1 Corinthians 3:9-15

1 Corinthians 3:9
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
All the true Christians are laborers together with God. We are fellow workers with each believer and it is God who oversees the sending forth of that Gospel. There is no such thing as an independent Christian. He also states that we are “God’s husbandry.” That is, we are the field that is worked in. We send the Word into the world and when someone becomes saved because of it, then they become part of God’s field. Remember, it is God who brings forth the fruit unto salvation. We just sow the seed. This verse also introduces a new concept about the body of believers. God goes from the agrarian description to the architectural description of the body of believers. We are now considered a building. Let us look at a parallel passage concerning the body of believers.
(Eph 2:19-22 KJV) Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; {20} And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; {21} In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: {22} In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
In 1 Peter 4:17, we see that the house of God is not the corporate church which contains both believers and unbelievers. This verse tells us that the true Christian is a member of the household of God. The Christians are being built up on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with the Lord Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone. The body of believers, being identified as the building of God, reveals that we are passive in the building of it. The Holy Spirit is the one who is building the house.
1 Corinthians 3:10
According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
The word “masterbuilder” is really the word “architect.” The Apostle Paul is giving an example of how to build the body of Christ. The foundation that he laid, was the preaching of the true Gospel in all the places he went. It is the full counsel of God. Now since he could not stay in one place all his life, there are others he left in charge to continue the building of the Kingdom through the churches in those places. For example, there was Timothy and Titus. In the next part of the verse we have an admonition to all believers that we are to be very careful on how we build upon the foundation. In other words, truth must be built upon by truth and we must be very careful about what we teach.
1 Corinthians 3:11
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Here is the only foundation that a Christian is to build their ministry on. We are not to build it on saving whales, feeding the hungry, political issues, someone’s teachings, etc. The entire life and ministry of every believer is to be built on the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other salvation foundation in the universe.
(Acts 4:12 KJV) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
1 Corinthians 3:12
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
There are two ways to build on the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can present Him to the world in two ways. Truthfully or untruthfully!
Truthfully is represented by the gold, silver, and precious stones. As we see in this verse below, that all three items were used in the building of Solomon’s temple. The items were donated by David who is a type of Christ. Christ is also building His temple which will be completed on the last day. Gold, silver, and precious stones are only refined when placed through the fire.
(1 Chr 29:2 KJV) Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance.
Untruthfully is represented by wood, hay, and stubble. When the false gospel is presented, there will be no salvation which will result in eternal damnation. Wood, hay, and stubble burns on contact. The wood, hay, and stubble which is in view may also represent false teachings which pervade many churches and ministries.
(Jer 5:14 KJV) Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
(Mal 4:1 KJV) For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
1 Corinthians 3:13
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.
When wood, hay and stubble are touched by fire, they are instantly consumed but when gold, silver and precious stones are touched by fire they become purified.
(Heb 12:29 KJV) For our God is a consuming fire.
The work being tested here is that of the believer. Fire always represents judgment. The true believer brings the gospel but not all those they bring the gospel to becomes saved. Therefore the fires of judgment shall test the works or the ones being witnessed to and if they remain unsaved, then they will face the fire of judgment on the last day. Do you remember the parable of the sower that the majority of his witness fell on bad ground? Well, on the last day the works of that believer will be tried, that is, those who received the knowledge of the Gospel and remained unsaved, will be judged and sent to eternal damnation. Therefore, the works of that believer in sowing will have been a loss. The believer’s faithfulness for sending out the Gospel is not on trial, it is the results that it produced which will be on trial. This will take place at the Great White Throne Judgment.
1 Corinthians 3:14
If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
Abide - “remain permanent, continue or endure.”
Now what work will endure or abide? It is the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary. Remember, how Paul told us to build on the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Acts we read that there is no other name whereby you can obtain salvation from. The abiding work here are those whom God had saved through the ministry of a Saint. Now it speaks of a reward or “payment or wages.” What is the reward that we receive? Let us go back to the parable of the sower. Do you remember what happened when the seed fell on good ground, which typifies the Elect? Those that became saved produced fruit of thirty, sixty, or one hundred fold. The reward of the sower is to share in the ministry of those producing the thirty, sixty, and one hundred-fold. Now is this principle revealed any place else in the Bible? The answer is yes!
(Mark 10:28-30 KJV) Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. {29} And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, {30} But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
Do you notice what is revealed in this verse? Look at verse thirty, all the rewards and material goods will be given in “this time” and in the world to come eternal life. The reward is we may get to see some of that fruit that we helped to reap in this life. But the next life is eternal life. Eternal life is the reward, payment, or wage of the believer! It is not crowns or a special place in Heaven or special honors. After our work is complete, the wages God gives His children is eternal life. Isn’t that enough?
1 Corinthians 3:15
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
When we witness to a person and they do not become saved, we suffer loss, yet we do not lose our salvation or reward. What is the loss that we suffer when any of our works do not abide? Let us go back to the Parable of the Sower again. Remember, three out of the four groups he sowed the seed (the Word) on, did not produce any fruit (salvation). He lost time, effort, seed, money, and maybe one or two things else. But his loss happened in the faithful execution of his duties and that is why he himself was saved, not because of works but he was faithful in sending forth the Gospel not knowing who God’s Elect was. The majority of our works will be lost because in the Bible the body of believers is also known as “The Remnant.” This means that it is a small group in comparison to the billions which have lived and are presently living.