“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his 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 man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (Reference: 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 )
This posting has a long title . . . . because I am placing in it many ideas and concepts. And that is because, beloved, there are many ideas and concepts that are reflected in these few verses. The writer of 1 Corinthians has done himself proud in its thought and construction. In order to be sure I grasped it correctly, I consulted Albert Barnes. And as always he stated the case so well that I could not improve upon it.
Barnes wrote concerning this passage, “The apostle does not say that Christians will be doomed to the fires of purgatory; nor that they will pass through fire; nor that they will be exposed to pains and punishment at all; but he “simply carries out the figure” which he commenced, and says that they will be saved, as if the action of fire had been felt on the edifice on which he is speaking. That is, as fire would consume the wood, hay, and stubble, so on the great Day everything that is erroneous and imperfect in Christiana [sic] [I assume Christianity is meant] shall be removed, and that which is true and genuine shall be preserved as if it had passed through fire. Their whole character and opinions shall be investigated; and that which is good shall be approved; and that which is false and erroneous be removed.
The idea is not that of a man whose house is burnt over his head and who escapes through the flames, nor that of a man who is subjected to the pains and fires of purgatory; but that of a man who had been spending his time and strength to little purpose; who had built, indeed, on the true foundation, but who had reared so much on it which was unsound, and erroneous, and false, that he himself would be saved with great difficulty, and with the loss of much of that reward which he had expected, as if the fire had passed over him and his works. The simple idea, therefore, is, that that which is genuine and valuable in his doctrines and works, shall be rewarded, and the man shall be saved; that which is not sound and genuine, shall be removed, and he shall suffer loss. Some of the fathers, indeed, admitted that this passage taught that all people would be subjected to the action of fire in the great conflagration with which the world shall close; that the wicked shall be consumed; and that the righteous are to suffer, some more and some less, according to their character.”
Having consulted Barnes and finding a well written exegesis I wondered if I had done have as well when I wrote on this passage five years ago. And while it is no Barnes exegesis, in its own way it captures the essence of this passage as well. So I have proved a link to it here. The Best Foundation Anywhere
All that remains beloved is to encourage and exhort you (especially during this season of Advent) to build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, using things that will endure. Selah!