Paul declared that he laid a foundation in the Corinthian church, and “no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 3:10·11). Paul goes on to say (vs. 10, 12) that we will all build on that one foundation with a variety of materials. Some will build with cheap, substandard material. Others will build with durable, high-quality material. What is the difference between the two?
We need to know that how well we build and what we build with will be judged by fire (1 Cor 3:13). It will be judged by the Word of God and the incarnate Word of God, Christ Himself.
The appeal of its appearance, the cleverness of how it is put together, and the wisdom of men will not be the standard of judgment. Our works and lives will be judged with a righteous judgment based upon God’s standard, not mankind’s.
The Holy Spirit affirms that, with Christ as the Church’s chief cornerstone, the Church is built upon the “foundation of the apostles and prophets”, and ”the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:20-22). The New Testament church understood this: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles· doctrine [teaching] and fellowship, the breaking of bread and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
Certainly, the “foundation” in Ephesians 2:20 could not mean the apostles or prophets themselves; even though they were great saints, they were still men with finite lives. Nor could it mean the ministry of those apostles, for their ministries ended with the ending of their lives. The only reasonable interpretation, in light of Acts 2:42, is that the foundation was the teaching and doctrines given by the Holy Spirit through them.
These teachings are preserved for us today in the New Testament, the Word of God.
Peter affirms that the apostles’ doctrines and prophetic utterances did not belong to them, but were given by God: “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:20, 21).
Paul, too, affirms this when by the Holy Spirit he states, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God , and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruct ion in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).
It becomes very dear, then, that regardless of our gifts, or calling, or ministry expression, we can build Christ’s Church with one thing only: God’s holy Word as found in the Scriptures. And this we must do under the anointing power of the Holy Spirit in obedience to the Lordship of Christ.
Scripture, and Scripture alone, is our only totally reliable guide to doctrine, practice and lifestyle.