On our previous lesson we were talking about what happens when you die. And, I emphasized the fact that your spirit evacuates your body, and maybe angels transport you to the throne of God.
Sooner or later (it doesn’t really make any difference in eternity), we all have to stand before God and give an account.
I emphasized last time that we’ll be judged by our works on two levels.
The First Level of Judgment
One level is to determine whether or not we truly believe in Jesus, because people who are born again are changed. They’re transformed, and the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of them and begins to clean them up.
Now, we have to cooperate. God doesn’t take away our free will, but he goes right to work on some really grievous stuff. And that’s why Paul said,
Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
People that really believe in Jesus stop those grievous sins, and they’re transformed. The Holy Spirit helps them in all this, and the Holy Spirit helps us along the whole pathway as we strive to enter by the narrow gate.
So we’re judged on one level by our works to determine whether or not we really believe in Jesus or not.
The Second Level of Judgment
And then secondly, we’re judged by our works to determine what kind of rewards we receive or miss out on receiving.
It’s very clear in Scripture that in the reign of Christ, not everyone’s going to be in the same position in His government. Jesus talked in Luke 19:11-27 about one guy being very faithful, and being put in charge of 10 cities. Another guy was pretty faithful, and was put in charge of five cities.
Okay, so that’s a little differentiation there in our positions during the reign of Christ. And then, of course, there are other awards that are alluded to in Scripture. We don’t always know exactly what those are.
Now, I want to talk about these rewards a little bit, and that judgment a little bit, the judgment of our works as believers in Christ.
Paul’s Building Analogy
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul talks about himself and Apollos, someone who was a teacher. After Paul laid the foundation there, establishing the Church in Corinth, Apollos came in and was doing some teaching. And, the Corinthians were dividing up as to who their favorite teacher was. Some were saying, “I’m of Paul.” Some were saying, “I’m of Apollos.”
So Paul says, “Hey! All we are is just servants of Jesus Christ. And we’re each going to receive,” now listen closely, “our own reward according to our own labor.”
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. vv. 6-9
Now Paul goes into the building analogy:
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it [That’s referring to Apollos, the teacher]. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. vv. 10-11
Now, here’s where it gets interesting.
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. – vv. 12-13
Six Different Building Materials
So in those six building materials, you notice that three could be burned up: wood, hay and stubble. And three were not so easy to burn: gold, silver and precious stones.
The gold, silver and precious stones represent building with God’s materials. And the wood, hay and stubble represent building with something other than God’s materials, which could be man’s materials.
And Paul said, “One day, all of those works are going to go through the fire, and it will test the quality.”
It may not be so obvious right now who’s building with gold, and silver and precious stones, and who’s building with wood, hay and stubble. But it will be evident on that day, because God is going to put all of our works through the fire.
What Comes Out of the Fire
Then Paul goes on,
If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. – v. 14
So when it goes through the fire, if it comes out the other side you get a reward.
If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss [That is, you don’t get the reward], but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. – v. 15
So, this is not talking about salvation now. He’s talking about rewards for people who have already proven themselves to be believers. And get this, there are going to be believers who are going to have their works go through the fire, and they’re all going to be burnt up. They’ll get no reward that they could have gotten otherwise had they built with a different material.
The Building Materials of Our Christian Lives
So, we can begin to conjecture what kinds of works would be categorized as gold, and silver and precious stones, and what kinds of works will just be categorized as wood, hay and stubble.
I think the biggest determining factor will be if what we do is according to the will of God. And so we ought to line up to what God tells us to do in His Word.
And there’s so much that’s done under the banner of Christianity these days that, although it might be good, is not something you can find an example of in the scriptures. There are a lot of preachers today who—I don’t think that they’re unsaved (but maybe they are)—if you listen to their sermons, they’re not teaching what the Bible teaches.
They’re teaching something other than what the Bible teaches. Well, if those guys are actually saved, when they stand in front of Jesus and those sermons go through the fire, those un-Biblical sermons are all going to be burnt up, like any un-Biblical works.
And, of course, our motives come into play here too, because Jesus warned in the Sermon on the Mount about doing things to be seen by others. You get your reward in full. So I suppose there will be some of us who are presenting works, put them on that conveyor belt, and they’ll go into the fire, and out they’ll come on the other side all burnt up. Because even though they were good works, they weren’t done with the right motives. They were done to build our own kingdom, or let people see how great we were or something.
A Humble Prayer
Okay, so this is sobering stuff. It would be good to pray, “Lord, can you help me get ready for this judgment? I don’t want to have anything burn up, so if there’s going to be anything burn up in the future, I’d like to know right now so I can avoid that.”
And God loves us. He’ll reveal to us if there’s stuff we’re doing right now that is ultimately going to be burnt up one day. Why wait? What an embarrassment it’s going to be then. Better to get it over with now. Get that embarrassment over with right now, and you can confess it and get on track with the Lord.
Okay. This is a much bigger subject than I have time for in this Little Lesson, but it’s worth spending time on. Okay. Thanks for joining me! God bless.