Sermon for February 20, 2011

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 (7th Sunday after the Epiphany—Series A)

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield CT

February 20, 2011

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Our text is the Epistle Lesson for today recorded in 1 Corinthians 3:

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 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 will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 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.

Every building has a foundation.  The question is, what kind of foundation?  A foolish man built his house on the sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house and it collapsed!  Why?  Because it was not built on a solid, strong foundation.  The foundation could not support the building on top of it.  A wise man built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds beat and blew on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  A good, strong, impenetrable foundation will support a good, strong structure.  So in building, we start from the foundation and work up.

As God’s temple, you are the structure.  You are the building.  What are you built on?  What is your foundation?  Let’s start with what your foundation is not.  It’s not sinking sand.  God would not be so foolish as the build on such an unsteady and unpredictable foundation.  However, people are.  We try to build our lives on all kinds of foundations which are not very solid and secure.  Some examples of those sandy foundations are money, wealth, popularity, sex, drugs, alcohol, lies, and gossip.  And we are quite ready to change foundations when one seems about to give way.  You go as far as you can building your life upon and around finances and possesions, but when your life starts suffering from lack of foundation, we are quite ready to move on to another suitable foundation—building our lives upon and around our popularity or our good name.  And when the ground shifts again, we are willing to shift with it.  But all that shifting and changing comes with a cost.

Nothing remains settled and consistent in our lives with such shaky foundations.  We never know when we will have to get off of one base and settle on another one.  It creates a life constantly lived on edge.  A shaky foundation makes life uncomfortable, uncertain, and lacking in peace.  That kind of life creates its own set of stress and discomfort, worry and fear.  Is that the kind of life you want to live?  Worse, is that the kind of life you feel that you are living today—a life build on shifting sands where you are constantly running from one foundation to the next and not finding one that will support you and take care of you?  Here’s good news.  God has a perfect rock-solid foundation already prepared for you.

That foundation is Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen is the foundation laid for you at your Baptism.  Your baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection is now the very foundation of your faith and your life.  All that you are and all that you have stems from this foundation of Jesus Christ because all is from God.  We read in God’s Word in Ephesians 2, “For through [Christ] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  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 Jesus 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 2:18-22)

Our foundation for faith and salvation is Jesus Christ.  Our foundation for life and Christian living is Jesus Christ.  David says in Psalm 18, “For who is God, but the Lord?  And who is a rock, except our God?—the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. . . The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation.”

Through the death of Jesus on the cross for us, God has declared our way blameless.  God the Father declares us not guilty of sin because His Son Jesus paid the full and complete punishment for us with His sacrificial death.  Our sins, every last one of them, has been forgiven.  Every time we built our life on another foundation, every time we gave our love and honor and devotion to something or someone other than God, those sins were taken away by Jesus’ death on the cross.  In Holy Baptism, we have received the forgiveness of sins, rescue from death and the devil, and eternal salvation because God put us on the solid, holy, and righteous foundation of Jesus Christ.  And that Jesus who died on the cross rose again and lives forever.  He is a foundation who is alive and yet never changes.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8)  He doesn’t change; He doesn’t shift; He doesn’t crumble.  Christ is our rock forever and we can always depend on Him and His love and His peace—they are constant.  And that’s a real blessing because we live in a world where nothing else it.

It is Christ who gives us stability in an unstable world.  It is Christ’s love that is consistent, day in and day out, even when we pull away and fall into sin, He remains faithful to us.  It is Christ who gives us the peace and confidence that we belong to our heavenly Father as His much loved children.  And it is the foundation of Christ that assures us that He has built our lives on Him and now dwells with us through the Holy Spirit.

You are God’s temple and God’s Spirit dwells in you.  Your foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ, and by His death and resurrection where He freely gives you forgiveness and everlasting life, He has built you into His dwelling place.

In the Old Testament the temple was established as God’s place among His people.  The glory of God dwelt there.  But in Christ, as God had promised, His glory now dwells with His Church, the believers in Jesus, you and me.  2 Corinthians 6:16 tells us, “For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’” (2 Corinthians 6:16)

The Father dwells among us and in us in the person of God the Son through God the Holy Spirit.  We are His temple built on the ever-solid foundation of Jesus!  St. Peter writes in his first letter, “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1Peter 2:5)  Paul reminds us again in 1 Corinthians 6, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)  We are not our own.  We were bought with the price of Jesus’ own sinless death on the cross.  We were bought with His blood so that He could build us upon Himself as our foundation.  Then, He recreated us from sinful shrines into temples of the Holy Spirit where He Himself dwells with us.

Consider again today how you will go about being the temple of the Holy Spirit.  God’s temple is holy and you yourselves are that temple!  What changes will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you make in your life so that you can best reflect the glory of God in Jesus Christ to a hurting, uncertain world?  Pray that the Master Builder, Christ Himself, would continue to construct you as God’s temple where the Spirit dwells, a temple where others can come to seek refuge from sin and trouble because you share with them the love of God in Christ Jesus.  “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) Amen.

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