TRIED BY FIRE
Now we come to 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. These verses are very clear. "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 try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire" (lit.). These verses tell us that all our works will be tried by fire. If we build with gold, silver, and precious stones, they will remain. If we build with wood, hay, and stubble, they will be consumed by the fire. If our work abides at that time, we shall receive a reward. It does not say that we shall receive salvation, but a reward. In addition to our salvation, we shall receive a reward. Furthermore, it does not say that if a man’s work is burned, he will perish. It says he shall suffer loss. To suffer loss does not mean to perish. The last part of the verse says that he himself shall be saved. Do not comfort yourself, however, by saying that as long as you are saved, you are okay. Don’t neglect the words "as through fire." What do the words "as through fire" mean? I do not know, but I do know that the pure Word of the Scripture says that we shall be saved "as through fire" at the Lord’s coming back. Certainly this will not be a pleasant experience.
Don’t think that these verses in 1 Corinthians apply to the Jews, or that this is a dispensational matter which does not apply to the believers in Christ. Please remember this was a letter written to the Gentile believers in the city of Corinth, which was a city in Greece. This was a letter written to those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus in every place (1:2). This means this letter is also written to us. We must take heed to this word. After we have been saved we will never lose our salvation. Once God gives you salvation, it is eternal. The suffering of loss does not refer to losing salvation. Our God is not so simple. Even parents in dealing with their children are not so simple. When they are good, they may give them some good things as a reward. When they are bad, they may punish them. If even earthly parents have this kind of wisdom, how much more wisdom does our heavenly Father have!
RECEIVING THE PRIZE
First Corinthians 9:24-27 continues the same concept. "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." In these verses Paul said that he feared he would become a castaway. Does this mean he feared he might perish? No! This simply means he feared he might lose the prize, the crown. Because of his fear, he exercised discipline to keep his body under subjection. The word "castaway" actually means to be rejected. This means to be rejected from the prize, not from salvation. After we have been saved, we have to run the race properly, and we have to fight the battle in the right way.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 38, by Witness Lee)