Do Business Till I Come (part 4)

In the parable in Luke 19, the nobleman (the Lord Jesus has returned) called each servant to give an accounting of the use of his money. In like manner, believers in this age will one day be judged for the way that we have invested the grace gifts given to us for the building of the church of Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:3-7; 1 Cor. 12:1-31; Eph. 4:11-16). Speaking of this very truth, Isaiah said that when the Lord returns, He will bring His reward with Him (Isaiah 40:10; 62:11). Jeremiah, also weighed in, saying that the Lord gives to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings (Jer. 17:10). Jesus said in the last Bible book, the last chapter that He is coming quickly, and His reward is with Him, to give to everyone according to his work (Rev. 22:12).

I closed yesterday’s post with Paul’s powerful words, “take heed how you build upon it.” Speaking of building on the strong foundation of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-11), these words now ring in our ears. Here is the reason. Six building materials are mentioned: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw. The categories vary in value from gold, which in this case is most valuable, down to straw, which has almost no value at all. We conclude from this that quality matters with God. In whatever way the Holy Spirit has gifted you, or how long you have been given to use it, use it faithfully and to the very best of your ability.

Another obvious difference is that one category of material is noncombustible. Gold, silver, and precious stones will not burn. The other group of wood, hay, and straw will burn, but not to the same degree. Wood will burn to a lesser degree than hay. And last, straw will burn quickly. Each person’s work will be exposed to the fire of God’s judgment.  Every work will be brought into the light to determine whether the work has the quality of gold, silver, precious stone, or wood, hay, or just straw. There are obvious differences in value and reward from the gold quality all the way down to straw. 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. Note that the word “Day,” begins with a capital letter, noting a special Day (1 Cor. 10:13, Rom. 14:10-13).

The words “each one’s work” mean that no believer will bypass this judgment. I do not know if this will be a private judgment between our Lord and His child or if other servants will be privy to another servant’s judgment. But God’s word says that before his own master each will stand or fall (Romans 14:4). This gives us a clue. Zero in on the words “of what sort it is.” Note again that it is the quality of the work that will be judged, not the quantity. This gives great hope to those sheep who are called to the Shepherd late in life. They may feel that they have missed the boat, but this is simply not the case. They will always be given sufficient time to do quality work for the Lord, to fulfill their work of faith for Him. It will be the use of their time and of their spiritual assets that will matter.

If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward (1 Cor. 3:14). That is, if anyone’s work which is built upon the foundation of Christ comes through the flames of God’s judgment, that believer will be rewarded.  Four crowns are mentioned in the New Testament, indicating the quality of ruling in the kingdom. These will be mentioned in a later post.  

Back again to the parable of the nobleman, we find that the last servant is called before the master with no investment gain at all and with a sour attitude. He had hidden his mina away, for he was afraid. He said to the nobleman, “You collect what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow” (Luke 19:21). The servant denied his master what rightfully belonged to him. As a result, this servant lost everything. His mina was given to the one who had ten minas.

The nobleman said that to everyone who has, more will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him (Luke 19:26). Please note, this unfaithful servant, though he lost his reward, remained a servant. The nobleman said to bring “his enemies,” those not wanting to submit to his reign, and kill them. He did not include the servant.

This has clear parallel at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Paul finished the section on rewards by saying, “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss” (1 Cor. 3:15a). What does it mean to suffer loss? I think it means exactly what it says. The believer will suffer the loss of reward and loss of the quality of reigning with the King in His kingdom (the cities).  Paul does not say that he may suffer loss; he says that he will suffer loss.

Paul quickly added, “But he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15b). The possibility that a vast reward for a believer’s works may all go up in smoke is very real, but he or she will be saved in the end. This is obviously talking about eternal security and shows once again the immense value of the shed blood of Christ.  These unprofitable “servants” will go into the kingdom and be very happy just to be in the kingdom of their Lord.  But they could have had so much more. Stay safe and stay tuned.