Michael Youssef - Healthy Living in a Sick World - Part 4
Any building, any building is only as good as its foundation. I wanna repeat this: Any building is as good as its foundation. No matter how beautiful the building may be, no matter how attractive the building may be, no matter how impressive the building may look, no matter how imposing the building may be, without the solid, unshakable, and unshifting foundation of the building, it's only not only useless, it is dangerous. And, beloved, in the spiritual realm, it works the same way.
In the eternal realm, in the realm, the permanent realm, the realm of the unseen, it works exactly the same way. Anyone who thinks that they can make it to heaven, based on any other foundation other than the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, is not only making a foolish mistake, but will be like the beautiful buildings, that foundation built on cardboard because the only foundation that will withstand the test of judgment is that of Jesus Christ and his redeeming love.
There are millions of people around the world, many of whom are watching us right now, who think that they can smuggle themselves into heaven. Whether it is through religious rituals and whether it is through charity work or whether through all sorts of political ideology, whether it is through some sort of foolish plan, thinking they can smuggle themselves into heaven, and, yet the Word of God tells us, as Paul tells the Corinthians here in Corinth and in every other city he traveled to, planted a church in, he has laid only one foundation, and that's Jesus Christ. Only faith in Jesus Christ as the one and only Savior is the only foundation that is worthy of the name. It is the only foundation on which your life can be built and my life can be built, that can be assured of heaven.
Turn with me, if you haven't already, 1 Corinthians chapter 3. He said in verse 10, "By the grace of God, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, as a master builder, and there is no other foundation other than Jesus Christ," no religion, no ritual, no certain lifestyle, no moral virtue, no effort, no family connection, no Pope, no bishop, no priest, and no pastor. Only Jesus plus nothing will get you to heaven. "Once the foundation is laid," the apostle Paul said, "we need to build on it".
Now, I want you to hear me right, please. When you build on that only foundation, that building that you're building throughout your life will determine your reward, not your salvation, because salvation is given to you as a gift of grace, and we have been seeing throughout this series of messages, healthy living in a sick world, how the apostle Paul is trying to correct so many of the errors in the church of Corinth. Remember, Paul still calls them, "brethren". Don't forget that. These people are saved. They're saved, but they were taking their eyes off of a foundation, namely Jesus, and building a shoddy building.
Here, Paul is saying, "Once you have the right foundation, you must build wisely on it". Every one of us must build wisely on it. Look at how many times the apostle Paul kept saying, "every man," "every man". That means everyone, everyone, everyone. Like it or not, every one of us are building. We are building our lives. Every believer in Jesus Christ is a builder, builder of his or her life. Every single day, every moment of every day, whether we like it or not, we are builders. And if you ask any builder of earthly buildings, he'll tell you or she'll tell you, the foundation comes first. The foundation is the most important part of the building. Listen to me, I know it is fashionable now in many a church, and preachers say people can reach God different ways.
People say that different religions will reach into the same place or that Jesus is a founder of a religion, just like the other guys are all founders of other religions. That's not only bogus, it is contrary to the Word of God, from cover to cover. The Christian faith was not founded on social work. The Christian faith was not founded on Christian ethics. The Christian faith was not founded on some set of rules. The Christian faith was not founded on certain dogma. The Christian faith was not founded on church tradition. The Christian faith was not founded on church hierarchy. The Christian faith was not founded on Mother Church and Father God, as some will claim. No, and a million nos. The foundation of our faith is Jesus, and Jesus alone.
Verse 11, again, "No one..." no one, means no one, "can lay any foundation other than already laid, which is Jesus Christ". Back in 1923, the Presbyterian General Assembly issued, "Five Pillars of the Faith". The following year, 1924, the liberals, or I like to call them the "apostates", came over and hijacked the assembly and change all those five pillars. Let me tell you what they were in 1923. The inerrancy of the Scripture, for make no mistake about it, if you doubt the Scripture, you're gonna doubt everything, eventually.
The inerrancy of the Scripture, that was number one. The virgin birth, secondly. Thirdly, Christ's sacrificial death on the cross as satisfaction to the justice of the Father, and the only means by which man can be reconciled to God the Father. Fourthly, the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and the fifth, the supernatural power of the divine Jesus Christ. Yet exactly a year, one year later, these liberals hijacked that denomination. In 1924, they changed everything of those five pillars.
Number one, they said, on the inerrancy of the Scripture, here's what they said: "No one can really be sure of that". On the virgin birth, they said, "It's only a theory among other theories". On the cross of Christ as the only satisfaction to the justice of God the Father, they said, "Atonement is only a theory". On the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, they said, "The Resurrection need not be bodily," and fifthly, they said about the supernatural divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, they said, "In his earthly ministry, Jesus did great and mighty works and great and mighty things," denying his divinity and the supernatural. Any foundation other than that of Christ will collapse sooner or later. Sooner or later, they will collapse, Christian institutions, they will collapse, Christian churches, they will collapse ministries, if it is not first and foremost built on a solid foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, after you get the foundation right, the building, the apostle Paul said, that you are building, that's what you're doing every day of your life, every day of my life. Now, that building that you are building is of vital importance. Thank God for all of us who believe the only foundation is Jesus, but you can't stop there. The right foundation will get you to heaven, and it is a gift that God can offer you. You can reject it, or you can receive it, but the right building will get you rewarded, and I am personally convinced it can get you rewarded both on earth and in heaven. Look at verse 13. It tells us why what you build on that foundation, which is Christ, is of uttermost importance for each individual, and you cannot say, "Well, I wish so-and-so was here to hear this message". No, it's for you, and you, and you, and me. It's for me.
As I said, every one of us is a... what? In the last message I pointed out from chapter 2, 1 Corinthians, there are some people in the church who are wasting their Christian lives on trivia when they can be doing great things for God. Believers who build their lives on the solid foundation, which is Christ, must examine themselves on a regular basis. I do it not only daily basis, sometimes several times a day. Ask yourself the question, "What kind of building am I building in my life? What kind of material am I using in building of my life? What kind of care am I taking in the building of my life? What kind of architectural specification am I using? What kind of blueprints am I following? What kind of edifice am I building"?
Every one of us is building. Every one of us, young or old, no matter whether you are 6 years of age or 60 years old, we all are building, and Paul says there are only two types of material that you can use...two types. There are varieties in each type, but there are only two types of building material, no third. The first group is made of gold, silver, and precious stone. The second type of building material is made of wood, hay, and straw. From the very time when Jesus said, "I build my church," from that very time until now, there have been golden believers, and there have been wooden believers. There have been silversmith believers, and there have been hay-packers believers. There have been precious-stone believers, and there have been straw-gathering believers.
Here me out, please. Is Paul talking about rich Christian versus poor Christian? No way. Is he talking about talented Christian versus not-so-talented Christians? No way. Is he talking about famous preachers versus those who are quietly and unassumingly working in the kingdom of God? No way. I can tell you this: I really tell you, this is not a nice, just a nice thing a preacher says, but I am convinced there are people gonna be so close to Jesus that you have never heard of, and all of these so-famous preachers are gonna be so way in the back, they can't even see them. I am absolutely convinced of that because we judge by appearance. God doesn't.
See, these types of materials represents our response to what God has given us. These type of materials represents our faithfulness to Christ, or lack thereof. These type of materials represents our work for the kingdom of God, or not. Beloved, we are not saved through works. We are saved through grace alone. That's the only message you're gonna hear from this pulpit. But once we're saved, we are, each of us, become builders of a spiritual edifice. There are some builders who are like David, would say, "Forbid it, Lord, that I give you that which cost me nothing". That's gold. That's silver. That's precious stone. And there are builders who say, "Jesus paid it all, and nothing to him I give".
That's a new song. That's wood. That's hay. That's straw. There are some builders who spend their prime time in serving and giving and praying and watching. That's gold. That's silver. That's precious stone. Others give the appearance of being busy, doing busy work, serving on boards and committees, and while in reality, they're self-serving, and they wonder why their life is turned upside down. Now, I'm not saying that they're not necessarily doing sinful things. I'm not saying that. Don't misunderstand me. They're not necessarily doing bad things. On the contrary, there's so many good activities and good things to do, but when their work is tested by fire, it will burn to a crisp.
That's what Paul is saying here. That's not me. Don't shoot the messenger. Because they're building with the wrong motives, and that's wood and hay, and straw. Listen to me. Every preacher, any preacher, including this preacher, preaches for the approval of men or society or culture, that's wood and hay and straw. If any singer sings to get the praise of people, that's wood and hay, and straw. Any Bible teacher who teaches, not for the glory of God, it's wood, it's hay, and straw, but if their motive is only the glory of Jesus, then that's gold. That's silver. That's precious stone. Every believer is a builder. Can I get an "Amen"?
The question is, what building material are you using? What kind of building are you erecting? What edifice are you constructing? Each one of us, young or old, are building. We're building. Every single day, we're building. The question is, will your material stand the fire test? The fire test? Every building, whether it is commercial building or residential building, it has to be built to specification. It has to be built to code. Am I right, builders? Thank you. The building inspector will not issue a certificate of occupancy, I know, in this building and the other buildings I've been involved in. You'll not get a certificate of occupancy if it's not built to code.
And, beloved, Jesus is asking everyone who is redeemed by his precious blood to build according to code. He has standards for his redeemed ones, and he will test every one of our spiritual buildings, every one of us. When Jesus returns, he will test the quality of our buildings, and Paul uses the fire as a symbol of that test. Will the building of your life stand the test of fire? Look at verses 14 and 15. Believers who are saved by grace will escape the eternal condemnation.
The Bible is very clear. "Therefore, there is no condemnation upon those who are in Christ Jesus". Yes, they can be not literally, but through ifs. Every believer, however, will stand before the heavenly tribunal. Every one of us, and we'll be judged on the basis of how he or she lived his or her life. Some will make it to heaven by the skin of their teeth, otherwise known as the grace of God. In fact, some will enter heaven smelling as if they have been brought out of a fire sale. You know what I mean? You can smell the smoke. "Woomph," snatched from the fire. But if the quality of your work is gold and silver, and precious stone, the fire will only make you shine brighter, will make you shine purer. It'll make you shine like the stars.
I want to tell you this as I conclude. Early in the 20th century, there was an ad in the British newspapers and read as follows, so I'm gonna read it: "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness and constant danger. Safe return is doubtful. Honor and recognition only in case of success". And the ad was signed by the famous Arctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. Thousands of people were inquiring. "I want to sign up".
I couldn't help myself, and I wondered what would happen if Jesus put an ad in the newspaper today? "Men and women, boys and girls, are wanted for difficult tasks to help building of my kingdom. You will often be misunderstood, even by those who are dear and near to you. You will face constant attack from an invisible enemy. You might not see results from your labor. Your full reward will not come until your work is completed. Signed, Jesus". I wonder how many would apply? Would you apply and say:
Lord, I only want to build with gold and silver, and precious stone. Forgive me for using wood, hay, and straw. Lord, help me.