Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Inheritance Is Earned By Christ's Obedience

One of the most wonderful doctrines of Biblical soteriology is that of the saint's inheritance. When a believer in Christ arrives in glory, he receives "An inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you" (I Peter 1:4). We did not earn this 'inheritance.' We do not deserve this 'inheritance.' Christ has earned it for us. His imputed righteousness to us who believe guarantees it. We are all 'co-heirs' with Christ.

One of religion's doctrines (as opposed to the doctrines of grace) is that rewards in heaven are earned. From the Islamic fundamentalist who believes seventy virgins await him for his personal sacrifice for Allah, to the Hindu fundamentalist whose exhaustive belief system in rewards motivates his every earthly action, religion thrives on keeping her followers motivated by rewards.

Unfortunately, within the Arminian system of evangelical theology, rewards also play a prominent role. The idea that the thief on the cross is rewarded as much as the Apostle Paul is unfathomable to the average Arminian. Faith, commitment, and obedience are not gifts, but works of man according to the Arminian. Thus, the Christian with more faith, more commitment and more works will be rewarded more than others in heaven.

Some Christians argue that without a system of rewards there would be no incentive for Christians to do good on earth. However, the evangelical motive for obedience and good works is never to be fear of punishment or the prospect of reward, but gratefulness for the Christ and His work of removing all punishment for our sin and guaranteeing our eternal inheritance by His obedience.

Yesterday, a friend set me the following set of illustrative pictures to visually display the silly logic of believing a Christian's inheritance is based upon his own work and not Christ's.

The Super Saint Mansion: This is the home of those rare folks who totally commit themselves to the task of advancing the Kingdom of God.

The Widow's Mite Mansion: Jesus' example of the poor widow out-giving wealthy men proved that it may not be so obvious who will be greatly blessed with riches in Heaven.

The God Fearing Mansion: The Bible repeatedly declares to us that God will, someday, pointedly ask each of us to give an account of the good deeds we've accomplished in our life on earth. This type of mansion is for people that wisely acted on God's warning.

The Average Christian Mansion: In heaven, even the average believer will enjoy living quarters that will be elegant by earthly standards.

The Struggling Believer Mansion: This home is for people who made it into heaven by the skin of their teeth. It's far better to live as a pauper in heaven, than to face the alternative.

The Spiritually Immature Mansion: Many Christians fail to fully mature in their faith. Because these folks cling to juvenile ways, a play house would be a fitting home for them.

The Wood, Hay and Stubble Mansion: This is the dwelling place for those individuals who did everything in life for their own glory. Many high-minded preachers would easily fit into this category.

The Pew Warmer Mansion: One of the saddest groups of people in heaven will be those who never did anything beyond going to church every Sunday. They had the knowledge of the truth, but they never did anything with it.

The Quitter Mansion: This is a home that will never be lived in because the person slated for this lot was a believer in name only. Angels began to build him a mansion, but they stopped work when it was clear the client had no intention of fulfilling his commitment.

Thank God my inheritance is earned by Christ's obedience.

In His Grace,



Kevin Bussey said...

Nice illustration.

How did you get a picture of my house at the top? :)

Jack Maddox said...


Better be careful with them Mansions...Ben will be all over that!


Strider said...

Yeah Jack, what do you think we have to do to get Pecan Manor?

Jack Maddox said...


(In my best Godfather voice)
You gotta go to PP...and you have to make him an offer he can't refuse...


Anonymous said...

Rex Ray said…
My missionary uncle, Rex Ray’s first born was buried in China when she was 5 years old. Her last words: “Mama, which one is our house?”

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

I am surely glad Dr. Falwell is now RIP and you are back at what you do best: theology. You make this statement:

"Faith, commitment, and obedience are not gifts, but works of man according to the Arminian."

I would be interested to know which evangelical Arminian theologions teach that sanctification is "man's" work.

Also, for clarity, are you suggesting that Arminian but not Reformed believers exclusively believe in degrees of reward in the afterlife? I may have minsunderstood because I'm really in a frenzy for time today.

Grace. With that, I am...


Tony Kummer said...

I really appreciate this post. But for clarity how do you interpret passages that seem to point the faithful believer to a greater reward.

C.J. Mahaney has a whole chapter on this in his book on sanctification, "How can I change?"

Here's one passage I had in mind.

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-- each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
(1 Corinthians 3:12-15 ESV)

Anonymous said...


This post is sorta funny. I think we probably struggle and move into different houses during our lives so I wonder how it is decided which we end up in?

Oh, you may want to add a "coffee house" for the emergents. ;)


Anonymous said...

My dearest I.M. Peter - I find it odd how you have so little time, yet you have just enough of it to drop into the blog world...and right into Wade's no less!!! With only moments to spare, why don't you visit one more to your liking? I would suggest Caner's blog, but he doesn't allow comments which would drive you insane no doubt.

You really think Falwell is RIP??? No way!!! (You do realize RIP means Really Into Piper...don't you?)

Also, for the record, I can't say I know any Arminians that believe sanctification is "man's work", but I know a bunch that believe that justification is man's work. :)

Dull Iron

Bob Cleveland said...

As I read my Strong's Concordance, the word translated "mansions" is actually "dwelling places" or places you "stay". I think it's wishful thinking that we interpret it as we do.

Everything that I do, see, visit, etc here gets old after a while (excepting Spiritual stuff). And if Heaven is just more of this sort of thing, it'll get old, too. I mean, if it's millions or billions of years, there's only so much stuff to see and do. So, if Heaven's going to be Heaven for eternity, then the biggest change will have to be in me.

That makes Heaven incomprehensible to the me that's me, now. So I rarely bother to think about it.

Alyce Faulkner said...

I appreciate this post. 'reward system' is preached (if not inferred) every Sunday in churches. I've spent many years listening to it and even before I had any concept of the doctrines of grace-it just didn't settle in my spirit.

Mumford says-"Heaven is not our goal, if you are a Christian there is no place else to go. Our goal is intimacy with the Father through Jesus Christ"... and He makes that available to us.

Anonymous said...

CHRIST Himself is our inheritance, our prize...

Anonymous said...


i think that you have really missed it on this one. how is believing in God's rewarding faithful service....arminian? there are many preachers and theologians that are not arminians who believe in God rewarding the service of His saints.

in fact, the bible does teach in many places that God rewards those who use thier talents for Gods kingdom. verses that teach that God will judge every man according to thier works....the lost for thier evil deeds...the saved for thier good deeds. hell will certainly be hotter for some than others, and heaven will certainly be sweeter for some than for others.

wade, i guess when you are sold out to a system...like five point calvinism...then you have to make verses try to fit your philosophical, theological system; rather than just letting the bible say what it says. i have found that many who try to make the bible fit into systems...arminianism, calvinism, dispensationalism, covenantism, etc....usually have a distorted view about verses and teachings that dont fit thier system.

i really dont agree with you on this one, and it doesnt make me an arminian to disagree with you.


ps. i'm posting under anonymous due to google making me re-register every time i want to make a comment. this way i can skip all the filling in the blanks. am i doing something wrong? why am i having to re-register every single time?

Anonymous said...

i do not work my soul to save
that work my Lord has done,
but i will work like any slave
for love of God's dear Son.

but, also, we know that the Lord will reward our labor and sacrifice one day as well.


Anonymous said...

The best reality of heaven is that God is going to be present with His people.....your concepts of heaven takes His name and His word in vain. There won't be any Calvinists or Armenians in Heaven nor will there be any in Hell.

Anonymous said...

I'm having to do just like David (volfan007)--re-register every time I try to comment. What gives?

Wade, I do appreciate your comments, though this time, I can't really agree with them. I'm no slouch theologically, but neither does all this resonate with me, although neither have I ever bought very deeply into the rewards system (I tend to believe that the contemporary American church has allowed democracy to influence its theology too much, whereas the Kingdom of God is an absolute monarchy, something we have had no experience with since about 1776). I'm not a raging Armenian, but neither can I be a 5 point Calvinist, no matter how logically the parts seem to fit. And perhaps a significant part of that is experiencial; my father (a career police officer) stayed away from church for many years, after hearing a funeral sermon for a little girl killed by a drunk driver in which the minister "assurred" everyone that what happened was no more and no less than God's predestined will. There is a story that during the Civil War, Presbyterian General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's staff was under heavy fire; led by his Presbyterian chaplain, they huddled behind a fencepost, swaying to the left or right depending on where the last bullet hit. Afterwards, someone called the chaplain on it, knowing his theological perspective. His reply was something like, "Then you sir obviously do not understand predestination!" What I guess I am trying to say is that even among 5 Point Calvinists, there are nuances and degrees of understanding about the system. I'd like to hear where you are in other points.

What I'd really love to hear, though, is what different ones plan to address about the Va Tech shootings. Any chance of a posting about that?

John Fariss

RKSOKC66 said...

I also had a very difficult time with keeping registered. I think Google had added a "new layer" where you register with your E-mail address but yet you still keep the same "screen name" you had before. I had to "re-register" several times to get things straightened out.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

Anonymous said...

I wonder, then, why Paul told us to "run to win the prize" or that he would "press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

I think your teaching is correct, but it is one-sided. Yes, all we have is a result of Christ's grace. But we are also commanded to strive to finish the race and seek the rewards of an obedient life.

The Bible says, "you reap what you sow." It seems to me that what you said tends to nullify that scripture.

(I had the same problem about my comments)
Dave Miller

Bob Cleveland said...

Just think how sad those "Pew Warmers" are really going to be when it dawns on them that the bathroom tissue is on the OUTSIDE of the door....

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Brother (Sister) Dull Iron,

May the Lord bless you and give you peace now and forever. With that, I am...


peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

I trust your evening at Church will go very well. At your earliest convenience, would you assist my tired, worn out old brain in grasping a better handle on the Arminians who teach sanctification according to "man's works"? I just don't think I'll sleep tonite without it.

Peace to you. With that, I am...


wadeburleson.org said...


You ask a good question. I would encourage you to read the exposition of I Corinthians 3:12-15 in Gill's Exposition of the Scriptures. He irrefutably shows that Paul's exhortation is in the context of a minister's work on earth. The foundation is the gospel, the building is the work of the ministry. Some ministers work will last through the fire (of affliction) and some minister's work will burn up. In other words, the church that stands during persecution is the reward of a faithful minister. Unfortunately, the KJV translators add the article 'the' before the word day (it is not in the original). Again, read Gill. He shows in an excellent manner how this passage refers to the rewards we pastors receive here on earth, not the 'eternal' rewards of all believers in heaven.

wadeburleson.org said...


I apologize if my post seemed to chasten those who preach and teach earthly obedience in order to obtain heavenly rewards.

I did not intend to chasten anyone.

However, I shall refrain from accepting your system and trust in Christ who is to me my justification, my sanctification and my glorification. In other words, He is my all in all.


wadeburleson.org said...

Nice comment Alycelee,

I excluded you from the gentlement above.


Unknown said...


Have you switeched to beta blogger? If not, the reason you are having trouble is because google is switching completely to beta blogger. You have to be registered in beta from now on. If you have not made that switch, you will continue to have trouble.

By the way, Wade can speak for himself on this one, but I completely reject the idea that I have anything to offer Christ other than my own wretchedness. "Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling". I think we often mistake "reward" for "awareness". I believe people experience His reward in varying degrees based on how they have become aware of His goodness. "whoever loves much is forgiven much." (Luke 7:36-50)

John Farris,

I've heard the story you told in a different way. In that version, the soldier says to the chaplain, "I noticed that you were a Calvinist before the shooting started but when the battle came upon you, you turned into an Arminian and jumped behind the tree..."

The chapain said, "You misunderstand, son, God predestined that tree to be there at just the right time!"

Bart Barber said...

Hmmm...If the reference in 1 Corinthians 3 is not to judgment, then why the language about "he will be saved, but only as through fire"?

Also, how would you differentiate your system of belief from Antinomianism?

wadeburleson.org said...

Bart, if you asked the question without reading the recommended exposition you committed a cardinal faux paux in academia, no?

wadeburleson.org said...

As to your second question, I yield to the good Apostle who was accused of the same . . .

"What shall we say then to this? Should we go on sinning that grace may increase? God forbid."

The phrase 'God forbid' Gk. (me genoito) -- literally "may it not be" -- is used fifteen times in the New Testament. It speaks of a strong aversion. What's interesting is that this phrase is used by Paul when a logical conclusion could be reached, but the teaching of grace leads one away from a logical conclusion.

By the way, nobody is truly teaching grace until they are accused of antinomianism,like the Apostle Paul, but recoil in horror because grace is not always logical.

Thanks Bart - I'm honored with the good company you place me in.


peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

I'm glad you're back. I'd still like a look-see at all those poor Arminians who, in your words, teach that "Faith, commitment, and obedience are not gifts, but works of man according to the Arminian."

What reputable Arminian theologian or exegete aligns himself/herself with such?

With that, I am...


texasinafrica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Same to you Peter. But I must insist your glaring condescension is noted as always, and it is noted in your reply to Wade just below it as well.


peter lumpkins said...

Dear Dull Iron,

Good Morning. I receive your charge of a condescending attitude and so note it. I can only wish for you what our Moses wished to the people:

The Lord bless you and keep you...the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you...the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

With that, I am...


peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

Hope you experienced a great night's sleep. I did.

Oh, before I forget, did you happen to get the list of Arminian theologians or reputable Bible scholars who embrace a sanctification according to "man's works"? I'd really like to add them to my library.

You did write, did you not, "Faith, commitment, and obedience are not gifts, but works of man according to the Arminian."?

Grace to you today. With that, I am...


wadeburleson.org said...

My dear Peter,

I shall answer your question, with questions to you and then the list of authors shall be revealed.

When a person believes in Christ, is this faith a 'gift' from God, and if so, does everyone who God ever Created receive this gift? If everyone receives the 'gift' of faith in Christ, then why are some in hell? If not everyone receives the 'gift' of faith, then why do some have faith, and others not? Or as the Apostle asks, "Who makes you to differ from another?"

So, once you answer that series of questions, we shall know whether or not 'faith' is a gift or a work, to whom it is granted, and what makes one a believer and others not. The list of authors you request shall surely follow upon your response.



P.S. Dull Iron, as the Ethiopian cannot change the color of his skin, nor the leopard his spots, so those accustomed to condescension have a hard time changing their ways. :)

I'm working on it.

Aaron New said...

Wade, I've been lurking for quite a long time and I absolutely love your blog.

I'm not going to presume anything about your studies of Arminianism. I'm positive you are better versed in it than I am.

But for whatever it is worth, I thought I'd recommend to you and/or anyone else a book I've begun reading: "Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities," by Roger Olson.

You may already be familiar with Olson and I am willing to be corrected if you know of reasons I should be cautious of his writings. But I'm finding a good bit of my own theology lining up with his and I agree that Arminianism is often grossly misunderstood and misrepresented. Olson would take great umbrage with your claim that Arminianism promotes a faith based on works, for example.

Actually, in several places he sounds much like you; "One principle that ought to be observed by all parties to this debate is 'Before you disagree make sure you understand.'
...Another guiding principle should be 'Do not impute to others beliefs you regard as logically entailed by their beliefs but that they explicitly deny.'"

I'm just an armchair theologian (my expertise is in psychology and counseling), so I do not intend to offer correction or debate - - just a recommendation for a book...


wadeburleson.org said...


Thanks for your great comment.

I shall take your advice, purchase his book, and read it carefully.

I am hopeful that I can better understand the views he represents.

In His Grace,


Anonymous said...


Paul Helm in his short review of Olson's book here alludes to what you say about faith. In speaking of faith as a gift he posits with a quote that the arminian says it is, but it is still a gift that must be accepted by the "bare will". Which seems like works once removed as it is a gift that doesn't really do anything in and of itself.


wadeburleson.org said...


Nice work. Good review. It is as I thought, but I will still honor my decision to read Olson.

Bart Barber said...


Methinks thou dost protest too much.

I did not ask, "Do you differentiate between your position and Antinomianism?" Rather, I asked how you did so. The question presumes that you differentiate your position from Antinomianism, therefore it cannot logically be an accusation.

Also, I think that you suffer from the same kind of crude definition of Antinomianism that some wield blindly against Calvinists. Antinomianism does not equal impiety. Many with theologies far from Antinomianism live lives of dissipation, while some Antinomians (Anne Hutchinson!) lived model lives of piety. Antinomianism is a theological position, not a behavioral defect.

Rather, Antinomianism is the doctrine that God does not take interest in a Christian's adherence or lack of adherence to the Moral Law, to wit, that there is no meaningful distinction between the moral law and the ceremonial law.

Are you suggesting that all those who have been accused of Antinomianism are really people who have been faithful to the biblical concept of grace? That we are wrongheaded to beware of Antinomianism?

Bart Barber said...

Also, since the word "Antinomianism" was coined by Martin Luther, I hardly see how Paul could have been accused of it.

Bart Barber said...

Oh, I forgot to reply to your first post.

Re: Bro. Gill's exegesis, perhaps it would make for better reading if he had adjusted his spectacles to look for that rather conspicuous definite article right there in the text before hemera. Of course, you have to look before the postpositive gar for it, but that should hardly have deterred him.

wadeburleson.org said...

Martin Luther 'coined' the word 'antinomionism'? Are you serious? To which language do you refer, German? I would assume you know the Greek meaning of 'against law' used by the Paul in Romans -- again, a word used in an answer to the accusations that he was 'against the law' of God.

I don't know what you have against me, Pastor Barber, but you do confuse me. I look forward to seeing you in Arlington. I'm on the road and unable to respond further.

wadeburleson.org said...

By the way, Bart, before you argue with the linguist Gill, I would encourage you to read him.

Bart Barber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bart Barber said...


I plead guilty to reading the New Testament (where the definite article clearly appears) before reading Gill. I have no doubt that you can be exonerated of the charge. :-)

Bart Barber said...

Have against you?

Have against you?

For five centuries Christians have debated these points, yet for me to differ with you about them (and as the respondent, not the one who brought up the subject, I might add), I must have something against you? Man, that's a thin-skinned way to blog.

Sometimes I can be thin-skinned, too. But I would encourage you to differentiate between disagreement and vendetta.

Bart Barber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bart Barber said...

By antinomian I'm referring to the theological doctrine that the moral law is not binding upon Christians. Yes, antinomian has a Greek root—so does the word telephone, yet that does not mean that telephone, as we use it today, originated with Homer. Likewise, the modern term antinomian derives originally from Luther's accusation against Agricola.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

Nice try. But I'm uninterested in pursuing your detour by swapping information. All I desire is an answer to my question about Arminians who believe "Faith, commitment, and obedience are not gifts, but works of man according to the Arminian."

And as for JohnMark's comment about Paul Helm's view of Roger Olson's Arminianism, I see not at all how that's relevant. Professor Helm is a Calvinist philosopher. One surely remains unsurprised pertaining to his view. The question is, how does Arminian Roger Olson view sanctification? "Works of Man?"

Later...I hope. With that, I am...


Anonymous said...

The wheels are spinning Pete.

I am still wondering why you are so concerned with which Arminians embrace a "sancification" according to man's works instead of being concerned about why Arminians embrace a "justification" according to man's works.

Please don't reply to this comment. I am just "thinking" out loud anyway.


peter lumpkins said...

Dear Others,

Our Brother (Sister) DI raised an interesting point: "why you are so concerned with which Arminians embrace a "sancification" according to man's works instead of being concerned about why Arminians embrace a "justification" according to man's works." But since he (she) does not desire an answer, perhaps others will.

Thus, the reason for pressing this is twofold: a) it is unfair to those evangelical believers who lean less toward Picardy and more toward Oudewater. Wade suggests their sanctification is built on their own works. Not one evangelical believer who also is Arminian has been noted to hold such a view (by the way, the point is about sanctification, not justification, as evident from Wade's own words: "Thus, the CHRISTIAN with more faith, more commitment and more works will be rewarded more than others in heaven." (emphasis mine).

b) But even more, I find it more than telling that the follow up post to one that called for conciliatory language toward others in the family of God to now convey such a demeaning message toward those nonCalvinists--Arminians, if you will--among us.

After all, Wade implied Arminians possess a works oriented salvation. If that's true, Arminians possess a false gospel. But if Arminians possess a false gospel, Arminians possess a system of damning unbelief.

So much, then, for Dr. Falwell's passing comment of not embracing particular love was his school's heresy policy. Rather Wade's view implies Arminians are unbelievers.

So, I'd like to see an answer to my question. But, it looks like we've already moved on. Smart move.

Grace to all. With that, I am...


wadeburleson.org said...


Ahh, thou dost err in one strategic point.

Wade implied Arminians possess a works oriented salvation. If that's true, Arminians possess a false gospel. But if Arminians possess a false gospel, Arminians possess a system of damning unbelief.

An Arminian has 'faith' in Christ. 'Faith' in Christ saves. An Armian believes his 'faith' is a 'gift' received by his bare will (free choice). This does not mean the Arminian is lost. It means that the Arminian doesn't recognize why the gift of faith is his.

It's not the 'recognition' that faith in Christ is a gift that saves --- it is the gift of faith itself which saves -- whether one recognizes it is a gift or not.

wadeburleson.org said...


I'll save you the trouble. Here is Gill's Exposition of I Corinthians 3 where he brilliantly show the judgment is not 'the' Day of Judgment. The emphasis is not on 'the' Day (the capital letter is in the NIV - referring to 'the' day of judgement), but to the day of affliction (small article and small emphasis) Here are Gills written thoughts on I Cor. 3.
1 Corinthians 3:6

Ver. 6. I have planted,.... That is, ministerially; otherwise the planting of souls in Christ, and the implanting of grace in them, are things purely divine, and peculiar to God, and the power of his grace; but his meaning is, that he was at Corinth, as in other places, the first that preached the Gospel to them; and was an instrument of the conversion of many souls, and of laying the foundation, and of raising and forming a Gospel church state, and of planting them in it;

Apollos watered; he followed after, and his ministry was blessed for edification; he was a means of carrying on the superstructure, and of building up souls in faith and holiness, and of making them fruitful in every good word and work: each minister of the Gospel has his proper gifts, work, and usefulness; some are planters, others waterers; some are employed in hewing down the sturdy oaks, and others in squaring and fitting, and laying them in the building; some are "Boanergeses", sons of thunder, and are mostly useful in conviction and conversion; and others are "Barnabases", sons of consolation, who are chiefly made use of in comforting and edifying the saints: but God gave the increase: for as the gardener may put his plants into the earth, and water them when he has so done, but cannot cause them to grow, this is owing to a divine blessing; and as the husbandman tills his ground, casts the seed into it, and waits for the former and latter rain, but cannot cause it to spring up, or increase to perfection, this is done by a superior influence; so ministers of the Gospel plant and water, cast in the seed of the word, preach the Gospel, but all the success is from the Lord; God only causes it to spring up and grow; it is he that gives it its increasing, spreading, fructifying virtue and efficacy.

1 Corinthians 3:7

neither he that watereth; who is the means of carrying of it on: not that they are simply and absolutely nothing, without any restriction and limitation; they are men, they are Christians, they are ministers, and useful ones, by whom others believe; they are labourers together with God, ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God, and so to be accounted of; but they are nothing in themselves, nor in their own account, or with respect to God: they are nothing of themselves as ministers; they have nothing but what they have received; all their gifts are from God, nor can they exercise them aright without the grace of God, not being able to think a good thought as of themselves; nor are they anything in making their planting and watering effectual; and so no glory belongs to them; nothing is to be ascribed to them, they have no part or lot in these things:

but God that giveth the increase; he gives them their abilities, assists them in the exercise of their gifts, makes their ministrations useful, and he has, as he ought to have, all the glory.

1 Corinthians 3:8

Ver. 8. Now he that planteth, and he that watereth are one,.... Not in every respect so; they were different as men, they were not the same individual persons, nor in the same office; Paul was an apostle, Apollos only a preacher of the Gospel; nor had they the same measure of gifts, nor did they labour alike, or were of the same usefulness; but they had one and the same commission to preach the Gospel; and the Gospel they preached was the same; and so were their views, aims, and ends, which were the glory of God, and the good of immortal souls; and they had the same love and affection for one another; they were one in their work, judgment, and affection; and which carries in it a strong reason and argument why the members of this church should not contend and divide about them:

and every man shall receive his own reward; either from men, that double honour he is worthy of, maintenance and respect; or rather from God, not a reward of debt, for his labours are by no means meritorious of anything at the hands of God, from whom he has all the grace, strength, and abilities he labours with; but of grace, even the reward of the inheritance, because he serves the Lord Christ; which is by bequest, through the death of the testator, and common to all the children of God, and heirs of glory:

according to his own labour; and not another's; and not according to the success of it, but according to that itself; not that that is the measure of the reward, for the reward infinitely exceeds it; but is that to which God has graciously annexed the promise of the reward, as an encouragement to it.

1 Corinthians 3:9

Ver. 9. For we are labourers together with God,.... The ministers of the Gospel are labourers in the Lord's vineyard, and not loiterers; their work is a laborious work, both to body and mind; which lies in close study and meditation, in diligent reading and constant prayer, in frequent ministration of the word, and administration of ordinances; besides reproofs, admonitions, and exhortations, counsels, and instructions, which are often necessary: it is a work, which no man is sufficient for of himself; what requires diligence, industry, and faithfulness; is honourable, and, when rightly performed, deserves respect: nor do they labour alone, but with God; not as co-ordinate, but as subordinate workers; for though they labour in planting and watering, yet they bear no part with him in giving the increase; he is the husbandman, the chief master builder, they are labourers under him; however, he works with them; hence their labours are not in vain, and they have great encouragement to go on in their work; and they are God's labourers with one another, which is a sense of the phrase not to be overlooked. The apostle often, in his epistles, speaks of his fellow workmen, and fellow labourers, who wrought together with him under God:

ye are God's husbandry; or tillage; he is the proprietor of the field, the occupier of it, the husbandman who breaks up the fallow ground of the hearts of his people; he casts in the seed of grace, he makes the ground good, and causes it to bring forth fruit; the churches of Christ are his property, land of his fertilizing, and all the fruit belongs unto him; they are gardens of his planting, and vineyards of his watering, and which he keeps night and day, lest any hurt:

ye are God's building; as the former metaphor is taken from agriculture, this is from architecture: believers in a church state are God's house, in which he dwells, and which he himself has built; he has laid the foundation, which is Jesus Christ; he makes his people lively stones, and lays them on it; he raises up the superstructure, and will complete the building, and ought to bear all the glory, and in all which he makes use of his ministers as instruments.

1 Corinthians 3:10

Ver. 10. According to the grace of God which is given unto me,.... Lest the apostle should be thought to be too much elated with the characters he had given of himself, and other ministers, or to assume too much to himself, in what he was about to say of himself, he ascribes all the gifts he had, and the usefulness he was of, as a labourer and builder in the church of God, to rich grace; by which he was called unto, and qualified for such work: as a wise master builder. This same phrase, sofov arcitektwn, "a wise master builder", is used by the Septuagint interpreters, in Isa 3:3 by which they render Myvrx Mkx, "the cunning artificer", or the wise man of the carpenters, or artificers. The architect of all is God the Father, Son, and Spirit; God the Father is the builder of all things; Christ builds his church on himself the rock; and the saints are built up an habitation for God, through the Spirit; ministers are builders under God, instruments he makes use of, and who would labour in vain, unless the Lord build the city: such an one was the apostle, though he calls himself a master builder with respect to inferior ministers; he being in the highest office in the church, as an apostle, and not a whit behind the chief of them; and was the chief apostle of the Gentiles, and was principally concerned in preaching the Gospel to them, and in raising churches among them. The allusion is to the Jews, who use to call the Rabbins and doctors, and the disciples of the wise men, "builders": they ask in a certain place {h}, Nyanb yam,

"who are the builders? says R. Joehanna, these are the disciples of the wise men, who employ themselves in the building of the world all their days {i}.''

That is, the law, as one {k} of their writers explains this building; hence they are sometimes called builders of the law, and which was looked upon to be an high character: it is said {l} of a certain person, that

"R. Zeira praised him, and called him, atyyrwad hyynb, "a builder of the law."''

But the apostle was a Gospel builder, a builder of Gospel churches in Gospel truths, and in faith and holiness; these were foolish builders, but he a wise one; and his wisdom lay in the knowledge of Christ, in preaching him, and in winning souls unto him; and particularly in that he took care in his ministry, to lay a good foundation:

I have laid the foundation; meaning not only that as at other places, so at Corinth, he first preached the Gospel to them, and was the first instrument of their conversion, and laying the foundation of a Gospel church state; but that in his preaching he laid Christ as the one and only foundation, for men to build their faith and hope upon, for everlasting life and happiness, mentioned in the following verse:

and another buildeth thereupon; which designs not a private Christian, who was directed in the apostle's ministry to build his soul upon the rock of ages, Christ the sure foundation laid in Zion; though there is a truth in this, the apostle laid Christ as a foundation, and encouraged others to build their faith and hope upon him, as to eternal salvation; and many were enabled to do so, which was the happy fruit of his ministry, and what gave him pleasure; and in this sense he also himself built upon this foundation, for this cannot be said of another, to the exclusion of himself; he would never lay a foundation, and direct others to build on it, and not build upon it himself; but another minister of the Gospel is meant, as Apollos, or any other who might follow him, and be a means of carrying on the building upon the foundation he had laid; and of edifying and establishing souls upon it; and of rearing up superstructure truths, upon the foundation one:

but let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon; that he builds by line, evenly, according to the analogy of faith; that he builds in proportion to the foundation; and lays such things upon it as are becoming it, and suitable to it.

{h} T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 114. 1. {i} Jarchi, Maimon. Sampson, & Bartenora in Misn. Mikvaot, c. 9. sect. 6. {k} Juchasin, fol. 81. 1. {l} T. Hieros. Gittin, fol. 48. 4.

1 Corinthians 3:11

Ver. 11. For other foundation can no man lay,.... Men may attempt to lay other foundations than Christ, and build upon them, but to no purpose; they will be of no avail; all besides him are sandy foundations; such as fleshly privileges, a carnal descent, a religious education, an external profession of religion, a man's own righteousness, and the absolute mercy of God; but men ought to lay no other, nor can they, that will be of any advantage to themselves or others:

than that which is laid; by Jehovah the Father, both in his eternal counsels and covenant, when he set forth and appointed Christ to be the Saviour and Redeemer of his people; and in the fulness of time, when he sent him forth under the same characters; and by the Spirit of God, when he reveals Christ to them, and forms him in them; and by the ministers of the Gospel, who jointly agree to lay him ministerially, as the foundation for souls to build their hope upon: hence he is called the "foundation of the apostles and prophets", as here,

which is Jesus Christ; he is the foundation personally considered, as God-man and Mediator, on which the church, and every believer is built; he is the foundation of the covenant of grace, and of eternal salvation; of the faith and hope, peace, joy, and comfort of all the saints; and of the building of God, that house not made with hands, that city which has foundations, eternal glory in the other world; and he is the foundation, doctrinally considered; or the doctrines of his proper, deity, of his divine and eternal sonship, of his incarnation, of his Messiahship, of his obedience, sufferings, death, and resurrection from the dead, of justification by his righteousness, pardon by his blood, and atonement by his sacrifice, &c. are fundamental ones: the Jews were wont to call the principal articles of their religion, ydwoy, "foundations": Maimondes has entitled one of his tracts, hrwth ydwoy "the foundations of the law"; but the doctrines respecting the person, offices, and grace of Christ, are the only foundation of the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 3:12

Ver. 12. Now if any man build upon this foundation,.... The different materials laid by one and the same man, on this foundation, or the different doctrines advanced upon it, are some of them comparable to

gold, silver, precious stones; for their intrinsic worth and value; for the purity and sincerity of them; for their weight, importance, solidity, and substantiality; for their durableness; for the great esteem they are had in by those, who know the worth of them; and for the great usefulness they are of unto them, being rich in themselves, and enriching to them; and these are the great, momentous, and valuable truths of the Gospel, which agree with and are suitable to the foundation they are built upon: so the Jews {m} compare their oral and written law, the former to gold, and the latter to precious stones, but the metaphors much better suit the doctrines of the Gospel: others are like to

wood, hay, stubble; by which are meant, not heretical doctrines, damnable heresies, such as are diametrically opposite to, and overturn the foundation; for one and the same man builds the former, as these, and is himself saved at last; neither of which is true, of such that deliver doctrines of devils: but empty, trifling, useless things are meant; such as fables, endless genealogies, human traditions, Jewish rites and ceremonies; which through the prejudice of education, and through ignorance and inadvertency, without any bad design, might by some be introduced into their ministry, who had been brought up in the Jewish religion; as also the wisdom of the world, the philosophy of the Gentiles, oppositions of science falsely so called, curious speculations, vain and idle notions, which such who had their education among the Greeks might still retain, and be fond of; and through an itch of vain glory, mix with their evangelic ministrations; and in a word, everything that may now be advanced in the Gospel ministry, not so honourable to the grace of God, or so becoming the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, nor so consistent with the Spirit's work of grace, may be meant hereby; the same minister at different times, and sometimes at one and the same time in his ministry, lays the foundation, Christ, and builds on it for a while excellent valuable truths, raises a superstructure of gold, silver, and precious stones, and then covers the edifice with trifling, impertinent, and inconsistent things, with wood, hay, and stubble; and so at last, of this promising fine stately building, makes a thatched house,

{m} Koheleth Jaacob in Caphtor, fol. 109. 2.

1 Corinthians 3:13

Ver. 13. Every man's work shall be made manifest,.... The doctrine he preaches shall be sooner or later made manifest to himself, and to his hearers; who shall see the inconsistency, irregularity, and deformity of such a building; at first so well laid, then piled up with such excellent materials, and at last covered in with such trifling or incoherent stuff:

for the day shall declare it; meaning not the day of judgment, though that is often called the day, or that day, and will be attended with fire, and in it all secrets shall be made manifest; but the apostle intends a discovery that will be made of doctrines in this world, before that time comes: wherefore this day rather designs a day of tribulation; as of persecution, which tries men's principles, whether they are solid or not; and of error and heresy, when men are put upon a re-examination of their doctrines, whereby persons and truths that are approved are made manifest; or of some great calamity, such as the destruction of Jerusalem, whereby many wrong notions the Jews yet retained were discovered: but it is best of all to understand this day of the Gospel day, and of the progress of Gospel light, especially in some particular periods of it; as in the primitive times, at the reformation from popery, and the more remarkable Gospel daylight, which will be in the latter times, when the impertinence and inconsistency of many things which now obtain in the ministry will be seen; see Eph 5:13.

Because it shall be revealed by fire: not that day, but the man's work, or doctrine:

and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is; by the fire is meant, not the general conflagration of the world, when that, and all that is therein, will be burnt up; much less the fire of purgatory, the "papists" dream of, for the punishment of evil actions; for the apostle is not speaking of the actions of men, good or bad, but of the doctrines of ministers; rather the fire of tribulation and affliction, which, as it is for the trial of the grace of faith, so of the doctrine of faith, whereby it becomes much more precious than of gold that perisheth; or of some fiery dispensation of God's vengeance, as on Jerusalem: though the word of God, which is as fire, seems to be intended; which in some certain times so blazes forth, and will more especially in the latter day, that by the light of it, both ministers and churches will be able to see clearly the bright shining lustre of the gold, silver, and precious stones; and with so much heat, as to burn up the wood, hay, and stubble; when the difference between these things will be most easily discerned.

1 Corinthians 3:14

Ver. 14. If any man's work abide,.... That is, if any minister's doctrine will bear the test of daylight, to be looked into, and abide the fire of the word; as gold, silver, and precious stones will, or such doctrines as are comparable to them, which will shine the brighter for being tried by this fire:

which he hath built thereupon; upon the foundation Christ, in entire consistence with, and proportion to it, and highly becoming it:

he shall receive a reward; either from the churches of Christ here, who shall honour and respect him for his faithful labours in the ministry; or from Christ hereafter, who will say, well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.

1 Corinthians 3:15

Ver. 15. If any man's work shall be burnt,.... If any minister's doctrine he has preached shall be destroyed and disappear, shall be disapproved of, and rejected by the churches, not being able, to bear the light and heat of the fire of God's word:

he shall suffer loss; of all his labour and pains he has been at, in collecting together such trifling, useless, and inconsistent things; and of all that glory and popular applause he might expect from men, on account of them, and which was the snare that drew him into such a way of preaching:

but he himself shall be saved; with an everlasting salvation; not by his ministerial labours, much less by his wood, hay, and stubble, which will be all burnt up; but through his being, notwithstanding all the imperfections of his ministry, upon the foundation Christ:

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

My brother, I think you are correct in now saying Arminians place faith in Christ and that faith saves them. However, that is NOT what's implied in your post, Wade.

You wrote: "Faith, commitment, and obedience are not gifts, but works of man according to the Arminian." If faith is a work of man, then according to the Arminian, one is saved by a work of man.

Now, let's get back to the issue: I'd like to know who these evangelical Arminian believers are who confess that their sanctification is based on human works.

As I penned in response to Dull Iron, the ultimate point is, this post followed on the heels of a call for conciliatory language toward other evangelicals and their theology--mainly a response to Dr. Falwell's "heresy" charge toward particular redemptionists.
Here you imply Arminian leaning believers are works-based, which if they really are, are not heretics but unbelievers. How is that supposed to fit "conciliatory language"?

Enough. I'm tired. And, Dull Iron will be glad I've said my last. Let's go on to reflect about women in ministry :^).

Peace today, Wade. With that, I am...


wadeburleson.org said...


My dear, dear Peter.

Listen carefully (or read carefully).

What saves a man is God.

And God is sovereign enough to save a man who believes he has saved himself.


Anonymous said...


I read carefully as you suggested. You said "God is Sovereign enough..."
Now I am totally confused. Are there varying degrees of sovereignty?


Anonymous said...

Hi tj - I tried to help answer some questions for you on the Falwell post if you would like to check it out. If not, I understand.

Take care.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

Thanks Wade. But we're not talking people who are evidently self-deceived about their salvation. Why would you bring that up?

Were I you, I'd stick to just listing the evangelical Arminian works that demonstrate Arminians believe that "Faith, commitment, and obedience are not gifts, but works of man according to the Arminian." That's all I asked for.

With that, I am...


Anonymous said...

spurgeon believed in people receiving rewards in heaven for service and sacrifice on earth.