Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 26
JESUS CHRIST THE FOUNDATION
Now let’s get right back into our study of I Corinthians, and we’ll begin with verse 11. But before we do let me share with you a conversation with a gentlemen on the phone about denominations. I told him, “Some day when you stand before the Lord’s throne, whichever one it is, He’s not going to ask you whether you were obedient to your local Church or denomination, but rather have you been obedient to the Word.” And of course that’s all that’s going to amount to anything for eternity, and that’s what I keep hammering home at people,“What does the Book say?” I don’t tell you what my denomination teaches, I don’t tell you what someone else says, we’re just going to try to discern what the Word says.
Now I don’t claim to have all the answers. I don’t claim to have any special revelations, and I think I do teach the same as many of our fundamental men, but the only difference is, “I make it in language that common people can understand.” We’re not coming up with something way out in left field or far different from the main stream, but we do want to make it understandable so that anybody can sit down for an evening and study their Bible, and it is the most enjoyable thing that you can do. Again, the other evening I took my Bible, and was going to review a few things, and the first thing that I knew I was just chasing references, and three hours had gone by just like that. I find there’s no contest between Bible study and anything else in this world. Now let’s begin our study again.
I Corinthians 3:11
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
We have a lot of cults and religions who have come on the scene even in the last several hundred years who claim to have had further revelations. They claim their prophet came later than Jesus, and consequently he has revelations that Jesus didn’t have, and so forth. But listen, that’s not what this verse says, this verse says that when Paul laid the foundation for the Church, which was the Finished Work Of The Cross, then that’s it.” No one can add to that. I’ve told my classes that if you’re reading a book, and I don’t care how good it is, and all of a sudden that author comes along and says, “I had a special revelation the likes of which no one else has ever had,” just close that book and pitch it in the nearest fireplace or waste basket because that’s the only place it belongs. This Bible is complete, everything that we need to know is between these two covers. Now this isn’t all that we would like to know, I know there’s a lot of things that you and I still ask about, and God hasn’t seen fit to reveal it, but everything we need to know is in this Book. A couple of years ago one of our major news magazines, had a cover story of all the great men down through history who made an impact on civilization. And they had the Apostle Paul as one of them because he was the founder of Christianity, and I just couldn’t believe it. As a rule they say it was Jesus Who was the founder of Christianity, but no, Jesus didn’t found it, but rather Paul. But he founded it on Jesus Christ, of course.
Jesus never promoted the fact that He had died, and shed His blood. He couldn’t do that because it hadn’t happened yet. The Twelve certainly didn’t understand it because they had no idea that He was going to die and be risen from the dead. We haven’t looked at that in a while so let’s go back to the Book of Luke, Chapter 18. Sometimes we need to look at some of these older references that we haven’t used in a long time to refresh our memories, and it also helps those who have just tuned in recently. And if you think Jesus and the Twelve preached our Gospel, the Gospel that Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15:1-4 saves us, “if we believe that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again,” then you had better think again. How could they? In the first place He hadn’t died, and in the second place He certainly hadn’t been raised from the dead, and in the third place his earthly teaching was confined to Israel (Ref Matthew 10:5-6). Now look what Jesus says in this passage.
“Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, `Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he (speaking of Himself) shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.’ (Christ knew it would happen) And they (the Twelve) understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”
Now isn’t it obvious, because at His crucifixion did they just stand there and say, “Hey, don’t worry, He’s going to be raised from the dead?” But what did they do? They scattered like a bunch of quail, and as far as the eleven were concerned it was all over. He didn’t bring in the earthly Kingdom for them, He was dead. And I remind you now, “Where were those disciples on resurrection morning?” Well they certainly weren’t at the tomb waiting for Him to come out. Were they? No. But the disciples didn’t know, so how could they preach a Gospel based on death, burial, and resurrection? They couldn’t because it hadn’t happened yet.
Now this Apostle Paul as he defends himself over and over, this is all that he knows, “How that Christ died for the sins of the world, and that He arose from the dead victorious. And by His life and death we’re justified from all things.” That’s the foundation of the Christian faith, it’s the foundation for anyone who is going to go to an eternity in the presence of God. To trust anything short of the finished work of the Cross, I’m afraid that those people are doomed to a lost eternity. I’ve told people over and over that I don’t point the finger at anybody. I’ll never look at someone and say, “Hey, you’re lost.” That not my prerogative, because I can’t look on anyone’s heart, but I can say, “That if Jesus Christ and His finished work of the Cross isn’t the foundation of your faith, then you’re on pretty shaky ground.”
Now let’s look at verse 12. Here Paul has involved us in a building process, he’s the masterbuilder, he’s started the foundation. Now a general run-of-the-mill believer has been building on that foundation for almost 2000 years, and all these believers down through the centuries have been building on this foundation. We are building on this foundation, and we are adding to that building. Now usually when I teach this I liken us to building a wall, laying the mortar, laying the brick, and being meticulous on how we are building, because, after all, our section of the wall is going to be examined by those fiery eyes of the Lord Jesus some day. Now as we embark on our Christian walk, God gives us six materials to build with. Isn’t that amazing that He tells us what we can build with. We can use gold, silver and precious stones or we can use hay, wood, and stubble, or a combination of all six, and that is what we as believers are all doing. Now one of the first things I have to remind folks of is this: do you find gold or silver, or precious stones laying just right outside the front door? No! To get them, usually you have to go up into the rough country, and it takes hard work. None of these first three come easy, but hay, wood, and stubble are everywhere, and that’s what most Christians are building with because they are too lazy to get up and go out and work for those hard to get materials. Now let’s look at it.
I Corinthians 3:12
“Now if any man build upon this foundation (Remember, Christ has to be the foundation, we have to have faith in His finished work of the Cross before we’re even given opportunity to add to His building. So the materials we are going to use to build with are) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; “
I Corinthians 3:13a
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest:…”
Not the person who is working for his salvation, because that is impossible, but the one who has salvation and is now working for rewards. Now this is a graphic difference from what most of Christendom teaches. Most of Christendom has the idea that you work to obtain salvation somehow or other. But listen, you work absolutely none for salvation, it’s all of Grace by faith + nothing, it’s free! But once we’ve entered in to that glorious salvation experience then God expects us work for rewards. And what’s the purpose of working? To enhance His work, to enhance the Kingdom as we so often say, and to bring honor and glory to His Name. He’s still the Sovereign God, and we are still nothing but His little worker bees. We are to work for rewards. Now turn to I Corinthians Chapter 9, and verse 24, and of course Paul here is making an analogy with something that everyone understood. Sometimes he makes an analogy of a Roman soldier, in Ephesians 6 for example. Other times he will make an analogy to a farmer, or business man, but here he is going to use the analogy of the Olympics. He’s going to talk about people who are running in a race.
I Corinthians 9:24
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? (And that would be the winner. So Paul says as believers working in this building process, now bring it into the analogy of a foot race) So run, that ye may obtain.” (Not your salvation, remember, you’ve already obtained that by your faith.)
We are to enter this race with the idea of winning this race. Who would ever enter a race not wanting to win, the mentality has to be, “I want to win.” Now verse 25.
I Corinthians 9:25a
“And every man that striveth for the mastery (trying to be first in this race) is temperate in all things….”
Now what’s temperate? Trying to maintain a balance. Don’t go way off to the right or way off to the left, but rather maintain a middle balance. This will work even in disciplining your kids. You can’t over-discipline or you will have a bunch of rebels, but on the other hand you can’t under-discipline or you’re also going to have a rebel, but just maintain that middle-of-the-road temperate idea of discipline. It’s the same way in business, you show me a man who is covered up with inventory, he doesn’t even know where things are, and I’ll show you a man who won’t be in business long. But on the other hand you show me a man in business whose shelves are bare, and you try to buy something, and he tells you he’ll have to order it for you, then he won’t be in business very long either. So you just have to maintain that temperate balance. Now it’s the same way in running the Christian life. Don’t go off on the deep end to the right or left, but maintain that balance. So in order to prepare for this foot race they didn’t all of a sudden become gluttons in order to build up this energy level, they didn’t all of a sudden spend all their time sleeping so that their body could rest, but they just maintained a balance, and it’s the same way in our Christian experience. We have to maintain a balance in everything we do. Now looking at verse 25 again:
I Corinthians 9:25
“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things; Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”
Do you know what a corruptible crown meant? Back in Paul’s day they didn’t give the runners a gold, silver or bronze medal, but rather they received a wreath just made of leaves. Well, by the time they went home from the race that wreath had wilted, and then all it was good for was to put between the pages of a book. It was corruptible, it died, but we don’t work for something like that, but rather we work for an incorruptible crown. And what a difference that makes. If only the human race could get a glimpse of the eternity that is waiting for us who believe. We would just say, “What is seventy years compared to eternity?” It’s nothing, and yet even believers are so tied to this world, and are so blinded by the glory of the world that we get our priorities all mixed up. But Paul says to run to win the prize (not for our salvation, we’ve already got that), but that we might have the rewards that are going to go with our salvation. This is all the way through the Scriptures. Let’s go to the Book of Genesis for a moment to Chapter 15, and drop down to verse 8, and here God is dealing with Abraham. And Abraham is already a believer. He was a believer when he left Ur of the Chaldees years and years previous to this, but now God is promising him a territory of land.
“And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
In other words God is saying here, “Abraham I’m the One Who saved you, I’m the One Who declared you a righteous man, and I’m going to give you this land to inherit it.” Now look at Abraham’s response in verse 8.
“And he said, `Lord GOD, whereby (how) shall I know that I shall inherit it?'”
Well, because God promised that he was going to be rewarded with a deed to this land of what we now call Palestine. This whole concept of working for rewards has been on the minds of believers from day one. They’re not just looking at salvation per se, but it’s this idea that we’re going to receive rewards. Another good one was when Jesus, during His earthly ministry, promised the Twelve that they would someday reign and rule over the twelve tribes of Israel during the Kingdom Age. And remember, that was still on their minds even as Jesus was ready to ascend back to glory there in the Book of Acts Chapter 1. I wasn’t going to use this one, but I will anyway. Do you remember the person who was given ten talents and he went out and made ten more? And the one with five went out and made five more? The lesson was, “The one who hustled and went out and made ten more would get to rule over ten cities in the Kingdom Age.” In other words, he’s going to get rewards in eternity, and it’s the same thing for us. I’m sure that’s what it all boils down to, that our rewards are going to be levels of responsibility as we rule and reign with Christ. The person who’s going to have nothing in the wall but hay, wood, and stubble is going to be there, as we will see in a moment, but he’s not going to enjoy the benefits of reward. He’s missed that, although he’s going to be saved. Now let’s turn to II Corinthians Chapter 5. Where does this whole idea of reward come to the full? Immediately after the Rapture of the Church (Ref. I Thessalonians 4:13-18) and we’re brought up into glory with the Lord Jesus, we have a great event in Heaven that’s going to take place. (This will take place during that seven years that the Tribulation is raging here on the earth.) And here it is now, beginning with verse 8.
II Corinthians 5:8-10
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, (Having died physically) and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, (in this building process) that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. (not for salvation, but for rewards. Now here it comes) For we must all (believers) appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
That’s not salvation being put in the balances, but rather “rewards.” Now the words `judgment seat’ scares people, and I think it’s an unfortunate translation. The correct term out of the Greek was, “The Bema Seat.” Those of you who have been to the ruins of Corinth, that’s one of the things that the guides like to show you. Well, all it is is a raised podium, and it was the seat of the judges where they would come to the various conclusions. Now in the Olympic games the Bema Seat was set at the finish line, and as the runners were coming by, the judge of the Bema Seat would sit up there and determine who was first, second, and third. There is nothing in the Bema Seat judgment in verse 10 that involves our eternal destiny. That has already been settled if you’re at the Bema Seat.
But the Bema Seat will determine how much rewards are given. Now don’t lose that as a believer. Yes, our salvation was settled the moment we believed, but we’re not to just sit down in an easy chair and let life go by. We’re to get busy, we’re to work, and the reason we work is to bring glory to our God’s Name, but also for our own personal benefit for rewards. Now I’ve always used this as an analogy: “If I had the choice of being the Dallas Cowboys quarterback or a spectator sitting way up in the cheap seats, then I’d rather be the quarterback. Even if I did get my head knocked off once in a while, that would be fun, but is to sit way up there in the stands comparative? Hey, there’s no comparison.”Well it’s going to be the same way when the Lord brings us into His Kingdom experience. We’re either going to be sitting on the sidelines, (oh, we’re there, and remember there’s no sin so there will be no envy or jealousy), but won’t it be a lot more exciting to be involved in all of the activity? Of course it will be. But this is the whole idea of rewards. Remember, never confuse rewards with salvation. You don’t work one ounce for salvation, that’s a gift of God according to Paul.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”
But rewards? Yes, we work for them. Let’s come back to I Corinthians Chapter 3, and move on. And here Paul explains graphically how these six materials are going to be sifted out in our section of the wall that as believers we are building.
I Corinthians 3:13a
“Every man’s work (as a believer) shall be made manifest:…”
I’ve defined that over and over as being put in the spotlight. It’s just like putting a slide in your microscope. You don’t see a thing until you turn on that bright light underneath it, and then all of a sudden all those little living creatures are manifested. Why? Because they’re put in the spotlight, and it’s the same way here. We’re going to be put in the spotlight for our moment of time personally in front of the Lord Jesus at the judgment seat of Christ. Everyone of us believers will appear before Him personally. You say, “How can He do all that in seven years?” Just remember when we step out of time we step into eternity, and in eternity there’s no sixty-second clock, so that’s the difference. Unreal? I know it is, but there is no five minutes back or five minutes forward in eternity, it’s all now. But whatever, we’re going to come before the Lord Jesus personally, and He’s going to examine our building work with His fiery eyes. Now reading the verse in its entirety.
I Corinthians 3:13
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” Well what’s the fire? Well it’s those fiery eyes of the Lord Jesus as we have them described back in Revelation:
“His (Christ’s) eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.”
Now that doesn’t mean that His eyes actually have flames flying out, but they are so penetrating. Have you ever looked at someone who seems to look right through you? Sure you have. Well that’s nothing compared to the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ when He looks at our life, and our reward status, and the wood, hay, and stubble is going to going up in a puff of smoke. The only thing left, if we have any, will be the gold, silver, and precious stones.
“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Now back to I Corinthians.
I Corinthians 3:14,15
“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, (that’s the hay, wood, and stubble) he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved;…”
All the works of a believer can be burned up if he or she has done it for the wrong reason, but even if it’s all burned up, he himself shall be saved as nothing can take away a true believer’s salvation.