Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 72
THE BIG PICTURE
SALVATION & GOOD WORKS – 3
Okay, once again I see you’ve all got your coffee cups and you’re back, and we can go into program three this afternoon. We’re going to start right in where we left off in our last program. That was in I Corinthians chapter 3 and we’re going to be talking about the whole idea that as a believer now we work, not for salvation, but we labor for reward. A lot of people don’t like that, but it’s still a fact of Scripture, and it wasn’t just Paul’s idea. We’re going to see where it was also even part of the language of the apostles.
But for now let’s start at I Corinthians chapter 3, and again, I want to thank my television audience, as well as all of you here, for your prayers and your financial support and your letters. My, how we enjoy our mail time, we hardly ever – my, we haven’t had a bad letter in a long time. That doesn’t happen very often. Once in a great while, but it’s pretty rare. Again, we just thank you out there, every one of you, for your encouragement.
All right, we’re going to look at the whole idea of works and rewards for a little bit in this next half hour. Chapter 3 of I Corinthians and we looked at it in our closing moments to sort of whet our appetites.
I Corinthians 3:9-10a
“For we are laborers (And that immediately speaks of activity. You can’t be a laborer sitting in your easy chair.) together with God: (Now Paul puts the finger on us.) ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 10. According to the grace of God which is given unto me,…” Now Paul never takes any credit for anything other than the Grace of God. He knew he deserved nothing because of all the havoc he had caused to the Jewish believers of Christ’s earthly ministry.
I Corinthians 3:10a
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, (In other words, the contractor—Paul is the one who literally set the stakes and dug the ditch for the foundation.) I have laid the foundation,…” Now, is that so hard to understand? How in the world can people not see from just that one statement that everything that is foundational to our Age of Grace comes from this one man? They can’t see it, but here it is. He is the master builder—the one and only. And what’s the master builder? He’s the one who started the building. He didn’t come in when the first floor was finished. When people try to say that the church began back there in Acts chapter 2 under Peter and the Eleven, and then Paul comes in at some later time and continues what was begun, that doesn’t make sense, because then he’s not the master builder. Then he didn’t lay the foundation. But the Holy Spirit tells us he did.
I Corinthians 3:10b
“…I am the master builder, I have laid the foundation, (Just like we pour the concrete in the ditch.) and another buildeth thereon. (That’s where we come in.) But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” We have to be careful. You know, there is no more responsible activity than when you open the Book and share it with someone. I don’t care whether it’s me or whether it’s you or anybody else. When you open this Book to share it with someone, you are taking on a tremendous responsibility.
I’ll tell you what, preachers had better wake up. They are going to stand accountable for what they have preached over the years. Like I shared earlier this afternoon, and I get them all the time, “How could I miss all this for forty years?” One of them even went so far as to say, “Les, will God forgive me for misleading people for forty years?” Well, of course He will. God is a forgiving God. But at least that man had the wherewithal to admit that he had misled people. It’s horrible.
I can remember way back when I was real young and teaching a class of high school boys. I remembered, just here a while ago it struck me, telling those kids then already, that preachers who mislead their people are going to have the hottest corner in the Lake of Fire. And I still say it. What a horrible responsibility to have misled people. I don’t care whether it’s a dime a dozen or whether it’s thousands and a mega-church. If you’re misleading people with regard to eternity, you’re going to answer for it. All right, so Paul says that you’d better be careful how you build on this foundation. All right, now what’s the foundation?
I Corinthians 3:11
“For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is (Who?) Jesus Christ.” Not Paul. Jesus Christ. And Paul only knows one Jesus Christ. And what is it? The crucified, shed blood, buried, risen, and ascended Lord. All right, that’s the foundation on which we build our Christian life, our works, and our outreach. If you’re young parents, then of course those coming little kids are your first mission field. And I think it’s a parent’s responsibility to be equipped to bring those kids to a knowledge of salvation. That’s how you build on the foundation. Now of course, to be politically correct anymore, you can’t say that, can you? You’ve got to be able to say, well, this is just one way, and if you chose a different way, that’s all well and good. But, that’s not what the Book says. The Book says there’s only one way.
But, anyway, the world today doesn’t want to accept the fact that there’s only one way. Then we’re narrow, or we’re bigoted and we’re hateful. Well, that’s what the Book says. It’s not what I say. Look what it says, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” And He alone. All right, now verse 12, here comes the works part.
I Corinthians 3:12
“Now if any man build upon this foundation (Christ crucified, buried, and risen again. He’s going to build on that foundation, and he has six materials to use as he builds through his Christian life activity.) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and stubble;” Six materials. Wood, hay, and stubble—what happens if a match touches it? It’s gone. But over here are gold, silver, and precious stones. What does heat do to them? Purifies them and makes them even better. All right, so those are the materials that Paul lays out as available for every believer in his works activity as a believer.
I Corinthians 3:13a
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest:…” It’s going to be put under God’s spotlight. I always go back to the microscope. If you’ve ever used a microscope, you lay down the slide and turn the light on and up comes that powerful beam of light. It makes everything on that slide visible. All right, that’s what I call manifest in Scripture. God is going to put us under His spotlight. He’s going to see every little jot and detail of our Christian life as we have lived it as a believer.
All right, let’s stop there just a moment and go ahead to II Corinthians. Where is this going to happen? This is what a lot of people just don’t understand. When will God do this with the believer? Now the Great White Throne judgment is at the end of all time. Way out there in the future from our day, and it is strictly for the lost of all Ages. No believer will ever come before the Great White Throne. No one, because we’ve already been judged. But the Great White Throne is where God will judge the unbeliever. And he, too, will stand before the record of all of his deeds or activities as a lost human being. But we’re not associated with that. We will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ or the Bema Seat, as Paul refers to it in II Corinthians chapter 5. So, I think we’d better cover this first.
II Corinthians 5:9
“Wherefore we labor, (we work as believers) that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” Not for salvation, but for His ability to say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.… (Matthew 25:21)”
II Corinthians 5:10a
“For we must all (Now he’s talking to believers.) appear before the judgment seat of Christ;…” Now that’s a confusing term. I know it is, because the first thing people think when you see that word judgment is that all of a sudden God’s going to be pointing His finger at all our sin. No! Every sin that you and I have committed, do commit, or will commit, is already under the blood of Christ. That happened the moment we believed. We were forgiven. We were covered. The shed blood of Christ has cleansed us. Even John writes that. “And the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from (how much) all sin.” We will never come before God shaking in our boots because of sin.
You know, I probably shook up a few people in my class the other night. Fortunately it was a big enough class that we didn’t end up in a discussion. I made the statement, now this is just to make people think. I had one guy tell me, “Hey, Les, don’t ever get hypothetical on spiritual things.” But once in a while I like to, just to make people think. What if five minutes before the trumpet sounds, before the Rapture takes place, a believer has just tripped into a rather serious sin? You use your own mind. I don’t care whatever it is. But it’s a flagrant sin. But before he’s even had time to have a second thought about it, bingo, the trumpet sounds, and we’re out of here.
What happens to him or her? Left behind? No way. Shaking in their boots when they come before the Lord? No way. Why? Now, I’ve got to show you Scripture, don’t I? Now keep your hands in I Corinthians 3 and II Corinthians 5. Come back to I Corinthians chapter 1. And this is the way we have to study. Now I Corinthians chapter 1, we’re still looking at the rewards when we come before the Judgment Seat of Christ. You got I Corinthians 1?
Now people don’t like this. I had one fellow who, when I read the verse, I think I’ve shared it before, I just read the verse. I didn’t make a single comment on it. He got up and left. He couldn’t handle it. Now this was a long time ago. He couldn’t handle it. He thought that if someone had sinned, they were lost, and they would have to get saved again. I knew that from his background. So, he didn’t surprise me one bit when he got up and left.
All right, but look what it says in verse 7. Paul is writing to Corinthians again, who were, you know, pretty rank. They weren’t the epitome of Christian living, yet.
I Corinthians 1:7-8
“So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: (In other words, this is a reference to the Rapture. They thought it was going to happen in their lifetime.) 8. Who (speaking of Jesus Christ) shall also confirm you unto the end, (Now what does that mean? Will He let go of us? No way. He’ll never let go.) that ye may be (What’s the word?) blameless (See that? When?) in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So, what’s the Day of Christ in Scripture? The Rapture.
So, even if someone has been unfortunate to have just sinned, and we’re going to make it a rather gross sin, nothing simple, but he’s had a gross sin and, bingo, we’re taken out. How is he going to be when he comes before the Lord Jesus Christ? What does the Book say? “Blameless.” Now, that’s the power of the blood of Christ.
You and I can’t comprehend that. We wouldn’t let somebody get off that easy, but God does. I had another verse, and I don’t remember where it was that we used the other night, where it was the same word—blameless—for the believer when they come before the Lord Jesus Christ.
All right, now come back to II Corinthians 5, again. This will be right after we’re taken up to Glory in the Rapture. Which is what we’re going to point to now before we leave this afternoon, that we’re going to be out of here before the anti-Christ appears. And it’s during the time that the seven year Tribulation is raging here on earth that this Bema Seat, or Judgment Seat, of Christ will take place.
Now the Bema Seat, which is the Judgment Seat in your King James, was the place of the judges. It was not only a political term for City Hall, but it was also the term for the judges who were at the finish line of the races in the Olympics. Now picture that, if you will, in your mind. At the finish line there was a judge or two, and as those runners came by, it was the judge who determined that he’s first, he’s second, he’s third, and so forth. That’s what the Bema Seat was really called – the place of the judges who determined winning, or second and third and so forth.
All right, so we must all appear before this Bema Seat, the place of the judge, to determine reward. Now is that plain enough? All right, and we’re all going to end up there. We’ll all have to give an account of what we have done in laboring as a believer. Not our sin. That’s not going to be in question. It’s what we have done for reward. All right, read it again.
II Corinthians 5:10
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat (the Bema Seat) of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, (as a believer in his earthly life) whether it be good or bad.” All right, now in that view, which I feel will be while the Tribulation is raging here on earth and we’re before the Bema Seat in Glory, come back to I Corinthians chapter 3. This is what I think is the description of the Bema Seat, the place of reward.
Every believer is going to be examined on the basis of how did he use the elements or the materials that were available in his earthly walk? All right, verse 13 of I Corinthians 3:
I Corinthians 3:13-14
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: (It’s going to be put in the spotlight.) for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed (or tested) by fire; and the fire shall try (or test) every man’s work of what sort it is. 14. If any man’s work abide (It was able to withstand the fiery eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ as He examines.) which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive (What?) a reward.”
Now, we’re not talking about salvation, we’re talking about reward. We don’t know what the rewards in Glory are going to be. These are not the crowns. That’s something totally different, but we’re going to have a reward. My own idea, and that’s all it is, I can’t prove it from Scripture. But in my own thinking, I think the rewards are going to be more or less the basis of responsibility of carrying out things that God wants us to do in eternity.
Now that’s just a guess. I don’t think that some are going to have a bigger mansion than others. I don’t think that somebody’s going to live on a more golden street than anyone else. But I think it’s going to be a matter just like the talents in Christ’s earthly ministry. When God gave ten, what did that fellow do? He went out and worked and brought ten more. And the Lord commended him for it. I think that’s a pretty good picture of our rewards. I’ll use Christ’s earthly ministry as another example. Keep your hand here in I Corinthians and go back with me to Matthew 19, just to show that this isn’t only for Paul and the Gentiles believers. It was the same way for the Old Testament believers. It’s always been a matter of saving faith, but then there was the reward process.
Matthew 19, drop in at verse 27. This is at the end of the three years of His ministry. It won’t be long and they’ll be going up to Jerusalem for the crucifixion. But, of course, the Twelve had no idea of that. Matthew 19, starting at verse 27, Jesus and the Twelve are assembled here together.
“Then answered Peter and said unto him, (That is to Jesus.) Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” Is he talking about salvation? No. They’ve got that. The Lord agreed to that three chapters back. In chapter 16 when Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” What did God say? “Blessed art thou Peter.” So, they had their salvation, all but Judas. But now Peter says what are we going to have beyond salvation? So, what’s he talking about? Reward.
Now, why did Peter think he deserved reward? Well, what did he say? We have forsaken all. What did they forsake? I always tell people that you can’t really appreciate this unless you’ve been there, but the Sea of Galilee is beautiful. And that’s where they had been fishing. That was his vocation. And he left his fishing nets up there on beautiful Galilee to follow the Lord up and down the dusty roads of Israel. So Peter’s reminding Him. He said, now Lord, I left my beautiful fishing boat. I left the Galilee to follow you. What am I going to get? Did the Lord scold him? No. No. It was a valid question. Now read on.
“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye who have followed me, (you left your vocations, whether it was fishing or whatever) in the regeneration…” Now, that’s the Kingdom, when the earth will be regenerated and made like it was in the Garden of Eden. When the curse will be lifted and everything is going to revert back to a glorious scenario. It’s going to be heaven on earth. Christ will be ruling from Jerusalem on Mount Zion.
“…ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man (speaking of Himself) shall sit in the throne of his glory, (And we know that’ll be on Mount Zion where David had his throne.) ye also (You eleven men—now Judas is out and Matthias came in Acts chapter 1.) shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging (or ruling under Christ. Who?) the twelve tribes of Israel.” Now, that was to be their reward. And that’s why I think ours will be on more or less the same basis. It’ll be given responsibility in eternity, of one sort or another.
These twelve disciples, then, are going to be ruling on twelve thrones under Christ’s throne on Mount Zion. Each one of the twelve will have one of the twelve tribes of Israel as their direct place of responsibility. Now that’s plain English. That’s not so hard to understand, is it? And that gives an answer then as to why Peter was in such a hurry to find a replacement for Judas? He was in a hurry. It was number one on the agenda. Find a replacement for Judas. Why? They thought the Lord would be coming and they couldn’t have twelve tribes and eleven men. So, they had to fill the twelfth spot. But it’s a matter of reward not salvation.
All right, now I’ve got two minutes to go back to I Corinthians 3. Here we have the believers coming before the fiery eyes of the Lord Jesus, not for sin, only for reward. All right, read the same verse I just left, verse 14.
I Corinthians 3:14
“If any man’s work abide (In other words, it’s of the status of gold, silver, and precious stones. It’s something that’s going to last for all eternity.) which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” Plain English. Now look at the slack believer. Oh, he’s still going to get to heaven. He’s still going to be in eternity with us. But what’s going to be his reward? Read on.
I Corinthians 3:15
“If any man’s work shall be burned, (What does that tell you? It was wood, hay, and stubble. Pffft! It was gone.) he shall suffer loss: (Of reward—never his salvation, that’s secure.) but he himself shall be (What?) saved;”
So, even though a believer has never really done much of anything, and what they did was nothing but wood, hay, and stubble and counted for nothing, he’s still not going to lose Heaven’s glory. He’s still going to be there, but he’s going to suffer loss of reward. All right, I’ve only got 20 seconds left. And I can’t let you skip verse 16, because what drives us to do the things for reward?
I Corinthians 3:16
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”