The Testing of the Fire (continued)
The next application of this is to the whole matter of Christian work. Paul speaks about this in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter three,
"According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder I laid a foundation; and another buildeth thereon. But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon. For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; each man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire" (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
And we place alongside of that a passage from the Letter to the Hebrews:
"Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also the heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain. Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken ..." (Hebrews 12:26-28).
Here we come into the realm of the values in life - in life's work; and the discrimination is brought in by the fire. The fire tries "of what sort it is." And remember, this is addressed to Christians. It is not addressed to those who are doing their work, following their profession, as people of the world. This is addressed to Christians, and it is speaking about Christian work: Christ as the foundation, and the work that you do on that foundation. Paul is saying about Christian work that there is one realm which will abide the fire, and there is another realm - in Christian work - which will go up in smoke: it will be proved that all that was for nothing: the worker will just get into heaven, and that is all! Saved - yes - "so as through fire."
Here is a division which the Holy Spirit makes in the realm of Christian work. If we want to sum it all up, really get to the heart of it, it just amount to this: Only that which is done by and through the Holy Spirit Himself will remain, will abide the test, will be "found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7). There can be a tremendous amount of activity and energy, of work and works, engaged in by Christians in relation to Christ, at least in intention, which comes into this category of being consigned to the fire, disappearing in the flames, and leaving the worker at the end with nothing for all his toil.
This is what was happening in the Book of the Acts. Look through this book and see the discrimination that is being made. Yes, a discrimination is truly being made. Oh, how those Judaizers labored! It must have cost them quite a lot to make those long journeys. Their movements were far and wide. You are forced to conclude, not only that they were men who meant business, but that, so far as they understood themselves and their position, they were what we would call sincere men. I do not see very much difference between these Judaizers who pursued Paul wherever he went and gave their very lives to this sort of thing, and Saul of Tarsus as he was. It is just what he was doing; he was one of them.
(continued with # 20)