1 Corinthians 3:1-15 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual men, but as carnal, even as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine explained to me that he had noted on an application for a Christian school in Orange County for his children that he believed in “Free Grace” rather than “Lordship Salvation”. He then went on to explain that he was then advised by the principal of that school that his family would not be admitted to the school as a result of his "free grace" belief.
This saddens me because very Godly Christians stand firm on both sides of this issue. But one thing is certain; the school’s leadership was clearly showing where a legalistic viewpoint can easily end up. I am convinced this issue will not even exist in heaven. Jesus is and will be worshiped as Lord of all; and all who are there, will be there ONLY as a result of His sacrifice for us and His "Free Gift" of grace. I have previously stated my belief on this issue. The scripture above is one of many that strongly reinforces my "free grace" beliefs.
Lets begin here with the specific Greek words: Natural man 2:14 Psuchikos: this pertains to the natural, as distinguished from spiritual or glorified nature of man, driven by animal or fallen, sinful instincts of man. Carnal man 3:1 Sarkikos: has an affinity to natural sinful propensities. Affinity means: a natural liking or attraction; inherent likeness or close resemblance. Paul was clearly describing two different people. One (natural man) who could not receive the things of God, for they are foolishness to him … and another (carnal man) who did receive the things of God but who to a large degree appeared on the outside to live like the natural man. So the question is: Are they both lost spiritually and going to hell or, are carnal men saved and going to spend their lives with Christ in heaven? Lordship would teach that these carnal men are lacking of repentance, and therefore most likely never truly accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Beyond God and the individual person, how could someone else know that? Others have told me that these carnal Christians have a false hope, and have lost their salvation due to their sins. Without repentance they will be rejected by God, along with the goats singled out by God in yesterdays post. What do you think?
Now, let’s look at the teaching that follows and see what Paul has to say. First Paul talks about his teaching to them. He fed them milk, not meat. He did not expect them to be mature in Christ at the time of their conversion. A carnal person is a spiritually immature Christian, a babe in Christ, but please note: Paul did refer to them as brothers in Christ. By placing their faith in Christ, they had been justified (past tense) … in contrast to the natural man, this is the key difference in their spiritual position. Although carnal and behaving like mere men, the babes were saved, as a result of Christ’s work on the cross.
Paul then points to the evidence of their carnality … envy, strife and division over the teachings of men, rather than a focus on Christ and his Word. Next Paul explains that men are only ministers who God has spoken to them through, and that it is God who gives the increase, and that he and Appollos are not important. Think about it. How many Christians in our society today are focused on a minister rather than God and His Holy Truth? How many have allowed a teacher to come between them and Jesus Christ? How many millions have spent their entire Christian life never going beyond this carnal state of spirituality ... many as pastors or church leaders?
How about you? If your pastor’s teaching was demonstrated to be unbiblical, would you stand with him or with the truth? What would you do? I have been researching the teachings of a number of national Christian leaders and what I am finding is not Biblically correct. You need to be a Berean. Is this you God is talking to? Are you trying to be tolerant and politically correct, and as a result, have you and your church become Laodiceans?
Next, the apostle explains that there will be rewards according to our labor, in Heaven. We are God’s building. The context here is “according to the grace of God” (Ephesians 2:8-10) Paul laid a foundation which is Jesus Christ. Once again, this is the key difference between the natural man and the carnal man. The natural man viewed this foundation as foolishness and instead … his building is built on sand. Now Paul speaks to each believer: “But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” What would Oprah say to that?
Or what about this false teaching of two world renowned Christians, who agreed about this heretical teaching, on national TV?: “what do you think is the future of Christianity?" “Everybody that loves Christ or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not … they are members of the body of Christ. That is what God is doing today, He’s calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world or the Buddhist world or the Christian world or the non believing world … they are members of the body of Christ, because they have been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved and that they are going to be with us in heaven.” "Oh, I’m so thrilled to hear you say that … there’s a wideness in God’s mercy.” This is heresy. I greatly respect these men but their views here are contrary to the Bible. I have many more examples, but this should suffice for now. Our church is being led astray! We must be Bereans!
The day speaks of the time when Christ will judge the merits of His servant’s works … not whether they receive forgiveness of sin. The fire here does not refer to the eternal fire of damnation. Revelation 20:10. The warning is that we will each be erecting our house with different materials. Some pure works will stand the test of fire, and are compared to gold, silver, and precious stones. These Christians will receive rewards, according to their own labor. Other Christian’s efforts will be burned up, and they will suffer loss ... but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. We will be cleansed of our unworthiness by fire on this day. Does that mean I am teaching that Jesus is not my Lord? Never! NO! Never! It means that the Bible teaches that once I have accepted Christ's free gift of forgiveness and eternal life, I enter His protection eternally ... even if all my works are burned up … I will be saved like a man running from a "Burning House" in spite of myself. Not because of what I did; or did not do. I cannot earn my way to heaven. I can only have victory over my old self, as I abide in Christ and submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. I can only be saved eternally because Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and when I trust in Him ... by His grace, I am justified, and redeemed, and eternally positioned with Jesus spiritually in Heaven ... NOW and forever, past tense ... my forgiveness and salvation is finished. When I fall and I am sure I will, Christ will always be there to save me, forever, ALWAYS … for eternity.
Years ago, I was teaching this chapter in a bible study in my home. An atheist lady named Barbara was there and as I finished, she said; “that doesn’t make any sense. If that is true, then I can just pray to receive Christ and then do whatever I want” "Not a good Idea, Barbara, I said, ... read the next verse."
“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. 1 Cor. 3:16-17.
Barbara read it out loud and then said; “I don’t get it.” I then asked; “which YOU will God destroy, Barbara?” She said; “huh?” I then explained; “God has already promised eternal life to the man running from the burning house, If the spiritual you is secure for eternity ... then, God must be talking about the physical you that will be destroyed."
“Oh” she said; “I don’t want to go there.”
God Bless you my friends, Bob