Gold, Silver, Precious Stones or Wood , Hay and Stubble?
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 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 by fire.
It is worthwhile to say that these verses are addressed to the "born again" believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the corner stone ( Eph 2:20) and if you are not IN Christ then you are lost, and on the way to hell. The works of a lost man will be judged by fellow man on the earth right now ( their praise or downfall are at a whim of the in - crowd ), their pleas will amount for nothing to the Righteous Judge ( Rev 20:11-15) for their righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.)
This judgment of works for the believers will take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ ( 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.) These works of the body will be put through the fire. Those that stand the fire are classed as good ( gold, silver, precious stones, ) and those that are vain ( wood, hay, stubble, ) will burn, and the saint will suffer loss. Loss of rewards that is.
For now, we shall mainly concentrate on the descriptive works aspect of these verses, i.e. - gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
The three good works are as follows -
GOLD – God the Father
Acts 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
Bearing in mind the above verse, God cannot be physically likened to earthly wares, but He can have His attributes likened to them.
Whereas all the Godhead can be designated with all three of the attributes, and the attributes are all equal in their Deity, gold can be attributed to the Father as it is the most precious of metals. The order is significant as well, the Holy spirit testifies of the Lord Jesus ( John 15:26, John 16:13-14 ), and the Lord Jesus is in submittance to the Father ( 1 Cor 11:3, Matt 26:39, ) but all three are EQUALLY GOD, ( their attributes and works differ even though intertwine with one another. They are in most perfect UNITY)
Gold in the Bible symbolises Deity. The furniture of the tabernacle and temple were made of pure gold or overlaid with gold. The most holy place in the fallen world, the Holy of Holies was filled with gold. So the works of gold picture the true worship of God in body, soul, and spirit. (John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.) When the Christian is truly submitted to God’s will, the saint is bearing the cross and the Lord is on the throne of saints’ heart. The saint’s countenance and appearance also shines as if he is overlaid with fine gold.
On a worldly note, gold is the top. When someone comes first in the Olympics, the reward is a gold medal. It’s the prize that the athletes compete for. American golfer Jack Nicholas was known as the Golden Bear because he was classed as the best. When someone retires with great benefits, he is said to have been given a golden handshake. The world knows the reward of gold, so the Christian must strive for the goal as the word says in Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. This calling says it’s for a prize, this prize is for running the race (1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.) . We must compete in the race; also we must be on the correct side to even get in the race. The lost need not apply. Calvinists, think again and do something for the Lord God. So run, that ye may obtain; irresistible grace will not do!
The head of man as he knew it, in the Old Testament was God the Father the LORD God. The High Priest wore a pure gold crown on top of his head to signify this.
Exodus 39:30 And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.
1 Kings 7:51 So was ended all the work that king Solomon made for the house of the LORD…. Verses 48- 50 decrees that pure gold which was used by the wisest man of earth, that his work of worship for the temple to LORD the Father was connected with gold.
Again in Daniel the counter to God the Father being head, we find that Satan’s image is headed with gold.
Daniel 2:32 This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts. The proper worship of God and whither it is pure and true by the believer will be tried at the Judgment Seat. You have heard the saying its heart trouble or his heart is not right when concerning a Christian’s walk. Gold is connected with the heart and it will be tried in the fire. Zechariah 13:9 ….. and will try them as gold is tried…….
When God is given first place in the believers heart, gold is laid up in heaven (Matt 6: 19-21)
SILVER – God the Son
Silver pictures the word of God and the Word of God.
As the word of God, whither it be the written word ( Psalms 12:6-7 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.) or the spoken word of God ( Proverbs 10:20 The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth. ) they both are described by silver.
As the Word of God; the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. The price of redemption is silver. ( Leviticus 5:15-18 If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering: And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him.) Judas betrayed the Redeemer for thirty pieces of silver ( Zech 11:12-13 )
The account of Joseph ( a type of the Lord Jesus) in Genesis 44 who was sold into slavery for silver ( Gen 37:28), but redeemed his family who only turned to repentance through the witness of a silver cup in the youngest brothers sack. ( Genesis 44:2 And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.) The brothers knew the evidence against them ( Genesis 44:16 And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord's servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found. ). Silver is connected with witnessing of the Saviour.
Silver is laid up in heaven when the believer witnesses of the word of God and the Redeemer of God.
PRECIOUS STONES – God the Holy Spirit
Precious stones are people ( Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
Malachi 3:17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
1 Peter 2:4-5 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.)
Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are his crown. ( 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.
Zechariah 9:16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land. )
The Holy Spirit moves to give the believer utterance in times of need. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that saves the lost and convicts the guilty sinner. Precious stones are laid up in heaven when the believer wins souls for the Lord Jesus Christ, whither it is that of a reaper or a sower.
Working for the Devil ?
Christian’s might think that they are doing the works of God and laying up treasures in heaven. Beware that they are not the works of the Devil which only appear as good works, but they will be wrong Daniel 11:38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. They will be tried in the fire. Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. The works of the Devil are a counterfeit of the real thing. Read the antichrists kingdom of Rome in Revelation - Revelation 17:4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and the goods associated with it - Revelation 18:12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones…….
The three vain works are typified by the items all being dead. Remembering that there is nothing unclean by itself ( Rom 14:14 ) these works have become dead through sin. What part of man is dead? Answer - The Body. So the works done in the body to satisfy the flesh are dead. Spiritually speaking, we are to be nailed to the cross ( Gal 2:20)
Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Note - all these are the works of saved, born again Christians at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Their works will go through the fire.
The dead works of the flesh are -
WOOD - a dead tree – The False Prophet
The "Born Again" Christian should have done right but didn’t quite make it, as far as their works are concerned.
Wood is typified by the works of man’s hand, shapened to be something that it is not. Some saved people in this life have bragged about their works, under the delusion that they have done God a great service. These works will burn in the fire. ( 2 Kings 19:18 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.)
Wood being the next on the list indicates the works of the ‘nearly there’ brigade. Their works 'nearly' made it to treasure. Those people carry out things that could be pleasing to God but are doing it for the praise of man. They have the lacquered cross, the fine apparel, the church buildings in pristine condition, they are fine pillars of the community, their works may look like gold but they lack the Spirit of God in them. (Habakkuk 2:19 ….Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.) Their works are all ‘ornamental’ tinsel with no backbone. The saying "all that glitters isn't gold" comes to mind. They are all show for the onlookers. The King James has a name for them ( Matthew 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. )
As mentioned earlier, their works are nearly there, wood was in the temple covered with gold ( Ex 37:25) , and it was accepted by God as legitimate and holy, Another example is in Haggai - Haggai 1:8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.
It is when ones “self” gets in the road, the work then dies and becomes sin, it is that which satisfies the will of Satan, by putting temptation before you, so that he can can accuse you to God day and night. ( Rev12:10 )
Judas Iscariot pictures the ‘nearly’ there men. He was there with the disciples and heard the gospel, knew the Man, stayed close to Him, but still worked the works of iniquity. Judas the devil, the son of perdition (sop) hung himself on a tree as the antichrist. The tree broke ( dead wood ) and he fell asunder ( Acts 1:18 )
HAY - dead grass – The Beast
The Christian could have done right, but lost the opportunity and chose wrongly.
1 Peter 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: ( Isa 40:6-8)
Hence the body of the believer is as dead grass, we are to reckon ourselves dead and not feed the breathing corpse ( Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.)
The sins of the believer are the works of the flesh ( Rom 7:18 )
Lot chose to go to Sodom because the grass looked greener. Abram gave Lot the choice. Lot’s flesh took the bait and jumped at the chance of the easy earned lucre near the big city, and yet he found only the cares of this world. Lot stepped out of shepherding and became the politician when he sat at the gate. Lot’s grass died when he forsook the lamb.
Lot pictures the believer who receives everlasting life in heaven with no rewards. ( 2 Peter 2:6-8 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
The snake in the grass Gen 3:14 pictures the serpent as the beast whose works are deceiving and trickery. A common saying is "the whispering grass". Christians must beware of the spirits and try them at all times with the word of God.
STUBBLE - dead wheat – The Devil
The Christian knows he does wrong and still pursues it.
Stubble are the worse kind of works because they are plain stubbornness to act righteous. In other words, the Christian deliberately tries to pull the wool over the eyes of the laity. These sins might look like mighty works in mans eyes, but they will show up for what they really are in heaven.
Remember God’s ways are not our ways. Our ways are a useless substitute of the real thing ( Ex 5:12).
The book of Job pictures the tribulation, and at that time, we the raptured church will be in the midst of the Judgment Seat of Christ. Enlightening questions crop up in Job 13:23-25 How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin. Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy? Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?
Can’t you just imagine, standing before the Lord with shamefacedness, palms sweating, hoping beyond hope that it wasn’t Satan that instigated the works in your Christian life, but knowing that the stubble before you shouts and screams. Is the last question ( wilt thou pursue the dry stubble? ) your plea to King Jesus after looking at your lowly pile of treasure is to do some kind of miracle and change it. Alas! the time is NOW to change it.
EXAMPLES of STUBBLE
Satan’s hold in your life pictures the works of stubble - Job 41:34 He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.
Job 41:28 The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble.
Job 41:29 Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.
Our Christian walk is not to fight Satan with carnal weapons; we’ve not to work at the destruction of Satan; The Lord Jesus will take care of that ( Rev 20:3,10 ). If our works are based around what the Devil has put in front of us, it would mean that we are not being led by the Spirit or the word.
The Lord warns Peter of the impending fight ( Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: )
The Christian just knows these works will burn – he only deceives himself if he thinks otherwise. ( 1 Cor 3:18 ) It really takes an educated Bible critic to think that he is gathering wheat, when in reality is stoking stubble ( 1 Corinthians 1:17-20 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? )
Isaiah 5:24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Bible critics BEWARE !
Isaiah 33:11 Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you. Charismatic Tongues movement BEWARE!
Isaiah 47:14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it. Will God eventually give those who love Acts 2:3 the cloven tongues as fire at the judgment?
Nahum 1:10 For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry. These works are for the drunken priests of the world who think they are above reproach. These saved Nicolaitans will go cold turkey before the Lord.
It is better to make a pig’s ear of things trying honestly and whole heartedly to do something for God than to do something which turns out right even though you did it deceitfully. God might honour the work but the reward will not be yours. It is only by His grace that it amounted to anything in the first place.
The Holy Spirit’s lesson for me in this study is how easy it was for me to write about wood, hay, and stubble; and how I struggled with gold, silver, and precious stones.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not
How much worth?
John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.