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A believer is “a wise master-builder” (1Co 3:10) if he is given to know the purpose for “works” (in the Word which produce love), that they derive in this life from the grace of salvation! In relation to this life, they are purposed to glorify God via being used to “draw” the lost and “exhort” the saved (Jhn 6:44; Heb 10:25); in the next, they eternally glorify Him via having displayed a mature faith-producing-love in Him and His Word (Gal 5:6). Let us seek Him now to know the most of walking in faith, because now is the only time it will ever be used, for only now can “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2Co 5:7).





“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss” (1Co 3:15). It does not say he shall suffer purgatory, much less that he shall be cast into hell fire, but only that “he shall suffer loss.” What loss, then, will he suffer? I say he will be an eternal loser. He will lose the reward that he might have received. There is a kingdom coming, a manifest kingdom. Christ will be the King and His saints are to reign with Him (Rev 5:10; the believer’s eternal occupation—NC).

It is with reference to that coming kingdom that our works will be tried. The place we shall occupy in the kingdom—the place of honor and authority—will be determined according to the faithfulness in the smaller stewardship of our service on earth. This is shown in the parable of the nobleman*(Luk 19:21, etc.). The same is taught in 2 Peter 1:11: “For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom*of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” This may be illustrated by the cases of Abraham and Lot; the one was called the “friend of God,” and maintained the path of faith and obedience. Such a one will have an abundant entrance (have much when entering—NC) into the coming kingdom. Lot on the other hand, was “saved so as by fire”—all his works destroyed, a saved man—but his life was a lost life (concerning faith-work rewards—NC).

In the fifth chapter of Revelation the saints are seen as the twenty-four elders enthroned around the Throne of God. In the 19th chapter the same saints are seen as “the armies which are in heaven.” We have in these chapters two aspects of coming glory for the Church. In the fifth chapter we are seen as worshippers, and there all are alike, all are on one level. But in the 19th it is the King and His armies coming forth to execute judgment and to take the kingdom.

The very idea of an army supposes difference of rank, honor and authority. So it was when David came to the kingdom. His “mighty men” were appointed to positions of honor, differing according to their faithfulness to him during the period of his rejection (2 Samuel 23:8, etc.). Till He comes, let us seek not to please ourselves, nor to please men, nor to please even our brethren, but our Lord alone (we seek to please God in our seeking to love one another, which pleases God more than all things, it being the capstone of all our works in Christ - Jhn 15:12—NC).

“He himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire” (1Co 3:15). It is presumed that the man here referred to is a child of God; and note, the rightness or wrongness of his building or workmanship does not touch the question of his personal salvation, “he himself shall be saved.” Why? Because the question of our guilt was settled at the Cross (and at our point of faith—NC). It is the question of our service that is taken into account as the judgment-seat of Christ. As criminals, we were judged, condemned and executed at the Cross of Christ. As children, we are judged and chastened by the Father in this life. As servants, we shall stand before the Bema and see our works tested in the fire of God’s holiness (solely to determine our rewards, not our salvation—NC).

Further, to show our perfect security as to our eternal salvation, when will this judgment take place? It will be when the Lord Jesus comes at the Rapture (finality of our translation via the redemption of our body – Ro 8:23—NC). Then, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall be changed and caught up (harpazō) to meet Him (1Co 15:52; 1Th 4:17); so that when our works are thus tested by fire, we shall be standing as glorified saints in the presence of our Father (at whatever level of mark He has determined our earthly service in Him—NC).

I believe we shall be perfectly, fully and eternally satisfied, but some will shine brighter than others. Some will have positions of authority in the coming kingdom of which others will not be accounted worthy. Oh, that all earthly ambitions may perish, and that we may covet, through faithfulness to the Lord Jesus here, to be as it were among the aristocracy of His coming Kingdom!

- J R Caldwell (1839-1917)

Poster’s Opinions:

* “the parable of the nobleman”: in this parable (Luk 19) I believe there are three characters of people typified; “A certain nobleman” typifying the Lord Jesus (v 12); “His servants” typifying the saved (v 13); “His citizens who hated Him” typifying the unsaved (v 14). I think the crux of the matter is that among those who were saved, one of them did not seek to obey what was asked of him concerning his gift of works (pound), and so was not exalted; and His enemies who hated Him (unsaved) were “slain” (v 27). Concerning the unfaithful servant, the idea of “taking away what he seemed to have” could not be related to his salvation because it cannot be taken away nor added to, but works can comply with addition or subtraction.

* “an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom*: I believe (according to some Bible commentators) “entrance … abundantly” is reference to the works or virtues mentioned in the preceding verses (2Pe 1:5-7), which presently aids and “ministers” in our difficulties and services, and later is accounted as an “abundance” upon entering heaven. Believers can run their earthly course without seeking to add these to their faith, and thereby fail to receive additionally for them.