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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 15: Paul to the Corinthians.

Contents  ...  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  ...

These faithful builders sought diligently to bring precious material to the living foundation. Paul labored to have his own heart and character in harmony with the law of God, and then earnestly sought to bring about the same result with his converts. He exhorted Timothy, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine." This is the duty of every teacher of Bible truth,— to illustrate in his own life the active Christian virtues, to be pure in heart, given to holy conversation, to be good, and to do good.

God will not accept the most brilliant talent or the most able service, unless it is laid upon the living foundation stone, and connected with it; for this alone gives true value to ability, and [p. 158] makes the labor a living service to God. We may look back through centuries, and see the living stones gleaming like jets of light through the darkness of error and superstition. These precious jewels will shine with continually increasing luster throughout eternity. Although dead, the righteous of all ages testify, by the record of their words and deeds, to the truth of God. The names of the martyrs for Christ's sake are immortalized among the angels in Heaven; and a bright reward awaits them when the Lifegiver shall call them from their graves.

The flashing light of these polished stones, set for beauty in Christ's temple, has ever been exceedingly annoying to the world; for their brightness in the midst of surrounding darkness shows the strong contrast between righteousness and sin,—the gold of truth and the dross of error and tradition. Those who refuse to obey the truth themselves are unwilling that others should obey it; for the course of the faithful is a continual reproof to the unbelieving and disobedient.

Christ himself, the foundation and the crowning glory of God's temple, became "a rock of offense to them that stumble at the word." Yet that chief foundation stone, "disallowed indeed of men," was "chosen of God and precious." Though rejected by the Jewish builders, it became the head of the corner. Christ was put to death; but the work of building did not cease. He was honored in Heaven and by the faithful on earth as the true foundation.

The servants of Christ have ever been greatly hindered in their labors by the errors which have from time to time corrupted the church. Carnal minds wrest the word of God to make it pander [p. 159] to their follies and superstitions. That unerring word, the rule by which every stone brought to the foundation must be tested, has been virtually set aside by many who appeared to be zealous builders on the temple of Christ's church. Thus wood, hay, and stubble have been laid upon the foundation stone by heedless workmen as precious acquisitions.

When emperors, kings, popes, and priests sought to defile and destroy this temple of God with sacrilegious idolatry and persecution of the faithful, God's eye never for a moment left his building and his workmen. In the face of gaping prisons, torture, and flames, the work grew under the hands of faithful men; the structure arose, beautiful and symmetrical. The workmen were at times almost blinded by the mists of superstition that settled dense and dark around them, and they were beaten back by the violence of their opponents; yet, like Nehemiah and his co-laborers, they still urged forward the work. Their language was, The God of Heaven liveth and reigneth; he will prosper his own work. Therefore we, his servants, will arise and build.

The figure which Paul uses of the temple erected on the foundation stone is to represent the work of God's servants to the end of time. To all who are building for God, the apostle addresses words of encouragement and warning: "If any man's work abide, which he have 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." The Christian teacher who faithfully presents the word of truth, leading his converts to [p. 160] holiness of heart and life, is bringing precious material to the foundation; and in the kingdom of God he will be honored as a wise builder. He who neglects to teach the truth in its purity, will gather converts who are not holy in heart and life. He is bringing material that will not stand the test. In the day of God he will suffer loss. Though it is possible that those who have spent the best of life in teaching error may, by repentance and faith, be saved at last, yet their work is lost. Their life has failed of the good results that might have been secured. Souls have gone down to ruin, who, by a faithful presentation of the truth, might have been saved. Says the apostle, "Let every man take heed how he buildeth."

Paul writes to the Corinthians: "Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more." The apostle desired that his Corinthian brethren might be led to see the selfish ambition and intolerance which they had cherished. Hence he presents before them his own course of action, that they may by contrast perceive the sinfulness of their conduct. He labored for men of every nation, tongue, and people, and sought to meet the varied classes on their own ground. He avoided making prominent the difference between himself and them. He strove to lay aside his personal feelings, and to bear with the prejudices of the persons for whom he was laboring.

When working for the unconverted Jews, he did not at once begin to preach that which they regarded as dangerous heresy, but commenced with doctrines upon which they could agree. [p. 161] Beginning with Moses and the prophets, he led them gradually from point to point, comparing scripture with scripture, tracing down the fulfillment of prophecy, showing the evidence that Messiah was to have come, and the manner of his coming. He then clearly presented before them the object of his coming, and what he was to have done upon earth, and how he was to have been received.

Contents  ...  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  ...

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