BUILDING WITH GOLD, SILVER, AND PRECIOUS STONES
The clearest passage in the Bible about the reward is 1 Corinthians 3:14-15: "If anyone’s work which he has built upon the foundation remains, he will receive a reward; if anyone’s work is consumed, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved." This shows us clearly what a Christian cannot lose and what he can lose. Once a person is saved, he is surely saved forever. But whether or not such a one will receive a reward cannot be decided today. A Christian’s eternal salvation is settled already. But the future reward is a question that is still pending. It is decided by how one builds upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus. Our salvation does not depend on how we build. It depends only on how the Lord builds. If His work is perfect, we are surely saved. However, whether or not we will receive the reward or suffer loss depends on our own building work. If one builds with gold, silver, and precious stones, things with eternal value, upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus, he will surely receive a reward. But if he builds with wood, hay, and stubble, he will not receive a reward before God. He may have much before man, yet he will not have much before God. This shows us that it is possible for a man to lose his reward and to have his work burned away.
Let me repeat this. Thank God that the matter of our eternal salvation was decided over nineteen hundred years ago. When the Son of God was hung on the cross, the question of our salvation was settled. But whether or not we will receive the reward depends on how we behave. The truth of the gospel is very balanced. Salvation rests totally with the Lord Jesus. The giving of salvation depends absolutely on the Lord Jesus. However, whether or not one can obtain his reward depends on his own building work. Man must believe, and he also must work. This work is not his own work, but what the Holy Spirit has worked out in him. Here we see that it is possible for us to lose our reward. It is also possible for us to be disapproved for the kingdom and to have our crown taken away. It seems that our position in the kingdom is never settled; it is subject to change and not assured.
HOLDING FAST THE BOAST OF HOPE
Hebrews 3:6 gives us a similar word. "But Christ was faithful as a Son over His house, whose house we are if indeed we hold fast the boldness and the boast of hope firm to the end." Here it seems uncertain as to whether or not we are His house. The apostle said that we are His house if we hold fast the boldness and the boast of hope firm to the end. What is this house and this hope? This blessed hope is nothing other than that of the Lord Jesus returning in glory to set up His kingdom on the earth. If a Christian has such a hope, knowing that the Lord Jesus will come again to set up His kingdom in glory, and knowing that all those faithful ones who do the will of God will reign with the Lord, if such a one holds fast to this, he will be His house. Today we are His house already. We are all living stones built into a spiritual house. This is what Peter has told us (1 Pet. 2:5). But how we will fare in the future kingdom depends on how we hold fast. This matter cannot be decided once and for all. There are many verses in the Bible concerning this, and all are very clear. The problem of eternity is totally settled, but the matter of position and reward in the kingdom depends on how we hold fast today.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 21, by Watchman Nee)