Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "ESCHATOLOGY 3"
1 Corinthians 3:9b-4:5; cp. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible

Edited by Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.

SECTION: Addendum 5
1 Corinthians 3:9b-4:5; cp. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10

  1. Observe the costly foundation of God's temple (11)
    Would argue for care (lOb) in building with suitable fire-resistant materials (12a), rather than evident combustibles (12b).
    How silly a log cabin or a hay mound or lean-to would look on a large foundation laid down at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. Yet, that is what most Christians are doing.
  2. It is clear that this is a judgment of Christians (only) (15-16)
    There is no question of a test to see if a person has done enough to be saved. Even when, regrettably, the works are burned up (because done unsatisfactorily), the person under discussion is "saved, yet so as through the flames."
  3. The purpose of the evaluating fire is twofold:
    1. To make apparent those works which are of praise to God (12,14; 4:5c).
    2. To remove by purging anything and everything which would mar the believer's enjoyment of the Lord in heaven (12b, 15a). How could one be happy in eternity if there remained the memory of his many failures to do the Lord's will, and his many shameful sins committed after receiving Christ as Saviour? God graciously removes all such awareness of sin's effects (Rev. 21:4).
  4. It is evident that the Judgment Seat of Christ will be a painful experience to many Christians (15a)
    There is an element of truth in the Roman Catholic contention that the incident of death does not remove the harvest of sin's sowing (Gal. 6:5-6a). How then is it removed? Rome says by an indeterminate period of suffering in a place called Purgatory (to get the thought, pronounce Purge-atory). Rome believes all who will eventually be in heaven will pass through Purgatory.

    But Rome is wrong in the major points of this thesis. Christians will indeed be purged at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and some will suffer, but it is an event, not a period of time; it takes place in heaven, not in a place people go to before they go to heaven. Of course, nothing can be done by others to affect our status (e.g., Masses said). Our status is determined entirely by the degree of faithfulness with which we have served the Lord since He saved us. Calvary purged sin's guilt; the Bema purges sin's effects (harvest). This might be called the "Protestant Purge-atory."
  5. Our deeds will be truly and infallibly evaluated by God
    The issue is not quantity of works, but quality ("of what sort it is"). One jewel will be worth more than 10 truck loads of hay in that day.

    It has been suggested that the symbols Paul used mean:
    1. Good Works - abide the fire
      1. Gold - works which have been done to the glory of God.
      2. Silver - speaks of redemption, i.e., the cross. So, these are deeds done in the spirit of Calvary, i.e., sacrificial, self-denying sin-repudiating works.
      3. Precious stones - reminds us of Mal. 3:16-17 and the stones in the High Priest's breastplate bearing the names of the twelve tribes. These would suggest souls won as jewels for Christ's crown.
    2. Worthless Works - burned by fire
      1. Wood - chopped-down trees; trees are often used as a symbol of the pride of man (Dan. 4:20, 22-23, 27; Isa. 2:12-13; 37:24). These are works done for the glory of man, denominations, etc.
      2. Hay - man at his human best--still fit only for the flames--i.e., works done in the energy of the flesh (Isa. 40:6-8; James 1:10-11).
      3. Stubble - chopped up grass, i.e., man at his worst, the worthless dregs of that which the old nature can produce. Of course, utterly unacceptable to God and removed forever from His sight and our remembrance.
  6. If we would judge ourselves down here, we would not have to face shame and loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Secret sin on earth (unconfessed) will be open scandal in heaven. All this urges regular and immediate confession of sin.


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