Can Man Do Good?
Can The Unsaved Do Good Before God?
Those who teach morality as the Christian way of life have forgotten their roots much like the Galatian believers of the early Church. One thing to bear in mind is this: When we discuss the Christian way of life, anything the unbeliever can do is not an aspect of the Christian way of life. Now I do not advocate immorality for Christians, but a Christian should be moral because he is led by the Spirit of God. Morality is a side effect of Christianity. Morality does not denote Christianity or Christian maturity.
Teaching morality as the Christian way of life is a subtle Satanic dilution. Satan rarely attacks anyone headlong, but seeks to deceive by words that seem to be true. He did the same thing with Jesus in the wilderness (see Matthew 4.1-15). He does the same thing with unbelievers today. For instance Jesus taught:
John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
When the Church teaches morality as the Christian way of life the unbeliever, observing the Church, picks up on this. He sees that morality is held in high esteem above Christianity. This perception deludes the unbeliever into thinking that he can work his way into Heaven by good moral living. Most unbelievers have the will power to be overtly moral in their living. Unbelievers are often more moral than carnal believers. By our erroneous teachings we turn the ones who need salvation away from the Savior and toward self salvation. This is the major danger in confusing morality with spirituality.
Pelagius, a British monk from Rome, was the first noted theologian to cloud the issue between morality and spirituality. Pelagius held that all men were unable to do good before God. Pelagius also taught that man, in his present state, is able to come to God for salvation of his own freewill. Pelagius was partially right in his doctrine, for man does have freewill. But the overtones of his teaching disregarded the power of the Holy Spirit and the work of the Son in salvation. Pelagius' doctrines were of the self salvation category, and were naturally dangerous and Biblically incorrect. He emphasized the freewill of men out of proportion to what man, in his fallen state, is able to do. He also confused human good with what God would accept (Divine good).
For any extreme another will rise in the opposite direction.
In opposition to the Pelagian view the theologian Augustine rose up.
Augustine taught that all men are unable to do good before
God. This doctrine is Scripturally sound. Augustine also
taught that only believers in the power of the Spirit could do Divine
Good. Again, this is Biblically correct. But Augustine stepped
over the boundary of good doctrine. He taught that man, in his
fallen state, had no freewill at all. Before the
Fall man had freewill, but after the Fall man was enslaved
to the appetites of the flesh. As a result, Augustine reasoned,
man has no freewill whatsoever. So our question
at this point is two pronged: Can man do good before God, and, can man
come to salvation of his own freewill? Let us turn to the Bible
and away from theological extremes.
Defining The Human Spirit
And How It Relates To The Body And Soul of Man
Man in his original state was composed of three parts: Body, Soul, and Spirit. The Soul of man is what you are. This part of your being gives you physical life, controlling and animating your body. Our souls are invisible, intangible, and yet very real. The Soul contains self consciousness (I know who I am), emotions, and volition (the ability to choose). The Soul is composed of two major parts: The "heart" and the "mind".
The heart (Greek, KARDIA) is the main controller of the soul:
Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
Proverbs 2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
The heart makes all decisions affecting what the soul will or will not do. Though the emotion of the soul is also contained in the heart:
Proverbs 15:13 "A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken."
The heart is not the emotions. The heart contains much more than the emotions of the soul. If the heart is controlled by the emotions rather than controlling the emotions, then that person is highly unstable, whether believer or unbeliever. The heart is to the soul what the central processing unit (CPU) is to the computer. It controls all flow of information to and interaction from the soul.
The mind is the second part of the soul (Hebrew YETSER, Greek NOUS):
Isaiah 26:3 "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."
The mind is the storage area of the soul. When something occurs that the heart wants to remember later, the heart directs that this information be placed in the mind. The mind holds this information indefinitely until the heart determines it is needed. The heart searches the mind, retrieves the information, and applies it where it is needed. We can use an illustration from childhood to show how the two parts of the soul interact. When you were a child your parents told you not to do certain things. This is because, in your parents souls, they had stored experiences in their mind that their hearts said was dangerous. My parents told me that electricity was dangerous, and not to stick any wire object into the wall outlets. When they told me this my heart received the information and thought on it. My heart then searched my mind to determine the validity of the teaching. There was nothing stored in my mind that told me electricity was dangerous, but I had past experiences stored there that told me that my parents were usually right. The heart took these experiences from the mind and considered them, in comparison, with the present warning. Based on the information at hand the heart had to make a decision. Should I obey my parents or not? In my case the heart rejected the previous experiences as not being applicable to this situation, deciding to try it anyway. Well, I stuck a piece of wire in the wall outlet and got the shock of my life! After I got off the floor my heart immediately stored this new negative experience in my mind. You can believe me to this day, based on that stored experience, I do not put anything into a wall outlet that does not belong there.
The second part of the created man is the body. The body is the interface between the soul and the environment around it. As I said before, the soul is intangible and invisible. The body gives the soul visibility to other souls so that people can interact with one another. The soul will always be contained in a body. In this life we have a physical body which will eventually deteriorate into dust. This physical body contains the old sin nature:
Galatians 5:16-21 "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Which continually tempts our souls to sin against God. In the next life we will have an interim body, a temporary container for the soul until the Rapture of the Church. After the Rapture we will have a glorified body, without any traces of the Old Sin Nature:
1 Corinthians 15:35-43 "But some
man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they
come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except
it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body
that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other
grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to
every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but
there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another
of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies,
and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the
glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the
sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars:
for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is
the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised
in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in
glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:"
Genesis 1:26-27 "And God (ELOHIYM, The Godhead) said, Let us make (ASAH, To make out of existing material) man in our image, after our likeness (God is invisible in His essence, yet real. He has volition and self determination, as well as self consciousness): and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created (BARAH, To make something out of nothing) man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
Genesis 2:7 "And the LORD God formed (JATSAR, To shape or form) man (ADAM, red man, clay man) of the dust (ADAMAH, red earth. From which ADAM comes from) of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Hebrew Text states "lives", plural. Man received both spiritual as well as physical life at this point); and man became a living soul."
In Genesis 1.26-27 we see that God first said that he would make (ASAH) man out of existing materials in His own image. The existing materials that ELOHIYM referred to was not the earth but the materials of God's own Being. God's image in us is the reflection of the volition, self-determination, and self consciousness that all men share with God. The image of God is not in the body of man. This is emphasized in Genesis 1.27 when it states God created (BARAH, To make something out of nothing) man in His own image. BARAH recognizes that no materials present on the earth were used to make man in God's image. The materials that made us in God's image came from God's essence, and was imparted to our souls. The image of God was actually implanted in man when God breathed into the red clay shell the breath of lives. The soul and not be body is created in the image of God. The body is only the container of the soul.
Next note that only the soul and not be body is saved in regeneration (spiritual new birth):
Psalms 19:7 "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple."
Psalms 34:22 "The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate. "
Hebrews 10:39 "But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."
Those who confuse the body and the soul normally believe in the false doctrine of earthly perfection. Once you are saved God brings your soul into union with Him. God also gives you spiritual new birth at the point of salvation. But the Body remains unchanged by the salvation process. Since the Body remains unchanged there are several things you need to know:
1. You are a sinner, and will always be a sinner in this life. You cannot reach perfection or freedom from sin in this life. This is because the body and not be soul contains the Old Sin Nature which temps you to sin. Prior to salvation you were strictly under control of the Old Sin Nature because you lived apart from God in the flesh. After salvation your control over the flesh will grow daily as you mature in Christ, but you will never be entirely free from sin until you reach the next life.
2. God purges sin from "whole you" in the Church Age by the natural process called physical death. Death is the separation of the soul from its present bodily housing:
Job 27:8 "For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?"
Psalms 16:10 "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."
2 Corinthians 5:8 "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."
Since the Old Sin Nature is housed in the body, when God separates the soul from the body the soul is freed from that source of temptation. When your soul is removed from its present housing God gives you a "temporary body" for the soul until the Rapture of the Church:
Luke 16:19-31 "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
3. God's plan and inherent just nature demands that the whole "original you" be ultimately purged from the old sin nature. He has taken care of part of your salvation by saving your soul. The body will be saved when the event we call the Rapture takes place (see 1 Corinthians 15). God the Father will start this event by sending God the Son to the earth with all of His saints. These are saints who have previously died and are now in temporary spiritual bodies. The Son will not touch the earth, but will be in the air above the earth making His presence known with a shout that will be heard by all:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
At Christ's shout the bodies of believers sleeping in the earth will be re-created without the old sin nature. The believers that come back with Christ will be reunited with their newly formed sinless bodies. All this will occur in what the Bible calls the "twinkling of an eye":
1 Corinthians 15:52 "In a moment, in the twinkling (This is the Greek ATOMOS, referring to the tiny reflex movement of the eye that is so fast even the viewer can barely see it) of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
Next the believers who are yet living on the earth will have their bodies purged of the old sin nature without having to go through physical death. Then and only then will sin ultimately be purged from all believers.
The first two parts of man, the body and the soul, are possessed by all men at the point of physical birth. But the third part of man, the human spirit, is possessed in this age by believers only:
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."
The Bible also makes it equally plain that the unbeliever is spiritually dead. He possesses a human spirit, but it is of no more use to him that a wart is to a hand.
Ephesians 2:1-3 "And you hath he quickened, (Made alive) who were dead (NEKROS, naked of life, completely dead, spiritually dead) in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."
Colossians 2:13-14 "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;"
John 6:53-54 "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, (Not literally, but idioms for believing in Christ toward salvation) hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
Romans 5:15-19 "But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
Romans 6:17-18 "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."
1 Corinthians 2:14
"But the natural (PSUCHIKOS, soulish) man
receiveth not (OUK + Present Active Indicative
DECHOMAI = absolutely never embraces to himself)
the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness (MORIA,
silliness, absurdity) unto him: neither
can (DUNAMAI + OUK = He is not able)
he know (Aorist Active Infinitive GINOSKO = To
know at any point) them, because they are
spiritually (Ablative of Source, "From the source
of the human spirit) discerned.(Present
Passive Indicative ANAKRINO = Discerned again and again)"
The second life God breathed into man was the human spirit. Just as it was with the soul, the body is the interface between the human spirit and God. The human spirit, as it worked through the body, allowed mankind to walk with God, to talk with God, and to make supplication to God. The human spirit was the communications link between God and man, just as the soul was the communications link between man and man. For any work to be pleasing to God it had to come through the human spirit of man.
But man was not satisfied with his spiritual status. God warned Adam to avoid one fruit in the midst of a vast Garden (Genesis 2.17). Adam ignored the warning and took the fruit. At the point of disobedience three penalties came upon Adam:
1. He began the process of physical death,
2. He immediately entered a state of spiritual death, and
3. Adam caused the imposition of the Old Sin Nature to come on his body.
These three penalties did not just come on Adam. Since Adam was the head of creation as well as the father of the human race, the same penalties came on all of his subsequent children. By disobedience Adam partook of a fruit that caused the Old Sin Nature to enter his body. Eve did the same, making it natural that all of their children would possess this same nature of spiritual death. The side effects of the Old Sin Nature brought corruption on the human body so that it slowly decayed into physical death. Since Adam was the Federal Head of the human race God refused to impute spiritual life to his offspring until the penalty for his disobedience was paid. This universal lack of spiritual life placed a barrier between God and man. This spiritual death is so thorough that man will not even ask for salvation in Christ unless the Holy Spirit comes to temporarily draw aside this veil:
John 16:7-11 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged."
All mankind is, from the point of physical birth,
born physically alive but spiritually dead.
The Implications of Spiritual Death on "Good"
And How God Receives Human Good
The Bible teaches many things about human good:
1. Human good cannot save a person from Hellfire:
Titus 3:5 "Not (OUK = strongest negative in the Greek) by (EK = Out from the source of) works of righteousness (EN + Instrumental DIKAIOSUNE = By means of righteousness) which we have done, (Aorist Active Indicative POIEO = We have done at any time) but according to (KATA = According to the norm or standard of) his mercy he saved (Aorist Active Indicative SOZO = Saved once and for all) us, by the washing (DIA + Genetive LOUTRON = Through the washing. Refers to cleansing from sin) of regeneration, (PALIGGENESIA, Genetive of Apposition = Even, That is to say regeneration) and renewing (ANAGKIAINOSIS, Genitive of Apposition = Even the renewing action) of the Holy Ghost;"
Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved (SOZO, Perfect tense = Saved in the past with permanent results) through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Only faith in God can save you from Hellfire. Human good is apart from God's plan because it's vessel (the unbeliever) is spiritually dead. If the vessel is dead it's works will be dead. Death cannot bring forth life. The spiritually dead cannot bring about their own salvation.
2. Human good is filthy before God:
Isaiah 64:6 "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; ('ED = menstrual rags, soiled or stained clothing) and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
Romans 8:8 "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
When you were a child you might have brought a roach to show your parents in fascination. To you the roach was beautiful. But you soon found out that the roach was anything but fascinating to your parents. Perhaps you were hurt when they angrily told you to get rid of it. In the same way, many people are dense when it comes to human good. Unbelievers do their works before God expecting to get into Heaven with them. Donate to save the children, buy a hospital and give free services to the needy, take the homeless out to eat. God turns away from these unbelievers fruitless gifts just as parents do for the child's roach. The only thing God regards human good for is as a used filthy rag. It is the most disgusting thing in existence to Him. Two people can do good, the believer in fellowship with God, and the unbeliever. They can even do the same good moral deed. But to the believer God gives reward, while to the unbeliever God gives discipline. Two other people do good, a believer in fellowship, and a carnal believer. To the spiritual believer God gives reward, but to the carnal believer God gives Divine discipline. Human good is anything done outside of God's control and prompting. It is never acceptable to God, whether in believer or unbeliever.
3. Human Good is the basis of the damnation of the unbeliever:
1 John 2:1-2 "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man (A reference to believers) sin, we have an advocate (PARAKLATOS = One who pleads another's case, a lawyer) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation (ILASMOS = Means of appeasing, means of satisfying God) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
Revelation 20:11-15 "And I saw a great white throne, and him (See John 5.22, 27. Jesus is this Judge) that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, (Whether rich or poor, all were judged) stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Many preachers and evangelists delude the unbeliever into thinking that the basis of damnation will be the sins that are reviewed at the Great White Throne judgment. Nothing is farther from the truth. Jesus paid for the sins of the whole world. These sins have all been paid for. God is an absolutely just Being, so just that He would not require payment for something that has already been paid in full. There is only one sin that the unbeliever is judged for at the Great White Throne: the sin of rejecting Christ as Savior. Since the unbeliever at the Throne has rejected Christ as Savior feeling that he could be good enough on his own to get into Heaven, the actual basis of the unbeliever's judgment is human good. The routine of judgment is plain in our Revelation text. First, the unbeliever comes to the Throne. Next, God (Jesus Christ) pulls down a set of books that contain all the works that the unbeliever did in this life. Each work is weighed to determine if it merits Heaven. Naturally no work merits Heaven. As we said before, if the vessel is filthy, the production of the vessel is disgusting to God. Because the unbeliever's human good works fail the test of righteousness Christ gives him one more chance as He turns to the Book of Life. The Book of Life is a book that has everyone's name in it at birth. Christ paid for the sins of the whole world. On the basis of Grace they deserve to be placed in the Book at physical birth. To stay in the Book a person has to accept the work of Christ on the Cross in this life, the work that Christ did for us at Calvary. If the unbeliever dies before he accepts this work his name is blotted out of the Book:
Revelation 3:5 "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. "
1 John 5:4 "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. "
Christ turns to the Book of Life to see if the unbeliever's name is still in the Book. Since it is not, he is banished to hell for all eternity.
Believers need to be very careful in how they witness
to unbelievers. Often an unbeliever has some bad habit
or predominant sin in his life that we do not like.
When we witness to the unbeliever we have a tendency to modify the Gospel
message by saying: "Only believe on Jesus Christ for salvation and stop
doing ___." When you modify the Gospel of Christ you receive the
punishment that God reserves for a false prophet. God has never
placed a condition on salvation. Only believers do this when they
are controlled by self righteousness and their Old Sin Nature.
The unbeliever cannot be saved by cleaning up his life,
nor can he remain in salvation by doing the same. Salvation is
by grace alone, and human good has no place in
the Gospel of Christ. Just witness the true Gospel of Christ and
trust on the Holy Spirit to clean up the new believer's life.
Hell will be full of good people who did not accept Christ
as Saviour. Heaven will be full of rewardless Christians who lived their
lives under human good rather than by the Spirit of God.
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."
The believer has six categories of works that will be judged when he gets to Heaven. Three of the categories are Divine Good. Gold symbolizes the most precious act of Divine Good, having absolutely none of the believers self in it. Silver has a little of the believers self involved in it, but still was done majorly in the Spirit. The same is true of the precious stones category. The value or amount of Divine Good goes down with the amount of the believer's self it in, though all three of the first categories are majorly Spirit directed and Spirit controlled. Gold and silver will smelt so that all the impurities of self are burned out. Stones will crack and burn, but will not be consumed by fire. All three of these categories will leave the believer reward after the testing: the gold the most reward, precious stones the least reward.
The next three categories of works are those containing
large amounts of human good. Out of these three
wood contains the least amount
of human good, stubble has
the most. All three categories will burn thoroughly. Wood
may leave some charred remains that will leave the believer a small
reward whereas hay and
stubble will burn entirely,
leaving only dust.. God's attitude toward human good is plain:
He will not accept it in either the believer or the unbeliever.
His Grace still abounds, because the believer left with no reward
at all will still have his salvation. God will never judge
the believer for salvation, as Christ bore the judgment for us on the
Cross. But he himself shall be saved;
yet so as by fire.
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