Since 1947, this saying has been a continual part of our American culture. In April 2001, this saying was updated to read “Only you can prevent wildfires”. In either case, the point remained unchanged… one of the threats to the woodlands and grasslands of America is accidental fires being ignited by a careless public. Smokey the Bear and his slogan is a consistent reminder of the need to be careful when we take ignite fires in nature. To read more about the history of Smokey the Bear take a look at the following websites… http://www.smokeybear.com/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokey_Bear http://www.fema.gov/kids/onlyyou.htm
The effects of wildfires are devastating and long-lasting but, for the Christian, there is a type of fire that has a greater, eternal effect on us. This is the fire that burns on God’s judgment day. There is coming a day when we all will stand before our Lord and God. It is at that time that our works will be brought under a Godly examination… Let’s see what the Bible says about the fire of that day….
1Cor 3:9-15 (KJV)
Paul, is writing to the assembly at Corinth… he is speaking to a group Christians who have publically testified of their salvation and decision to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul, out of concern for the testimony of their church, their individual testimonies and their coming eternal rewards pens these words of encourage to help them along life’s path.
1Cor 3:9-15 (KJV)
9) For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.
Paul now reminds the church of it’s responsibilities before God. They were to:
1. Labor for the cause of Christ under the authority and enabling of God.
2. Grow under the care of God much like a crop grows and matures under the care of the farmer.
3. Constructed by God like a Contractor chooses the material and assembled it into a building.
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 thereupon.
11) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Paul understood that his ministry was one of construction. His job was to allow the Lord to use him to bring into existence Gentile churches. After Paul, as a Pastor was put into place, he would continue to add to the basic construction foundation Paul had laid.
Paul was encouraging the church to be careful who they choose as Pastor and Teachers. Each Pastor and Teacher must continue to build the church based upon the leadership and teachings of Christ.
12) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
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.
14) If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15) If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Paul now explains why Pastors, Teachers, and believers in general must take care to always keep Christ as the foundation, center and goal of their ministry. A part of the process that will bring this sinful world to a close and inaugurate the new heavens and earth, is a time of judgment of the works of those who are saved. This time of judgment is described in the following passages… 2 Cor 5:6-11, Rom 14:10-12, Luke 18:11-27, 1 Cor 9:25, 2 Tim 4:8, etc etc
In our text, Paul is pointing out the general purpose of this time of judgment. IT IS NOT TO MEET JUDICIAL PUNISHMENT for the sins that we have committed. Every sin, past, present and future, has been paid for by the blood of Christ. (1 John 1:7, 1 John 2:1-2, Rom 3:23-26, 1 Pet 2:24, Heb 9:12, Heb 7:26-27, Heb 10:10-11.) As believers, we should have absolutely no fear of facing God’s eternal wrath against our sins.
However, Paul is quick to remind us that although, as believers, we will never face the eternal punishment for our sins, we will still stand before our Lord for the judgment of our works. What does this judgment involve? It will involve the determination of the receipt of rewards for our labors. We must always remember that service to Christ is not simply an outward action. For us to have a genuine act of service to the Lord it must be founded upon Christ.
In other words, outward actions of service done without Godly motives, Godly direction, or Godly enabling will all be judged as hypocritical and will suffer loss of reward. This will not result in the believer’s eternal judgment but it will result in loss of reward. Those works which were done with a sincere desire for His glory, done by following His leadership, and performed as a product of His gracious intervention in our lives will be the works that will gain rewards that will last for an eternity. Remember, according to Paul, in these verses, our works must be “built” upon the foundation of Christ. (1 Cor 3:10-11, 14-15)
One final quick note… why is it so important we gain rewards for eternity? After all, as long as we are saved we will escape divine judgment, why the big emphasis on our rewards? In answer to this question all we need to do is refer to one section of Scripture…
Rev 4:10-11 (KJV)
The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
In this passage, the twenty four elders are symbolic of believers of both the OT and NT whose eternity in the presence of God has begun. The crowns are symbolic of the rewards they have received for their acts of service that had been founded upon Christ. What will we do with our “crowns” throughout eternity? Use them to glorify and honor our God for all He has done for us. We will lay them down at His feet and say….
“Thank you, Sovereign Lord God Over All, for creating me, for calling me to your service, for equipping me to serve you, and for keeping me safe from the powers of darkness.”
”But, above all else, thank you, as God the Father, for choosing me and sending your Son to die on the cross for my sins.”
“Thank you, as God the Son, for being willing to humble Yourself to come to the earth and die for me, securing my eternal salvation.”
“And thank you, as the Spirit, for showing me my need of salvation and drawing me to Yourself.”
What better way to sincerely say “Thank You” and to glorify and honor Him who has saved us and called us with a holy calling?
2Tim 1:8-10 (KJV)
8) Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
9) Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
If you have any questions about your condition or the salvation that the Lord so graciously offers, you can look to several sources for further information: A local Bible-teaching church in your area, or you are welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can refer to my blog page entitled “How to have a relationship with God” for more teachings on the subject of salvation.
May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.