Some Christians believe that if a saved person enters into a sinful lifestyle and fails to repent then he will still get to heaven but will lose rewards. Their proof text is 1 Cor. 3:13-15 which say, “his work will be shown for what it is … the fire will test the quality of each man's work ... If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames”. Notice that these verses are referring to the testing of a man's work, not sin. In this article I would like to show that, in context, these verses are not speaking about sin in the least but about how we work to build on the foundation of the gospel of Jesus.


Beginning with 1 Cor. 1:11-13 and 1 Cor. 3:1-8, these verses tell us that the Corinthians were fighting about whether they should follow Paul, Apollos or Cephas. Paul said that their focus should be on Jesus because men are mere servants with assigned tasks; one man plants, another waters and each man will be rewarded according to his own labour. Next, in 1 Cor. 3:9-11, he continues on to say that we are God's workers, His field and His building (His church) and that he, Paul, has laid a foundation as an expert builder and each of us must be careful how we build on that foundation, which is Jesus Christ.


Then 1 Cor. 3:12-15 talk about how we build the church and warn that fire will test the quality of each man's work. The verses say that we can -

a) Build with gold, silver or costly stones and receive our reward or

b) Build with wood, hay or straw and, although we will still be saved, our work will be burned up.

Building with gold, silver or costly stones represent good leadership and sound doctrine while wood, hay and straw represent poor leadership and unsound doctrine. Sin is not in question here.


So far, Paul has spoken about building the church with either good or poor leadership and doctrine but now he continues on to speak about bad leadership and doctrine which destroys a church. 1 Cor. 3:16-17 say, Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you [plural] are that temple. The term “God's temple” is referring to the church, the body of Christ, and these verses say that God will destroy anyone who destroys His church (see 2 Pet. 2).


Then, from 1 Cor. 3:18, Paul continues on to further warn us not to follow men. In 1 Cor. 4:6 he sums up what he has said so far (from 1 Cor. 3:1) by saying that he has applied these things to himself and Apollos so that we could learn the meaning of the saying, “'Do not go beyond what is written.' Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. He is saying that the entire passage is to warn us not to follow men but to stay with what is written. In 1 Cor. 4:2 he said, “it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful”, and it is by not going beyond what is written that we remain faithful to that trust.


So we are being warned not to follow man's ideas but to use the written Word to build on the foundation of Jesus because our rewards will be according to the way we build.

  • If we build well then we will be rewarded.

  • If we build poorly then we will still be saved but lose our rewards.

  • If anyone destroys the church then he will be destroyed.


If we attempt to make sin the context of this passage then it will make no sense at all as words like build, labour and work don't relate to sin. Likewise, sin can't be related to building with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay and straw unless we say that we will be rewarded for good sins and lose our reward for bad sins. The fact is, sin and its reward are not the subject of this passage. The reward for sin is dealt with elsewhere where we are told that the wages of sin is death, not a loss of heavenly rewards.


This article can be downloaded from http://www.christianissues.biz/pdf-bin/blogarticles/losingourreward...



Mick Alexander

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Comment by Apostle of Christ Solael on November 14, 2011 at 4:57pm

@Mick:  You too!  I enjoy truthful teachings of God - and not the teachings of those who want to interpret His Word, the way they want it to mean for their lives.  Therefore, I will jump in - with the joy of God, and spread His Word through those who speak such truths!

Comment by Mick Alexander on November 14, 2011 at 4:22pm

Hello Oracle,

Thanks for your comment Oracle. Keep spreading the Word.


God bless,


Comment by Apostle of Christ Solael on November 14, 2011 at 3:43pm

Most Excellent!  I will be using this teaching on my site, giving you the credit! I also see it a bit differently, but about the same.  Using the Amplified Version, to help explain what I have asked my Lord to interpret is as follows:


1 Cor 3:13-15 The work of each (one) will become (plainly, openly) known (shown for what it is); for the day (of Christ) will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worthy of the work each person has done. (14) If the work which any person has built on this Foundation (and product of his efforts whatever) survives (this test), he will get his reward (15) But if any person's work is burned up (under the test), he will suffer the loss (of it all, losing his reward), though he himself will be saved, but only as (one who has passed) through fire.


What I interpret is that it is your works (in life -what you do in daily life) that will be disclosed at judgment, because it will be revealed with fire (God is) - and if the work that any person has built on this foundation (Earth) (in other words - if the person endures) endures through all of the tests that the enemy has put them through (with God's allowance), to try to get them to lose faith, then they shall receive their reward.  But if a person falters or fails during these testing times, then they shall lose their reward.  What God does is postpone His Grace (gifts), which are unanswered prayers.


Since we are a bit different, I looked up the verse in the King James Bible Commentary (verse by verse), to see our differences, yet similarities.


1 Cor 3:13-15  Every man's work shall be made manifest.  While it is possible to hide the true quality of one's service for Chirst in this life, there is coming a time when it will be openly displayed for what it is.  The time is given in the words the day.  This is the day of the Judgement Seat of Christ.  Fire - This is figurative for judgment.  More specifically, it speaks of the absolutely righteous judgment of God.  Fire is used here, not for it enlightening power, but it's consuming power.  Of the six types of material mentioned, three are combustible and three are incombustible.  Abide ...reward..burned...loss - the result of the judgment are broken into two categories.  If a man's work remains undamaged by the fire, accordingly he receives rewards - of course, it goes without saying that even the wages mentioned here are entirely a gift of grace.  If a man's work does not endure, and is consumed in the fire, then he shall suffer loss.  Everything he has devoted himself to in this life shall be suddenly swept away.  But he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire - It is important to notice that such a man does not suffer the loss of his salvation, but the loss of reward.  The stress in this entire passage is not upon man's relationship to Christ, but upon service to Christ. 


The fire of the tests in life - when you endure with Faith, you are rewarded by the Grace of God.


Nelson, Thomas. Nelson King James Version Bible Commentary:  Complete Verse-by Verse Commentary. Nelson Publishers. 2005. 1464


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