SAVED THROUGH FIRE
The Fire that Tests the Quality of Each Man's Work
The church of the 21st Century does not proclaim God's wrath of a fiery eternal hell. It tells multitudes just receive Jesus because He loves everyone. At best, pastors speak of sin but with little to no mention of eternal damnation. The Bible, in reality, reveals a God of wrath and an angry God. Let us hear what the New Testament has to say.
"Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them, you also once walked, when you were living in them" Furthermore, we are told in Revelation 19:15, "...and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty." This is no little anger when John speaks of fierce, and not just wrath, and not men but of God, and of God Almighty. There are none like Him, and no one should take lightly the Almighty's fierce wrath.
There are 2 judgments coming. One for unbelievers and one for believers. Question: Whose a believer?
Pastors teach 1 Corinthians 3 as the handing out of rewards. Nevertheless, as the Apostle nears his concluding remarks, he states the following. "If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire" 1 Corinthians 3:15. Yet so as through fire does not sound pleasant to me. I cannot tell you precisely what suffering loss means, but I will tell you what I fear most.
When I stand before the Lord and observe His face, I don't want to see the disappointment in His eyes. Proverbs 1:7 tells us, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." The point of 1 Corinthians 3 is that we fear. Unfortunately, pastors are tempted to tell people what they want to hear. Or else they misunderstand grace as only the love of God. John Newton wrote, "Twas grace that taught my heart to fear." Grace is not something to trample underfoot as if it were worthless, for it was grace that caused God's Son an eternity of suffering for our sins.
The context of chapter three is the building of God's house or the people who come to salvation and then mature in the Lord. The quality of the material or Gospel causes the growth by which men will be judged. Professional pastors are the only people to be judged in a church where the pulpit and the pew are separated by professional education. However, going into all the world and making disciples is not written to professional men but to all God's people. The teaching of higher education of shepherds has corrupted the church for centuries.
Lastly, for this post, let us consider Paul's words in verse 17, "If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are." The word destroys in this context is phtheiró and is best translated as corrupt or spoil. It can mean waste away or cause or experience moral deterioration – i.e., decomposition (break-down) due to the corrupting influence of sin. God's teaching, properly applied, prevents sin, and poor theology allows for the influence of sin that corrupts. Herein, we have the materials that will survive the fire and those that will be burned and lost.
For the past fifteen or twenty years, I prayed to God that I would finish well. In the last few months, it is as if God has said to me, "If you want to finish well, you must not compromise through the Church anymore." Observing so many fallen to immorality or pride by which pastors can't hear anyone, I don't want to end that way. Going alone is easy; standing against teaching that compromises the holiness of the Church is hard. People see you as critical, difficult, unloving, and judgmental. I have come to an end of myself; I can't compromise anymore. I will speak more precisely on this subject next time.
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