Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw — each one’s work will become manifest, for the day of the Lord will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test why sort of work each one has done. (I Corinthians 3:12-13)
One of the basic questions we have to ask in life is: What are we using to build upon the foundation of Christ, who is the chief cornerstone? Are we seeking God’s glory and not our own as we build (or do ministry)? Are we using the right tools (the means of grace) as we build? Are we aware that the materials we use are the living stones that God has chosen?
As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stone are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:4-5)
The way I read this passage is that we, God’s people, are the living stones being built upon the foundation that God has sent to us — Jesus Christ. He is the chosen and precious cornerstone. God elects a people who are the living stones being built up as a spiritual house. We (pastors, elders, leaders) are seeking to take these living stones and build a spiritual temple. Obviously we don’t do the building; the Holy Spirit does. But we are instruments used by Him to accomplish God’s great plan.
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (I Corinthians 3:16-17)
This explains why Peter wrote that these living are being built “to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” The builder’s job is to take the living stones that God has provided to build a spiritual house, consisting of a holy priesthood to offer these spiritual sacrifices to God. The builder then must provide the right frame work so that the stones will be secure and achieve the purpose for which they were chosen — namely to worship and to serve the One who is the chief cornerstone.
The Apostle Paul put it another way in Ephesians:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 3:19-22)
This passage further explains that the spiritual building is being constructed on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Christ is the chief cornerstone. So we Christian leaders must understand that God has provided the living stones, for which we are responsible to ensure are being built on the right foundation which is Christ and the teachings of the apostles and prophets.
The passage also makes it clear that the whole structure is being joined together to become a holy temple in the Lord. Now here is the critical point to be remembered — the people whom we serve are being built into a dwelling place for God. We are God’s temple on this earth! This is why Christian leaders must be building a people to worship and serve our great God — not building great churches that may be monuments to men, but miss the whole point of our calling.
This is a very timely passage for me. I have retired from being the Senior Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church — but certainly not retiring from my life calling to gospel ministry. My future ministry is yet to be seen. God knows what HIs plans are for me and Mary Ann.
Now someone else who I believe is very gifted of God will assume my place as the spiritual builder here at WPC is . The mantle has been given to him. Now he become the shepherd of this flock.
As I consider my emotions during this time, I am happy and sad, joyful and sorrowful. I am so pleased that God has provided His man to take over where I have left off, to take the church to the next level. I am convinced that he is the right man. I am happy and, yes, joyful for him and for our church.
But I am also sad and am beginning to realize how much I will miss my church family, “the members of God’s household” whom I have loved and have had the privilege to pastor for these many years. God has blessed these almost thirty years beyond any expectation I ever had. I will greatly miss preaching at “the sacred desks” (the pulpits) at Westminster from which I have had the privilege to preach the glories of the gospel of Christ. I will also miss the fellowship of our awesome staff who are like family to me. I always encouraged them to be first a family and then a team. I will take my new charge in ministry with many fond memories — most of which are about the people — Dick and Betty, the Henry and Carolyn, the Joe and Gin and others in Centreville; Ebin and Lois, Julian and Catherine, Carl and Susan, Mike and Vicki, Bob and Carol, Mike and Harriett and others in Brookhaven; Frank and Mary Ann, Bob and Nancy, John and Jean, Willie and Linda (these men were my spiritual fathers) and so many more.
As Mary Ann and I face an uncertain future, as far as our plans go, but not uncertain as far as the One who has us in the palm of HIs hand, I go back to the passage that God has given me from Isaiah:
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now is springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
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