Part 3 – Where are we going?
CHAPTER 4 – From Here to Eternity (Continued)
My Conduct Here Will Affect My Outcome in Glory
(The Relationship Between Our Present Position – Who I Am In Christ – And Our Ultimate Maturity At The Resurrection!)
What will the final goal be for the Christian who knows who he is in Christ?” is an important question that might be asked as a person gains understanding as to his position in Christ.
HOW ONE’S LIFETIME RELATES TO
ETERNITY FOR THE CHILD OF GOD
6. GLORY IN AND TO CHRIST IN OUR LABORS WITH GOD – II Thessalonians 1:10-12,
…He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Wherefore, also, we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power,
…That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him, according to the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.
This Scripture brings into focus the truth that there is glorification which will accrue to Christ at His coming by means of those who have believed. In addition, the believers will be in admiration of Christ in His being glorified. Paul’s prayer in view of these facts suggests the importance of lives being lived by the believers which are consistent with that ultimate glory.
There is a combined work of God in the believer along with one’s own involvement in the working out of the purpose of God. It reminds us of Christ’s invitation to those who heard His teaching, Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me(Matt. 11:29a, b), or of the statement taken from I Corinthians 3:9, We are laborers together with God. The believer is afforded the privilege of cooperating in the working out of God’s purpose in his life, which purpose has eternal value. God’s goodness brings good pleasure to Him as such a cooperative work is allowed to be brought to fulfillment by the believer. As the believer lives in faith and comes to understand the purpose of God as it is worked out in the believer’s life, God’s power is made available for God’s purpose to be fulfilled in the believer. In other words, the teaching is that the combined purpose of God in the believer’s life is for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to be glorified in the believer and the believer in Christ on the basis of the grace of God and of Christ.
7. GOD’S CONFIRMATION TO BELIEVERS – TO BE BLAMELESS AT CHRIST’S RETURN – I Corinthians 1:4-8,
I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ, That in everything ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge, Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you; So that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The believer is seen in this passage as standing blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. A prayer of thanksgiving is given to God expressing thanks for His grace that enriches believers with the knowledge of Christ, in expectation of the coming of Christ, and Christ is committed to accomplishing the completed task in the lives of believers. It is most significant that Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians with this positive emphasis, inasmuch as he finds it necessary to write to them in a disciplinary manner throughout the major part of both epistles. But it helps the one who reads these letters to see that Paul distinguished in his approach to the Corinthian situation between who they are in Christ and whatever inconsistency may be evident in their conduct toward one another. In correcting them, he appears to be able to be free from any attitude of disdain for them in regard to their poor conduct, because he sees them in the light of their ultimate blameless state in Christ’s presence. It is likewise possible, in view of Christ’s coming, for Christians today to see fellow-believers as being more than their present conduct would indicate, and to see them by faith in their completed state as blameless in the day of Christ.
8. BELIEVERS’ WORKS RESULT IN ETERNAL REWARDS AT THE BEMA JUDGMENT – I Corinthians 3:9-15,
(See also JUDGMENT FOR BELIEVERS, and JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST, Numbers 17, 22 of the 53 Scripture Passages of Chapter 4.)
For we are laborers together with God; ye are God’s cultivated field, ye are God’s building.
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth on it. But let every man take heed how he buildeth upon it.
For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble-
Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall test every man’s work of what sort it is.
If any man’s work abides which he hath built upon it, he shall receive a reward.
If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet as by fire.
This passage can be regarded as the classic Scripture to illustrate the relationship that exists between the life and conduct of the believer during his earthly walk and the eternal results which will be made clearly manifest when we appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Paul begins his declaration by referring to himself as a co-laborer with God in laying the foundation for a building, obviously picturing the church in a perpetual state of being under construction. Since he evidently has in mind a time frame that has no definite terminal point, he is most likely making reference primarily to the work Jesus referred to when He said, I will build my church, Matt. 16:18. Thus, the Scripture is describing the church beyond its localized sense in a place such as Corinth, to a more general sense of the church’s spanning space and time beyond the immediate. The church is comprised of other believers engaged in building upon the foundation laid by the apostles, who are exhorted to take heed as to the quality of the material used in building as to whether it will withstand the day when each man’s work will be tested in fire as God sorts out the character of each man’s work.
Six elements are used to describe man’s works within the building process – wood, hay, stubble, gold, silver, and precious stones. As these six elements are tested in the fire, there are basically two results: either the elements are consumed by the fire -the wood, hay, and stubble – or they are purified by the fire – the gold, silver, or precious stones.
The spiritual significance of this figure becomes clear as we describe the elements as being temporal or eternal. Some Christians who are involved in God’s work may find at the judgment seat of Christ that all or most works which they did in Christian ministry had little eternal value, was of the flesh, and was only temporal when the works are passed through the scrutiny of God’s judging fire. The works of those who have operated under the Spirit’s control, on the other hand, will have eternal value, and those doing the works will receive rewards. The rewards probably refer to more than the three elements of gold, silver, and precious stones and may include the crowns mentioned throughout the New Testament.
Walking in the Spirit or walking according to the flesh will make the difference of one’s own service, whether his work is being done from a God-glorifying motive or a self-fulfilling motive. Another way of stating it could be, “Am I doing work for God, or am I allowing Him to work through me?” The latter attitude seems to be more consistent with Paul’s figure of being co-laborers with God.
The distinction between spiritual and eternal, or fleshly and temporal, as applied to the believer’s works or service, has reference to those things that are of value in both time and eternity, or that are only of value in time, respectively. Some works are limited to time, time referring to life on earth. At the end of time there will be no remembrance of those temporal works. Those things which are eternal will be valuable both in time and in eternity. The individual can only be sure that his work is of eternal value as it is under the control of the Spirit of God by walking in the Spirit.
Therefore, the individual who desires to be most effective in the eternal sense in his work and ministry can be assured that as he submits to the administrative control and spiritual resource of being filled with the Spirit in an ongoing basis, i.e., submitting to the Spirit repeatedly, work of eternal worth will be evident at the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10).
9. JUDGING TO TAKE PLACE LATER, NOT NOW – I Corinthians 4:5,33
Therefore, judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.
The admonition to judge nothing before the time apparently is the answer to a problematic situation that existed in Corinth, and more particularly in regard to some Corinthian people’s attitudes toward Paul himself (vs. 1‑3). The warning is that until Christ returns, individual believers do not need to, nor in fact, are they able to, fully determine whether another man’s service for Christ will be worthy of eternal value, since (1) one’s entire life-time must be lived before such a determination is made, and (2) only God can bring into perspective those factors which are known only to omniscient God, i.e., the unseen or hidden things pertaining to such judgment, and the heart attitudes in which the service was accomplished. As a result, only the praise that comes from God as time gives way to absolute eternity is of value; man’s incomplete, temporal judgment of other people’s works will be obviously worthless.
Equally true today are these principles that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. The things that we accomplish in our lifetime will be evaluated by God at the end of time as to their eternal worth. We are freed from having to make such a determination concerning other people’s works.
10. OUR BODY – TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – FOR GLORIFYING GOD – I Corinthians 6:19,20,
What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
The heart of the matter of the relationship of the believer’s present life and the eternal results coming from it rest in the truth that the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling place within the individual believer. Thus, the Holy Spirit desires the believer to obey Christ’s commands and to make himself available totally in spirit, soul, and body to the Holy Spirit for spiritual power, direction, and service. In this way, the believer’s life will be such as will glorify God. The believer’s yielding to the Spirit and being “in character” with what he is in Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, will serve as protection from the person’s self-destructive ways of conversely operating in the flesh.
Next Week: Continuing through Fifty-Three Scripture Passages
Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein
Used with permission.
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.