Building on the Foundation of Christ

I Corinthians 3:10-15

A lady went to a psychiatrist complaining of a terrible phobia.
“Every time I lay down on my bed I get this terrible fear that
there is something underneath. “Wow” responded the
psychiatrist “I’ve never heard of such a phobia, but like all
phobias it can be treated, but it will likely take around 20
sessions.” “OK” responded the lady “how much is each
session?” “Oh it’s just $80 a session, but trust me it’s well
worth it.” When the lady didn’t come back to the psychiatrist
he gave the lady a call. “How come I didn’t hear from you?
He asked.” “Well” responded the lady “when I came home
and told my husband about the cost he thought he would
save some money, he just cut the legs off the bed!”

Last week, Paul told the church at Corinth to Grow Up.
He called them babes in Christ. He was disappointed in their lack
of spiritual growth.

Paul’s focus in these next verses here in I Corinthians 3 are about
building on the foundation of Christ.

I Corinthians 3:10-15

Paul’s ministry began because of the Grace of God.

It wasn’t his idea, he was happy living a life persecuting
Christians. But God stepped in and showed him grace.

Paul mentions grace multiple times in each of his letters.
He understands that grace was God’s plan from before the
foundation of the world. He is grateful for grace.

Paul built the church on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
He compares himself to a skilled master builder. Every builder
knows you can’t have a sturdy structure unless the foundation is
Jesus taught a parable about the man who built his house on
the sand; the winds and waves came and the house crashed
down. He also taught about the man who built his house
upon the rock; the winds and waves came and the house
stood strong. Those who build their life on Christ will have
eternal life. Those who reject Christ will be eternally
separated from Him.

In the first two chapters of this letter, Paul mentions preaching
Christ crucified several times. Christ is the foundation of the
church and the central focus of every message.

In v.11 he drives home the point that no one can lay another
foundation other than Christ.

Paul encouraged accountability in the church

He writes, “Let each one take care how he builds upon it.”
This is about how we do the ministry of the church.
Ministers will be held accountable for the way they served in
God’s church. God has called them to shepherd the flock.
He wants our obedience as we plant and water.
Remember God is responsible for the growth.

Accountability makes us stronger, Solomon describes it this way
in Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens

Paul emphasized the importance of the building materials.

Paul describes two different types of materials.
Precious materials like gold, silver and precious stones.
Worthless materials like wood hay and straw.

Precious materials are the ones that will stand the test of time.
They cost more but never wear out. They are more difficult to find.
Worthless materials are temporary, cheap and easy to come by.

The Builder –An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told
his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house
building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife
enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck,
but he needed to retire. They could get by. The contractor
was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could
build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter
said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not
in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used
inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his
career. When the carpenter finished his work and the builder
came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the
front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said,
“my gift to you.” What a shock! What a shame! If he had only
known he was building his own house, he would have done it
all so differently.
Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well. So
it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting
rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. Or we
work hard and always do our best, we will reap the rewards.

Paul warned of the testing by fire.

He writes that each one’s work will become manifest.
That means made known.
Imagine standing in front of Jesus as the big screen plays
highlights from our ministry. Successes and failures. They are all
they. They will all be brought into the light. Nothing will be a secret
from God.

Every work that was done for God’s glory will be a work that will
come through the fire.
Every work that is done for our glory will be a work that is burned
up in the fire.
You see, only the things of eternal significance will be able to
survive the testing by fire.

This is a good time for a gut check.
We should all be asking ourselves, is my ministry about me or
about God?

Keep in mind this is speaking about the bema seat judgment.
It is for believers who have received God’s grace through faith.
Paul mentions rewards for those works that were built on the
foundation and survive the testing.

These will be in the form of crowns that we will actually cast at the
feet of Jesus when we see Him.

Those whose work is burned up had the wrong motives for their
work. It wasn’t done in the name of Jesus. God knows why we do
what we do. We may be able to fool some people, but God will
not be mocked. He knows our thoughts and our hearts.


In the previous verses, Paul called the believers babes in Christ.
Now the message is for them to get to work. And not just any
work, work that will last. Purposeful work that honors God and
points people to Christ.

Examine Our Work

Let’s be clear, I’m talking about what we do for the Lord after our
salvation. I am in no way talking about doing works in order to
gain God’s favor or earn salvation.
Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ who died on the
cross in our place forgiving us for our sin.

Each of us will one day stand before the Lord and give an account
for everything we did in His name.
If our work is not centered on Christ and built upon His
foundation, it will be burned up in the judgment.
Our work should be guided by Him and focused on Him.

We should also examine the ministry of the church.
Are our activities centered around Him and for the purpose of
bringing others to Him. If not, we should seriously consider
whether or not we should continue them.