Turn to 1 Corinthians Chapter 3. The last several weeks we have been talking about the Holy Spirit working among the masses of humanity to call out a people, or Bride, for Christ. Paul uses the term constantly; the Church which is his Body. The head of that Body is in Heaven in the Person of Christ, and since Christ is the very epitome of the kingdom, as we have seen the kingdom taught all the way through Scripture, the kingdom is where Christ is, and that is in Heaven. And so, consequently, as we become members of the Body of Christ, we also become members of the kingdom, as Paul points out in Colossians Chapter 1; that God the Father hath translated us from darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son. Then, in Philippians, he speaks of it as our citizenship is now in Heaven. It sure is, for that’s where the kingdom is. And as our citizenship is in Heaven, from there is where we look for the Savior, the Head of the Body, to one day take us to Himself, and then have the marriage supper of the Lamb, which will take place in Heaven.
But in the mean-time, as I’ve stressed Salvation by faith + nothing, we can’t leave it there. I tell people we are not saved just for a fire escape –we’re saved to serve – and I’ve been stressing that in the last couple of lessons. Again, going back to the person bought out of the slave market, and how he wants to satisfy his master by being an obedient servant, he doesn’t want his freedom; he wants to be a servant the rest of his life. Now, in 1 Corinthians Chapter 3, Paul gives such a beautiful illustration that fits every believer, and it may shock you a little bit. It will fit a lot of people you can probably think of. They do absolutely nothing to further the Word of God, but they are going to be in Heaven, The Bible tells us they are:
1 Corinthians 3:9
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
Where Paul writes to the believer “For we are labourers…“– someone who is laboring is not sitting in his easy chair, he’s out there working. “So we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry” – we are under His control, we are His,… “you are God’s building.” I will use the analogy of the building more than anything else here because the language Paul uses fits that description.
1 Corinthians 3:10
“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 thereon.”
” According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder…“ In other words, he’s the contractor, Paul is speaking about himself, “…as the masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation,…“ I don’t know how many of you have ever done any building, but I know that whenever I’ve put up a building (of course I know the pole buildings are different), you just simply set the pole in the ground and build on that. Usually when you build a home you start with the foundation. You build that foundation, and that building will either be something or nothing, depending on that foundation; everything is going to rest on that foundation. If that foundation sags in five or ten years your building is ‘kaput.’ If that foundation crumbles, your building is ‘kaput.’ But, if the foundation is sound, you can build upon it. Then it depends on who does the carpentry there on up. So, Paul is laying the analogy, then, that he has put down the foundation there is nothing wrong with it…” “…But let every man take heed how he builds thereon…”on that foundation.
I Corinthians 3:11
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
“For other foundations can no man lay…” There’s no way there can be another foundation for Salvation; it has to be that which is already put down, and that is “…Christ Jesus.” There is the foundation: Paul is the masterbuilder, he has given us the instruction; he has given us the blue print of how to build on this foundation as a believer.
I Corinthians 3:12
“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble,…”
“Now if any man (women or child, anyone) build upon this foundation… in other words they are believers, they trusted it for Salvation, and they are in the body. Now, if they build upon this they can have all these materials to work with…gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or stubble,…” Anyone who has been in my classes can see you have two distinct kinds, and what are they? The first three can withstand fire and heat. The second three go up in a puff of smoke. Have you got that? Wood, hay, and stubble, and on the other hand gold, silver and precious stones.
1 Corinthians 3:13
“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.”
“Every (person’s) work…“ Now, I’m going to use the word `person’ to include the women and children as well, if they are believers. That’s all we are talking about – believers now. Every person’s work as a believer, his everyday practices, “…shall be made manifest…“ Here comes that word again; remember I said it’s like putting it in an intense spotlight. Now, this particular spotlight is going to be the penetrating fiery eyes of The Lord Jesus at the Judgement Seat of Christ wherein every believer will be examined, not for sin, but for what? His works. Alright, read on: “…for the day (the judgment day);…“ not the White Throne Judgement, but the Judgement Seat of Christ – at that day it “shall be declared” or revealed or tested… how? …by fire;… Now, hold your hand in Corinthians and come back with me to Revelation so that we see what The Bible is talking about when it speaks of being tested by fire.
” And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.”
“His eyes were as…“what? “…a flame of fire,…“ Now, it doesn’t say they were a flame of fire, but they are just like flames of fire. In other words, they will be so penetrating, there will be nothing that can escape them. Nothing can be hidden from them; it will all be revealed. Now, let’s come back to 1 Corinthians. This is the language that Paul is using. We will come before the Bema Seat (now here is where I have to make a qualification, the lost people from Cain until the very end of time as we know it, they of course will appear before the Great White Throne. And it’s only for the lost, there will be no believers at the Great White Throne. Here Christ will be the judge and will judge the lost of all ages).
In John’s Gospel, Chapter 5, Jesus taught so plainly, that there will be two resurrections. The resurrection of the just, and the resurrection of the unjust. In other words, the unbeliever is also going to be resurrected out of Hell before the Great White Throne, and he will appear there bodily in a newly resurrected body, but it will be a body fit not for glory and not for Heaven; but a body fit for the eternal lake of fire. It will be a body that will have many of the same appetites of this one, but without any hope of ever satisfying it. And so, that’s why the Scriptures said to let the drunkard be drunken still, and let the whoremonger continue on with those appetites, for they will never be satisfied. They will also have an eternity of regret. Remember, nobody goes before the Great White Throne except those who choose to go there. Salvation has been offered to all people (everyone; red, yellow, black, and white; rich, poor; it doesn’t make any difference). But, if they reject it, they are going to end up at the Great White Throne.
All right, we are not going to concern ourselves with that, we’re going to concern ourselves with what Paul calls the Judgement Seat of Christ, and again I think it’s a mis-translation of The King James. It really should have been the Bema Seat or the Seat of Reward. The reason it’s called the seat of reward is because the Bema Seat was the Seat of Rewards in the Olympic Games; and at the Olympic games, the Bema Seat was occupied by the judges who would determine who was first, second, and third, etc. Now, that’s exactly what the Bema Seat is going to be in Heaven. It’s not going to be a Great White Throne Judgement; it’s not going to be a judgement for sin – that’s all under the blood. But every believer will come before Christ in that moment of time, to be examined on what he has done with his life as a believer, for rewards. Many people don’t want to hear about rewards and they say, “Well, I don’t like this whole idea of working for rewards, but I can’t help it.” This is what The Bible teaches – not Les Feldick.
Paul says in another place that when you enter a race, what is to be your attitude? To win! Paul goes back to the Olympic games, and he said they entered that race, and what did they do? They controlled their body. In other words, they trained and practiced; only to win a corruptible crown. Back in Paul’s day what was the crown? Just a wreath. By the time the poor guy got home it was all shriveled up and good for nothing, but maybe putting between the pages of a book. But, he says, they did all that for a corruptible crown. But we’re not running for a corruptible crown. We’re running for an incorruptible crown. And so, this is the whole concept of Paul’s teachings. That, yes, we’re saved by faith plus nothing.
But now what are we to do? Gear up for the race. Gear up to work for rewards. We’re using the building concept here. Now, in this building, I’d like to draw a mental picture of a wall. And here, as a believer, you’ve been given this section of the wall and God gives you six materials to use. You use gold, silver and precious stones. Well, they’re hard to come by. You can’t just sit down and let that stuff come to you. But, on the other hand, I always like to come back to the three little pigs (I’m still just a kid at heart). What did they make their houses of? Two of them used sticks and straw. But one enterprising little fella went and got his bricks. Well, I always like to think of that here, because the little pig with the bricks is the believer. Are we going to be enterprising and energetic and go out and hustle for the gold, silver and precious stones? Or are we going to be like 95% of our fellow Christians and just say, “Oh well, I’ll just put sticks in my section of the wall;” “I’ll just use some straw; I don’t think it’s worth going up into the mountains and dig for gold and silver.” That’s the attitude of too many Christians.
I Corinthians 3:13
“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.”
“Every man’s work…“ What he puts in that wall, is going to be put under that spotlight of Christ’s fiery eyes at this Bema Seat. We won’t come before Him with our sins; we’ll come before Him having won rewards.“…the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed (or tested)by fire” – by the eyes of Christ; and those eyes shall test every man, every believer. Now, we’re not talking about the unbeliever. It will test every believer’s work of what sort it is. Is it wood, hay and stubble? Or is it gold, silver and precious stones.
I Corinthians 3:14
“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.”
“If any man’s work…“ In other words, will what we put in that wall remain after the torch of our Lord’s eyes comes upon it? If it is gold, precious stones, or silver, then, Yes, it will!But, what if it’s wood, hay and stubble? A puff of smoke, and then Nothing! And that, I’m afraid, will happen to too many Christians. Now, read on.
I Corinthians 3:15
“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
“If any man’s work shall be burned,…(if it’s wood, hay and stubble) “…he shall suffer loss:…“, – not of Salvation but of rewards! He won’t get a reward. He hasn’t earned it. Now, you see the difference between Salvation and works? Of course they go together, but you can’t put works over here and Salvation over there. It has to stay over here in the area of Christian service. “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss:…“ But, even that believer, misfit as he is in God’s overall program, will still be saved! Now, you can’t change that. A lot of us would probably like to. But listen, the Scripture says that even that careless believer is going to be saved.
I’ll never forget years ago, one of my favorite pastors, when he was preaching on this, said, “Yes, he’s going to be there. This being saved so as by fire, in the English slang, could be called, “he’ll be there by the skin of his teeth.” Yes, they’re going to be there. I’ll never forget, when I lived in Iowa and was feeding a lot of very fat cattle; I had a very devout, religious person, who was one of my primary fat cattle buyers. We had a lot of discussions on these things and I will never forget, he made almost the same statement. He said, “I don’t care what I’ve got when I get there, just so I can somehow slip under the door!” Isn’t that sad? And he thought he could do it with his works.
For the person that is carrying out The Lord’s bidding, we are doing what God expects us to do, we’re using gold, silver and precious stones. If we’re careless and we could care less, we’re simply putting in wood, hay and stubble and it will amount to nothing. But yes, we’ll be there. In fact, I’ve often said that a lot of the people we didn’t think would be in Heaven will be there. It will shock a lot of us to see a lot of these people in Heaven that we didn’t think would be there. And the people that aren’t going to be there, we thought for sure would be. You know why? Because man looks at things from the human point of view, and God looks at it from His point of view. And that’s all the difference in the world. So, we are to work for rewards.
Now, the crowns of course, are something else andthe crowns we will definitely lay at Jesus’ feet. What are the rewards going to be? I have to think that, since Paul makes such a beautiful picture of the fact that when Christ sets up His kingdom, we’re going to rule and reign with him. We’re going to be joint heirs with Christ and are going to rule and reign with him on the earth. So, I like to think that the reward aspect will be the amount of responsibility that God will give us in our role as ruling in His government. I don’t know if I’m scripturally correct here, but I would like to go back to His description in the Gospels; in His own earthly ministry, when He gave out the talents. He gave the one individual ten talents; and gave another one five; and yet another one one talent. What did the guy with ten do? He came back with ten more. The fellow with five came back with five more. And the fellow with one came back with just the one. He had buried it and was tickled to death he still had it. Then, what did Jesus say? “Now, when I come into my kingdom, the one who had gained ten talents, he will rule ten cities. The one who had five will rule five.”
Like I said, I don’t know if I’m totally correct in bringing this in to Paul’s teaching, but I like to. When we finally get into that kingdom economy, and we’ll be ruling and reigning with Christ, our reward will be the amount of responsibility we will be given in that kingdom operation. Now, a lot of people will shrink from that. But I don’t think God wants us to. I think God wants us to want to be able to accept responsibility; to take the energy that it takes to get out, and move, and do things. In fact, let me give this illustration. I’m a Dallas Cowboy fan and I make no apology for that. And I always like to give the analogy that, as far as I’m concerned, if I were given a choice of having a seat clear up in the upper seats, or being down there as a quarterback, where would I rather be? I’d rather be that quarterback. Even if I did get my head knocked off. I’d be a lot happier down there on the field than sitting way up there in the seats. That’s exactly the way I like to picture this.
If we work for rewards, we’re going to be in the very center of activity when that kingdom comes about. But, if we’re careless, we’ve got nothing but wood, hay and stubble.We’ll be there but we’ll be up on the sidelines and we just won’t have the excitement. Now, a lot of people come back to me and say, “that’s going to make people jealous.” Now, wait a minute! Jealousy is part of sin, the old Adam, and that’s not going to be there. So the person who goes into glory without rewards, is not going to be jealous or envious. He’s going to be tickled to death that he’s there. But there’s not going to be envy. All these things are just going to work together so beautifully. If I don’t make anything else clear, I want you to see that Salvation is by faith alone, but the Christian life is that of working for rewards.
Now, let’s look at how the Church Age is going to end. Just turn on over in Corinthians to Chapter 15, and we’ll quickly look at this. There’s coming a day, and we think it’s real soon, the way things are happening in the world, I don’t see how it can be put off much longer. But, we are fast approaching the day when the last person will be brought into the body, and that vessel will be full, and God’s going to have to take it out of the way.
I Corinthians 15:52
“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Now, here again, these teachings you won’t find anywhere but Paul. Nowhere has it ever hinted that there’s ever going to be a day when living people are suddenly going to be translated. “Behold I show you another mystery,…“ another secret.“We (that is believers)shall not all sleep (or die), but…“, we have to be what?…“Changed” “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” in the split second of an eyelash, (at) “…the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead in Christ” Those who have been part and parcel now of the Body of Christ. Not the Old Testament saints. Daniel says he has to wait. We’ll look at that in another lesson. But now, it’s the Church Age saints. These who are in the body. “At the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we…Paul says (and he expected to be alive) …shall be changed.” In other words, when the trumpet sounds, and if we’re living – and I think we will be, the dead in Christ will rise first and then we will suddenly take flight and we will go up with him. Now, in order to culminate all of this we have to go to 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4. Here, some people just simply refuse the concept of the Rapture; and when they do that, they have to throw Paul away first. This is because Paul makes so much of it, and here is probably the clearest language in I Thessalonians:
I Thessalonians 4:13
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren (same language),concerning them which are asleep,” (that is our loved ones who have died),“that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” In other words, if we, as believers, have lost loved ones, we don’t have to weep and wail and carry on like the heathen do. Because we’re going to see our loved ones again someday.
I Thessalonians 4:14
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”
“For if we…“ what’s the word? Believe! It doesn’t say if we are repenting and are baptizing. It doesn’t say if we join the church. It says if we believe. But we’ve got to be careful what we believe. Don’t just believe in God. We believe that Jesus died and rose again. There’s the Gospel. So, if we believe the Gospel, even so them also who sleep, or who have died, in Jesus; God will bring them with him. Now, watch the language. We know that the believer, as soon as he dies; his spirit and soul take flight to where? The presence of Christ in Heaven. And there they wait for this day of resurrection to be reunited with the believers resurrected body.
I Thessalonians 4:15,16
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:…”
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent…”– or go ahead of,“…them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven,” now you remember Isaac. He met Rebecca where? Part way, away from home. “…The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:…”
I Thessalonians 4:17
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (everybody)in the clouds (that is in the atmosphere),to meet the Lord (Where?)… in the air:…“ And then we go back into Heaven with Him to go before the Judgement Seat of Christ, and have the marriage of the Lamb; and then we’ll be ready to come back with Him seven years later, as time reckons it, at His Second Coming; as He comes then to…stand on the Mount of Olives… as it says in Zechariah 14. Read it when you have a minute at home. Those first six or seven verses. It says in part, “…in that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives.”
The other night I was teaching in Acts Chapter one, “…and there he stood with the eleven, and he went up, and the angels said, ‘why stand ye gazing up into Heaven, this same Jesus in like manner as you have seen him go, shall come again.’” I don’t say these things to be funny; I try to make it clear. He left how? Head first! He’s coming, how? Feet first.And He’s going to stand on the Mount of Olives just as sure as it’s there tonight; and that will usher in the Kingdom. And when He comes, we’re going to come with Him. In fact, I always like to use two prepositions – and that probably helps you remember as well as anything. When He comes at the Rapture, He’s going to come for us. When He comes at the Second Coming, He comes with us.
by Thomas Bass | Les Feldick