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On the day of Christ the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is

15 April 2019

On the day of Christ the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is

ESCHATOLOGY

Paul wrote to the saints of Corinth: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 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 man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

Now I will expound briefly these Bible verses.

According to what Luke says in the book of the Acts of the apostles, after Paul had been at Athens, he came to Corinth where he preached the Christ, and many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed in the Gospel and were baptized. Therefore, it was Paul who in Christ Jesus begot the Corinthians through the Gospel, it was Paul who as a wise master builder laid the foundation of that spiritual house which arose in Corinth, and the foundation which Paul laid was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Paul continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among the saints of Corinth, afterward he departed from there. After his departure from Corinth, Apollos came to Achaia; the Scripture says that “when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace” (Acts 18:27NKJV). Apollos preached the Word to the saints of Corinth, for Paul compared the preaching of Apollos to the watering, as it is written: “I planted, Apollos watered” (1 Corinthians 3:6 – NKJV). So Paul laid the foundation and Apollos built on it. However, Apollos was not the only one who built on it, that is to say, who preached and taught among the Church of Corinth, for others did the same. It was lawful for them to build on the foundation, but Paul warned them saying: “But let each one take heed how he builds on it” (1 Corinthians 3:10NKJV). And that is a warning which is still given to all those who build on the foundation, which is Christ Jesus.

Now the true ministers of Christ do not preach themselves but Christ Jesus the Lord, they preach the Good News of peace exhorting people to repent of their sins and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ in order to receive the remission of their sins. When they preach Christ where Christ was not known, they are diligent to lay Christ Jesus as the foundation and then they build on it; that’s why all the churches of the saints are built on the same foundation, that is, Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone, elect, precious to us who have believed in Him. Therefore the foundation of each church of God is Jesus Christ, and Paul says that “no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11NKJV); that means that no minister of God has the right to take away this foundation and to lay another foundation in its place. However, while on the one hand we see that no minister of the Gospel who serves God with a pure conscience dares to take away the solid foundation, on the other hand we see that many ravenous wolves (accursed children who preach a different Gospel from the one we accepted) try by their craftiness to take away this foundation from the life of the saints. For these people have only one purpose: to draw away the disciples of the Lord after themselves. Beloved, beware of them!

Let us speak now of the ministers of the Gospel, who do not dare to lay any other foundation than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. As you know, the ministers of the Gospel preach Christ and Him crucified, the remission of sins by faith in His name, and water baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. However, as you know, not all the ministers of the Gospel teach the same thing about certain topics. At this point someone will ask: ‘Which ministers of the Gospel are right and which are wrong? That is to say, ‘Which ministers are building on the foundation gold, silver and precious stones? And which ministers are building on the foundation wood, hay and straw?’ Certainly, not all of them are right, for not all of them teach the same thing concerning those topics. Those who are building wood, hay and straw on the foundation are those whose teachings are inconsistent with the Word of God, and thus these ministers are laboring in vain when they teach these wrong doctrines of theirs.

Let me give you some examples to show you how some labor in vain teaching the believers certain things.

As for the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, some preachers and teachers (who do not set aside the grace of God for they preach the Word of faith) say that one is baptized with the Holy Spirit when he believes in the Lord, while others say that one receives the baptism with the Holy Spirit when he is baptized in water, however all of them say that when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit he does not begin to speak with other tongues. Therefore all of these preachers and teachers have this in common: they teach a baptism with the Holy Spirit which is not accompanied by speaking in tongues. Now, these preachers and teachers teach falsely with regard to the baptism with the Holy Spirit, because the Scriptures very clearly teach (and the facts confirm this) that when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit (that is to say, when one is filled with the Holy Spirit, or when one receives the Holy Spirit) he begins to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gives him utterance. The following Bible verses teach what I have just said: “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4); “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:44-46); “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:5-6). What shall we say then about these brothers who preach Christ and salvation by faith in Christ? We shall say that as far as the baptism with the Holy Spirit is concerned they are building straw on the foundation and on the day of Christ that straw will be burned and their labour will prove vain.

However, the fact is that even among those who preach the Word of faith and teach that when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit he begins to speak with other tongues, there are some who do not teach the same thing on the same topic, and sometimes they teach personal opinions which set aside the Word of God. I am going to give you some examples.

Some preachers teach that the commandment concerning the veil (that is, the commandment according to which a woman must cover her head with a veil when she prays or prophesies) applied only to the women of the church of Corinth; they give many absurd arguments and many believers believe them for they think that since these preachers and teachers are well known and speak to many people they must be right!!! I say to you this: these people are building straw on the foundation, therefore they labor in vain teaching that doctrine because on the day of Christ the straw they are building on it will be burned by the fire of God. This teaching of theirs is of no value, that is to say, it is not one of those precious things which are worth building on the foundation, for the Scripture says: “The woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels” (1 Corinthians 11:10 – NKJV). Now, is man the head of the woman and thus she must be subject to male authority? Yes, he is. Are the angels watching all those who are in Christ? Yes, they are. So the woman must cover her head with a veil (the symbol or sign of authority) when she prays or prophesies in order not to dishonor her head. The fact that this commandment is written only in one of the epistles of Paul does not nullify this commandment because according to what Paul wrote in the same epistle he commanded women to cover their head with a veil in the other churches also, for he said about certain things he wrote only to the Corinthians: “And so I ordain in all the churches” (1 Corinthians 7:17 – NKJV). Therefore the fact that those things were written only to the Corinthians does not mean that he taught them only to the Corinthians. In addition to this, Paul said about the veil: “But If anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God” (1 Corinthians 11:16NKJV), therefore at that time all the other churches of God had that good custom! It was not only the church of Corinth that had that custom! I say it again, the teaching which makes the commandment about the veil of no effect is straw, so do not build it on the foundation for if you build it you will suffer loss on that day.

Some pastors say that the following words of Peter: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4 – NIV), are addressed only to the married women whose husbands are not believers, for they need to win their husbands to Christ by their chaste conduct!! These people also are building straw on the foundation, for they do not divide the Word of truth rightly. For they quote the words of Peter: “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (1 Peter 3:1-2 – NKJV) to support their doctrine, but they forget the following things. First of all, the fact that Peter said “… that even if some do not obey the word”, means that the commandment “your beauty should not come from outward adornment” was given to both wives whose husbands are not believers and wives whose husbands are believers, for what Peter means when he says ‘that even if some do not obey the word’ is this: ‘so that, if any of them do not obey the word …’, therefore if all those wives whose husbands are not believers are submissive to their unbelieving husbands and they adorn themselves in modest apparel, they will win them to Christ by their chaste conduct. Secondly, they forget that immediately after Peter says: “For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror” (1 Peter 3:5-6 – NKJV). Now, as far as I know, Sarah did not have a husband who did not obey the word, and thus the reason why she did not wear expensive clothes nor did she braid her hair nor did she wear gold jewelry was not that she might win her husband! I know that Sarah was not dressed like the corrupt women because she was a holy woman who feared God and trusted in God, and her husband also trusted in God and feared God (when God tested Abraham, he offered his only begotten son). Beloved, do not build on the foundation the straw which is being built by these people; the commandment of Peter concerning the outward adornment of women is confirmed by Paul and it is addressed to all women who are in Christ, that is to say, to all the unmarried women, to all the married women and to all widows.

Also those who teach that a pastor is also a prophet for he speaks of the things to come which are written in the Word of God are building straw on the foundation, for a pastor is also a prophet if he possesses the gift of prophecy and some gifts of revelation.

Also those who teach that when one speaks with other tongues in the church he speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men, whereas when one speaks with other tongues privately (that is, when he is alone in his bedroom, etc) he speaks to God, are building straw on the foundation because Paul made no difference between the two things; there is not one hint in the Scriptures that things are as these believers teach. Paul said: “He who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries” (1 Corinthians 14:2 – NKJV), therefore even when a believer speaks with other tongues in the church he speaks to God. It follows then that even the interpretation of tongues is addressed to God (a prayer, a song, a thanksgiving) and not to men, for it does not change the direction of the original utterance when the saints are gathered together as a church

I have given you the above mentioned examples to show you that what is inconsistent with the truth is straw and on that day it will be burned and he who has built it will suffer loss. On that day the Lord will separate by the fire what is precious from what is of no value, only what is precious will stand for what is of no value will be burned. When the fire tests each one’s work, he who has built upon the foundation gold, silver and precious stones, will suffer no loss because his work will endure and he will be rewarded for his labour; on the contrary, he who has built upon the foundation wood, hay and straw, will see the wood, the hay and the straw dissolve and his work will not be rewarded, and thus it will prove vain. Paul wrote: “He will suffer loss” (1 Corinthians 3:15NKJV) because he will lose the reward for the work he did (building wood, hay and straw), however he will not be cast into the everlasting fire, not at all, because Paul says: “But he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15NKJV). Therefore the wood, the hay and the straw will be lost, but the brothers who have built those things on the foundation (they built them because of lack of knowledge or because they did not divide the word of truth rightly) will by no means be lost. Be careful, the above mentioned words of Paul do not encourage anyone to build wood, hay and straw on the foundation, rather they arouse fear in us for they lead us to ask ourselves: ‘What am I building on the foundation? Am I building gold, silver and precious stones or wood, hay and straw? I think that all those who teach the Word of God must examine carefully the things they are teaching to make sure they are building on this foundation things which are of value and which will endure forever and for which they will be rewarded. Know this, that if one refuses to teach a doctrine, which is biblical, just because many do not teach it or because he thinks that if he taught it he would make himself ‘unpopular’ or an enemy of many brothers, he deceives himself; if one wants to teach something which is not scriptural in order to please most of the brethren he deceives himself for on that day he will suffer loss. I know that on that day the wood, the hay and the straw one has built on this foundation will not become gold, silver and precious stones because they are what they are and they will be burnt. Therefore let us take heed to ourselves, lest we labor in vain. Keep in mind, brothers, that the reward we will receive from the Lord for our labor which will prove useful is an everlasting reward, therefore let us see that we build on this foundation only things which are of value lest we see part of our works burnt by the fire of God.

But on that day will be burnt not only the untrue teachings but also the wrong judgements we have passed on things or people because we judged according to appearance or because we judged by the hearing of our ears, as well as jokes, buffooneries, dishonest things, and useless works. You see, brothers, when we talk or do something we labor in a certain measure because our body does something, however we must take heed to our conduct because on that day we will have to give account for it to God; and remember that we will be rewarded for the right things we have said and done and not for the bad things we have said or done. It can’t be otherwise. Do you think that God will reward a Christian for the false teachings he has taught or for the wrongs he has done or for the jokes he has told to His people or for the pleasures of life to which he has given over? I don’t think so, for God is just. Furthermore, if God rewarded Christians even for the useless things they say or do, we would not be encouraged to serve the Lord with a pure conscience or to take heed to ourselves.

On the earth some people are rewarded by other people for many useless and perverse things they have done or said; haughty people, perverse people, prostitutes, and unjust people get trophies, money, and riches as a reward for their evil works, as if they had done good works. However, we should not be surprised by that because Solomon said long ago: “There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: …. wicked men who get what the righteous deserve” (Ecclesiastes 8:14NIV). Now that’s what happens on earth, but on that day no one will be rewarded by God for his useless, wicked and lying works; all those who have done these things will receive what is due them for these things; God will by no means praise any of His sons for the useless and wicked things he has done while in the body.

Let me explain to you now what gold, silver and precious stones represent. They represent all the things which are of value in the sight of God.

Every sound doctrine as well as every sound word are things of value, for they are helpful for building others up according to their needs, therefore believers will be rewarded for these things on that day. In the Psalms it is written: “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6 – NKJV); therefore, since the Word of God is like pure silver, he who uses it to edify the Church of God (teaching it, or speaking it to uphold the weak, to comfort the fainthearted, and to warn the unruly) will be rewarded. God has given us the right material which is to be built on the foundation, so let us build it on the foundation for our own good and for the good of the Church of God.

Good works (that is, alms, visits paid to the widows and to the orphans and to those who are in prison for the Gospel, and any other kind of good works) are precious things which are built on the foundation and God will reward us for them, for it is written that “he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward” (Proverbs 11:18 – NKJV). Yes, brothers, on that day we will be rewarded for our labor of love; this thought comforts us and fills us with joy in the midst of this world full of unrighteousness and hypocrisy.

Paul said: “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10 – NIV). Brothers, one day all of us will appear before the judgement seat of Christ because each one of us must receive what is due him for all the things said or done while in the body. So let us abound in the work of God honestly and sincerely, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, for on that day the Lord will reveal even the counsels of our hearts, thus He will reveal even the reasons why we have spoken and acted in a way rather than in another way. What will happen on that day then? It will happen that many classifications made by men will be upset because many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first and everybody will see what each one has built on the foundation. God will show no partiality, the fire will test the quality of our work; vanity will be burnt, truth will be rewarded; those who humble themselves will be exalted, but those who exalt themselves will be humbled; I am convinced that on that day we will see things which we have never imagined because on the earth we tend to look at things according to the outward appearance and to judge according to appearance or by the hearing of our ears; while in heaven God will judge no one according to the outward appearance.

Even if a person lives with another person and sees him very often, he can know him only in part, while God knows all the things done and said by that person during all his life. That’s why we will do well to wait for the classifications made by God and we should not trust the classifications that men make according to their understanding or to the outward appearance. Only on that day will we know many bad works, many hypocrisies, many falsehood, many lies which are told by many believers and covered skilfully for fear of being discovered or put to shame; only on that day will we know many good things said and done by many believers in secret in order not to be seen by men nor to have glory from men.

Beloved, all the things we are doing will be brought to light, for Paul says that the Lord will “bring to light what is hidden in darkness” (1 Corinthians 4:5 – NIV), whether precious things or useless things; we will not be able to keep anything secret any longer because God will bring to light all our works, words and thoughts before all. This must lead us to perfect our holiness not in word or in tongue but in deed and in truth every day. On the one hand this discourages us from speaking and doing all kinds of evil things, but on the other hand it encourages us to do and speak as many good things as possible while we are in this tent.

I conclude by saying this: the day is coming on which we will have to depart from the body, and thus we will not be able to do or say any good thing on the earth any longer; God commands us to do good works and to speak the truth, let us obey Him. Let us do what He commands, and let us abound more and more in the work of the Lord. Let us be zealous for good works, for if we stand fast in the faith and keep the works of Christ until the end, we will surely be rewarded for our good works. We will not lose what we have worked for, but we will be rewarded fully. To the One who will reward us in justice (His justice is very high) be the glory now and forevermore. Amen.

Giacinto Butindaro

From: The New Way

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