First Corinthians 3:12 


In First Corinthians 3:11-15 the Bible says, "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every manís work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every manís work of what sort it is. If any manís work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any manís work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

Of course, the only possible foundation for the Christian life is Jesus Christ. Once you come to know Jesus as your Savior, the foundation is laid. And then you are expected to build upon the foundation, and one day you will give an account to Jesus your Savior as to what you did with your life after you came to know Him. We know that salvation is by the grace of God: "By grace are you saved through faith." We are sinners saved by grace, and not by works. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. We are totally and completely dependent upon the mercy of God that is found in Christ Jesus in regards to our hope of heaven. But being saved is not a license to sin. Even though good works do not bring salvation, they are still very important after salvation. Jesus is the foundation. You must have Jesus as the foundation for your spiritual life, and once you have Him, then you must add to the foundation. The things that you do in your life will add to the foundation. This passage of scripture in First Corinthians chapter 3 says that there are two different kinds of things that you can add to your Christian life. One will add to your reward and the other will take away. One is called gold, silver, and precious stones; and the other is called wood, hay, and stubble. Eventually, if you are a Christian, you will be judged concerning what you have done to add to the foundation of Jesus in your life: not to get into heaven (that is guaranteed by being born again through faith in Christ), but to determine what your rewards will be in heaven.

The judgment is coming. There will be a judgment for the unsaved, and there will also be a judgment for the saved. Everyone will give an account to the great God of the universe, who is the judge of the lost and the saved. This passage in First Corinthians chapter 3 is talking about the judgment of those who are saved. It is a different kind of judgment from those that are lost, but it is still a judgment and it will not be a pleasant experience for many of us who know Jesus as Savior. This judgment of the believers is compared to a fire. That does not sound very pleasant. It may be a time of great shame and great regret when you stand before the One who died for you, and give an account of what you did with your Christian life.

According to First Corinthians chapter 3 some Christians will suffer loss at this judgment. What you stand to lose are the rewards that God would have given you. This is no small thing to lose your rewards. To obtain his reward was a great motivation to the apostle Paul and he spoke of it on several occasions. In Second Timothy chapter 4 when he was near his death Paul said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day..."

Rewards are often represented as crowns in the New Testament, and a crown is a symbol of authority. The Lord will give power and authority in His Kingdom to those who have faithfully served Him in this life. For someone who will have lost rewards, they will have lost things of great value; and it will not be a pleasant experience. But they will still be saved, and they will still be allowed to enter the Kingdom of God. Salvation is not based upon works, but the giving of rewards will be; and it will be a horrible thing to lose your rewards. In Revelation 21:4 it says concerning the Kingdom of God to come, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes..." Perhaps this speaks not only of the sorrows of this life, but also of the tears that will be shed when Christians are judged for the things done in their body: whether they were gold, silver, and precious stones; or whether they were wood, hay, and stubble. "If any manís work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, yet he himself shall be saved." There is still some time left for you. Labor in order that you might win the prize that is set before you. Jesus said, "I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day. The night is coming when no one shall work."

In First Corinthians 3:16-17 the Bible says, "Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." In the Old Testament the temple was established as the place where God dwelt in a special way. There was one place on earth where you could go, and be closer to God than anywhere else. It was the temple. Inside the temple was the place that was called the holiest of the holies. Only the high priest could go in to that place, and he could only go in once a year. The temple was built after the example of the tabernacle, and it was the tabernacle where Moses would go to talk to God as a man would talk with his friend.

But since Jesus died on the cross, things are different. There no longer is a tabernacle and there no longer is a temple that is made with stones. In the age in which we live, God has established the church. And the church that belongs to Jesus is not a building. His church is not a building, because His church is made up of people. The Spirit of God can no longer be found in His greatest manifestation in a building, but now the Spirit is with His people. The Spirit dwells in us individually, and He dwells within the group. And wherever the Spirit of God is, God expects there to be holiness. God wants His church to be a holy church, made up of holy individuals.

We just finished reading the verses in First Corinthians chapter 3 that warned us of the judgment to come for Christians, a judgment that will be in the future just before we enter the Kingdom of God. Now we are being warned about the judgment that can come here in this life in the lives of believers. There are many warnings about this judgment in the New Testament. "Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." First Corinthians 11:31-32 says, "If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." If you do not learn to quickly ask the Lord to forgive you when you fail Him, you are in danger of being chastised. Sometimes sickness is a result of sin in the life of believers.

It is possible for some believers to become so carnal, and so far away from fellowship with God that they even may die before their time. Do you remember the case of Ananias and Saphira, who were Christians that died suddenly because of their sins? God wants his church to be a holy church. "If anyone defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy." God is talking about His believers. In this verse the word that is translated "defile" is the same Greek word that is also translated "destroy". It could have been translated the same way both times. It could have been translated, "If anyone defile the temple of God, him shall God defile." It is the law of reciprocity. What you cause to happen, will also happen to you and doubly so. Some people are taken off the earth by the Giver of life because they have refused to go the way of God. Instead of allowing them to cause more shame to the people of God and to do more harm to the church and to the testimony of Godís people, God decides that it is best that their life ends abruptly and prematurely. In First John 5:16 the Apostle John said, "...There is a sin unto death..."

There are two great reasons given in this passage of scripture of First Corinthians chapter 3 for the believer to be diligent in avoiding sin. Do what is right until the stars fall, because it can cost dearly if you do not. It can cost you in the future when you are judged by the loss of rewards, and it can cost you in this life when you reap what you sow. Do right until the stars fall, because there is a God who is judge of the whole earth; and nothing goes unnoticed from the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-wise judge of the earth. And if you do fail, make it a habit to come quickly to the throne of Grace to find mercy, because Jesus will always forgive those who have failed Him when they are truly sorry and ask for forgiveness.

A wise person understands the principles of sin and of judgment and of forgiveness. A wise person understands that sin is a serious matter and that sin will result in sorrow and loss. A wise person understands that because of sin the world was destroyed in the days of Noah, and it will be because of sin that the world will be destroyed yet one more time. Many people in the world do not have this wisdom concerning the dangers of sin. They think that they can enjoy the pleasures of sin and escape judgment. First Corinthians 3:18-20 says, "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness. And again, the Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain."

If you have not been deceived by the world, then you are in a very good situation. If you have Jesus as your Savior, then He is the foundation for all that you are and all that you hope for. If you have understood the dangers of sin, because of the penalties that can be paid both in this life and at the judgment, then you are wise. If you can keep hold of this wisdom day by day, and if when you fail you come quickly to the Lord for forgiveness; then you are wise and ready to understand the blessings of the next few verses. First Corinthians 3:21-23 says, "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And you are Christís and Christ is Godís."

In the same way that God so greatly wanted to save you, He also wants you to be able to have many rewards when you stand before Him to be judged for the things done in your body. God has done, and He is doing many things in order to set you up, so that all the things that happen to you will be to the benefit of your spiritual growth. That is why you should not glory in men. If someone has a gift and an ability that results in your spiritual growth, then that is the work of God for you. When you are walking in fellowship with God, everything that happens is allowed by God for a purpose. Everything that you touch, everything that you see, everything that you experience is a gift from God; because He loves you, and because He wants these things to be a part of your life for your spiritual benefit. The entire world is a showcase given to you by God. It is there full of illustrations and examples for you to learn from and to benefit from. The world is yours: given to you as a gift from God. Take it and use it to build the rewards that can be yours at the judgment.

Even the things that are normally considered negative are not negative at all for the spiritual Christian. Death is normally considered the last and the greatest enemy for mankind. But here death is listed along with all the other things that will be used by God for the benefit of the believer. When anyone dies, in the final analysis, it is because God has chosen the time of their death. There is a reason for all things. We may not always know the reason, but God knows. And at least we know that He only allows things to happen that ought to happen in the life of a believer. There is a purpose for all things, and with enough faith and enough determination and enough time, and the help of God, you can see good come out of what otherwise would be bad because "all things are yours, and you are Christís, and Christ is Godís." If you are wise and not deceived by the world, you will allow God to use all things to build you up and to prepare you for the judgment of the believers.

Paul felt that he was prepared for the judgment, and he gave some of his ideas concerning his own judgment in the first few verses of chapter 4. In First Corinthians 4:1-4 Paul said, "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of manís judgment: yea, I judge not my own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judges me is the Lord."

Paul said that he was a minister of Christ. The word minister means servant. Christ is placed at the head in the position of leadership, and Paul places himself under Christ, in the position of a servant. The servant has been given a charge, a responsibility. Paul said that his responsibility was as a steward of the mysteries of God. God had given something to Paul: God had given him knowledge of the mysteries of God. If you know something that is true, you do not know it of yourself; it has been revealed to you by God. And if you know something, you are responsible to share what you know with others. I think that Paul was saying that if he were to judge himself, he did not know of any way in which he had failed to fulfill this charge that was given him concerning sharing the mystery of God. But the most accurate judgment could only be given by the Lord, because the Lord is the judge. That is why there will be surprises in heaven. There will be some people in heaven that no one thought would be there, and there will be others that everyone thought would be there, but who will not be. Why? Because some things only the Lord knows, and because He is the Judge. Some believers who had reputations among men as being strong believers will lose their rewards, and other believers that no one noticed will receive the most rewards of all. That is because God is Judge and only He knows.



Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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