“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
As an apostle, Paul was a wise masterbuilder; and his gift for the apostleship, and wisdom in establishing the fundamental principles of the gospel among the Gentiles was precisely according to the grace which God had bestowed on him to qualify him for the work. By the infallible inspiration of the Holy Ghost, as an apostle of Christ, he had, in all his apostolic teachings, presented doctrinally and practically, Christ as the only foundation; first, on which the eternal salvation of the church is built up, Christ having obtained eternal redemption for his people. Their deliverance from wrath, from guilt and condemnation, and their full, free and complete justification is all founded on him. Secondly, and in the immediate sense of this text, he has shown that all the doctrine taught, all the works performed, all the hopes inspired, with every theory entertained by the saints, if not founded on him, must come to naught. If our faith should lead us to believe what Christ by his word and Spirit has not taught, it is hay, wood, or stubble, that cannot endure the fiery ordeal that shall try every man’s faith. What will it avail for a Christian to persuade himself or others to believe any proposition which is not founded on truth? For a time the theory may seem plausible, and pass for truth; but when tested by fire, the delusion is exposed, and all the labor and ingenuity that has been employed in its propagation is lost. In building up the saints in their most holy faith, the apostles have testified that unless our faith be in Christ, on Christ, and the faith of the Son of God, it will be consumed in the day of trial. All the works also of the children of God must be wrought in God, and rest on Christ, as our Commander, or they will be burned up. Whatsoever he has not commanded us, he has forbidden. If then we do the works which he has commanded, these works are founded and rest on him; if they do not rest on him, they are without authority or foundation; for other foundation can no man lay; and if without foundation, they cannot stand. Read the concluding paragraph of Christ’s sermon on the mount. “Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.” But quite the reverse is the case of those who hear his words, and do them not. See Matthew 7:24-27. Whatever we may do religiously, if Christ’s words have not authorized us, will be labor in vain; unprofitable, and subjecting us to loss.
We have an exemplification of these words of the apostle in the Corinthian church, to whom they were addressed. Paul had been laboring among them, and as a wise masterbuilder had preached Christ to them, as the only foundation. They had accepted his doctrine, discarded their former idolatry, and had in many things walked orderly. By conforming to his laws obediently, they had been building on that foundation, but they had also been building on the same Christian foundation many things for which the apostle reproved them. That which they had done by the authority of Christ was like gold, silver, and precious stones, which could endure the fire; but what they had done without his authority was like hay, wood, and stubble, all to be burned, and all that labor lost. The churches also of Galatia, before whose eyes Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth, crucified among them, had run well, began right, had built on that foundation, gold, silver, and precious stones; but listening to Judaizing teachers, they who had begun in the spirit were so foolish as to suppose they might be made perfect by the flesh; and had been building with hay, wood and stubble. We have numerous examples in the present day. Churches and individuals who have once received Christ as their only foundation have, in some instances, thought they could build faster, and get up their building quicker, and make it much larger, by working in some materials which will make a fair show when there is no fire to try their works. See churches gathering in front-bench converts, suppressing unpopular truth, embracing popular error, and construing their wonderful enlargement as evidence of divine approbation. All seems to go on well until the day of trial comes when their works are tried by fire; then all that have come in by any other way than the door go out without divine favor.
It is hardly to be supposed that there lives a saint on earth who has not, in any way, at any time, been building on this foundation to some extent with hay, wood and stubble. But the admonition is, “Let every man take heed how he buildeth upon this foundation.”
We take the inspired testimony and instructions of the apostles as the basis of our doctrine and practice. They, as wise master workmen, have preached Christ to us as our foundation; on the apostolic platform, or foundation, we go on to build. All our works which are supported by a “Thus saith the Lord,” will stand the fiery test; but all we do without that authority will burn like stubble in the day of trial.
We have reason to fear that many of God’s children have spent years in trying to establish theories and works which shall at last be given to the flames, and they shall suffer loss. But although all the vain works, and unwise, unauthorized building of the children of God shall be consumed, and they shall suffer loss, yet they themselves shall be saved from themselves, from their works, and from their follies; yet so as by fire. He who sitteth as a refiner and purifier of silver, shall consume their dross, burn up their hay, and wood, and stubble, and bring them out of the fiery furnace like gold that is seven times tried in the fire. “Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire.”
October 1, 1868.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 265 – 267