Be Careful How You Build: Reflections on the Emmaus Founders -- By: Daniel H. Smith

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 011:1 (Summer 2002)
Article: Be Careful How You Build: Reflections on the Emmaus Founders
Author: Daniel H. Smith

Be Careful How You Build:
Reflections on the Emmaus Founders

Daniel H. Smitha

In the North American setting of academic institutions, many of which are well over one hundred fifty years old, the sixty years that Emmaus Bible College is celebrating in 2001–2002 are not impressive. One of its cofounders is still living,1 and there are many who remember its beginning.

Celebrating sixty years of the life and ministries of Emmaus has, however, been occasion for historic reflections, nostalgia, reunion, and praise to God for His sustaining power and blessing. In these reflections it is evident that God has demonstrated His power and faithfulness in some significant events and through the lives of many devoted people. Without a doubt, the three cofounders—Ed Harlow, John Smart, Ernie Tatham—merit the spotlight of Emmaus history. They are the focus of this article.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of the historic founding of the local church in Corinth. Reflecting on this significant part of the “second missionary journey,” the apostle sees himself as a wise master builder or architect. He claims, “I laid a foundation” (1 Cor. 3:10). He also acknowledges that during the time between founding the church at Corinth and the time of writing the first epistle, others were building on the foundation. Over a period of time this is inevitable in any aspect of a work for God.

It would be easy to overlook the next statement Paul makes (3:10), and yet this statement leads to the whole discussion, teaching and warning that follows. “But each man must be careful how he builds on it.” Without attempting here an exegetical study of verses 11–17, several things are apparent in the Apostle’s concern. He rightly assumes others will build on the foundation he laid. The warning has to do with how another may build.

It would be possible to so build that the intent of the architect and foundation-layer would be lost or contravened. We should understand from this

text that to do this would be both unethical and reprehensible at the judgment seat of Christ. In fact, another may actually contribute destructively to the intent of the founder, and come under the solemn edict, “God will destroy him” (v.17).

Believing that it is valid to take this passage that relates to a local chu...

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