OSAS as taught by Charles Stanley

I do not mean for this to be an attack on Charles Stanley, but I believe he is wrong. I am often told by proponents of OSAS that they don't know of any teacher who claims that OSAS means you can sin all you want and still get to heaven. That is why I am posting this, to show there are OSAS teachers out there who are teaching exactly that. In fact the more I look into this doctrine the more I am convinced that is OSAS is all about.

I am often told that I should not criticize another Christian. That sounds good, but I don't believe it is. We are to contend for the faith and to watch our doctrine. I believe it is my duty to bring false teaching to light.

Quotes in blue from Charles Stanley's Handbook for Christian Living (1996)

When Christ died, which of your sins did He die for? Which sins were you forgiven of when you trusted Him as Savior? If the sins you commit after becoming a Christian can annul your relationship with the Savior, those sins were not covered at Calvary. (page 172)

I have several problems with this statement. This goes directly to the idea of our sins being forgiven, past, present and future the moment we place faith in Jesus Christ. I want to look at what the Bible says:

(2 Peter 1:5-9 NIV) [5] For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; [6] and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; [7] and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. [8] For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [9] But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Notice that Peter says this person has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Now why would Peter say that instead of from his sins, period? Because words mean things and it says what it means. Let's look further:

(Ezekiel 18:21-24 NIV) [21] "But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. [22] None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. [23] Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
[24] "But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.

That passage seems pretty clear without much explanation. OSAS teachers will say that it does not count because it is in the Old Testament, but does God change?

(1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NIV) [9] Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders [10] nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

If you are still sexually immoral, an idolater, and adulterer, male prostitute, homosexual, thief, greedy, drunkard, slanderer or swindler you will not inherit the kingdom of God. That is who we were before being forgiven and changed into new creations, but if we remain those things we are still lost.

(Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV) [26] If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, [27] but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

See what I mean, if we continue to sin we can only expect judgment and raging fire because we are enemies of God. Notice too that it says after we have received the knowledge of the truth, so it is speaking to believers.

(1 John 2:3-6 NIV) [3] We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. [4] The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. [5] But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: [6] Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

This is not a hard passage to understand either. If a person is not following Christ and obeying His commands then that person does not know Christ and is lost!

The following is in reference to Galatians 5:1-4)

To fall from grace, then is to abandon the salvation-by-grace model for justification and adopt salvation-by-works model. Paul was not threatening them with the loss of salvation, just a loss of freedom. (page 175)

Abandon the salvation-by-grace model for justification... Is there any other way to be justified? No, if we try to be justified by works or the Law we are lost. Let me quote the whole passage so you can see it:

(Galatians 5:2-4 NIV) [2] Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. [3] Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. [4] You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Take a close look at what Paul is saying. He tells them that if they follow the Law and try to reach God that way, then Christ will be of NO value to them. If Christ is of no value to you, you have no way to the Father.

Quotes in blue from Eternal Security: Can You be Sure? by Charles Stanley (1990)

Salvation by faith is at stake. Once good works are introduced into the salvation, salvation is no longer by faith alone; it is by good works. (page 5)

Okay, so far that sounds like good doctrine, but let's look at other things he says:

First of all, we have learned that faith is not the reason God saves us. Remember, Paul makes it clear that love is the reason.

Second, we are saved by grace. The instrument of salvation was and is grace. (page 75)

It sure sounds here like he is saying that we are not saved by faith.

Faith does not save a person, everyone has experienced faith at some point or another. Yet not everyone will spend eternity in heaven. God's grace is what saves us. (page 76)

I guess Jesus got it all wrong in this next quote from Luke:

(Luke 7:44-50 NIV) [44] Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. [45] You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. [46] You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. [47] Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
[48] Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
[49] The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
[50] Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (emphases added)

Charles Stanley is just muddying the waters by claiming that everyone has experienced faith at some point or another. He knows full well that not everyone has placed their faith in Jesus Christ, so why make a statement like that? The only reason I can come up with is to throw people off of the truth. See if you believe that you are saved by having faith in Jesus Christ, then you will soon begin to understand that if you quit placing your faith in Him you have wandered from the faith. This is what Paul was talking about in Galatians 5, if these people after placing their faith in Jesus Christ then go and try to be justified by the Law, then they are nullifying their faith in Jesus and He is no longer their Savior. No Savior no salvation...

You and I are not saved because we have enduring faith, we are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our enduring Lord. (page 78)

So now is he saying it is faith that saves us? But don't miss his point, he is saying that this faith does not have to last more than an instant. Is that true? Now it is important to put this teaching in context. He is making the point that to get to heaven you only have to place faith in Jesus Christ for one instant in time. After that nothing matters because you are eternally secure not matter what you do or what you believe or quit believing. Is that what the Bible teaches?

(Mark 9:42-48 NIV) [42] "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. [43] If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [45] And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [47] And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, [48] where "'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

Why would Jesus tell believers to pluck out eyes and cut off feet and hands to keep from sinning if those sins were already forgiven and didn't mean anything? Beyond that why would He say it is better to do that so you can enter the kingdom of God, then be thrown into hell if that were not possible? Now some might say that He was speaking to sinners (non-believers) is that possible? Well can a sinner get to heaven by cutting off a limb so that he does not sin anymore? Of course not, only faith in Jesus Christ will get you to heaven, so it can't be non-believers He is speaking to. The context of the passage will show that also.

(1 Corinthians 15:2 NIV) By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

What could Paul mean by 'otherwise, you have believed in vain'? If we believe in Jesus Christ in vain, wouldn't that mean that we are not going to heaven? So what Paul is saying is that we must hold on or otherwise our faith has done us no good. That sure sounds like it is more than just holding firm for one instant in time.

The following is in reference to 1 Cor. 3:11-15 which I will quote here: (1 Corinthians 3:11-15 NIV) [11] For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. [12] If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, [13] his 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 man's work. [14] If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. [15] If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

This statement is one of the strongest supporting eternal security to be found in the entire Bible. (page 121)

He says that this statement (that I quoted from the Bible) is one of the strongest supporting eternal security to be found in the entire Bible. The problem is a problem of overall context. See you need to know what Paul is talking about. Is he talking about an individual's salvation or not? To find out you have to go back further so you can see what it is he is referring to.

(1 Corinthians 3:4-10 NIV) [4] For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?
[5] What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. [6] I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. [7] So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. [8] The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. [9] For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
[10] By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.

Paul is addressing the church because they are feuding and taking pride over who they follow, instead of all following Christ. Paul tells them that the leader does not matter because everyone falls under Christ's authority. Then he goes on to tell them that he laid the foundation, which is Christ, and now others (leaders) are building on that foundation that he laid. He then talks about how they are leading and teaching. If they teach the people the way they should it will bring glory to Christ and lay up treasure for them in heaven, but if they use their leadership position to glorify themselves then all their works will be burned up and of no value. Yet they still have their salvation.

So you see this passage does not even speak to the idea of eternal security, it speaks to whether we work for our own glory or for Christ's. If we do it for our own glory it has no eternal value but if we do it for the glory of Christ it does. Paul is not saying that once you are saved you can sin as much as you want and all that happens is you lose your rewards.

At the end of this discussion I have quoted from two commentaries on the Bible, one from Matthew Henry and the other from Adam Clarke. Both are well known and respected commentaries. Neither completely agrees with my view but yet both show that they believe the same idea of what this passage is talking about. I encourage you to see for yourself if these men think this passage has anything to do with eternal security.

Where is this place represented by the "outer darkness" in Jesus' parables? To be in "outer darkness" is to be in the kingdom of God but outside the circle of men and women whose faithfulness on this earth earned them a special rank or position of authority. (page 126) (emphases in original)

This teaching really upsets me. It shows me that he is willing to say and teach anything to protect his eternal security doctrine. I can only surmise that he thinks his readers won't bother to read the Bible for themselves.

I am going to quote the times which Jesus spoke of outer darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth. Take a look at them and see if you can believe He is describing heaven.

(Matthew 8:10-12 NIV) [10] When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. [11] I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. [12] But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

I don't believe Jesus was speaking about believers here, but rather the Jews. Notice that He has just witnessed the great faith of the Roman Centurion and then He makes the statement that He has not seen that kind of faith in all of Israel. Then He talks about how people will come from the east and west (Gentiles) and take their place but that the subjects of the kingdom (the Jews) will be thrown outside. He is talking about their rejection of Him and therefore their rejection of salvation. They are lost.

(Matthew 13:40-43 NIV) [40] As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. [41] The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. [42] They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [43] Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

So are we to believe that the fiery furnace is also in heaven? As Jesus said: 'He who has ears, let him hear.'

(Matthew 13:47-50 NIV) [47] "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. [48] When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. [49] This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous [50] and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Separate the wicked from the righteous, will the wicked remain in heaven? If so then again the fiery furnace must be in heaven too.

(Matthew 22:1-13 NIV) [1] Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: [2] "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. [3] He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
[4] "Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'
[5] "But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. [6] The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. [7] The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
[8] "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. [9] Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' [10] So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
[11] "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. [12] 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.
[13] "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"

The Bible tells us that in God there is no darkness. But if you are to believe Charles Stanley, not only is there darkness in heaven, but some believers will be tied hand and foot and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Matthew 24:42-51 NIV) [42] "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. [43] But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. [44] So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
[45] "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? [46] It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. [47] I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. [48] But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' [49] and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. [50] The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. [51] He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Well I guess I would rather be tied up then cut to pieces. If Stanley is right then the hypocrites will be in heaven too.

(Matthew 25:24-30 NIV) [24] "Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. [25] So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'
[26] "His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? [27] Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
[28] "'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. [29] For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. [30] And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

This servant was called lazy, wicked and worthless, and was thrown outside into the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth and yet Charles Stanley claims he is in heaven.

The Bible clearly teaches that God's love for His people is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand. (page 74)

Is that what the Bible clearly teaches? Let's look and see:

(Galatians 5:2-4 NIV) [2] Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. [3] Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. [4] You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

We have already looked at this one once but I thought it was worth looking at again. We also already looked at 1 Corinthians 15:2 which tells us that we must hold on to our faith. Also Hebrews 10:26-27 which tells us that if we deliberately keep on sinning we can only expect the judgment that awaits the enemies of God. In His letters to the seven churches in Revelation Jesus tells them that he who overcomes will walk with Him. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 tells us that the wicked will not make it to heaven.

Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy. (page 93)

I would just refer you back to the many passages I have already quoted.

... believers who lose or abandon their faith will retain their salvation .... (page 94)

I guess Paul mislead the believers in Corinth when he told them this: (1 Corinthians 15:2 NIV) By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

... a Christian who at no point in his entire life bore any eternal fruit. And yet his salvation is never jeopardized. (page 121)

I guess James was mistaken too. (James 2:20-26 NIV) [20] You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? [21] Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? [22] You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. [23] And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God’s friend. [24] You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
[25] In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? [26] As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
A Christian who at no point in his entire life bore any fruit is no Christian, unless you are talking about someone who dies almost immediately after placing their faith in Jesus Christ and then only because they did not have the time to show fruit.

Jesus mentions fruit too: (Matthew 7:16-20 NIV) [16] By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? [17] Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. [18] A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. [19] Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. [20] Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Wow those who don't bare fruit are cut down and thrown into the fire. Trust me this fire is not in heaven!!

... there are Christians who show no evidence of their Christianity as well. (page 71)

Evidence of their Christianity would be fruit and we have already shown that this assertion is false.

And so it will be for many believers. Just as those who are found faithful will rejoice, so those who suffer loss will weep. As some are celebrated for their faithfulness, others will gnash their teeth in frustration over their own shortsightedness and greed. We do not know how long this time of rejoicing and sorrow will last. Those whose works are burned will not weep and gnash their teeth for eternity. (page 127)

Again this is based on a false premise; that these professing Christians who are really sinners and have shown no fruit at all will be in heaven. On the contrary this weeping and gnashing of teeth will last for eternity, but it wont' be in heaven that it takes place. Don't be fooled.

But a man or woman who has been rescued once from a state of unforgiveness need not worry. For once 100% of a man's or woman's sins have been forgiven, the potential for being unforgiven has been done away with. The risk factor is zero. There are no more fires from which the believer needs to be saved. (page 79-80)

Again I think I have covered this already, but I will just say that his choice of words makes me laugh or at least it would it this was not so serious an issue. He says there are no more fires from which the believer needs to be saved, but according to him there are and they are in heaven!!

...believers who have no time for the things of Christ, who live their lives for themselves. One by one his deeds are evaluated, and one by one they burn. His works are described as 'wood, hay, [and] straw.' His works have no real substance, no eternal value. (page 120-121)

Can a person who has no time for the things of Christ, who lives his life for himself really be a Christian? I would again point you to what Jesus had to say about fruit. I will stand on what Jesus said no matter how many well educated teachers claim other doctrine.

I would ask you to get out your Bible and find the answers for yourself. Don't read anything in or take anything out of what the Bible clearly says. It does not matter which doctrine we would like to be true it matters which doctrine is true.

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Below are the quotes from the commentaries of both Matthew Henry and Adam Clarke in reference to 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3
VERSES 11-15

Here the apostle informs us what foundation he had laid at the bottom of all his labours among them-even Jesus Christ, the chief corner-stone, Eph. 2:20. Upon this foundation all the faithful ministers of Christ build. Upon this rock all the Christians found their hopes. Those that build their hopes of heaven on any other foundation build upon the sand. Other foundation can no man lay besides what is laid-even Jesus Christ.

It is in Christ only that God is reconciling a sinful world to himself, 2 Cor. 5:19. But of those that hold the foundation, and embrace the general doctrine of Christ's being the mediator between God and man, there are two sorts:-

I. Some build upon this foundation gold, silver, and precious stones (v. 12), namely, those who receive and propagate the pure truths of the gospel, who hold nothing but the truth as it is in Jesus, and preach nothing else. This is building well upon a good foundation, making all of apiece, when ministers not only depend upon Christ as the great prophet of the church, and take him for their guide and infallible teacher, but receive and spread the doctrines he taught, in their purity, without any corrupt mixtures, without adding or diminishing.

II. Others build wood, hay, and stubble, on this foundation; that is, though they adhere to the foundation, they depart from the mind of Christ in many particulars, substitute their own fancies and inventions in the room of his doctrines and institutions, and build upon the good foundation what will not abide the test when the day of trial shall come, and the fire must make it manifest, as wood, hay, and stubble, will not bear the trial by fire, but must be consumed in it. There is a time coming when a discovery will be made of what men have built on this foundation: Every man's work shall be made manifest, shall be laid open to view, to his own view and that of others. Some may, in the simplicity of their hearts, build wood and stubble on the good foundation, and know not, all the while, what they have been doing; but in the day of the Lord their own conduct shall appear to them in its proper light. Every man's work shall be made manifest to himself, and made manifest to others, both those that have been misled by him and those that have escaped his errors.

Now we may be mistaken in ourselves and others; but there is a day coming that will cure all our mistakes, and show us ourselves, and show us our actions in the true light, without covering or disguise: For the day shall declare it (that is, every man's work), because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is, v. 13. The day shall declare and make it manifest, the last day, the great day of trial; see ch. 4:5.

Though some understand it of the time when the Jewish nation was destroyed and their constitution thereby abolished, when the superstructure which judaizing teachers would have raised on the Christian foundation was manifested to be no better than hay and stubble, that would not bear the trial. The expression carries in it a plain allusion to the refiner's art, in which the fire separates and distinguishes the dross from the gold and silver; as it also will silver and gold and precious stones, that will endure the fire, from wood and hay and stubble, that will be consumed in it.

Note, There is a day coming that will as nicely distinguish one man from another, and one man's work from another's, as the fire distinguishes gold from dross, or metal that will bear the fire from other materials that will be consumed in it. In that day, 1. Some men's works will abide the trial-will be found standard. It will appear that they not only held the foundation, but that they built regularly and well upon it-that they laid on proper materials, and in due form and order. The foundation and the superstructure were all of a piece. The foundation-truths, and those that had a manifest connection with them, were taught together. It may not be so easy to discern this connection now, nor know what works will abide the trial then; but that day will make a full discovery. And such a builder shall not, cannot fail of a reward. He will have praise and honour in that day, and eternal recompence after it.

Note, Fidelity in the ministers of Christ will meet with a full and ample reward in a future life. Those who spread true and pure religion in all the branches of it, and whose work will abide in the great day, shall receive a reward. And, Lord, how great! how much exceeding their deserts! 2. There are others whose works shall be burnt (v. 15), whose corrupt opinions and doctrines, or vain inventions and usages in the worship of God, shall be discovered, disowned, and rejected, in that day-shall be first manifested to be corrupt, and then disapproved of God and rejected.

Adam Clarke's Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3:13

The day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire-There is much difference of opinion relative to the meaning of the terms in this and the two following verses. That the apostle refers to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem I think very probable; and when this is considered, all the terms and metaphors will appear clear and consistent.

The day is the time of punishment coming on this disobedient and rebellious people. And this day being revealed by fire, points out the extreme rigour, and totally destructive nature, of that judgment.
And the fire shall try every man's work-If the apostle refers to the Judaizing teachers and their insinuations that the law, especially circumcision, was of eternal obligation; then the day of fire-the time of vengeance, which was at hand, would sufficiently disprove such assertions; as, in the judgment of God, the whole temple service should be destroyed; and the people, who fondly presumed on their permanence and stability, should be dispossessed of their land and scattered over the face of the whole earth. The difference of the Christian and Jewish systems should then be seen: the latter should be destroyed in that fiery day, and the former prevail more than ever.

1 Corinthians 3:14

If any man's work abide-Perhaps there is here an allusion to the purifying of different sorts of vessels under the law. All that could stand the fire were to be purified by the fire; and those which could not resist the action of the fire were to be purified by water, Numbers 31:23. The gold, silver, and precious stones, could stand the fire; but the wood, hay, and stubble, must be necessarily consumed. So, in that great and terrible day of the Lord, all false doctrine, as well as the system that was to pass away, should be made sufficiently manifest; and God would then show that the Gospel, and that alone, was that system of doctrine which he should bless and protect, and none other.

He shall receive a reward-He has not only preached the truth, but he has labored in the word and doctrine. And the reward is to be according to the labor. See on 1 Corinthians 3:8 (note).

1 Corinthians 3:15

If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss-If he have preached the necessity of incorporating the law with the Gospel, or proclaimed as a doctrine of God any thing which did not proceed from heaven, he shall suffer loss-all his time and labor will be found to be uselessly employed and spent. Some refer the loss to the work, not to the man; and understand the passage thus: If any man's work be burned, IT shall suffer loss-much shall be taken away from it; nothing shall he left but the measure of truth and uprightness which it may have contained.

But he himself shall be saved-If he have sincerely and conscientiously believed what he preached, and yet preached what was wrong, not through malice or opposition to the Gospel, but through mere ignorance, he shall be saved; God in his mercy will pass by his errors; and he shall not suffer punishment because he was mistaken. Yet, as in most erroneous teachings there is generally a portion of wilful and obstinate ignorance, the salvation of such erroneous teachers is very rare; and is expressed here, yet so as by fire, i.e. with great difficulty; a mere escape; a hair's breadth deliverance; he shall be like a brand plucked out of the fire.

The apostle obviously refers to the case of a man, who, having builded a house, and begun to dwell in it, the house happens to be set on fire, and he has warning of it just in time to escape with his life, losing at the same time his house, his goods, his labor, and almost his own life. So he who, while he holds the doctrine of Christ crucified as the only foundation on which a soul can rest its hopes of salvation, builds at the same time, on that foundation, Antinomianism, or any other erroneous or destructive doctrine, he shall lose all his labor, and his own soul scarcely escape everlasting perdition; nor even this unless sheer ignorance and inveterate prejudice, connected with much sincerity, be found in his case.


Notice that they both referred to leaders as the people Paul was talking about and not the eternal security of the believer.

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