United in Christ – We Build on the Foundation of Christ (February 16, 2020)

Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 3:10

Pastor Daniel Schmidt            

During our Gospel reading from God’s Word over the past several weeks, we have heard portions of our Savior’s “Sermon on the Mount” recorded for us in Matthew chapters 5 – 7.  It is at the end of that sermon, that Jesus says this: “‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.’” 

The point that the Savior makes is the same point that the Holy Spirit led Paul to make when he wrote to the Christians in Corinth in verse 10 of chapter 3 of his first letter: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Today, as we bring to a close our sermon series “United in Christ”, we remember that in order to be united and to stay united with our Savior and with one another, WE BUILD ON THE FOUNDATION OF CHRIST!

Throughout the opening chapters of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul encourages his readers that, united in Christ, they should not to put their hope and trust in human reason. Time after time, he warns them not to make the personalities of those who shared God’s Word with them, more important than the message they shared.  

It is good for you and me here today to hear the same warnings from the Lord’s Apostle. God’s Word makes it clear that by own thinking or choosing, you and I are not able to come to the Lord or believe in him as our one and only Savior.  God’s Word teaches that your sinful mind and mine are hostile to God.  By nature, you and I are enemies of God. The only thing that you and I deserve is death and destruction in hell. It is also important for us to remember that it is not the personality of a Called Worker that is able to save us.  It is not their ability to preach or to teach that brings us to faith in Jesus as our Savior.  

No, there is only One foundation for our Christian faith. And that foundation is our one and only Savior, Jesus Christ. Only Christ came as your perfect substitute and mine. Only Christ offered up his life as the full payment price for all sins.  Only Christ won the forgiveness of all sins. And the only way that you and I have faith in Jesus Christ as our one and only Savior from sin is by the power of the Holy Spirit working on our hearts through the powerful Word of God. As the Bible tells us in Romans chapter 10, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” And in Titus chapter 3 we read, “When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

As Jesus taught in his Sermon on the Mount, in order for a building to remain standing it needs to be built on a solid foundation. If the foundation is weak, the entire building will eventually come crashing down. If you and I are standing on the weak foundation of the talents of others, or human reason, or our own abilities, or the amount of money we give to the church, the end result will be a life that comes crashing down into the flames of hell. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”

From God’s Word, you and I know that it is not how you or I live our lives that will determine whether or not we will go to heaven. God’s Word in Ephesians chapter 2 makes it clear that it is “by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Yet, the very next verse of Ephesians chapter 2, tells us that you and I are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  

Christ is not only the foundation for our Christian faith, he is also the foundation for our Christian life. Our Savior comes to you and me in his Word. He gives you and me the Holy Spirit. Being strengthened in our faith in Jesus as our Savior through the Word of God, you and I are also empowered to live for him. The will of God, summarized for us in the 10 Commandments, now serves as a guide for you and me. It is a “road map” on how you and I are able to live a life that gives all praise and glory to our Savior-God. As we read in James chapter 2, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” 

There is only One foundation for our Christian faith: Christ. There is only One foundation for our Christian life: Christ.  Finally, there is only One foundation for our Christian congregation: Christ. Now that may seem like an obvious point to make. For a congregation to be called “Christian” it must have Christ as its foundation, right? But far too many congregations today, who still call themselves “Christian”, really aren’t. When you examine what they teach in the light of the true Word of God, you learn that their teachings are not built on the foundation of Christ. 

We here at St. Matthew’s have made a commitment that, with the blessings of the Lord of the Church, we will keep our congregation built on the foundation of Christ. For example, while the liturgies that we use may change from week to week, our Worship Services focus on the Word of God and the comforting Gospel message of Jesus our Savior. Each Sunday Morning, young and old alike are able to study God’s Word along with their fellow believers either in Bible Class or Sunday Bible School.

This brings to mind the saying that tells us, “We are only one generation away from losing the Gospel.” So, together as a congregation, we have made the commitment to build up the next generation on the foundation of Christ. We do this as we support the ministry of our First Steps Childcare Center and our Lutheran Elementary School; not simply to give parents another option in their child’s care or education, but to have a place where children and students walk with Jesus day after day. 

As a congregation, we made the decision to be part of the federation of churches that supports Lakeside Lutheran High School, so that our young people may remain on the foundation of Christ during their high school years. 

So that we continue to have Pastors, Teachers and Staff Ministers in our church body who carry out their ministry built on the foundation of Christ, through the offerings that our congregation passes along to our Wisconsin Synod, we support our two Prep Schools (Luther Prep School in Watertown and Michigan Lutheran Seminary in Saginaw, Michigan), Martin Luther College in New Ulm and our Seminary in Mequon. 

Certainly it is my prayer that we, as a congregation, united in Christ, continue to be built on the foundation of Christ; that what Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus is always true of us: that together we remain “members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (that is, God’s Word), with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.”

My dear Christians Friends, the Bible clearly teaches you and me that there is only ONE foundation for our Christian faith, for our Christian life and for our Christian congregation. What is that foundation? God’s Word before us answers that question: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  So, united in Christ, we pray in the words taken from one of hymns in our hymnal (CW #622 v.1):

For many years, O God of grace

This church has been your dwelling place

And we your congregation.

Upon the precious cornerstone

Our faith is built, and Christ alone

Is still our one foundation.

Today we pray:

Let us greet you,

In Jesus’ Name we pray.  Amen.

Lord, and meet you

Here with singing.

All our praises to you bringing.