Colossians 1:21–23 (NKJV)

21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled

22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—

23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

When the apostle Paul says in this passage that Jesus Christ will present believers as holy and blameless and above reproach in His sight only if they continue in the faith and are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, many believers interpret it and understand it in this way: “You will make it to heaven only if you continue in the faith.” However, the salvation depicted in this text should be understood as the salvation of the soul and body here on earth from sin and its effects, as seen in the explanation of 1 Corinthians 15:1–2, the same thing applying in this text as well. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 says:

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Many passages in the New Testament show us the human spirit is wholly recreated, already holy and blameless (1 Corinthians 5:17, 5:21; Ephesians 2:10, 4:24). The parts that are being made holy, blameless, and above reproach, by Jesus, are the soul (our thinking and emotions) and the body (sanctification, health, and prosperity). However, the condition to achieve that state is to continue in the faith, well-grounded and steadfast.

Paul says in Colossians 1:21 that they were once alienated from the life of God and were His enemies, but now they have been reconciled in the body of Jesus’s flesh. They have been saved from hell; it’s done! But with what purpose? To live as saints from glory to glory. And that will happen as they continue in the simple faith they once received. Back when I was in school, I had two types of classmates: some who just wanted to always have the minimum passing grades and others who were upset even when they got a B+ or A-. What I mean by this is that while many believers just want to make it to heaven, God’s desire and purpose through reconciliation is for us to make it there not in just any state, but in an excellent and holy one, beyond reproach. Some believers do not continue in that faith and frustrate the grace of God here on earth. That does not mean they will go to hell after death, they will still make it to heaven as through fire, but they will not have any reward or commendation from God. Since I mentioned this expression “saved through fire” here, I would like to take some time to explain what it means.

The concept of being saved through fire appears in 1 Corinthians 3:15. Let’s read the whole text:

1 Corinthians 3:9-16 (NKJV)

9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.

11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.

15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

According to this passage, all born-again people are supposed to work and build something after they have been saved. Whether they are aware of it or not, all believers are working on a building, some more intentionally than others. What is this building all believers are involved in? Verse 9 says that we, the believers, are God’s field and building, and then Verse 16 clarifies that we are His temple, the spiritual house of God. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we can see God always being interested in a temple where His presence would dwell. At first, it was a Tabernacle in the wilderness, then a physical building during King Solomon’s time, and finally people who come into Christ. 1 Peter 2:5 calls us living stones being built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, while Colossians 2:7 affirms that we are being built into Him. Moreover, Ephesians 4:12-13 talks about the five-fold ministry given to the church for the building up of the body of Christ to the unity of faith and to the knowledge of the son of God, to a mature man, who is the fullness of Christ. Every believer builds himself up and other fellow believers into Christ, into the image of God. Romans 12:2 also describes this process as a transformation through the renewing of the mind.

In Verse 11, Paul declares that the foundation of this building of God, the beginning of it, is Christ and His sacrifice for sins, and nothing else. This foundation is firm, secure, and remains forever once it is received and accepted through faith by a person. Next, to better understand the meaning of the building materials from Verse 12, let’s discover first what is the Day, mentioned in Verse 13, when everyone’s work will become clear and what is the fire that will reveal it. Since Verse 14 indicates the award of rewards for the enduring works, the Day must refer to the Day of Judgment, when everyone will stand before God (Revelation 11:18; Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 4:17-21) and be judged according to truth. Romans 2:2 declares that the judgment of God is according to truth. This means the fire which will test each one’s work is the truth of God, revealed in His word, and the measure of it appropriated through faith by us, and worked out on a consistent basis, while on earth. Philippians 2:12 commends us to work out our salvation with reverence and Philemon 1:6 shows us that our faith becomes effective by the acknowledgement of every good thing which is in us in Christ Jesus, that is, the acknowledgement of the truth. It is important to clarify here that the truth of God doesn’t harm us, believers, but it burns all the ungodly things in our lives, done without faith.

Now, we are in a better position to understand the significance of gold, silver, precious stones, or wood, hay, and straw. Many believers think these materials refer to good or bad works done in the body, but this is partially true. They can be dead works (good or bad) or works done through faith in truth. The motivations behind the deeds and the means of doing them are vital. Then the materials also refer to how much of God’s excellencies we manifested here on earth, how much of the nature of God and of Christ’s identity, in all of its aspects, we have assimilated: walking in holiness, being led by the Spirit in the decisions of life, walking in wisdom, in love, kindness, patience, healing the sick, raising the dead, delivering people from demons, ministering and blessing others, witnessing the Gospel to others and bringing them into the Kingdom. 2 Peter 1:8-11 confirms that if these things are ours and are increasing, they will not make us useless or unproductive in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, they will never make us stumble, and in this way, an entrance will be richly and abundantly supplied to us into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So, the entrance can be a regular one, with not many honors and rewards, or an abundant one.

Now, there are people that have once put their faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins in a genuine way, meaning that they laid the foundation of Christ in their lives, but after that, they didn’t build themselves properly into Christ and lived mostly a fleshly life, like the unregenerated people. They always frustrated the grace of God in their lives, either from a lack of knowledge and understanding of the truth or out of ignorance, disobedience, and lack of discipline. Many of them even ended their lives in a very shameful manner. The question is, will these people still be saved and enter the Kingdom of God? The answer is affirmative, they will be saved, and this is what salvation through fire actually means. Their work and way of life after they received Christ will be burned by the fire of the truth. They will not hold any value before God and these people will not receive any reward. This is what suffering loss refers to in Verse 15. However, the foundation of Christ in their lives will not be burned. That will remain and cannot be burned. As a matter of fact, even when a physical house is caught on fire, the foundation of it does not burn, because it is made of concrete. Only the house on top burns, more or less, depending on the materials used to build it. Likewise, because of the foundation of Christ in their lives, they themselves will be saved, but without any rewards, as through fire.


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Session 10 – Continuing in Faith (Saved for Eternity) – June 5th, 2024

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