1 Corinthians 3:16-17

What is the biggest investment you have made in life thus far?
For some it is a house.
For some it is furnishings for your rental home.
For some it is automobiles.
For some it is property.
For some it is marriage.
For some it is children.
For some it is a retirement program.

For a moment, in just what comes to mind, focus on what you consider to be your biggest investment. I absolutely do not wish to make you feel guilt. I absolutely do not want to fill you with regrets. I absolutely do not want to make you feel a sense of failure. That is not my reason for asking the question.

Allow me to ask it again. What is your greatest investment? I am asking everyone--men and women--to answer to yourself that question.

Now a second question. How important to you is it to protect your investment? A fair statement: we will not knowingly neglect or hurt a significant investment. This is the focus thought: when we make big investments, we will make enormous sacrifices to protect those investments.

Let me use a personal illustration. Years ago, a few years before I came to Fort Smith, I started and tried to sustain a Bible lesson video production business. With significant encouragement from someone I helped, I was challenged to put some of my material in video format to create teaching materials for churches. In the beginning, three of us were to work together to produce study series. A lot happened, and the end result was that I produced the material, did the on-camera work, and Joyce cared for the business aspects of that work.

I made investments I did not dream I could make. When it was necessary to allow that work to die, it was extremely difficult.

We make huge investments to meet one or more needs. Huge investments require forms of sacrifice. When we make significant sacrifices for the good of huge investments, we are quite serious about protecting our investment.

Question: how big an investment did God make in us? Question: how important does God regard our protecting His investment? Question: how does God want us to protect His investment?

  1. In 1 Corinthians 1:10, 11 Paul wrote this:
    Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you.
    1. In the community of Christians at Corinth, this was the situation:
      1. Different Christians were devoted to different leaders/teachers.
        1. It may have been that they were doing what was "the proper thing" in the city and society--showing loyalty to the Christian they regarded to be their spiritual patron.
        2. Paul emphatically declared that the Christian community does not have a system of human patrons.
      2. The literal situation:
        1. Some were saying, "I belong to the Paul group of Christians."
        2. Some were saying, "I belong to the Apollos group of Christians."
        3. Some were saying, "I belong to the Peter (Cephas) group of Christians."
        4. Some were saying, "I belong to the Christ group of Christians" (please take note that he did not commend these people for taking "a stand" and causing division in the community of Christians).
      3. Paul said to all four groups this is absolutely not what God wants.
        1. God invested Jesus Christ in your salvation.
        2. Christ is not divided.
        3. You should be devoted to Christ because he, not Paul, was crucified for you.
        4. You should be devoted to Christ because you were baptized into him, not Paul.
        5. In fact, I was not devoted to baptisms, and baptized only a few of you.
        6. God sent me to tell you the good news so you would hear about and understand the investment he made in you by allowing Jesus to be crucified for you.
    2. Paul then devoted the entire first part of his letter (the first four chapters) to show them how unspiritual their division was.
      1. He talked about God's wisdom in the crucifixion, a wisdom many did not see.
      2. He talked about his emphasis on Jesus Christ when he taught them.
      3. He talked about the fact that those who understood spiritual realities responded to his message.
      4. He talked about the fact that all their teachers served Christ, not themselves.

  2. Paul made this statement in 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17:
    Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
    1. This is a specific case when the King James translation makes a fact quite clear.
      1. In the Greek language, the original language in which the New Testament was written, there are plural and singular pronouns.
      2. For example, in today's English language, the pronoun "you" can be either singular or plural.
        1. With the pronoun "you" I might talk to one person or to many person.
        2. In the Greek language that was not possible--there was a Greek pronoun for an individual "you" and a Greek pronoun for a group "you."
      3. The King James translation made a distinction between singular and plural "you."
        1. If a plural "you" was to be translated, the King James used the English word "ye" (now archaic).
        2. Thus the King James translation had this translation of 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17:
          Know ye (plural you) not that ye (plural you) are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you (each of you singular)? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye (plural you) are.
      4. Notice the facts about Paul's argument against congregational division among Christians.
        1. Collectively all of you Christians in Corinth form God's temple in Corinth.
        2. That is possible because God's spirit exists in each one of you as individual Christians.
        3. Collectively all of you are God's temple.
          1. The temple is not a building.
          2. The temple is not a place, a piece of property.
          3. The temple is all you Christians.
          4. It is not a matter of being in a common assembly.
          5. It is a matter of belonging to a common Lord with each being filled with God's spirit.
    2. That makes division and quarreling among Christians absolutely ridiculous--Christians cannot do anything more unspiritual than quarrel and divide
      1. Doing that is totally unspiritual and destroys God's enormous investment in you.
      2. Let me be very clear:
        1. You collectively are God's temple.
        2. If any of you behave in ways that destroy God's temple, you will receive God's harshest consequences.
        3. I clearly say to you that God Himself will destroy anyone who destroys God's temple.
        4. Division and quarreling destroy the temple.
        5. If you destroy God's investment, God will destroy you.
    3. A declaration that they belonged to Christ did not justify quarreling and division.
      1. Very few times does a New Testament writer promise the certain destruction of God.
      2. Causing division is one of those few times.
      3. Paul said, "No matter what you think you owe another human, when you do things to harm the Christian community, you guarantee yourself that you will receive God's wrath.

  3. Humans do not add to God's community of Christians, and humans do not subtract from God's community of Christians.
    1. From the birth of Christianity, the Lord added to the saved those who were being saved.
      1. You are not "in" because I or any other human says you are "in."
      2. You are not "out" because I or any other human says your are "out."
      3. God knows who is and who is not doing God's will; humans can be deceived.
    2. What does that mean for us?
      1. Our commitment must be to forgiveness.
      2. Our commitment must be to nurturing the weak.

What is your commitment? Is the community of Christians blessed because of your life?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 27 April 2003
next in series

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell