Is earth a testing and training ground for our future home in heaven? Is it critical that we embrace what God wants to teach us while we’re here? Is it important that we walk in the gifts God has given us? Choices we make here will impact our future. While salvation is a free gift, I’m talking about works after salvation, works done by faith, works Jesus calls us to do. I Corinthians 3:12-15 suggests something we might miss.
“Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
What does that mean? When fire comes to gold, silver, and precious stones, the gem is refined and purified, but when fire touches wood, hay, or straw, it burns up. It’s the same with our works here. In time, God will test the quality of our work here. Not for salvation, but for reward. What work, you may ask? Our work is both corporate and individual. We are all called to love, to be kind, to serve, to count others as more important than self, but there is also work that God calls us to individually, often based on the spiritual gifts He has bestowed on each of us.
Through prayer and listening to His voice, we find out what He wants us to do, how we are to occupy ourselves on earth. He may tell you to call a friend and encourage her, give money to a Christian cause, speak words of wisdom to someone, bring soup to a sick neighbor, help with a building project, teach a Bible class, prophesy, pray for healing. These and many more things are works that God may lay on our heart to do. Individual works are specific for each person.
I Corinthians is telling us these works are like gold and silver and will be rewarded. However, if we neglect them, our work is burned up and we suffer loss. We are saved, but reward or loss is up to us?
I’m talking about this because, if I understanding scripture correctly, it seems this will be the starting place as we move into eternity. What we have been faithful in here will determine the responsibility God will give us in the future. Luke 19:17, “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ (NIV) While we don’t know all that is inferred here, it appears there is a principle of faithfulness that will play a role in heaven in regards to work.
An interesting verse from Revelation 14:13 seems to confirm this idea as it speaks of resting from our labors here when we pass out of this life and that our deeds will go with us. “And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” This, of course, is speaking to those who come out of the time of tribulation, those who have been faithful to the end, but the principle is for all believers. We will eventually rest from our work here and move on to different work in heaven. Revelation 22:3 affirms that “…His bond-servants (that’s us) will serve Him.” That implies work.