But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stubble; each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is. If any man’s work remains which he built on it, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire.(1 Corinthians 3:12-15,emphasis added)
Our lives and the ways we live them are our work. These verses teach that the foundation of all life is in Christ Jesus. A man’s work is demonstrated by the strength of his structure.
The stronger and more precious structures will be known by what remains after they have been subjected to fire. What fire? That would be the glorious fire of God. That would be the sanctifying fire of His love. God is a consuming fire. The remnant after the fire earns rewards for their builders. Every work will be subjected to the fire. The dross will be burned away and what remains brings glory to God. Some structures will leave no remnant. Those builders will have lost almost everything, if not everything, but those builders are not lost. They are saved. There is a fire to endure, but it is not a fire of eternal torture or punishment. It is a fire of restoration.
A. T. Robertson describes the condition of an evangelical man whose house is built of stubble and hay. He calls it a “tragedy of a fruitless life.” 1 Everything the good Christian preacher taught was not built on a solid foundation and was built with substandard material. “His sermons were empty.” His audience did not grow in Christ or in God’s Holy Word. “It is a picture of a wasted life.” No man came forward. No man gave testimony. No man was saved. “There are no souls in heaven as the result of his toil for Christ.” The one whose work left no impression on any other is reconciled to our Father by our Father’s grace just the same. It is mercy upon mercy, grace upon grace, that the one who did nothing is counted as the Father’s.
I pray my life has not been empty and that my work will leave a remnant; that God is glorified in some way. I know the sins of my life have been forgiven and that He remembers them no more. I pray that my life is not “…the picture of a wasted life.” All men are builders and our work has value in God’s sight. It is God Who subjects the work of all men to fire. No man’s work is excused and no man’s work will be overlooked. This is “The Blessed Hope.”
The doctrine of universal reconciliation does not exclude any man from God’s judgment. Rather, all men will be judged by God. We believe the most wretched man “…he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.” All men are builders and all men will experience God’s fire. This is Impartial Grace.
1 A. T. Robertson. “Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament.” Bible Study Tools website. http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/robertsons-word-pictures/1-corinthians/1-corinthians-3-15.html. Date accessed: 04/02/2018.