Tried as by fire
Heaven or hell, good works verses bad ones, reward or penalty, this topic is written about
by every religion there is all around the world. When the Gospel is reduced to human opinion, then who is right? Division and even wars are started over these issues. This is why there are so many religions in the world today and some even attribute their views to heavenly visions to support their claims. Even within Christianity you see divisions because different men claim to have special understanding of scripture and whose personality draws a massive following. Since all my blog posts are about the Judeo/Christian God who claims to be the only God, what does he say about the exclusivity of the Gospel? Today’s passage says that every Christian will stand before Christ in the same fashion to answer for how he contributed to or detracted from building the church. Our work will be tested by Holy fire. The Christian whose work is human powered or driven by the wisdom of the world will be lost in the fire and he will lose his reward.
On Divisions in the Church
3 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?
5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who makes my church grow through people. Christians are my holy temple in which my Spirit dwells. I AM the God who uses men to do my work and will require you to stand before me to answer for how you contributed. I AM the righteous judge and you must do my work in the right way. My church is built upon the Lord Jesus only who is The Only Rock and Foundation. I have chosen to use people to share this good news of salvation around the globe to make my church fill the earth until the “full number of Gentiles” is reached. You are part of my church if you trust in Christ’s work on your behalf. Make sure that you understand it so that you can rightfully help others to be saved and grow in faith as well. If you make salvation about what you do instead of what my Son has done for you, then you are destroying the foundation of the church which I laid for you. But beware, for any teaching or work which you promote that detracts from or adds good deeds to the finished work of Christ for salvation will be burned up and you will lose your reward. Beware, any gospel you preach that is based on human effort is destroying the foundation laid by Christ and you will be liable.
God’s church building principles vs Human tactics
The wisdom of this world says such things as: “We have to lift ourselves up by our bootstraps” or “God helps those who help themselves” or “There are no free lunches”. Religions teach that the way to heaven is by obeying the Law of Moses, or giving to the church, or by church attendance and receiving communion or getting baptized. People think either that we must make ourselves better before God would accept us, or conversely that we are inherently righteous enough in ourselves that God must accept us. But these are counter to the message from God who says “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God and are justified freely by faith in Jesus Christ” and “While we were yet sinners, God died for the ungodly” and “But as many as receive the free gift of eternal life, he gave the right to become the children of God”. God in his secret wisdom provided salvation for us for free by paying for it himself, so that all glory would go to him and not to us in order that we cannot claim credit. As I have said many times before, heaven is not a reward to be earned by our good behavior, but is just the place where God lives along with those he places in his Son – Jesus Christ. This passage shows that any reward or loss of reward will be after getting to heaven. Christ will reward his children for proper church building practices this judgment is referred to as the “Bema seat” judgment. Do not confuse this as a judgment weighing out good deeds and bad deeds as to whether you will get to heaven or not. Paul’s warning to Timothy was “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Tim 4:16)
More to come,