And, when you come to the building, a real battle starts up. The question is: What is God going to allow to be put on His foundation? For right through this letter we find a long series of 'No's' - things to which God says: 'No, not that on My foundation, please; I have no place for that. You may spend your whole life on that, but it will all go up in smoke. It is not suitable to My foundation; it is not according to the Cross of the Lord Jesus.'
Now, it would take a long time to consider all the things in this letter to which God says: 'No.' We will just touch on two or three, as representative of much more. As we read the letter, with this in mind - Will God allow anything like that to be put on His foundation? - and as we see the answer, surely our reaction must be: Very well, let us have the Cross deal with that immediately. We don't want that to be held over until it is too late, and we just scramble into Heaven, without anything that we can take with us of a life-work - for that is the issue. We don't want to postpone or refuse the operation of the Cross until it is too late to save our life-work, to save the fruit of all our energies.
We begin with chapter 3. "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not with meat; for ye were not yet able to bear it: nay, not even now are ye able; for ye are yet carnal: FOR" - this is the description of carnality - "for whereas there is among you JEALOUSY ..." Let us weigh it, even if it be to our own judgment and condemnation; it is better that the Cross come right in now. "There is jealousy among you?' God says "No" to that: 'I cannot have that on My foundation. My foundation is the Cross, and it says 'No' to that.'
Paul continues: "There is among you jealousy AND STRIFE ..." Strike! We must think this through and face it honestly. it may seem very elementary, but we are not facing the world, the unconverted, here; we are right in the Church, among believers; we are dealing with those among whom God's foundation has been laid; with those who are "called to be saints" (1 Corinthians 1:2); that is, who are regarded by God as His own people. Strife? God says "No" to that on His foundation. Is that found among us? You know what is going to happen? Sooner or later, it is going to be exposed as wood, hay and stubble - that is the value of it - and it is going up in smoke.
"Are ye not carnal, and walk after the manner of men?" You are not allowed to walk after the manner of men on God's foundation - you are just not allowed. God says 'No' to "the manner of men" on His foundation. "For when one saith, I am of ... and another, I am of ..." Here we must fill in the appropriate names ourselves: names that are right up to date; names of our own circle, in our own assembly; names of our own Christian world, or historic religious names. 'One says, I am of ... and another, I am of ...' and yet another, I am of ...' They all express human partialities, human preferences, human likes and human dislikes, which produce divisions. God says: 'No, not on My foundation; that is not My Church, not My building. I never build with material like that, and neither may you. You may have a wonderful set-up - of your own making - with stuff of that kind: but it is all going up in smoke. However much you may have seemed to have, in the end you will have nothing.'
And how much there is here in this early section about "the wisdom of the world" (1:20) - the wisdom of man, man's mind about things. God says: 'None of that on My foundation; there is no place at all for your mind on My foundation; there is only place for the mind of the Spirit.' If we have not got the mind of the Holy Spirit, we have no right to be doing anything on God's foundation. But after all, are not these the very things, the very troubles, that are blighting Christianity today? They are! And so not let us think of Christianity in a detached, objective way. This comes very close to home. These very things may be causing mischief, even among ourselves: we may be bringing on to God's foundation a mind, a mentality, which is not the mentality of the Holy Spirit. For that is what it amounts to - a mentality. "Who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God" (2:11). These are two different mentalities, you see - the natural mind and the spiritual mind. God says: 'None of the natural mind or mentality at all on My foundation.'
Paul here calls this the "world" coming in, and constructing something upon God's foundation; and God says: 'There is no place for the world in any form on My foundation.' If you look at it closely, you find that this searches out so much: the world's standards or judgments or values - how the world thinks, how the world does things. These Corinthians were trying to make an impression, and moreover by natural means. The Cross of Isaiah 53 is not a very 'impressive' thing, judged by worldly standards, is it? There is nothing there that would popularize the Gospel - rather does it cause offence.
(continued with # 2 - "Soulish Appeal")