Lost Reward – by Ken Lawler

Usually when a believer thinks about fire associated with the afterlife they are thinking about the eternal punishment of unbelievers in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:14).  But in his first letter to the Corinthian church Paul mentions a believer standing in front of a fire in Heaven.  The account (my Dad would be proud of me for not saying story) in I Cor. 3:11-15 is about “works” we believers do after we accept Christ as our Savior.  Paul does not identify acceptable versus unacceptable works in this passage; he just compares them to gold, silver, precious stones versus wood, hay, and stubble.  According to Paul everything we do for or in the name of Christ is going to be thrown on a fire (whether a literal fire or if this is an analogy I don’t know) and some of the works of some believers will be burned up.  The believer this happens to will remain in Heaven, but Paul says, “he shall suffer loss:  but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

The Old Testament example of this is Abraham’s nephew Lot.  When Abraham left Mesopotamia to go to Canaan he took his nephew with him.  They both became prosperous there; their herdsmen quarreled, and they separated.  Abraham stayed in the hill country in southern Canaan and Lot chose to go east toward Sodom.  He first “pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Gen. 13:12); then he “dwelt in Sodom” (Gen. 14:12); and finally, he “sat in the gate of Sodom” (Gen. 19:1).  That is a Hebrew idiom for holding a political place of power in the city.  He’s like on the City Council.

We all know the end of this story (woops) where he and his wife and daughters flee the city prior to God burning it down.  When you finish reading what Genesis says about Lot it’s kind of a surprise when you read what Peter says about him.  Peter says that when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah He “delivered just Lot,” and then refers to him as “that righteous man” (2 Peter 2:7-8).  After Sodom burned there is no mention of Lot’s great wealth.  It had been burned up and he became the epitome of one who has been “saved yet so as by fire.”  We expect to see Lot in Heaven, but his works are ashes down around the south end of The Dead Sea.

When you are doing something for God or in The Lord’s name remember Lot.  Don’t lose your reward by watching your works go up in smoke.