1 Corinthians 3:9
For we are laborers together with God: you are God's husbandry, you are God's building.
There have been many splendid structures which, in their day, have been the wonder and admiration of the world, but this infinitely transcends them all. The colossal palaces and hanging gardens reared by Nebuchadnezzar must have presented a gorgeous spectacle; while the fame of Solomon's temple has filled the earth in every age. But what is all this material splendour, which has long since passed away, to this temple whose stones are immortal spirits — whose foundation is the rock of ages-whose walls no revolutions can ever shake — whose fair proportions shall be fully developed, amid the ruin of all the mightiest and loveliest works of human ingenuity and power — whose top-stone shall be brought forth with shoutings when the "heavens shall have passed away." In surveying this building, note —
I. THE FOUNDATION. This is the most important part; if this be defective, all the cost and labour of the superstructure will be in vain. But the foundation upon which this edifice is built is such as an Omnipotent hand alone could lay, and for which no other can be substituted. Christ is the foundation of the Christian Church, as He is —
1. The source of her being. The Church could have no existence but for Him. The spiritual stones that constitute the edifice are sinners ransomed by His blood, and renewed by His Spirit. Were it possible for the connection between the stones and the foundation to be dissolved, the whole edifice would become a heap of ruins.
2. The author of her creed. In regard to her doctrines she rests on no human authority, but takes them as they flow pure from Christ and His inspired apostles.
3. The founder of her discipline. His laws are few, and the principles on which they rest are equity and love. "One is your Master," &c. "A new commandment give I unto you," &c.
4. The guarantee of her stability and perpetuity. "Upon this rock will I build My Church," &c. These were His words — this was His pledge; and "all power is given unto Him in heaven and in earth," in this capacity, and for this very purpose.
II. THE MATERIALS.
1. Immortal spirits, redeemed and regenerated men, lively stones, or what Paul denominates "gold, silver, precious stones"; the accredited and the durable materials which ministers are the instruments of placing in the Church. But in the visible Church there are materials of another kind — mere professors, hypocrites, formalists, "the wood, hay, stubble"; but they form no part of the true Church, but shall ultimately be removed from the edifice.
2. Whence are the materials taken? See these "living stones," as in successive courses they rise to constitute and adorn the edifice. They are of various colours — from the white of Europe to the jet of Africa; every rank — from the monarch to the labourer. "They shall come from the east and from the west," &c. "They shall come" from the eastern Brahmins — from the western savages — from the Southern Isles — from the northern Esquimaux; "they shall come" from the patriarchal and the prophetic ages — from the Jewish and the Christian dispensations. David, with the harp, shall be there; and Isaiah, with his evangelic songs; and Ezekiel, with his prophetic visions; mingling with the malefactor from the cross, and the poor beggar from the rich man's gate. "They shall come" from every denomination: the Episcopalian, the Presbyterian, &c,; all forgetting, or lamenting, that they should ever have been otherwise than one.
III. THE INSTRUMENTALITY AND AGENCY. The instrumentality is human; the agency Divine. Yet the instrumentality is of Divine appointment; and, for the most part, inseparably connected with the agency. Though it is God who "giveth the increase," yet Paul musk "plant" and "Apollos water." Ministers are not architects, but simply workmen, employed under the guidance of the Divine architect. Nor can any one stone boast against another in respect of "the rock whence it was hewn," "the hole of the pit whence it was digged," for all alike are hewn out of the quarry of a common depravity. However much as they may vary in other respects, all are on a level here — alike "dead in trespasses and sins"; whilst it is "God who has quickened them together with Christ," &c. I know that it is not with us to "limit the Holy One of Israel," nor to say by what avenues He shall or shall not obtain access to the human heart. It may be affliction, &c.; but the ministry of the gospel is the main and ordinary instrumentality. Was it not by this that Peter "pricked to the heart" three thousand; that Luther shook the throne of papal tyranny; that Whitefield and Wesley aroused the slumbering Churches of Great Britain and America. What is it that has caused the Rose of Sharon to bloom amid the snows of Greenland? What is it that has gathered the savages of Kaffraria and New Zealand around the Cross? It is the preaching of the gospel in its simplicity and purity — and nothing less — that God will own and honour for this great and glorious purpose; Christ, in the sufficiency of His atonement; in the prevalence of His intercession, &c.
(T. Raffles, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.