BIBLE INSIGHTS in 500 words
God’s Judgment and Christian Assurance
1 Corinthians 3:13
Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.
Did you grow up in fear of God’s judgment? It is good to know God takes sin seriously. Yet, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1). We can live in Christian Assurance. Here is a practical example:
Their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The context of the verse deals with building up of the church. It is possible to build up the church with good or poor materials. The results will not be known until “the day will bring it to light” (vs. 13). The “day of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:8) is the return of Jesus.
The “light” of that day is the “fire” (vs. 13) of judgment. Here is what Paul is saying. You might build with gold, silver, or precious stones, materials that will stand up to fire (judgment). Or you can build with wood, grass, or straw, which are dreadfully flammable. Paul is writing about judgment “according to their works” (Romans 2:5–11; 14:10–12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Two things should be noted:
First, Judgment that Reaffirms: Paul feels no tension between a future judgment “according to their works” and his doctrine of “justification by faith” (Romans 3:21–31; Galatians 2:15–21). For Paul, he understands that those who are justified by faith in the present will have that verdict reaffirmed in the future on the basis of the whole life they have lived.
When the “fire” (judgment) does its work, the raw materials will suffer loss. But notice that he says that they themselves “will be saved.”
“If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Corinthians 3:15).
Note and put in bold, “yet will be saved.” This is Paul’s view of Christian assurance, that “those whom God justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:29).
Second, Judgment that Completes:, Closely related is another understanding of the “fire” of God’s judgment. This image points to a final moment of judgment in which all remaining impurities are burned up, all infirmities are eliminated, and the last enemy, death itself (1 Corinthians 15:26) is defeated. The victory won on the cross will be completed in the last judgment. In that moment, our current sanctification will become glorification and the journey of our purification will be complete.
The final judgment will 1) reaffirm our position in Christ and 2) complete our purification in Christ. Live in the Christian Assurance.
“For I am convinced that
neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”