The believer’s work and reward -2, 1 Corinthians 3:10-17

Points Covered: This blog talks about the believer’s work and rewards. Types of builders. Types of crowns in the Bible.

Part 1 of this sermon

There is coming a time when all the works of all believers, will be subject to a test by fire to determine whether they are worthy of reward. One of the greatest motivating forces in the life of a believer is that is was coming back and that when He came it would be a time of reward. Revelation 22:12 Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.

Since we am going to be judged and rewarded what should we do?

1. Be a wise builder.

1 Corinthians 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.

Now, notice the term wise master builder. Wise means skillful. When he came in to lay a foundation, he knew exactly how to do it. He had the right approach. He knew how to labor to get it done. He had a definite pattern, a definite plan. You could study the book of Acts, and find exactly how he went about it. He went into a town. He approached the synagogue, tried to win the Jews to Christ, got a few Jewish converts, then he began to move into the Gentile community and win them to Christ. He would then teach them, hand over the church to someone and move. This was his plan, this was his approach. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was a master strategist. He was wise. When he built a building, his building was solid. His foundation was solid. The footings were deep and abiding.

Now the word master builder means somebody who draws the plan and builds the building. He is a combination architect and general contractor, not just a planner. Paul was not just a planner. He was active in the building.

It was a teamwork. Now he says I laid the foundation and another builds on it. In the case of Corinth, the next person in was Apollos and Apollos built on what Paul had begun and Apollos was followed by others and all the believers really were a part of it, because he says at the end of 1 Corinthians 3:10b But each one should build with care. We all have a part in the building.

1 Corinthians 3:13 ..their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. This include every believer. Though all of us are not at the same degree building on that apostolic foundation, we are all building on it because every one of us has a ministry and we are to be careful how we build

2. Use the right building material. Building Material.

Now once the foundation is laid, on top of that foundation comes the building materials. How are we going to build on the foundation of Christ? Now just get in your mind that you’ve got a foundation out there and you’re going to build your life.

Illustration: If I give you a place with a flattened rock as a foundation and give you any amount of money you want will you build a great building? Of Course. However, the choice is yours whether you want to use all the budget and build an excellent house or just make something out of mud.

Now, we are all building spiritual buildings. Our resources to build are limitless. Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

We can use different material to build a house according to our budget. You can use bricks, or blocks, have a concrete roof or sheet roof. We plaster the walls and spend a lot of money on the interior and overlay it with gold or silver. There are a variety of materials.

So believers are with the same resources and the same spirit and the same power, but some build with wood, hay and stubble but some build with gold, silver and previous stones. Some make a mud hut on a good and solid foundation.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13 12If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.

You say well, spiritually speaking what does it mean? Well, gold would be the very finest service a Christian could render. The most dedicated, the most self-sacrificing, the most total commitment you ever did in your life will be gold. You might have this whole mud hut with one little gold splotch on it, because one time you really did a job. I would assume that gold would be the supreme sacrifice in terms of attitude and deed. Silver would be next to that. And only God can evaluate these. And then precious stones would be next to that. Now wood, hay, and stubble aren’t evil. Wood’s not evil. Wood makes nice things. Hay isn’t evil, it’s need for bricks and so forth. And stubble, you make a roof or a bird nest, it has a purpose. It’s not evil, but it’s worthless.

You know, there are some people who go through their life busy, busy, busy building with wood, hay, and stubble. Now if you came here and you ministered or if you took what you learned here and passed it on to somebody else, maybe it’s gold, maybe it’s silver.

I think it was a question of priorities, right? Have you ever seen how busy people can get that they forget their worship or their praise to God or their Bible reading and they’re busy? And they’re going to have a whole lot of hay up there. Well, you can choose your materials, that’s up to you.

3. The types of builders.

Paul takes a specific look at the workmen and shows us 3 types of builders: 1 Corinthians 3:14-15 14If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

a. The constructive workers.

1 Corinthians 3:14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. They built well. They had sound doctrine in their lives and they taught sound doctrine and they built a solid building. They had right motives, proper conduct, effective service. They went pass that test. When the fire was over man they were still there. All those things they had done. God says, I’m going to reward what’s abiding.

The first were the constructive ones. There are a second group of workers are:

b. The worthless workers.

1 Corinthians 3:15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. The fire will test and there might be a great conflagration in some people’s case, but he’ll still be what? Saved. He’ll suffer loss, but not the loss of salvation. The loss of what? Well, all that building’s going to come down. All that building is going to burn up that was wood, hay and stubble. He’ll lose all of that.

You say, Oh! you mean all my life I was doing that thing and it was all stubble? Yes. Make sure you’re doing the best thing, right? Not the good thing, the best thing. Make sure you’re using yourself in the best way.

I am in a position where I could do a lot of good things. And I know how to do things, certain things that I can do and do them reasonably well. But I know that the best thing that I can do and the thing which God has most singularly gifted me to do is to teach and preach the word of God. So even though there are other good things I could do, if I were to lose myself in them, I would cease to be able to do this which is the best thing and I’d be piling up stubble instead of gold and silver.

If you are a worthless worker, you’ll suffer loss. You say what do you mean loss, John? What are you going to lose? 2 John 8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.

Find out your spiritual gift and use it. Hold fast. Jesus said to the church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward…. 

Paul feared that he would preach and be a castaway, didn’t he, forfeit his own reward. You can lose your reward if what you’ve done is worthless.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. You’re going to be judged on what is good and what is worthless, not what is evil. And what is worthless is burned up and there’s no reward.

Now there’s a third group of people that he talks about here. And they don’t build at all, they destroy. And this, has reference to unbelievers.

c. The destructive workers.

The nonbelievers. 1 Corinthians 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You know that you are as an individual are the temple of God? But did you know the church totally is God’s temple? 

1 Corinthians 3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

Do you know the church is sacred? What happened to somebody in the Old Testament who went into the holy of holies? They paid what? Their life. They died. Do you think God is less jealous of His spiritual house than He was of His earthly one? No. God is more jealous of the purity of His church. Even Paul said I want to present the church as a pure bride, a virgin to Christ. God wants a pure church. God doesn’t look kindly anybody who comes against His church to defile it or destroy it.

But there are some in this world trying to destroy the work that God’s people are doing. 1 1 Corinthians 3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

The quality test. Now let’s go to the test. Once the building’s up, there’s going to be inspection. That’s true with any building you build there’s going to be an inspection.

1 Corinthians 3:12-13 12If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.

There’s coming a day when everybody’s work is going to be tested. It’s just like we’re all going to take our buildings up to heaven and God’s going to light them and see what’s left; wood, hay, stubble which burns or gold, silver, and precious stones which do not burn. Every man’s work is going to be tested. Why? So God can determine what’s left and on what’s left, He’s going to do what? Reward you.

Every man shall have praise. 1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

You may only have a little piece of precious stone and a little hunk of gold left in your little pile when the fire’s done and God will say here’s your reward. You were faithful in that little. Everyone shall have praise. Revelation 22:12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. It’s going to be given when He comes. And it is not a penalty. It is a reward.

Illustration: A world-class woman runner was invited to compete in a road race in Connecticut. On the morning of the race, she drove from New York City, following the directions — or so she thought — given her over the telephone. She got lost, stopped at a gas station, and asked for help. She knew that the race started in the parking lot of a shopping mall. The station attendant also knew of such a race scheduled just up the road and directed her there.

When she arrived she was relieved to see in the parking lot a modest number of runners preparing to compete. Not as many as she’d anticipated; an easier race than she’d been led to expect. She hurried to the registration desk, announced herself, and was surprised by the race officials’ excitement at having so renowned an athlete show up for their race. No, they had no record of her entry, but if she’d hurry and put on this number, she could just make it before the gun goes off. She ran and, naturally, she won easily, some four minutes ahead of the first male runner in second place.

Only after the race–when there was no envelope containing her sizable prize and performance money– did she confirm that the event she’d run was not the race to which she’d been invited. That race was being held several miles farther up the road in another town. She’d gone to the wrong starting line, run the wrong course, and missed her chance to win a valuable prize.

4. Rewards.

You say what are the rewards going to be? Crowns.

a. An incorruptible crown. This is for those who are faithful to Scripture, obedient, and self-sacrificing. 1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

b. The crown of righteousness. For those who are faithful till Jesus comes. 2 Timothy 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

c. The crown of rejoicing. This is for those who win souls. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory (KJV crown of rejoicing) in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

d. The crown of glory. For faithful believers and ministers of God. 1 Peter 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

e. The crown of life. Those who love Jesus sacrificially. You have stood the test of faith. James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Conclusion: Beloved, there’s coming a day of rewards. It’s going to be as soon as Jesus gets here, so there won’t be any time for checking things out after we’ve gone. It’ll happen fast. What’ll happen when you face that time? What is your life going to be? What will it amount to? I trust you’ll have some crowns. You say, yeah, but I can’t imagine just having a bunch of crowns. What am I going to do with them? Are we going to have a crown shelf in heaven and anybody who comes over to our place, we say check my crowns, how many have you got?

Revelation 4:10-11 10the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

The church is casting its crowns at the feet of Christ. One of the reasons that we want to have a crown is to show the Lord we love Him and show Him faithful service, but another reason is that we may cast them at His feet in praise and adoration.

Let’s commit ourselves to build with care. Let’s Pray.