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# 11: 11-21-14 E

First Corinthians 3:9


Gods Building
The church in Corinth had succumbed to petty rivalries in the name of their former teachers, which were
tearing the assembly apart with contention. The believers had their eyes set on mere men, and the new
teachings they were generating. But Paul has issued a stern reprimand, to cause them to see that they were
walking according to their former manner of life, in the flesh.
Paul knew that what the believers in Corinth needed was to set their eyes where they belonged - on the
Lord. So using a farming illustration, Paul emphasized Gods absolute authority over all of them - all
believers. Neither Paul, nor Apollos - nor any other teacher or leader in Corinth - had any authority of their
own, but what the Lord had given to them.
Its Gods work, to accomplish Gods purposes - to bring forth sons for His kingdom. And where there is
submission to the Lords authority, everyone works together as one, in unity, with fruitful results. The
conduct of those in Corinth, reflecting division and disintegration of the church, stood in stark contrast to
this.
Paul then begins to switch to a different illustration, to bring out a new point. This transition is found in
verse 9.
[Read First Corinthians 3:9]
Who is Paul referring to as we? Himself and Apollos. They were in the work together, under the Lords
authority. And who does Paul mean by you, in this verse? Its plural. Its the same you that hes been
writing to. Thats the Corinthian believers, right? Yes.
Field here in the Greek is actually a cultivated field. A cultivated field has been cleared for planting. The
soil has been broken up, rocks removed, and seed planted. And its being regularly watered, and
maintained, and watched over, so that the plants that have germinated in it will grow, and be productive.
And Paul names the owner of this cultivated field - who is it? God.
The church in Corinth is Gods field. God cleared the way for the preaching of the gospel; clearing the
field of anything that would hinder His Seed from being planted there. And it was Gods Seed, planted in
that field - the Incorruptible Seed, Christ, for a body of spirit Life.
Gods servants planted and watered that Seed, in order that it deeply penetrate the hearts of men; and to
those who received that Seed by faith, God gave eternal Life. The church in Corinth was Gods doing, and
it was fulfilling His purposes, to bring forth His Life, in men.
But Paul wants the believers in Corinth to understand that they have an ongoing part in this work, too; and
in order to show that, Paul begins to change his illustration.
Just as the church in Corinth is Gods field, it is also Gods building. Note that in the context, Paul is
speaking, not of the universal church, but the church in Corinth - the body of believers, in that location.
Although Paul is addressing Corinth specifically, it would certainly be true for other local churches - and
the individual believers, in them.

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Well see next time that Paul writes of having laid the foundation of the building there, in Corinth. And
what does Paul indicate that foundation is - in verse 11? Jesus Christ - the only foundation that anyone can
lay.
Clearly, Paul is drawing on building imagery that is also used elsewhere in Scripture. In the NT, it is used
to describe the universal church, founded upon Christ. Can you remember another term used for the
foundation, of which Paul is writing here? The Cornerstone.
But the NT is not the first place where this Stone is mentioned. In fact, it goes all the way back to the first
book of the OT. So before we continue in Corinthians, were going to trace the course of this Stone, to find
out how it got from the OT to the NT. This is just a brief and select history of the Stone - the Scriptures
have much more to say about it, which you can pursue on your own.
Turn first to Genesis chapter 28. The families of the earth had rejected the LORD God on the plain of Shinar,
choosing to worship and serve the creature - themselves - rather than their Creator (Rm 1:25). Instead of
glorifying God, they were determined to make a name for themselves (Gen 11:4).
Because they rejected Him, the LORD God had to set the nations aside for a time. Meanwhile, He began to
make for Himself a nation out of one man - Abraham. The LORD God purposed the nation that would come
from Abraham to bear His Seed, Christ, and to be His witness to the other nations, holding out the light of
truth concerning the Coming Christ into the darkness that the nations had chosen for themselves.
The LORD established His covenant with Abraham for seed, and for the land, and then with Abrahams son
Isaac, both of whom believed into the LORD God for His Coming One - His Seed Christ.
By prophecy before birth, the LORD God revealed His election of Isaacs younger son Jacob to fulfill His
purposes to bring forth His nation (Gen 25:23) - a prophecy undoubtedly shared with Jacob. But because
Jacob did not yet trust the LORD, he tried to make the LORDs prophecy happen in his own strength - and
what was Jacobs strength? Deception.
So it was that, following the deception of his brother Esau, Jacob found himself fleeing from home to
preserve his life. And it was then - in that moment of great desperation, having failed in all of his
deceptions, having exhausted his efforts to secure the promises he so desired, that the LORD God came to
Jacob. He appeared to Jacob in a dream - for thats when the LORD had Jacob still enough to take things in!
Well begin in verse 10.
[Genesis 28:10-18]
v. 10-12 So Jacob dreamed of a ladder. This ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached all the way
to heaven, connecting them. On the ladder, angels were going up to heaven and down to earth; the idea is
they were carrying out Gods purposes, on earth - which they could do, because of the ladder.
Now, in the NT record, Jesus makes it clear that this ladder represents Himself the Son of Man, in His
first coming to the earth. It shows Jesus to be the Mediator; He would mediate reconciliation for man with
God, opening up the way to heaven (Jn 1:51).
The singleness of the ladder, connecting heaven and earth, revealed to Jacob that this was the one and only
way, into the presence of God.

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We can be certain that Jacob would immediately understand in his first waking moment that this ladder
represented the Coming One, the Christ, of whom his father and grandfather would have taught him so
much, from the record in the stars. The Coming One would be the source of all blessing; the way into the
Kingdom of God.
And Jacob saw - and heard - more.
v. 13-15 In the dream, the LORD God established His covenant with Jacob and notice from where He did
this; from His position in heaven, above that ladder, to Jacob below, on the earth.
Jacob would know that this was the covenant that the LORD had made with Abraham, and with Isaac the
covenant for eternal Life, through the Coming Christ. The promise to Jacob, to bring forth the LORDs
preeminent nation, was embedded in that covenant.
Again, Jacob could see that all depended on that ladder; that was the connection between heaven and earth;
between the LORD and himself; between the promise from heaven, and its realization, on earth. It all
depended on Christ; the One whom God would send; the One in whom Jacob must believe.
So then Jacob woke up.
v. 16 So when Jacob awoke, he carried his dream right into the reality of his life. He recognized the LORD
was in this place the LORD was now real to Jacob.
v. 17 In the Hebrew, the house of God is Bethel, which became what the place was known as. The house
of God is the place where a man can come and meet God which is what Jacob had done. He found there
the very gate of heaven the way into the presence of God through the Coming Christ.
v. 18 So what is the significance of this stone? It was the stone that Jacob had selected, to lay his head
upon, to sleep. It was the stone upon which Jacob had received the LORDs revelation of His Christ, and
established His covenant with Jacob.
Jacob took the stone, which had been laying flat on the earth, as the resting place for his head, and he set
the stone on end; upright, as a pillar. In this way, Jacob was creating a memorial, to the momentous
occasion of the LORDs revelation to him, and his receiving of that revelation.
Later, Jacob would say that the stone shall be Gods house (v. 22) a fitting prophecy for Christ for
Christ is the place where men can come and meet God - just as Jacob did. After Jacob set the stone up as a
pillar, he poured oil on top of it. Jacob understood that the Christ was the LORDs anointed, the One through
whom He was establishing His eternal covenant.
Many years and much adversity later, Jacob would return to Bethel. At that time, the LORD confirmed His
covenant with Jacob once more, and Jacob again set up a memorial stone. This time, Jacob poured a drink
offering on the stone, before anointing it with oil (Gen 35:1-15).
In Scripture, the drink offering is symbolic of the life being poured out in death (Is 53:12, 2 Tim 4:6). This
showed Jacobs deeper understanding of Christ, by this time; he understood that the eternal covenant would
be ratified in the blood of Christ; through His death.

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And Jacobs understanding continued to grow. In Jacobs old age, as he approached death, he uttered
prophecies pertaining to each of his sons, who were to become the twelve tribes of Israel. In his prophecy
concerning Joseph, Jacob spoke of the One who would one day come from Jacobs Mighty God - and Jacob
identified that Coming One as the Shepherd; the stone of Israel (Gen 49:24).
The Coming One would be the Good Shepherd - who would lay down His life for His sheep (Jn 10:11, 17)
- and through His death - become the foundation stone for the nation. Through the Spirit, Jacob was given
to see that the Coming Christ would be the foundation of the nation the LORD was building from him; of the
house of Israel.
But in order to be their foundation, the nation of Israel had to put their faith in Him; they had to build on
their Rock, Christ.
Time and again, the LORD spoke through His prophets to His people, exhorting them to put their trust in the
Coming Christ, who is their Rock of refuge (Ps 94:22); the Rock of their salvation (Ps 95:1). Instead,
generation after generation, the nation proved to be like Jacob, who took a lifetime to fully put his trust in
the LORD.
And then the Coming One came. Turn to John chapter 1. John describes His coming in his own unique
way. Youll remember this first part from just a few weeks ago.
[John 1:1-4] John is describing the Son, who was and always was eternal God, one in union with the
Father; the Son, who would bring eternal Life down from heaven, for men.
And this is how He came.
[John 1:14] The word dwelt is not the usual word, from the Greek. This word literally means
tabernacled - the idea is dwelling in a tent; a temporary dwelling place.
What tent did the Word occupy? The tent of His body of flesh; a temporary, mortal body, in which He
would carry out the will of His Father. The Word now had a dwelling place; a house, that fit Him for the
earth. Here was Bethel, the house of God, who Jacob memorialized with his stone, so long ago. Here was
the place where men could meet God.
The Coming One had come; and He came to His own - to His nation of Israel, that they might meet their
Messiah. But did they? No; His own did not receive Him (Jn 1:11). Here was the Stone of Israel; the
Stone that God would lay, in death, as the foundation of His nation. But Israel was unwilling to
acknowledge Him, even when He came to them.
Jesus Himself warned them of the danger of trying to build apart from Him. Turn to Luke chapter 6. Jesus
had just preached what is known as the sermon on the mount, and this was His conclusion of His message
to them.
[Luke 6:46-49]
v. 46 If they call Jesus Lord, then He is their Master, and they, His servants. A servant does the will of
his Master - and Jesus is saying, they dont do it.

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v. 47-48 So Jesus describes a man who does come to Him, who hears His sayings and then does them.
Jesus is talking about what He had just preached to them - that righteousness is a matter of a heart thats
right with God. And that takes a change of heart; a heart that God makes new, through faith in His Christ.
To hear what Jesus is saying and do it, then, is to believe in Him.
Jesus likened one who believes in Him to a man building a house. He dug down deep he had to get past
all of those worldly opinions about Jesus, and get down to the truth. And once the man dug deep, what did
he come to? The rock. This is the Greek word petra - a mass of immovable rock. The man came to the
Rock of his salvation Christ. And thats where the man built his house he built on Jesus, the Christ of
God, by faith.
Could anything shake that mans house? No because it was founded on the rock. The man had lay hold
of Jesus by faith, and now Jesus had a hold on him. The idea is eternal security.
v. 49 This man also heard the sayings of Jesus, but he did not do them; he did nothing. In other words, the
man did not believe into Jesus.
What did Jesus liken this man to? One who built on the earth; the ground. In Matthews account, it is
called the sand. The idea is that it is unstable; undependable; insecure. Jesus makes the point that to build
on it is to be without a foundation.
What happened when the flood came? The house fell, and Jesus said, the ruin of that house was great with the idea of eternal condemnation. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid,
which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11). Jesus is the foundation stone; there is no other.
Certainly Jesus was speaking to His predominantly Jewish audience as individuals, but also to Israel in the
collective sense. Their rulers were attempting to build up the nation, on worldly ground - as they had time
and again, in the past. If they did not repent, and receive their Messiah, building on Him by faith, their
house would be destroyed.
But instead, those very rulers delivered up Israels Messiah to death. As Paul said in our letter to the
Corinthians, they crucified the Lord of glory. But that was exactly in accordance with the eternal purposes
of God, that He determined beforehand (Acts 4:28).
The Lord had Peter inform the rulers of this. Turn to Acts chapter 4. Peter and John had healed a man who
was lame from birth in the name of Jesus. Then Peter preached the gospel to the crowd of Jews that
gathered - which led to their arrest. They were arraigned before the Sanhedrin - the judicial council of the
Jews.
[Acts 4:5-12]
v. 5-7 These were surely the same rulers who had tried Jesus - and condemned Him to death. But Peter,
filled with the Spirit, gives a bold response.
v. 8-12 Peter is quoting a Messianic psalm here (Ps 118:22), which speaks of the remnant of Israel
receiving Jesus as their Messiah following the Great Tribulation - which is yet to come. But Peter applies it
here to the action of the rulers, as the self-appointed builders of the nation.

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They had rejected Jesus as the Stone of Israel, and had Him put to death. But God raised Jesus from the
dead, setting Him up - as Jacob did, his stone - establishing Jesus as the cornerstone of His building; Gods
building - and what building is Peter speaking of here? Not Israel, but the church.
Since Israel would not build on the foundation Christ, by faith, God chose another people for Himself to
build with; for God is building a house; a household of sons, for His kingdom. As the sons for the earthly
realm were not yet ready, God began building for the heavenly realm - the household of the faith (Gal
6:10).
For a time, the Lord continued to extend His invitation to Israel, through His disciples. But Israel would
not build on the Rock of their salvation. They continued to build on the shifting sands of the world system
- a house without a foundation. So when the flood of Gods judgment overtook them in 70 AD - the Roman
armies - their house immediately fell, and the ruin of that house was great, indeed.
Meanwhile, God kept on building the household of Christ (Heb 3:6) - the Lord adding to His church daily
those who are being saved (Acts 2:47) - sons of God who were neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor
free, neither male nor female (Gal 3:26-28). Peter expressed his sense of wonder over this building of God
in one of his letters, even as he was issuing an invitation to those who were not yet a part of it. Turn to First
Peter chapter 2.
Peters letter was addressed to churches in five Roman provinces of Asia Minor. The contents of the letter
suggest that these assemblies had both Jewish and Gentile members, and that they were already
experiencing persecution for having placed their faith in Christ.
As in all assemblies, there were those who were just beginning to be enlightened to the truth, and Peter
included words of encouragement for them to continue in the way of grace, and come to the Lord, fully
placing their faith in Him, as others had.
[1 Peter 2:1-8]
v.1 Peter was encouraging those who were beginning to be enlightened in these assemblies to lay aside
anything that would hold them back from coming to the Lord.
v. 2-3 This word babe is a similar word to the one which Paul used in our letter to the Corinthians, also
referring metaphorically to one who is unlearned and unenlightened. This would then mean those who do
not yet believe but here they are being drawn to the Lord.
Babes need milk - the foundational truths of the gospel. These babes have already had a taste of it; and
Peter is urging them to really take it in, so that it gives them the nourishment they need: eternal Life. The
oldest manuscripts have grow up to salvation. Peter is urging them to believe, and become a son of God.
v. 4-5 Jesus was rejected by men, and put to death, but God raised Jesus from the dead a Living Stone.
This is Gods chosen Stone; the One upon whom His plan of saving men depends.
And this is our precious Stone; the One upon whom our reconciliation with God depends.
So when Jesus was raised from the dead a Living Stone the Son of God in a body of glory He became
the one Mediator between God and men - the man, Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5) - like the ladder of Jacobs
dream, that had opened up the way to heaven.

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In believing, flesh men become living stones - a part of what God is building; His kingdom, built upon the
only foundation that can be laid - Jesus Christ.
It is a spiritual house - a house of spirit-life, in which believers are united to one another and to God, joined
by the eternal Life they share; a dwelling place of God, in the Spirit; a holy temple in the Lord (Eph 2:2122).
Believers are the temple, and Peter sees them as the holy priesthood of it, as well. What would be the
spiritual sacrifices they offer? Peter may have had in mind their bodies - a living sacrifice - offered in their
obedience, to the Lord. A sanctified life; thats their worship, as priests (Rom 12:1).
Peter then visits three passages in the OT to show how this household of the faith in Christ - the church - is
a fulfillment of the Scriptures.
v. 6 This was a prophecy of Isaiah (28:16), which clearly pertains to Israel; it will see its far fulfillment in
the Kingdom Age, when the house of Israel is built, a regenerate nation. But Peter is showing that the
church is the fulfillment of it at this time.
v. 7 Who would be the disobedient to whom Peter is referring? The nation of Israel, who rejected Jesus
as their Messiah. This is the same passage that Peter quoted at his arraignment before the Sanhedrin (Ps
118:22). We recognize this is also about Israel in the regeneration, but it has a near-fulfillment in the true
church.
v. 8 This is another prophecy of Isaiah (8:14) concerning Israel, which Peter recognizes is Gods judgment
on the nation at this time, for rejecting their Messiah.
But anyone who believes into Jesus becomes one of the people of God - and comes into the blessings that
God has purposed for His people.
v. 9-10 The things which Peter mentions are what the LORD had promised to Israel, if they kept His
covenant - the covenant for eternal Life through faith in Christ (Ex 19:5-6).
As Israel chose to forfeit her blessings in the present day, Peter observed that the LORD chose to bestow
them on a new people of God - most of whom were not a people - they were Gentiles. And we have
much to praise Him for, in that, dont we?
When the nation of Israel has a change of heart following the Great Tribulation, God will restore them as
His people, as well - and build their house in a day, the regenerate nation of Israel. Throughout the
Kingdom Age on earth, the house of Israel will be a household of faith - built upon the Stone of Israel - the
Rock of their salvation - their Messiah, Jesus.
Well return next time to Pauls letter to the Corinthians, to see how Paul uses similar building imagery to
describe the local church in Corinth, established on the foundation of Jesus Christ. But he will use it as a
means of getting the Corinthians to consider what they are building with.
Reading: Eph 2:19-22, 1 Cor 6:19-20, 2 Cor 6:11-18, Eph 4:11-16, Rm 14:10-13, 2 Cor 5:1-10.