“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

refiners-fire

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19). Here is the divine quandary we, who are in Christ, find ourselves: works, without faith, can’t save us, and faith, without works, is dead. Although it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, and not from ourselves, but from God  (Ephesians 2:8), we will give an account before the judgement seat of Christ, and receive what is due us for the things done in this life, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). Our works testify to our sanctification, or in other words, our deeds will witness to our transformation.  

God reveals a glimpse of this ongoing refining by fire, this sanctification, that Paul describes, which both exposes our need, while also manifesting God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience. “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

When I read 1 Corinthians 3, I see the culmination of the promise of Romans 8:28; that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to his purpose. I see the confidence we have in Christ before God, while standing before Christ’s judgement seat. I see the emergence of our treasure in jars of clay; our great power that is from God and not from ourselves (2 Corinthians 4, 5). I see the convergence of election and free will. I see faith revealed by deeds, and deeds revealed by faith. I see consequence, reward as well as loss; I see passing through the narrow gate spoken of by Jesus. I see the completion of a good work already well underway in this life; a new creation perfected for God’s kingdom. It is but a glimpse into the mystery of salvation; God’s righteous plan of redemption and change through Jesus Christ alone. 

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