Simplicity Series #26
Building for Eternity
“If anyone’s work which he has built on it [the “foundation,” v. 11]
endures, he will receive a reward.” 1Co 3:14
Review from Simplicity Series #25
- We each choose to be either a wise or a foolish builder, Mat 7:24-27.
- The only true, lasting foundation is faith in Jesus Christ, 1Co 3:11.
- The house built by wisdom is secure and supplied, Pro 9:1; 24:3-4.
- The house of the soul is a dwelling place, here and now, for both the Father and the Son, Joh 14:21-23.
- The Lord Jesus Christ is either an honored guest in our souls, or He is an outcast Savior, Jer 14:8-9.
The Two Dwellings
“… I go to prepare a place for you … and … I will come again and receive you to Myself;
that where I am, there you may be also …
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him,
and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Joh 14:2-3, 23
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Rev 3:20
Here is a possibility worth pondering: What if my eternal home, which Jesus is now preparing for me, is an eternal reflection of the home which I now—in this life—prepare for Him?
I do not think there will be an exact correlation, for the simple reason that our Lord is far more gracious than we can imagine, yet I do believe there will be some relationship between the two based on Paul’s warning in 1Co 3:11-15.
While we do not often realize it, every day we are building for eternity—either like the wise builder or the unwise one (Mat 7:24-27). Knowing this truth should spur us to much greater faith and faithfulness.
It seems reasonable that the “storm” mentioned in the Matthew 7 passage is equivalent to the “fire” spoken of by Paul (1Co 3:13). This could also give a new insight into and application of John’s warning, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Mat 3:11b).
The Building Blocks
The Holy Spirit has come to be our “Helper” in building the spiritual life (Joh 14:16). The word translated “Helper” (parakletos, NKJV) has a wide range of meanings. It can be translated “counselor, helper, comforter, advocate.” It represents a full range of ministries which correlate to what Jesus Himself did for His disciples, hence, “another Helper,” in the place of the departed Lord. In the case of the Holy Spirit, the “advantage” to us (Joh 16:7, NKJV) is that while Jesus could only be in one place at a time, the Holy Spirit can be with every believer at all times.
The Spirit of God comes to aid and assist us, but not to do everything for us. There is a need for cooperation through faith and surrender (“yielding,” Rom 6:13) to His authority and guidance. So what are the building blocks of the house of the soul? Actually, there are two aspects to this question.
The Personal Building
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness
through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises,
that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2Pe 1:2-4
In becoming “partakers of the divine nature,” we are building within us the character and nature of Jesus Christ Himself. Peter is speaking of the personal, or individual, responsibility to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2Pe 3:18).
In this work of transformation (see Rom 12:1-2), Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives us seven building blocks or, if you prefer, “seven pillars” of wisdom (Pro 9:1). These are listed as:
- Virtue. This word is variously translated, “virtue, power, excellence,” and actually combines all three concepts. It is used in 2Pe 1:3 of God’s nature. I believe it refers to the inherent power that resides in us through the Holy Spirit (see Eph 3:7, 20). This would be equivalent to the “filling of the Spirit,” (Eph 5:18). Without His control, we can never accomplish the next stages of building.
- Knowledge. This is a favorite word for Peter (see 2Pe 1:2, 3, 5-6, 8; 2:20; 3:18). The idea speaks of both perception of biblical truth, as well as its application to daily life. This is again the “wisdom” of Pro 9:1; 24:3-4; Mat 7:24; and Eph 5:15-17. True knowledge or wisdom is never merely academic. Only the Gnostics glorified knowledge without practical application. And sadly, there are many Christian Gnostics today!
- Self-Control. This refers to the application of the truths, the “great and precious promises” (2Pe 1:4) that we are learning. The idea of self-control is included both in the fruit of the Spirit, and as an evidence of spiritual maturity (Gal 5:23; 1Co 9:25; Tit 1:8). The word carries the idea of inner rule over the kingdom of the heart.
- Perseverance. This is the idea of steadfastness, of “stick-to-it-ability.” In other words, once we begin to seriously study and apply the Word of God to our lives, we will be hit with many temptations, distractions, and spiritual obstacles. The path to spiritual maturity leads through many trials (2Ti 3:12; Jam 1:2-5, 12), and perseverance is the key to continued growth.
- Godliness. As defined in 1Ti 3:16, this is nothing less than the life of Jesus Christ being lived out through us. This is the high point of the spiritual life, from which the next two qualities flow. As Jesus Christ is formed in us (Gal 4:19) and we are conformed to His image (Rom 8:29; 2Co 3:18), the inner dwelling-place for both the Father and the Son is complete (Joh 14:21-23), and we have “heard His voice, and opened the door” to His presence. Jesus Christ is now at home in “[our] hearts, through faith” (Eph 3:16-17, the literal rendering of the verb katoikeo). As defined in The Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, the word means, “to settle down … the verb denotes permanent habitation as opposed to sojourning or an occasional visit” (pg. 529, on Eph 3:17).
- Brotherly Kindness/Love. We do not have the power, in ourselves, to produce such a love. This is the love Jesus gave as the “11th commandment”: “love one another as I have loved you” (Joh 13:34). Only the indwelling Spirit can produce this in us, as we grow into the likeness of Christ. Love for our fellow-believers, in spite of our differences, is a prerequisite to the final and ultimate stage of spiritual growth, maturity, and the completion of the inner building.
- Love. Paul said of himself and his team, “The love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2Co 5:14-15). This is the love of Christ for the whole world, without respect of persons, status, appearance, wealth, or personal attractiveness. This is the love that sees the souls of men as priceless beyond our comprehension. It was this love that took our Savior to the cross, and only this kind of love can truly “share in the sufferings of Christ” with rejoicing (Rom 8:18; 2Co 1:5; Phi 3:10; 1Pe 4:13). Only such a love can keep our priorities straight in this twisted, self-serving world.
Here we have the building blocks for the house of the soul on a personal level. In our next post, we will see the corporate building blocks, without which these seven pillars of wisdom have no full meaning. Let me close with a little poem that encapsulates what we have studied so far.
Builders for Eternity
R. L. Sharpe
Isn’t it funny that Princes and Kings,
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
And common folks like you and me
Are builders for eternity?
To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, a book of rules;
And each must build—’ere life has flown,
A stumbling-block, or a stepping-stone.