Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Only What's Done for Christ Will Last

When you consider some of the ideals and goals that people -- even we as Christians -- have in life, and all the sacrifices that people make for the sake of those ideals and goals, it's amazing how many worthless things they spend their lives pursuing. 

Whether it be fame, fortune, popularity, sports, hobbies, or other worldly pleasures and selfish desires, they may glitter as gold, but they are like rocks merely painted gold. In his letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul taught about the importance of making our lives count for Jesus as we seek to build on Christ the one and only foundation. He wrote:

"But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1Co 3:10-15).

Some people incorrectly understand this passage to mean that the believer in Christ cannot possibly miss heaven for any reason, not even sin in their lives, for which they have not repented. They believe that at the end of the believer's life, all his sins will be burned up. Yet that is not what this passage is teaching. It's not about eternal security. Paul was not making reference to sin here. In other passages, he boldly preached against sins that will keep you from heaven, and he taught that true believers must avoid becoming corrupted Christians. He taught that it is possible for believers to drift away from the Lord to their own eternal destruction. Therefore, we know he was not contradicting himself here, but rather he was speaking about the worthiness of a man's works for the Lord as a believer. He was saying that all your works will be tested to see if they were genuinely worthy of the King, and only those that are so will survive the fire. 

The wood, hay, and stubble represent those works that are not done for Christ, or those done with wrong motives, selfish goals, or insincere hearts. The gold, silver, and precious stones are those works we do for Christ with pure hearts, sincere faith, and unfeigned love for the Master. These latter works are the ones done for the glory of God alone that will stand the fiery test and last for eternity, while the former ones will be completely burned up in the flames and be lost forever.

Let me share with you a defining moment in the life of an Englishman named C.T. Studd, who had been raised in a wealthy family and become a famous, star athlete, but later forsook all, gave his money to the poor, and became a missionary to China, then to India, and later to Africa. One evening a friend gave C.T. a tract written by an atheist, in which the atheist explained how he would live if he really believed that Christianity was true, as so many people in England claimed it was. It read in part: "I would labor in its cause alone. I would take thought for the morrow of eternity alone. I would esteem one soul gained for heaven worth a life of suffering…I would strive to look upon eternity alone, and on the immortal souls around me, soon to be everlastingly happy or everlastingly miserable." The atheist wrote that his life's text would be, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" That tract inspired C.T. and helped to radically change the course of his life.

C.T. gladly gave of his wealth and even forfeited his health for winning lost souls for Christ. Studd's life and service for Christ will always be a shining example to shake from lukewarmness and complacency every soul who names the name of Christ that seeks to live a life of selfish comfort and ease. He is the author of that famous poem called, "Only One Life, 'Twill Soon Be Past." Its recurring verse that most people remember states:

Only one life 'twill soon be past.
Only what's done for Christ will last.

That is essentially what the passage of Scripture is teaching us about in 1 Corinthians 3. It's about the fire of God one day, when our life is over, testing to see whether we have built with worthless materials or worthy ones. Since our rewards are based on our practice, the Lord can only reward us for those things that were truly done for Christ, and everything else will be burned to ashes. What will the fire of God reveal about my life and about yours on that day? Will anything last? We may be surprised to see what lasts and what doesn't. One could build a great mega church and become a famous pastor known worldwide, but that could all be consumed by the flames, while one could take a sandwich to a homeless person in love, doing it for Christ, and it would receive an eternal reward. You have only one life, and it will soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last. May the Lord shake us out of our lukewarmness and complacency, out of our selfishness and ease, and lead us on into a life that is wholly lived for Him.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB copyright the Lockman Foundation, used by permission. 
Author's note: You are invited to read For the Glory of God AloneWhatever You Do, Do All Like ThisLiving a Life Worthy of the LordThe Four Tallest Homes in HeavenThe Judgment Seat of ChristLife is Short. Eternity is NotThe Fiery Sufferings of the Believer, The Afflictions of the Righteous, The Refiner's Fire, Living Sacrifices in Consuming FireSins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Drifting Away, Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Give Me Children or I'll Die!, Here I Am, Send Me, and Rescue Souls! You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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