Gold, Silver, Precious Stones

“The true Gospel is so simple, you have to have someone help you to misunderstand it.” -Andrew Wommack

One of my favorite quotes from Andrew Wommack is, “The true Gospel is so simple, you have to have someone help you to misunderstand it.” The unfortunate truth is that we’ve had plenty of help! The gospel that many people know isn’t the true Gospel, it’s someone else’s opinion of the Gospel. The God that many of us have heard isn’t the one true God, it’s someone’s opinion of who God is.

In a previous blog post, I explained the importance of understanding the Word for yourself. My life has been radically transformed through many different ministries, but it’s only because I’ve taken the things they teach and studied them for myself. I went from an angry, alcoholic veteran with post-traumatic stress to being completely set free in a very short amount of time because I took the things I learned and studied them in the Word. You will never experience real change through somebody else’s relationship with God.

Many times, change doesn’t happen by learning new things, but by unlearning old things we’ve been taught. We have to approach verses without a preconceived idea of what they mean. As I’ve grown in my own personal relationship with God, I’ve come to realize that God is not an angry old man with a lightning bolt waiting to strike you down for everything you do wrong, but a loving Father who has provided everything you will ever need for life and godliness (1Peter 1:3). He’s not judging America with earthquakes and terrorist attacks, but He sent Jesus to save the entire world from judgement (John 3:16-17).

I’m not claiming to have all the answers. Sometimes I still come across a verse that I struggle with, but I don’t throw away everything good I know about God because of that one verse. I pray for wisdom and clarity, and I study verses in context. When we take the text out of context, we’re left with a con! 

 

A New Understanding

So, what do we do? How do we begin to experience God’s best in our lives? The answer is in a passage that I believe has been misunderstood for a very long time.

9 For we are God ‘s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

(1 Corinthians 3:9-15)

The way I’ve heard this passage preached in the past is something like this:

One day we will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ with all our works piled up beside us. If you’ve accomplished what God has called you to in love, it will be made of gold, silver, and precious stones. All the bad things you’ve done will be made up of wood, hay, and straw. Even the good things you’ve done with the wrong motive will fall into this category! Then, God is going to take out his blow torch and light it up! All of your bad works will be nothing but ashes, and you’ll receive a reward for everything that withstands the fire. You’ll still be saved, but you won’t receive as many rewards.

In “How To Know If You Are Believing Right,” I explained an easy way to know if what you have a correct view of who God is.  If what you believe about God causes you to experience fear, stress, doubt, or worry, you don’t know the love of God because perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:8). Keeping your focus on God should only produce peace (Isaiah 26:3).

This interpretation of 1 Corinthians 3 has always rubbed me the wrong way for multiple reasons. First, it causes me to no longer be at peace in my relationship with God, I’m worried and fearful about whether my good deeds were enough. I call it spiritual dyslexia. Instead of allowing God’s perfect love to produce good works in our lives, we are trying to earn things from God through our good works. Second, it takes my focus off of Jesus and back on to myself. Everything involved in salvation was given to me by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).  Placing my focus and trust in what Jesus accomplished through His death, burial, and resurrection is the only way to experience true freedom and victory.

So, what is Paul trying to communicate here? If we read this with a better understand of who God is and our new identity in Christ, it’s very different from what you might have heard in the past. In the first few verses, Paul explains that we are God’s building and Jesus Christ is the foundation. How we build ourselves on that foundation matters, but it doesn’t result in a heavenly payday. The materials you build yourself in will produce rewards in your life today!

For some reason, we tend to push things off for when we get to Heaven. We think that we’ll never experience all the benefits of God until we leave this earth and see Him face to face. The truth is, we can experience the fullness of God right here in this world today through a relationship with Him! Eternal life is more than going to Heaven when we die, it’s intimately knowing our Father today (John 17:3).

1 Corinthians 3:13 says that the day will come when our works will be revealed by fire and it will test our works. In some Bible translations, the word “day” has a capital “D” which leads many to believe it’s talking about Judgment Day. I believe this is a poor interpretation of this word. The greek word for “Day” is hēmera and it means the time space between dawn and dark, or the whole 24 hours. Paul is not talking about Judgment Day, he is simply talking about any day.

The fire that Paul is talking about is trials in life. A common phrase we use is “trial by fire,” and it doesn’t mean literal fire. Bad things happen in the world. Trials and tribulations happen—fire happens. It’s not God punishing us or judging the nations. There are many reason why we experience these bad things in our life, but we can be confident in the fact that God never causes them! Being a christian doesn’t stop all fires from happening in our life, but our response to those things changes as we grow in our understanding of the Gospel (John 16:33).

Materials – Wood, Hay, Straw

There is a reason why Paul chose wood, hay, and straw in this passage. A simple word study in a Greek lexicon will reveal what each of these material represent. Wood” (xylon in Greek) is used to describe a log or timber with holes in which the feet, hands, neck of prisoners were inserted and fastened with thongs. Hay (chortos in Greek) was mixed with mud to temporarily fix cracks in walls. Straw (kalamē in Greek) was used as a measuring reed. Each of these materials represent something that is produced by religion.

Religion:

    1. Keeps you in bondage (Wood).
    2. Is a temporary fix to the cracks in your life (Hay).
    3. You will never measure up (Straw).

 

Materials – Gold, Silver, Precious Stones

Likewise, there is a reason why Paul used gold, silver, and precious stones in this passage. I will go into more detail in a later blogpost, but these 3 materials represent everything that is encompassed in the Gospel of Grace:

Grace:

    1. Gold – Righteousness (Identity)
    2. Silver – Redemption
    3. Precious Stones – The Heart of God

With this understanding of what is represented in 1 Corinthians 3, we can see that what you believe matters. When the trials of living in this fallen world occur, religion gets burned up and you suffer loss. You will take every bad thing that happens and think it’s God trying to teach you something. You will think every sickness is punishment for some sin you committed. When you begin to learn your brand new identity in Christ (Gold), what was accomplished on the cross (Silver), and God’s true nature (Precious Stones), you can always come out on top!

Grace Is Rewarding!

We don’t have to wait until we get to Heaven to receive a reward. If the world throws sickness at you, you can be rewarded with healing. If the enemy throws depression your way, you can be rewarded with peace and joy. If you’ve built yourself up in the amazing grace of God, you’ll know that no fire can burn you up. You can always see victory in any situation because the cross worked! When you are confident in who you are and Whose you are, nothing shall by any means hurt you (Luke 10:19).

Clint ZellerComment