Today Pastor Choi talks about another mark of Christ’s followers: steadfastness. He begins his message with the inseparable relationship between foundations and buildings; foundations determine the fate of buildings–to stand or to fall. The same goes with believers. He points out that Jesus is our foundation because He is our Rock that is immovable, unchanging, and never shifting. On Him, we build our lives. At the end of the message, he talks about an antidote for spiritual weariness and discouragement.
Here’s a summary of the sermon today:
Be Steadfast: Be Christ’s Disciple (3)
1 Corinthians 15:58
- New American Standard Bible (NASB)
- 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
- New American Standard Bible (NASB)
- 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Introduction: Foundations determine the fate of the building
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa (a city in Tuscany, Central Italy): the twelfth century edifice still stands today (August 9, 1173, the foundations were laid; construction lasted for the next 199 years). As of today, the tower leans at an angle of 4 degrees.
- “The tower’s tilt began during construction, caused by an inadequate foundation on ground too soft on one side to properly support the structure’s weight.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaning_tower_of_pisa)
- Anyone who’s in the building business knows how critical the foundations are for the buildings. Building a house without firm foundations would be a disaster and a waste of time and money.
- Why are foundations so important? Because, without foundations, no house or building will stand strong. Think of all the old cathedrals in Europe standing today. Somebody had done a great job laying foundations of those churches. Even though we cannot see the foundations from outside, every one of them has stood on firm foundations for centuries.
- Why do foundations matter? Because, they support the buildings. Same thing goes with our life. We need foundations for our lives.
- Everyone conducts a life. Everyone’s life is built on something, whether it’s built on principles or convictions such as education, relationships, money, fame, or ambition. Our Christian life is built on repentance and forgiveness (Hebrews 6:1). Our relationship with God is built on faith and hope. The relationships that are built on love and commitment (Ephesians 3:17) last forever.
God the Master Builder:
- When it comes down to firm foundations where our lives stand, we don’t have to look further. Meet God. He is an expert architect and a master builder. He knows what we are talking about. He knows what we need for foundations of life. He has been in this business for thousands of years.
- Here are some of His credentials just in case you wonder. God knows how to create things. He knows how to sustain them, too. He created the universe according to His brilliant design. He created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). He is the architect who laid foundations of the earth (Hebrews 1: 10). He is the builder of the City in Heaven (Hebrews 11:10). It’s worth talking about Heaven here.
- In Heaven, there is the Holy City (New Jerusalem) that radiates with the glory of God. The city’s street is pure gold, transparent as glass. The Holy City has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and the twelve gates are twelve pearls. At the gates are twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Israelites; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. The wall of the city has twelve foundation stones, and on them are the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:11-14, 21).
- The foundation stones of the city are adorned with every kind of precious stone: jasper (red-yellow-brown-green), sapphire (blue), chalcedony (various colors), emerald (green), sardonyx (various), carnelian (brownish red), chrysolite (yellow-green), beryl (green-blue-yellow), topaz (blue-brown-yellow-orange), chrysoprase (green), jacinth (red), amethyst (purple) (Revelation 21:19). Wow!
- Why am I talking about foundations this morning? Because, depending on what kind of foundations we build our lives on, in the end, we will either harvest wind (that is, nothing) or eternal life. Also, the stability of our life as believers solely relies on the foundations. God wants us to be steadfast and immovable in Christ. He doesn’t want our lives to collapse whenever adversities strike us. God wants us to stay strong in our life’s journey to Heaven. He wants us to be rooted and established in love, hope, and faith (Ephesians 3:17) (Colossians 1:23). He perfects us, confirms us, strengthens us, and establishes us in Christ (1 Peter 5:10). And, He begins His work in us with the foundation.
Who is our foundation? Jesus Christ.
- Remember Jesus’ parable on the wise and foolish builders? (Luke 6:48-49) One built his house on the rock; the other built on the sand without a foundation. One day rain came down. A flood arose, and the river burst against the houses. One house stood strong; the other fell and great was the ruin of the house!
- Consider this: the two builders used the same materials for their houses. They had the same trouble at the same time: the torrential rain and the waves of waters. But, the result was a night and day difference; one fell and the other stood. Why? All because of the foundation.
- The house that withstood the torrents was built well on the rock (Matthew 7:25).
- Jesus is the Rock in our lives. Upon Him, we build our lives as a believer (1 Corinthians 3:11). On this foundation of Jesus, we build our covenantal relationship with God. When we build our lives on Him, we will be steadfast and strong, because Jesus Himself is immovable; we will withstand life’s challenges far better than those whose foundations is not Christ.
Unpacking of 1 Corinthians 15:58
- Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
- Be steadfast (Εδραιοι): The Greek root carries the meaning of ‘support’ and ‘foundation.’ In other words, you can only be steadfast with a foundation. No foundation, no steadfastness. No foundation, no stability or longevity. The same goes for us. We cannot be steadfast without Jesus the Rock the firm foundation in our lives.
- Immovable (Αμετακινητοι): this word ‘immovable’ comes from the Greek root ‘kineo’—where the English word “kinetic” comes from. ‘Kineo’ means moving, shifting, and dislodged. A house built on shaky foundation will be shifted and eventually fall to the ground and vice versa.
- Always abounding in the work of the Lord: knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. There’s no such a thing as retirement in the Christian vocabulary. As long as God grants us a healthy body and mind, we need to be actively engaged in the work of the Lord all the time. E.g. Professor Moffett at Princeton Theological Seminary. In 1990s, over 90 years old, he would jog a couple of miles on a treadmill and work on his book daily, well beyond his retirement age. I hope every one of us to be like him. What’s the incentive for abounding in God’s work? Your labor is not in vain. God watches and will reward you for your labor. We shall reap what we have sown in due time (Galatians 6:9) if we faint not (grow weary, give up). That leads me to the next verse.
Unpacking of Hebrews 12:3
- 3 For consider Him (Jesus) who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary (original Greek: be sick in soul) and lose heart.
- Consider Him: Have you ever got discouraged after you worked so hard for the Lord? In fact, it is normal for us to get discouraged or lose heart once in a while when we are involved with God’s work. E.g. Someone said an insensitive word that hurt your pride. Others failed to give credits that you deserve. The list goes on. In those moments, the author of the Hebrews urges us to consider Jesus as an antidote for discouragements (sick in soul—like flu in body) or burn-outs: Look! You’re not alone. Consider Jesus who went through much worse than what you are going through now. Consider how He endured hostility by sinners. Indeed, on the cross, Jesus endured all the mockery from the sinners for whom He was dying. Jesus endured hostility and His cross by focusing on the glory of crown. If He did it, we the followers can do it, too. By focusing on the glory and honor we will receive from the Lord, we can overcome temporary spiritual weariness.
- Build your life on Jesus the Rock. He will keep you immovable and steadfast. Abound in the work of the Lord and God will reward you eternally. In moments of discouragement, consider Jesus. Amen.