WHAT DOES 1 CORINTHIANS 3,11-15 TRULY MEAN?



WHAT DOES 1 CORINTHIANS 3:11-15 TRULY MEAN?


Some Christians interpret 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 to mean that Christians can never lose their salvation no matter what they do or do not do. Let us read 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 out of its context first and then we will go back and read it in its context. I will emphasize the word “WORK” because that is the word that is INCORRECTLY interpreted by some Christians as meaning works of righteousness compared to works of unrighteousness.


1 Corinthians 3:11-15.


“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus 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 abides which he has 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.”


Some Christians interpret verses 14 as being WORKS of RIGHTEOUSNESS and 15 as being WORKS of UNRIGHTEOUSNESS because it would not be logical that unrighteous works would receive a reward. And thus, the Christians that teach the doctrine of eternal security interpret that the WORKS of a Christian do not have any effect on whether or not a Christian will receive eternal life in the world to come. In other words, eternal security Christians interpret that the WORKS of a Christian only affect whether or not they receive a REWARD for their WORKS. Thus, they conclude that a Christian can never lose their salvation but a Christian can lose their REWARDS IF their WORKS of UNRIGHTEOUSNESS are burned.

But are their INTERPRETATIONS of 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 in agreement with what the CONTEXT is teaching us? In other words, what does the Bible ITSELF teach us as being the TRUE meaning of the word “WORKS” in this particular passage of Scripture? Now, if you are an eternal security Christian, in that, you believe that once a person is saved they can never lose their salvation then I implore you to take a CLOSER look at the CONTEXT of 1 Corinthians 11-15 because your very eternal life may be at stake.

And while you read the context I want you to notice that Paul is using the ANALOGY of a BUILDER building the building of God. Notice that we, as Christians, are the BUILDERS working together with God who gives the increase. And the BUILDING is the BODY of Jesus Christ, the church. I want you to please notice that the “WORK” is the BUILDING of the body of Jesus Christ and NOT our own works of righteousness being compared to unrighteous works. In other words, our WORK is PEOPLE. Our WORK is our bring people to saving faith in Jesus Christ. And IF our WORK remains we shall receive a reward for our WORK. But IF our work is BURNED in the lake of fire we will NOT receive a REWARD. We will be saved but our WORK will be burned alive in the lake of fire.


Please read 1 Corinthians 3:1-18.

 

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

2.  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able.

3.  For you are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are you not carnal and walk as men?

4.  For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal?

5.  Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but MINISTERS BY whom you believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

6.  I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. (Or Paul MINISTERED the true gospel of Jesus Christ first by PLANTING the seed of God’s word in a person’s life. And then, Apollos came along and WATERED that seed of God’s word with some MORE MINISTERING of the gospel of Jesus Christ where both know and understand that it is God who actually makes the seed of his word GROW. So then, the SUBJECT under discussion here in the CONTEXT of this entire passage of Scripture is the preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ whereby people are SAVED to BUILD God's kingdom. Some Christian’s sow seeds of God's word while other Christians water those seeds and then it is God who makes His seed of His word to grow to give the increase to HIS BUILDING.

7.  So then neither is he that PLANTS anything, neither he that WATERS, but God that gives the increase. (Also, under discussion is the carnal mindset of Christians boasting that they are of Paul while others boast that they are of Apollos. Today, Christians boast that they are Baptist while others boast that they are Calvinist and so forth. Basically, Paul is saying that all the church denominations are NOT of God. Keep in mind that the WORK being spoken of in this entire passage of Scripture is what the work of the ministry PRODUCES. In other words, will YOUR ministry PLAND good seed and then WATER that good seed to PRODUCE a believer who will REMAIN faithful unto the end? OR will your WORK of the MINISTRY produce bad seed that is not watered with the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ which may result in a person not being truly born again?)

8.  Now he that plants and he that waters are ONE: (The Christian who PLANTS the seed of God's word is a BUILDER of the kingdom of God. And the Christian the WATERS is also a BUILDER in the kingdom of God. The builders are ONE. This means that we SHARE in the reward IF our WORK or BUILDING the kingdom remains faithful unto the end and is NOT burned in the lake of fire) and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own LABOR. (Or his own WORK. Paul is still talking about preaching the gospel which is sowing and watering God's word. Paul is saying now if one Christian plants a seed of God's word and another Christian comes along and waters that seed of God’s word then they BOTH shall SHARE or receive a REWARD for that person coming to Jesus to be saved. One Christian may receive a little more reward depending on how much work they put into bringing the person to saving faith compared to the other Christian efforts of witnessing to that person who accepts Jesus as their savior. But for sure, BOTH Christians who WORK to share the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ shall receive a reward IF that WORK that they bring to Jesus remains faithful unto the end.)

9.  For we are laborers together with God (Or we are WORKERS together with God BUILDING his church): you are God's husbandry, you are God's BUILDING.

10.  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master BUILDER, I have laid the foundation, and another BUILDS thereon. (Or I, Paul, have WORKED to PLANT the seed of the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ and another Christian has WORKED to WATER that seed of God’s word to HELP him or her become ROOTED and GROUNDED in the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ)  But let every man take heed HOW he BUILDS thereupon. (Because IF your WORK does NOT remain faithful you will lose your reward. And you MAY be held accountable for their soul being lost on the Day of Judgment by teaching a FALSE gospel. Please see Ezekiel 3:18-21. Building the kingdom of God is WORK. Bringing people to Jesus is the WORK of every Christian’s ministry. We may not all be called to a full-time ministry. But we are all called to be a LIGHT unto the world. YOU may be the only Bible some people ever read. So do they SEE Jesus is you by your WORKS? Or do they see you SINNING? Did Jesus SIN? Did not Paul just get through saying that Jesus is our FOUNDATION? Does not the Bible itself clearly teach us to FOLLOW the example or the STEP of Jesus who did NO SIN? See 1 Peter 2:21,22. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps

1Pe 2:22  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:” and 1 John 2:3-6. “And hereby we do know that we know him IF we keep his commandments

1Jn 2:4  He that says, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a LIAR, and the truth is not in him

1Jn 2:5  But whoso keeps his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 

1Jn 2:6  He that says he abides in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”)

11.  For other FOUNDATION can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12  Now if any man BUILD upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; (In other words, there are basically TWO WAYS a Christian can WORK or can BUILD the kingdom of God. We can BUILD strong well rooted and grounded Christians who will endure unto the end and never depart from God and those WORKS or those Christians are likened to gold silver and precious stones which do NOT BURN in the fire but are refined by the fire. OR we can NOT TAKE HEED as to HOW we BUILD and thus produce Christians that will live in sin because they are not rooted and grounded in the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ and those misguided Christians are more likely to be or to become wood, stubble, or hay which WILL BURN in the lake of fire on the Day of Judgment.)

13.  Every man's WORK shall be made manifest: (In other words, you shall know a tree by its FRUIT. And a GOOD tree will bear GOOD FRUIT) for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; (Or TESTING and trying of their faith. The word “fire” here is being used as an analogy of TESTING or a TRIAL) and the fire shall TRY every man's WORK of what sort it is. (Or the fire shall TRY every Christian who is some other Christian's WORK to see if they are rooted and grounded in the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ. Every WORK or every Christian will be TRIED or tested to see what fruit they will bear. Please see the parable of the sower sowing the seed of God’s word how some Christians only endure for a short time and ONLY the GOOD SOIL produced Christians who bear GOOD FRUIT. See Matthew 3:3-23.)

14.  If any man's WORK abides (Or REMAIN and endure unto the END) which he has BUILT thereupon (Speaking of the WORK being a Christian being BUILT upon the foundation of Jesus Christ adding to God's BUILDING), he shall receive a reward. ( In other words, we will only receive a reward for the people who endure unto the END to be saved. For you see, those Christians that are taught the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ are the WORK of other Christians will REMAIN faithful unto the end to be saved or to receive eternal life in the world to come. And AFTER they have actually RECEIVED eternal life AT the coming of Jesus the second death will have no power over them to be burned in the lake of fire, BUT)

15.  IF any man's WORK shall be burned (Or if any person we bring to Jesus falls away from the faith and they are destroyed by being burned in the lake of fire), he shall suffer loss (Or those who teach a FALSE gospel shall suffer the loss of the reward he would have received IF that person would have endured unto the end to receive eternal life in the world to come): but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (Meaning that EVERY Christian’s faith is TRIED or TESTED to see IF they themselves remain faithful unto the end to receive eternal life in the world to come. And IF we are found FAITHFUL unto the END then we shall be saved. In other words, we will be held ACCOUNTABLE for teaching a FALSE gospel that contributes to a person losing their salvation. BUT IF somehow the person who teaches a false gospel ENDURES unto the end to be saved by CHANGING to teaching the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ then they will only suffer the loss of the REWARDS they would have received IF their WORK would have REMAINED a faithful Christian.

Now, I want to pause here for a moment so that you can ponder on how many people that you have WRONGLY taught that they can never lose their salvation no matter what they do or dod not do. Your false doctrine of eternal security is somewhat responsible for leading them to the lake of fire on the Day of Judgment. So wake up and start teaching the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ. Please read the study “THE TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST?”)

16.  Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

17.  IF ANY MAN defiles the temple of God, him shall God DESTROY; for the temple of God is holy, which temple YOU are.

18.  Let no man DECEIVE HIMSELF. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.”

 

 

Now, IF SO BE that no true born-again Christian can ever lose their salvation then why does the Apostle Paul WARN us NOT to defile the temple of God which temple we are? And then, why does Paul WARN us to NOT DECEIVE OURSELVES? All Christians who think they are above being DECEIVED are deceived already. ONLY true born-again Christians can receive the INDWELLING of the Holy Spirit to be the TEMPLE of God. So it is very clear that the Apostle Paul is speaking to TRUE born-again Christians warning us that if ANY TRUE born-again Christian DEFILES HIMSELF then God WILL destroy him on the Day of Judgment.

The truth of the matter is that 1 Corinthians 3:15 does NOT prove that a Christian can never lose their salvation and that they can only lose their REWARD as some WRONGLY INTERPRET this verse to mean. Anyone truly seeking the TRUTH of the whole word of God can clearly see that the WORK in verse 15 is the SAME WORK throughout the whole CONTEXT. And that WORK is the “PERSON” that is BUILT on the foundation of Jesus Christ BY another Christian or Christians WORK of the ministry of reconciliation who will receive a REWARD for adding them to God’s BUILDING the church IF they remain faithful unto the end and are NOT burned on the Day of Judgment in the lake of fire.

Our WORK is “ those WHO receive that gospel we preach. So then, the WORK is the BUILDING the kingdom of God with people we bring to saving faith in Jesus Christ. And IF our WORK endures unto the end to be saved then we shall receive a REWARD for our WORK of helping to reconcile those people to God through the gospel that we share with them. But IF our WORK loses their salvation by not enduring unto the end to be saved then we shall suffer the loss of the reward we would have received if they were to be found that good and faithful servant on the Day of Judgment.

In other words, we do not lose our salvation IF the PEOPLE we WORKED to bring to saving faith become deceived and fall away from the faith and they are burned in the lake of fire on the Day of Judgment. BUT we will lose our reward which we would have received IF they remain faithful unto the end to receive their eternal life in the world to come.

Again, IF SO BE that no true born-again Christian can ever lose their salvation then Paul would NOT have used the CONDITIONAL wording, “IF our work burns we shall suffer loss”. Can you not see my dear brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, that IF Paul is teaching us that no Christian can ever lose their salvation then not one single person we help BUILD on the foundation of Jesus Christ to become a part of God’s building would NOT ever be ABLE to be BURNED. So it makes NO sense whatsoever for Paul to warn us that IF our work would be burned THEN we shall suffer the loss of the reward we would have received IF our remains faithful unto the end and not be burned. Again, our WORK is the PEOPLE that are BUILT on the foundation of the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ.

BUT those who teach the doctrine of eternal security INTERPRET verses 14 and 15 OUT of its CONTEXT. So then, IF a Christian interprets our WORK that will be BURNED out of its CONTEXT to mean good works of righteousness in verse 14 and unrighteous works in verse 15, then how does one justify their INTERPRETATION? Especially when their interpretation CONTRADICTS the CONTEXT. For you see, the TRUE sound Biblically meaning of the word “WORK” in this particular CONTEXT is speaking of the WORK of BUILDING the building of God upon the only name given among men whereby we MUST be saved. That is the FOUNDATION of Christianity. Jesus is the ONLY WAY to eternal life. Please read the study “WHAT DOES JESUS MEAN “I AM THE WAY?”

Let us CONTINUE reading the CONTEXT of what Paul is truly teaching us in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 by reading 1 Corinthians 4:2 where Paul teaches us that a steward of Jesus Christ is REQUIRED to be found FAITHFUL.

 

1 Corinthians 4:2.

 

Moreover, it is REQUIRED in stewards, that a man be found FAITHFUL.”

 

Jesus himself warned us that ONLY his GOOD and FAITHFUL servants will enter into the joy of the Lord on the Day of Judgment.

 

Please read Matthew 24:44-51.

 

“Therefore, be you also READY:(Please keep in mind that Jesus is speaking to those who already believe that Jesus is the Messiah) for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes. 

45.  Who then is a FAITHFUL and wise servant, whom his lord has made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 

46.  Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so DOING. (Speaking of only those good and FAITHFUL servant who are DOING the WILL of Almighty God when they die or when Jesus returns)

47.  Verily (Or TRULY) I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 

48.  But and if that EVIL SERVANT shall say in his heart, My lord delays his coming; (In other words, if a Christian is EVIL by disobeying the commandments of Jesus given under the New Covenant written in the New Testament says in their heart, “My Lord delays his coming”)

49.  And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken

50.  The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looks not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 

51.  And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”


In other words, ONLY the good and FAITHFUL Christians will be caught up in the rapture of the church while the UNFAITHFUL Christians who are living in INIQUITY or SIN will be left behind to suffer the WRATH of Almighty God along with the remnant of the Jews and the rest of the world that will be left alive after the wrath of God is poured out upon the DISOBEDIENT to the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ. Jesus WARNS us that not every Christian who calls Jesus their Lord and Savior will enter into the joy of the Lord.


Please read Luke 13:23-30.


“Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 

24.  Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall NOT be able

25.  When once the master of the house is risen up and has shut to the door, (Speaking of the rapture of the church) and you begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence you are: (Or I never knew you. This phrase also means, I know you no more. Or I know you not you workers of INIQUITY)

26.  Then shall you begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in your presence, and you have taught in our streets. 

27.  But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence you are; depart from me, all you workers of INIQUITY. (The word INIQUITY means SIN. So Jesus will tell those UNFAITHFUL Christians who are living in SIN when they die or when he returns to DEPART from him. So I implore you to NOT take sin lightly. Do NOT be deceived by the LIE that you are a sinner and it is your NATURE to sin. The Bible itself teaches us that we are a NEW CREATION created in Jesus Christ and the old things are passed away. Please read the study “THE FALSE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN!” But for now, please know that the Bible teaches us in Ephesians 2:8-10 that we are now God’s workmanship created UNTO GOOD WORKS and that it is God IN us doing the works so that there can be no BOASTING. We are WARNED over and over in the Bible that the wage of SIN is death, that the sinners will perish, that the disobedient to the gospel will suffer the wrath of God, and that those who work INIQUITY will be told to DEPART from Jesus.)

28.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out

29.  And they (Speaking of the good and FAITHFUL servants) shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. 

30.  And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.”


The true SOUND Biblical meaning of eternal security is that Almighty God and his Son Jesus will never leave or forsake us. But that does NOT mean that even strong well rooted Christians can never be deceived and turn away from God. And if is possible to deceive the very elect then how much more is the danger for new weak Christians, who are NOT rooted and grounded in the faith, to become deceived and fall away from God? 

So I implore all my brothers and sister in our Lord Jesus Christ, to KEEP the verses used to teach the doctrine of eternal security IN their CONTEXT. I sincerely believe that ANY Christians can BECOME fully persuaded in their OWN heart and mind that they will be DILIGENT to PERSEVERE and ENDURE unto the END to be saved. And THAT is how true SOUND Biblical eternal security should be taught. Please read the studies “IS ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED BIBLICAL?” and “CAN CHRISTIAN LOSE THEIR SALVATION?”

Thanks for reading and may God bless you richly as you CONTINUE to seek the TRUTH of the WHOLE word of Almighty God being KEPT in its CONTEXT.

Your brother in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Brother Mark.


RETURN TO HOMEPAGE

AT

AMatterOfTruth.com