Ministerial Alliance Program- KLMX
Focusing on Eternity Part 2
1st Baptist Church, Des Moines, NM
Welcome back to the Ministerial Alliance program here on KLMX radio. Iím tackling a pretty deep subject this week and that is the subject of our lives in the face of eternity. As I mentioned yesterday, what started me thinking on this was the death of my 11 year old son, David, on Memorial Day of this year. David and I did a lot of things together in his short life and I started wondering about whether or not those things had any value. I, of course, am a Christian and I believe there is a life in Jesus Christ after our death here on earth. But in reading, researching, and thinking about this topic, I was quickly reminded that not all people have that hope. Atheists and philosophers, in particular, have a far less hopeful future than I do and I discussed some of their worldview yesterday. I also pointed out that Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, addresses, agrees with, but then counters their philosophy. Unfortunately, it seems to me that even many Christians fail to see the big picture, that is, the picture of eternity and how our actions stand up in the face of such. What Iíd like to do today then, God willing, is explore that path and try to push you Christians (including myself!) to keep eternity in sight as you go about your lives.
Letís start with the passage I ended with yesterday:
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NKJV According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. (11) For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, (13) 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. (14) If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
This is Paul writing to the church at Corinth, telling them several things:
there is no foundation apart from Jesus Christ
we must build on this foundation
our works will be tested
a. some of those works will burn in the testing and the builder will receive no reward
b. some of them will endure and the builder will receive a reward
all who are on the foundation of Jesus Christ, even if their works burn, will be saved.
Well, I guess the first and most important thing here is to be on the foundation of Christ! You cannot build apart from this foundation as Jesus Himself makes clear in Matthew 7 when he talks about building on the sand vs building on the rock. Atheists do not have this foundation and their philosophies will not stand in the face of eternity. Their philosophy is, literally, hopeless. If you read any of the nihilist or existentialistic philosophers you will see this. They can offer no hope in the face of eternity because they have none themselves. By dramatic contrast, Christianity is all about hope. We definitely can struggle to understand the world around us- Solomon spends all of Ecclesiastes expounding this struggle- but in the end, we have hope. When David died, I didnít know for absolutely certain that he is in a better place because I havenít seen it with my own eyes, but I have great hope. Hereís Paul:
Romans 8:24-25 NKJV For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? (25) But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
Romans 5:3-5 NKJV And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; (4) and perseverance, character; and character, hope. (5) Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
So, because I hope in Jesus Christ and the truth of His resurrection, I can have all the hope in the world, and not just in the world, but all the hope that there is. Some might comment that one can hope in something thatís not true and that hope wonít make it true. Thatís a good comment. Letís see how it stands up.
Suppose our atheist philosophers are correct and there is nothing beyond the grave. They- as well as Solomon- correctly see that if there is no life beyond death and there is no eternity, then all is in vain. In that case, then my false hope amounts to nothing anyway. Nothing amounts to anything and everything amounts to nothing. As Solomon said, "Vanity, all is vanity". But if Iím right and Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which everything must be built, then what I do does count for something. Itís a bad analogy, but itís a little bit like a raffle- if you buy a ticket, you have a very slim chance of winning, but if you donít buy a ticket, you have zero chance of winning. The difference here is that the ticket Jesus gives me is guaranteed by Him to be a winner. My faith and hope lie in him, not in chance or probabilities. I can bank on Him or I can bank on the hopeless philosophies of men. I can embrace the Creator or I can succumb to the chaos. Well, I donít know about you, but Iím going with hope.
So, having decided to build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, what do I build? The text says:
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NKJV Ö But let each one take heed how he builds on it. (11) For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, (13) 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. (14) If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Do I literally build with gold, silver, and precious stones? I donít think so. Paul is using an analogy here to show that certain things have eternal value and others do not. What things are fire-proof, with eternal value? Letís let Scripture define Scripture. Are there any other places where the New Testament writers use gold, silver, or precious stones as an analogy? I found these:
2 Timothy 2:19-21 NKJV Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." (20) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. (21) Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
In this passage, Paul is comparing vessels of gold and silver to those of wood and clay and says that the former are for honor. The vessels of honor are "useful for the Master, prepared for every good work." Well, again, we see a distinction between works that last and works that donít. The distinction is that the works that last are useful for the Master. Letís consider this passage next:
1 Peter 1:6-9 NKJV In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, (7) that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (8) whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, (9) receiving the end of your faith- the salvation of your souls.
Peter is saying that we sometimes endure trials, in fact we are "grieved" by them. The purpose of these trials is so that our faith- which is more precious than gold- will be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Here, then, we have a passage which indicates that our faith is more precious than gold. It seems then that the exercise of our faith is a good thing to do on our foundation. However, this faith needs to be exercised correctly and Peter gives us that exercise when he says "praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ". Now, remember, you canít claim your faith itself as a good work:
Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Faith is not of ourselves but is a gift of God, specifically so that no one can boast of it. Therefore, it seems to be the exercise or the use of that faith in a God-glorifying direction that is our actual good work. I can see when a person might exercise their faith, but do so in a manner that glorifies them, rather than God. In fact, any time someone says "I didÖ" or "I builtÖ" or "I fedÖ.", I think theyíd better be careful. Yes, you did those things but it was only because God gave you the ability to do this. Better to say "God granted me the ability toÖ" It seems to me that glorifies God. Letís see if this passage doesnít support that thought:
Philippians 4:13 NKJV I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Here Paul gives credit to Christ for the strength, and I think that should be our attitude.
What Iím driving at in this lesson, then, is the fact that we should be thinking about our actions in the light of eternity. Many of the things we do will not last thru the testing fire. Those in Christ will be saved, but will not receive the reward they might have otherwise received. So, think about the things you do and ask yourself- are they of this world, or are they heaven-oriented? Do they glorify you, or do they glorify God thru Jesus Christ? In short:
1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, (24) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
1 Peter 4:10-11 NKJV As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (11) If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
You must do these things from the foundation of Jesus Christ. If you are not on that foundation, your first goal must be to repent of the hopeless and vain philosophies of the world and be established on the rock.
Iíll be back tomorrow at 9:45 am here on KLMX radio.