Duke Jeyaraj answers.
Who said believers will not be judged? Heretic, hell-populating Bible Teachers will say that. Because their final court of appeal is not the Bible. But this: “Whatever sounds like music to people’s ears!”. Sad! Terrible! Deplorable! And what’s more the rise of such cultic false teachers is predicted in the Bible (see 2 Tim. 4:3 which goes this way: ‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables’).
The Bible says, like others believers will be judged. Romans 14:10 is clear: “We all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”
I Cor. 3:13-15 does not teach believers living in sin will be excused on judgement day. If Paul meant that why would he write in SAME BOOK this: “Or do you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not men who practice homosexuality will inherit the Kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9). What I Cor. 3:13-15 is teaching is this: we will be rewarded as per the quality of ministry we do. This should concern the hyper-grace cult folks a lot. They have lowered and flouted Bible standards just as a fleshly way to attract crowds. They have made MBA Marketing Principles (‘always look to please the customer as your customer is god’) as their Bible.
However, for me the Bible is the final court of appeal, not MBA Marketing Techniques. I Cor. 3:13-15 does not teach that those stubborn-in-sin if they are believers will be somehow be saved. This is how I Cor. 3:13-15 reads (for those of us who are not familiar with those verses Apostle Paul penned): their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
David Pawson’s brilliance in explaining this verse – I Cor. 3:15 and what is above it – is simply unbeatable: “Once again, the whole verse needs to be quoted, including the first clause: ‘If it is burned up….’ If what is burned up? What a man has ‘built’ during his ministry to the body of Christ., whether ‘pioneer’ or ‘maintenance’ (here pictured as planting and watering). In other words, what is being judged here is a believer’s service, not his sins. There are great variations in quality of service. The fire of divine judgment will leave some intact (like gold, silver, and costly stones) but bring others to nothing (like wood, hay and stubble). But someone who at least sought to serve the Lord will survive, even though he is left with nothing to show for his labor or deserving a reward. That this is irrelevant to a believer’s sins, as distinct from his service, is immediately apparent from the very next verses: ‘Don’t you know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him’ (I Cor. 3:16-17). In this context, the sin is to divide the Church into jealous and quarreling groups who ‘follow’ different servants of Christ rather than Christ himself. Elsewhere he applies the same charge to sexual immorality (I Cor. 6:18-19). We may get away with poor service (but only just), but WE WILL NOT GET AWAY WITH SIN!” (David Pawson, Once Saved, Always Saved?, page 160-161).
If I Cor. 3:15 taught that the worst thing that can happen to a believer on the day of judgment was only a reward-in-heaven loss, but never a place-in-heaven loss, why would Paul write in the SAME BOOK, this: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified” (I Cor. 9:27). Paul had a healthy fear that he would be disqualified from heaven, if kept yielding to his body’s desires (in our context – he kept watching porn, he kept indulging in sexual immorality, etc). This view is further underlined by this fact: the next chapter – I Corinthians 10 – warns New Testament believers that they could be ‘destroyed’ (go to hell), if they indulged in sin with impunity (vs. 9,10,11). So Paul did not subscribe to the meaning and implication the hyper-grace cult teachers ascribe to I Corinthians 3:13-15. So, when Paul writes, “he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved”, he did mean this: God will not send anyone to hell, because of low ministry quality. But he clearly did not mean what the hyper-grace cultists teach: “God will not send any believer to hell, even if they live in stubborn sin!” If Paul believed this lie, he will not have penned I Cor. 6:9-11 (HELL FOR BELIEVERS STUBBORN IN SIN), I Cor. 9:27 (HELL FOR EVEN STUBBORN-IN-PREACHERS) and I COR. 10 (THE GOD WHO DESTROYED HIS STUBBORN-IN-SIN PEOPLE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT WONT HESITATE TO DO THE SAME FOR NEW TESTAMENT PEOPLE OF GOD DOING THE SAME THING).
Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission (G4 Mission – www.dukev.org). This is a listener/reader supported Indian ministry to presentday people functioning since 2006.