Corinthians 3:11-15 says:
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as by fire.”
First off, this is talking about rewards, not salvation. Salvation was settled when the builder agreed to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ, who is the only foundation in this discussion. This happened when we received Jesus as Lord and Savior by confessing our sin, believing God raised Him from the dead, and confessing with our mouth Jesus Christ as Lord. Without Jesus you have no foundation and are building on quicksand.
Next we see there are two different types of material we are building with. Gold, silver and precious stones, or wood, hay and straw. What’s the significance? Gold, silver and precious stones can’t burn, wood hay and straw will. I believe for each of all of us, there will be some mix of the two, some more of one , some more of the other. Some will have only ashes left.
And what do these materials represent? Our works during our life on Earth.
A church I once ministered at had a sign in the window, facing into the church. It read, “Only one life and it will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” That speaks of our works. What we do for Christ and to glorify God is building gold, silver and precious stones.
What we do for our own gratification or to glorify ourselves or for the praise of men is building wood, hay and straw. Works done without Jesus as the head and chief motivation for doing them are also wood, hay and straw.
Not only will what we do be taken into account, but our motives for doing them. Jesus in the book of Matthew gave warning about this. He covered three areas in this, giving alms, prayer and fasting. He instructed that these things were to be done in secret, not to be seen of men. If we do these things secretly with the motive of pleasing God, we will have a reward from God.
This is building gold, silver and precious stones. But, if we do these things in public with the motive of impressing others or receiving praise from men, we already have our reward. The thing we desired in doing these things is all the reward we will get, we will get none from God (Matthew 6:1-18). This is building wood hay and straw.
These symbols represent the quality of our works (1 Corinthians 3:13) in proportion to the opportunity we had to do them, as well as what we do. Remember the lady who had only two mites to give? Jesus said she had given more than all those who had given of their abundance, for she had given her whole living (Luke 21:1-4).
Now picture this. We are all lined up before the Judgment Seat of Christ, each with a cart loaded with these symbols of our life’s works. Each cart in turn is pushed through a roaring furnace of fire, and comes out the other side all ablaze.
When the fire subsides, the wood, hay and straw are all burned up and nothing remains but the gold, silver and precious stones. Some will have carts heaped high with treasure, some will have little, and some will have nothing but ashes and a big cloud of smoke from the wood, hay and straw.
We are then rewarded according to what remains on each cart. For those who have nothing but ashes left, there will be no reward, but they themselves are still saved because it is Jesus who bought our salvation, not anything we have done (beyond receiving Him and His mercy). But for those whose work is all burned up their salvation will be like that of someone rescued from a burning house, with nothing left but the smell of smoke.
What is our reward? The Bible speaks of various crowns that will be given for different areas of work and faithfulness to Jesus.
Some examples: 1 Corinthians 9.25, an incorruptible crown; 1 Thessalonians 2:19, a crown of rejoicing (those we have led to Christ); 2 Timothy 4:8, a crown of righteousness for all who love His coming; James 1:12, a crown of life for who have successfully endured temptation; 1 Peter 5:1-4, a crown of life to those elders (pastors) who have faithfully shepherded their flocks; Revelation 2:10, a crown of life to those who have remained faithful until death in the face of persecution; and there may well be more.
There are also rewards for servants (we are all servants to God and Jesus) who are faithful to do their work and use the resources God has given them. Matthew 25 speaks of such being awarded positions of higher responsibility, and Luke 19:11 ff being given cities to rule over. In both parables the wicked servant who hid his master’s money and returned it without using it to earn more was ordered thrown into outer darkness, thus showing his lack of faith.
Time is getting short, much shorter than we realize. Jesus said the generation which sees the beginning of end time events (the restoration of the nation of Israel) would not pass away until all is fulfilled. It has been 64 years since the restoration of Israel, which means 2018 will be the 70th anniversary of Israel, the length of a generation, as a sovereign nation in this millennium.
End time signs are multiplying daily, there has been an exponential speedup in the push for the new world order with one world government, one world monetary system and one world religion prophesied in the book of Revelation. Events are rapidly falling into place for various end time battles prophesied in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel to take place.
Plans are well underway for construction of the tribulation temple, and temple implements are already being made. The stage is set. Once the rapture occurs, all opportunity to earn rewards will be over. In view of this, are we doing everything we can to work for the glory of God and bring the lost into the fold? And what gives God more glory than lost souls coming into His kingdom? Let’s get busy while there’s still time!
For those of you who have never trusted Jesus it’s going to be a whole different ball game. If you wait until the after the rapture to put your trust in Jesus, you will find yourself left behind in a world of chaos, confusion and strong delusion. Yes, you can be saved after the Rapture, but it will probably be at the cost of your physical life, and you will have to endure whatever part of the tribulation you go through before you are killed.
There will be great persecution, and the Antichrist and his minions will be working to seek out and kill all who cling to Jesus. Further, you will have to endure the judgments of the tribulation, at least until you die or are killed. It will be an extremely difficult time.
For those who have known the way of salvation and refused or neglected it, 2 Thessalonians says you will be sent strong delusion, that you along with all others who have rejected Jesus might all be damned who refused the love of the truth. And if you receive the mark of the beast (Rev. 13) you will be forever doomed, there is no turning back once you have received it.
In view of all this, we who know Jesus need to be busy about our Lord’s work, doing what we can to persuade the lost to come to Jesus and be saved.
For those of you reading this who have never trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, NOW is the day of salvation, NOW is the accepted time. Do it today! You don’t know what tomorrow may bring. You might die of a heart attack. The Rapture might come and you’d be left behind. You have no assurance of tomorrow. Ask yourself if it worth risking eternal torment in the fires of hell for just one more day of sinful pleasure?
Run to Jesus! Time is short, much shorter than you think. DO IT NOW!