1 Corinthians 3 – Gold, Silver, & Precious Gems

  • Read 1 Corinthians 3:4-15 here.
  • If you missed Sunday’s sermon  from 1 Cor. 3 (26 April), you can listen to it here.

Many people who are familiar with Jesus’ Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-20 readily accept that Paul’s illustration in 1 Cor 3:6-9 concerns evangelism.  “Paul planting and Apollos watering” refers to the teaching of the Gospel and the maturing of faith.  While different people have different roles, God oversees the entire process.

Verse 9 contains an abrupt transition from the image of a field to that of a building.  There is no indication that the topic changes, just the illustration.

If verses 10-15 are read without the preceding context it’s easy to seize on the word “work” in v13 and think Paul’s discussing Christian living; Have people honored God with their lives?  Yet the way v9 transitions indicates that these verses are also discussing the evangelism/conversion/maturing process.  The church is being built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, not by good deeds, but by people being converted to following Christ.  This passage describes numerical growth.

Parallellism in 1 Cor. 3:6-15

Parallellism in 1 Cor. 3:6-15

Some of the building materials (wood, hay, straw) are combustible and will burn when tested by fire.  The other materials (gold, silver, and gems) will survive that same fire.

Paul wants the Corinthian church to recognize that not all of their converts will last.  Some will desert their faith when they experience difficulties.  Others, however, will persevere despite trials, their faith intact.  Neither of these can be predicted on the front end, only time will tell.

My sermon, if you care to listen to it, outlined this understanding of the passage, but also highlighted the point that all sorts of people are converted to Christ:  Gold, silver, gems, wood, hay, straw, rich, poor, African, Asian, male, female, etc.  Not Paul’s direct intention, but I believe a valid application of the text.

I often feel guilty discussing numerical church growth.  It’s like it’s a dirty word.  It seems I have  built in disclaimer that numerical growth isn’t everything and that spiritual maturity, or discipleship, is what’s most important.  While spriritual growth is crucial to healthy church or personal relationship with God, we have to embrace numerical growth as the starting point for spiritual growth.  Some people will last, some will not.  Paul apparently didn’t think that talking about building the church numerically should be taboo.

Probably what’s most important in discussing numerical growth is recognzing that we’re not talking about numbers on a spreadsheet or lines on a graph.  We’re talking about real people with real needs whom the angels rejoice over when they commit to following Christ.  Does talk of numerical church growth sometimes make you uncomfortable?  Are there other, more people-oriented, ways of discussing evangelism?

Songs & Scripture

I’m trying to think of some songs that have to do with multicultural churches, and I’m not getting very far.  Perhaps some of our “Missionary Songs” are as close as we can get.  I’d really appreciate some suggestions, as we can probably use them at our HARMONY Sunday on 31 May.

  • Whosever Heareth
  • Jesus Loves the Little Children (Kids song, but I’m not sure it’s PC anymore?)
  • People Need the Lord (SFP)
  • Sowing the Seed of the Kingdom (SFP)
  • Yours (Steven Curtis Chapman on the 2007 album This Moment)
  • He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
Advertisements

3 comments

    • ozziepete

      Good one Cynthia! That certainly fits the bill. It’s interesting that it seems easier to come up with kids songs on this topics that grown-up songs. Or maybe we just remember kid’s songs better because they’re usually simpler.

  1. Julie H

    How about “Yours” by Stephen Curtis Chapman? God sees and cares personally for every person in this song:

    “Yours” Lyrics
    by Steven Curtis Chapman

    I walk the streets of London
    and notice in the faces passing by
    something that makes me stop and listen
    My heart grows heavy with the cry
    Where is the hope for London
    You whisper and my heart begins to soar
    as I’m reminded every street in London is Yours

    I walk the dirt roads of Uganda
    I see the scars that war has left behind
    Hope like the sun is fading
    and they’re waiting for a cure no one can find
    And I hear children’s voices singing
    of a God who heals and rescues and restores
    and I’m reminded that every child in Africa is Yours

    It’s all Yours God, Yours God, everything is Yours
    From the stars in the sky to the depths of the ocean floor
    and it’s all Yours God, Yours God, everything is Yours
    You’re the maker and keeper, Father and ruler of everything
    It’s all Yours

    I walk the sidewalks of Nashville
    like Singapore, Manila and Shanghai
    I brush by the beggar’s hand and the wealthy man
    and everywhere I look I realize
    Just like the streets of London
    for every man and woman, boy and girl
    All of creation, this is our Father’s world

    It’s all Yours God, Yours God, everything is Yours
    From the stars in the sky to the depths of the ocean floor
    and it’s all Yours God, Yours God, everything is Yours
    You’re the maker and keeper, Father and ruler of everything

    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God

    The glory is Yours, God
    All the honor is Yours, God
    The power is Yours, God
    The glory is Yours, God
    You’re the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords

    And it’s all Yours God, Yours God
    Everything is Yours
    From the stars in the sky to the depths of the ocean floor
    And it’s all Yours God, Yours God
    Everything is Yours
    All the greatness and power, the glory and splendor and majesty
    Everything is Yours
    It’s all Yours

    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God

    It’s all Yours, God (my life is Yours)
    It’s all Yours, God (my heart is Yours)
    It’s all Yours, God (my hands and my feet)
    It’s all Yours, God (every song that I sing)

    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God

    It’s all Yours, God (all gifts are Yours)
    It’s all Yours, God (all our dreams are yours)
    It’s all Yours, God (all our plans are Yours, God)
    It’s all Yours, God (this whole earth is Yours, God)

    It’s all Yours, God (everything is Yours)
    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God (everything is Yours)
    It’s all Yours, God

    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God
    It’s all Yours, God

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s