Ezra 5:1-6:1; 1 Corinthians 3:5-15; Psalms 29:3-11; Proverbs 11:8
NT: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it. But each one is to be careful how he builds on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s work will become obvious. For the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will experience loss, but he himself will be saved — but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-15 CSB)
Paul wrote that the church is God’s field. When a landowner obtained a field in those days, it was to produce a fruitful harvest. The landowner would then hire different workers to work the field unto that singular purpose. The workers didn’t own the field and they didn’t own the harvest – but they were all allowed to share in the blessing of the harvest, provided they worked together under the lordship of the landowner. The church (both local and global) is the same way. The church belongs to the Lord, and He calls different people to work together under His Lordship for a common cause: to see a fruitful harvest of souls, who are then fruitful. In the church, there are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers all working together under the Lord of the Church to reap a harvest of souls who are then fruitful in their work of ministry. The church doesn’t belong to the apostle. The church doesn’t belong to the prophet. The church doesn’t belong to the evangelist. The church doesn’t belong to the pastor or teacher. The church belongs to the Lord – but all who work in unity toward seeing a fruitful harvest will all share in the blessing – for all had a hand in bringing the harvest to fruition by the life-giving grace of God through the Holy Spirit.
Paul also wrote that the church is God’s building. For a building to withstand the elements and downward pull of decay and degradation, two things are required: 1) a good and solid foundation, and 2) good and solid building materials. Paul’s role in the Corinthian church was to establish the foundation. After he left, other builders came to build on the foundation he laid to hopefully build a good solid structure that would withstand the test of time. Paul wrote earlier that he came preaching only Christ and Him crucified. That was the foundation that he laid: the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the only solid, strong and sure foundation for the church of God. A church, for it to stand, must be build on Christ. It can’t be built on the notoriety of a popular preacher. It can’t be built on a popular ministry method. It can’t be built on a specific singular doctrinal message (like prayer, worship, serving the poor, etc.) The foundation of a church and the foundation of The Church must be Christ. Once the foundation is laid, those who build on the foundation must make sure they are building with good materials. They need to use timeless and proven truths that have been mined through careful study of the word of God and prayer – not trendy, flash-in-the-pan methods or book-of-the-day philosophies. God isn’t building a trendy church. He is building a strong church that will last until the end of the age and be found faithful. If you build with the timeless and proven doctrines of scripture, what you build will withstand the fires of judgement and you will receive a reward for your efforts. If you are simply interested in a quick work that will be trendy in its time and bring you a lot of adoration and attention – then your work will get burned up in the fire, and you will stand before the Lord with nothing to show.
Psalms: “The voice of the Lord is above the waters. The God of glory thunders — the Lord, above the vast water, the voice of the Lord in power, the voice of the Lord in splendor… The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned, King forever. The Lord gives his people strength; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (Psalms 29:3-4, 10-11 CSB)
In this psalm, David likened the voice of the Lord to a powerful and terrifying storm. It is definitely possible that he could have been watching a powerful thunderstorm roll in from the Mediterranean as he wrote this. The sheer power and authority of God’s voice caused the mountains to shake and the mighty cedars of Lebanon to split open. The mountains were considered by the neighboring Canaanite nations to be the dwelling places of the gods, and the mighty cedars were considered to be strong and steadfast… but the mountains and cedars were no match for the power and authority of the Lord. Yes, the storm was terrifying and it brought destruction to those who stood against the Lord and His purposes – but it also brought blessing, strength and peace to the people of the Lord. It was through the flood that God established His everlasting covenant with Noah. It was through the flood that God washed the world of sin and gave the family of Noah a new life. It is under the power and authority of God’s word that His church is established and given grace to flourish and be fruitful. What side of the storm are we going to be on? Are we going to stand opposed to His purposes and be shaken, or are we going to come under His Lordship as the Lord of the church and be blessed?
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You have invited me to be a worker in Your field and a builder of Your building. Help me, by Your grace as I submit to Your Lordship in faith, to work with my fellow workers – not against them… and to not be tempted to build with quick-fix and trendy materials, but with the tried and true doctrines found in Your word. To You, Lord be all the glory. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.