“10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
The foundation of our faith is Jesus Christ. He is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2), and He is the focus of all our trust. The apostles including Paul here laid the foundation for the church. Paul was a “wise master builder” according to the grace of God. It was God’s plan to do it that way. We know that building is the Temple of God, and the Temple of God are those called by God to believe in Christ. Jesus being the author of our faith, designed the building. He produced the blue print, and He works through those He sends to do the work. When the nation of Israel built the Tabernacle according to God’s plan, He chose specific men to be the wise master builders and gifted them with all the skills and knowledge they would need (Exodus 31:1-6). When Christ sent out the apostles to build the church He granted them everything they would need.
The apostles laid the foundation of Christ, and others were called to build on that foundation. The building began 2000 years ago, and it is still being built. Men have been sent by God to build on what the apostles began. Paul has some very strong truth here that anyone who comes to take part in the work should remember. He says they should take heed on how they build on the foundation. They need to be very careful.
1) The foundation is Jesus Christ. No other foundation can be laid other than the foundation that exists. If someone tries to lay a different foundation or change the foundation, we know they are not sent by God. I would include all the cults in those who have attempted to change the foundation. It is the same with Islam. They say they believe in Jesus, but it is a different Jesus than the one we know. Mohammed is a different foundation.
2) The day will come when those who are sent by God to build on the foundation, their work will be tested. The work is compared to precious metals, precious stones, wood, hay, and straw. When it is tested by fire, and I see the eyes of the Lord as fire seeing and testing all things (Revelation 19:12), the good work will remain. The bad work will be burned to ashes. Those who have refined, precious materials survive will receive a reward. Those who have nothing but ashes will receive nothing. Yet, they will still be saved telling us they were truly called and sent by God. They made poor choices in the work they did. This shows us the difference between good servants and poor servants.
Another application, I think this could be applied to every believer. The foundation of Christ is laid in every believer’s heart. I believe this passage refers to all believer’s work in their lives. What and how are we building on the foundation of Christ in our lives? Just like those called to build the church in one way or another are tested, our lives will be tested by the Lord. We will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10). Our lives will be set on fire by the eyes that see all things, the ears that hear all things, and the mind that knows every thought we have had in our lives. The great consuming fire that is our God (Heb 12:29) will test every word, every thought, every action, every motivation, and every secret and hidden thing will be revealed. We will be completely examined from the moment of our conception until the moment we take our last breath.
I know all I can do is throw myself on the grace, mercy, and forgiveness purchased for me by the blood of Jesus Christ. I will have no excuses and no answers for what the Lord will show me on that day. We will be judged by the one who took that wrath onto Himself to save us. How will we be able to answer Him at all? I will be on my face. When He asks for an account of my life and allows me to speak, all I will be able to say is, “Yes Lord, I did those things. I deserve your wrath, please, forgive your servant.”
I mourn and grieve over my bad choices and bad works in my life. Any true Christian would mourn over those things they have done. We should go to church in sack cloth, cover ourselves in ashes and dirt, and lay on our face before a completely holy and righteous God in repentance and ask for nothing other than forgiveness. We deserve nothing except death and destruction. Grieve over your sin. Wail with sorrow and misery over your wickedness for the Lord has taken all of that on Himself. God poured out the fullness of His wrath on Jesus for our sakes. It was our sin that scourged Him, slapped Him, spit on Him, mocked Him, the weight of our sin on the cross as He carried it through the streets of Jerusalem. It was our sin that nailed His precious hands to that rough and unyielding wood. It was our selfishness that drove the nails through His feet. It was our sin that drove the spear into His side and pierced His heart. Yes, grieve over Him, mourn over your sin those who call on His name. How dare we ever spend one moment more sinning in our lives once we come to Him begging for forgivness.
Live a pleasing, righteous, and holy life with the strength and power that the Holy Spirit has given to us. Don’t treat Jesus with contempt by continueing to sin.
May His precious name always be glorified among His people.
Have mercy on your servant, oh Lord. Forgive me for my failures and drive me to righteous living by your Spirit.