in the apostolic teaching on Christ.

They were claiming to have this Christ centered foundation with the walls and the rafters. They were putting up were not worthy of that foundation, so gold silver and precious stones referred I think to the means and methods in proclamation that insist on keeping Christ at the center while wood, hay and straw are tactics and techniques that seek to circumvent or downplay the centrality of Jesus Christ and him crucified. Things that cater to worldly tastes and and sensibilities. Worldly values sometimes would hay and straw are obvious Arctic years ago I was at a church where one pastor promise that if attendance reached a certain number he would shave his head in the church parking lot will guess what attendance reached the magic number and the pastor shaved his head, folks come judgment day that gimmick and a thousand others like it will usher exactly 0 people into heaven. Why is the church is not built on gimmicks and games. It's built the proclamation of Christ crucified for sinners is not the gimmicks and games are necessarily sinful, they're just silly and they are worthy additions to this foundation is sure foundation of gold, which is Jesus Christ slain for sin. Sometimes, however, would hay and straw are less obvious and and that's when these priceless efforts at building the church or are their most dangerous when we fail to perceive the absence of Christ.

Think maybe an example of this in our current cultural moment is seen in how the world has redefined the concept of justice as a social construct rather than as an objective attribute of God and how the church, at least in some circles has eagerly accommodated every facet of its message and ministry to this new concept of justice think this is an example of trying to build the church with wood hay and straw because it involves taking our cue from the world and what the world demands rather than taking our cue from what will most honor Jesus Christ you know we will cater to whatever we love and if we love Ada boys from the world like Corinth did and we will blindly fall for every philosophical fat every trendy wind that blows through our culture, rather than being in movably fixed upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and him crucified. So perhaps we need to periodically ask ourselves some diagnostic questions to help us notice when we're yielding to these subtle shifts away from the foundation.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves things like what criteria makes the world sit up and take notice and MIO Lord by that criteria. Why do I like the preachers that I like when I declare someone to be of good Bible teacher, or declare that something is a good Christian resource by what standard of measurement. Am I making these claims in my fascinated with novel doctrines and methodologies that have only sprung up in my lifetime, and lack a time-tested history of acceptance in the church.

Why do I find these innovative ideas appealing do I find spiritual nourishment and things that have no connection to Scripture or to the church and conversely do I find myself a lack of delight in the ordinary means of grace that God offered me his word, prayer, the sacraments, you see a maturing Christian is one who values the things he ought to value the words he loves the means and methods that most clearly point himself and others to Christ. The immature fleshly Christian is the one who is charmed by those things that draw crowded make a splash that carried cloud, but he forgets that those things are temporary and passing empty distractions is treasuring the sprinkler, not the garden is billing on a foundation of pure gold, but with disposable materials at the root of it is loving the praise of men rather than loving Jesus Christ. One commentator said we must reckon as nothing all the applause of the world because like empty bubbles that glitter for the moment, their emptiness will in a very little while exposed by heavens judgment. We need to remember the foundation upon which the church is built we need to build on that foundation in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ early. Paul calls us to remember the sacredness of the church. The sacredness of the church. Paul has been addressing the builders of the church. In verses 10 through 15 which has primary application.

I think to to ministers, although in some sense every Christian is to be contributing their gifts and their labor to the building up of the church.

But now, in verses 16 and 17, Paul begins addressing the building itself.

He starts talking to the walls. He says in verse 16 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. Paul addresses the building, not as a passive participant but as an entity that bears some measure of responsibility.

The temple ought to know that it is holy, set apart for a special purpose, bearing a unique status before God and if a part of the temple fails to realize this and ask in a manner that is out of accord with its sanctified status, God will destroy it rather than let it destroy his temple.

So Paul uses the threat of judgment day as motivation for professing Christians to act like the holy people. They are God loves his church. We do things that harm his church.

He will harm us. What sorts of things might we do that bring destruction to the church. Well, the very things Paul has just been talking about things like forgetting the source of growth and instead transferring our loyalty to the secondary means and methods or things like forgetting the foundation in trying to build God's church. According to the world's criteria. We do such things were treating the temple of God is an unholy thing.

Reviewing what God says is sacred as something that is common and God will not stand for it. Why because he wants a holy people set apart for his good pleasure.

So we are called to remember the sacredness of the church in order for that realization.

To spur us on to build wisely and not foolishly.

Someone said it. Paul is calling us to live and labor in anticipation of the verdict of the last day to live and labor in anticipation of the verdict of the last day we were to remember sacredness of God's temple and billed accordingly. Before we look at two final exhortations that Paul gives in light of these three reminders may point out an interesting observation about verses 5 to 17 that the Trinitarian nature of God is very clearly seen these verses.

Notice that it's God the father. In verses five through nine, who gives the growth is God the son. In verses 10 through 15 who was the foundation of that growth and it is God the Holy Spirit in verses 16 and 17 who indwells the church and makes her holy folks.

If anything, this raises the stakes of Paul's admonition doesn't see by loving worldly trends and by incorporating secular sensibilities into their ministry model. The Corinthian Christians were not being savvy church growth experts they were pitting themselves against the very purposes of the triune God say again, the problem was not one of merely bad methodology. Their problem was one of misdirected worship. They love success in the claim from the world more than they love the approval of God and so Paul concludes with two exhortations.

First, he says don't fool yourself. Don't fool yourself, verse 18.

Let no one deceive himself.

If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool. He may become wise. Stop telling yourself that your preoccupation with the world way of doing things is just winsome.

This is not it's foolishness.

God has your number and he will expose what you're doing. Verse 19 for it is written, he catches the wise in their craftiness and again the Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.

If you are out of step with God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit.

You're just plain out of step, so be honest with yourself about why you're really doing what you're doing.

Don't fool yourself. Secondly, Paul says, don't miss the real treasure you're so concerned with making a good showing before the world that you forgotten the treasure that's already yours in Christ. Verse 21, so let no one boast or glory in men for all things are yours whether Paul Laura Paulus or Cephas or the world or life or death of the president of the future all or yours and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's you who are consuming, Paul says with winning the world to the world's means, but neglect the very source and foundation of growth because it doesn't sell very well, like a millionaire who keeps bragging about how much money he saved the dollar store got a Rolls-Royce in the garage but you keep using the tricycle all points is back to the real treasure. The real power in our witness and he reminds us of all the things that are ours already in Christ. He says this is yours and this is yours and that is yours these things that we tend to put on pedestals and turning to idols are actually tools given to us by God for our spiritual good sorts of things compete for our attention are thoughts they shape our values.

But Paul reverses this perceived relationship, insisting rather that rather than viewing ourselves as slaves to these things.

I am of this, I am of that these things are actually hours not we are there but they are ours and we don't have to reject our favorite Bible teacher in order to avoid the cult of personality we have to simply acknowledge the proper place valid Christian teachers and ministries are part of a whole range of resources that God has given to his church to build and strengthen it church is not the property of the apostles or its ministers. Rather, the apostles and ministers are servants of the church pastors and teachers are not ends in themselves, they are simply means to an end. They are agents of growth and health for the good of the church. The notice Paul flips the statement around for his final point and you church are Christ's. These things we elevate two ungodly heights are mere tools for the purpose of pointing all Christians to Christ. He is the only one who should be on the pedestal. He alone is worthy of that degree of preeminence and loyalty brothers and sisters every one of us are a part of this construction project is been going on since the inception of the covenant of grace.

We are builders in this grand and glorious kingdom, and we will continue to build until the return of Christ. Some of us are elders and deacons charged with the task of building the covenant community that we call Grace Church. Some of us are fathers and mothers charged with building families that operate in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Some of us are singles charged with serving the Lord of the harvest with undistracted devotion.

Some of us are young people charged with growing in our own knowledge of God's creation and discovering our role as laborers in stewards and that creation wherever God has placed you on this sacred construction site in this holy garden. The souls remember the source. Remember, the foundation remember the sacred character of what it is your building and billed accordingly. For goodness sake don't get preoccupied with the sprinkler in the hope don't miss the garden for the tools use the tools will wield them well, but we'll them in God's way.

Don't be tempted by the world's expert advice on how you want to build. Remember that you are Christ's, is the one we answer to.

He is the one we serve is the one we worship and pray Lord we don't want your assessment of us to be that we are immature fleshly Christians who have wasted our lives telling our families and churches with inferior materials that will last help us to serve you in a manner that is worthy of Christ and his redemptive work on our behalf be so captivating to our minds and hearts that we are inoculated against jealousy and strife and misplaced loyalties would help us to keep the main thing the main thing we acknowledge this morning that the main thing is Jesus Christ and him crucified or made that simple yet profound message never, never lose its power and influence over us. We pray in the name of Jesus. Our foundation cornerstone men

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