Salvation and Rewards: Part Four


Learn about your rewards as a Christian from a study of five verses in 1 Corinthians 3.

Our study today is going to be of five verses in 1 Corinthians 3. They are verses about rewards, and in this passage God tells us just what we need to know. We will study the verses one by one to learn just what they mean.

First let us read the verses all together—1 Corinthians 3:11-15.

Verse 11 is a verse about salvation. It speaks of the foundation of our faith. What is a foundation? The foundation of a house is the firm structure upon which it is built. A house without a foundation would soon fall. Matthew 7:24-27 tells the story of two houses, one of which had a foundation and the other did not. The one with no foundation fell, when a storm came up on it. Our foundation is the only true foundation—the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one in whom we believe, and who keeps us saved and safe.

But when a house is built there is more than the foundation. There is the building on top of the foundation. Verse eleven speaks of this. Jesus is the foundation, the beginning of our Christian life. But as we go on living, we are building every day. Everything we do is like a stone or a piece of timber in the building. There are different materials that Christians use. Some use gold, silver and precious stones. Others use wood, hay and stubble. Which kind of building would last longer? This is explained in verse twelve. But verse thirteen shows how the building is proved. This time it is not with a storm, but with fire—the fire of God's justice. If a fire should start near one of these houses, which would burn, the one of gold, silver, and precious stones, or the one made of wood, hay, and stubble? Of course the latter would burn immediately, but the other would not burn at all, for you cannot set fire to a diamond, or a piece of gold! The judgment of the believers works will show right away whether he has built his spiritual house of the gold, silver, and precious stones of good works, or the wood, hay, and stubble of worthless deeds. We should note that "any man" sow a nor mean every man, but any believer. If a teacher says, "Any boy may have one of these books," he does not mean any boy in town, but any boy in the class.

Verse fourteen brings us back to the subject we have been studying—rewards. For it tells us what? That if any believers work remains, and is not burned, which he has built on the one true foundation of faith in Christ, he will receive a reward. That is exactly what we have learned. At that day when Jesus comes and we come before Him to be judged for our works, He will try them, and if they are good, like gold, silver, and precious stones, we shall receive a reward.

But verse fifteen gives the darker side of the picture. For there are some who will not trust and obey the Lord. They would rather have their own way, even though they are saved. They like to choose their own works, and too often they are not good works, but works of wood, hay, and stubble. When the fire of judgment (the fire is a symbol of the searching of the Lord into our works) comes, these works prove to be no good, and are "burned,” or judged to be worthless. Then he suffers loss—which means that he loses his reward. But, since he is a saved man, he does not lose his salvation, but only his reward. He himself is saved, yet so as by fire, or as though he had been saved from a burning house—just himself saved, but not a single thing with him. Surely we want to build with gold, silver and precious stones, so that we will be like the first man, and not like the one who loses his possessions.


  • What must Christians build their foundation on?
  • Why can we not trust in our own efforts or work?
  • What are the consequences of doing so?
  • What does "gold, silver, and precious stones" represent?
  • What does "wood, hay, and stubble" represent?


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