Our Works Tried by Fire

By Wendell Tenison

The following three verses will test the astuteness of our mind to the greatest extent to enhance our perspective of how these verses regarding our works being tried by fire, are intermingled with at least eleven other subjects in the new testament. Within each of these eleven are great lessons within themselves. They are: the domain of Death, Gehenna (everlasting fire and brimstone), Death eternal, the heavens, the earth and the works therein will be burned up, resurrection of the dead, judgment before the throne of Christ, Christ in Hades, Death physical, the shadow of death, Death spiritual and Death personified.

1 Cor 3:13-15 "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 best case scenario occurred centuries ago in the book of Daniel. This is the key to understanding our works tried by fire. There were three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, thrown into a fiery furnance that was heated seven times hotter than it should have been. They walked out of the furnance, but the fire had no power upon their bodies, their hair was not singed, nor did their coats have the smell of smoke, Dan.3:27. There is no question their faith and works overcame the test of fire. Fire not only saves, but destroys, seeing the men who put them in were consumed by the immense heat, Dan.3:22.

    Isaiah chapter 6:6-7, makes it very clear that fire purged his sin and that was done by a Seraphim who with tongs took a live coal from the altar fire and placed it upon his lips.

    The next time we read of fire having or not having a profound effect upon man as it did in the book of Daniel is found in Luke 16:19-31. This is not a parable as many would like to believe, but a real place called Hades. Mentioned in the verses are Abraham, Moses, the law and prophets and the rich man's brethren are not a parable, they really exist. This is the case of two men of whom one was a beggar, Lazarus and the other a rich man. Lazarus being carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom and the other found himself in the flames of torment. There is no question about it, the rich man's works could not overcome the trial of the flames of torment.

    Death and Hades are personified and therefore, they are an integral part of God's scheme in view of the coming resurrection and judgment. Death is personified as a rider on a pale horse and Hades follows him as a giant vaccum sweeper, Rev.6:5. Death is also portrayed as a tyrant feeding upon the souls of men. Death is not a fictious character, but a real being.

    Job 28:22; speaking of the wisdom of God, destruction and Death say, we have heard the fame thereof.

    In 1Cor.15:26, Paul says, the last enemy that our Lord will destroy is Death.

  • Within the domain of Death, the powers exercised therein are over the living spiritual dead, the physical death that is passed upon all men, the captivity of those in the flames of torment and those in Abraham's bosom. The four parts of Hades are Tartarus, the flames of torment, a great gulf fixed between paradise and the flames of torment and the paradise in Abraham's bosom.

    A few examples will give us a better insight as to the powers of the domain of Death regarding the physical death.

    Job 7:1; there is an appointed time to man upon the earth. His days are that of an hireling.

    Job 14:5; our days and the number of months are with God and our bounds are appointed that we cannot pass.

    Eccl.8:8; no man has the power over his spirit to retain it in the day of death. There is no discharge in that war.

    Heb.9:27; it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment.

    Isa.38:18; the grave cannot praise nor will Death celebrate us.

    Isa.28:15,18; there were those who had an agreement with Death, but God disannulled it.

    Hab.2:5; here speaking of a man who would enlarge his desires of greed as do Hell and Death. Death and Hades are always on the prowl.

  • Some of those in the kingdom of Christ who are alive and are in the jaws of spiritual Death.

    1 Jn.3:14; he who does not love his brother abides in spiritual Death.

    Matt.13:41-42; in the end of the world, Christ will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all who offend and do iniquity and cast them into a furnance of fire where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    Jude 12; those who are twice dead, that is, going to die physically and bound for eternal death, plucked up by the roots and their fate is forever sealed.

  • Death no longer has dominion over our Lord.

    Rom.6:9; Death no longer has dominion (rules gr.) over our Christ. The Greek definition of the word dominion is to be Lord of, to rule over and have dominion over.

    Acts 2:31; when Jesus died he went to Hell (Hades), but his soul was not left there.

    Acts 2:27; King David said, God would not leave his soul in Hell.

  • Jesus' descending and ascending assured us of deliverance from the grips of Death.

    Eph.4:8; when Jesus ascended upon high he led captivity captive. Until that time in Hades he had been held captive. He turned the tables on Death.

    Heb.2:14; by reason of death, he conquered death that he might release man from the fears of death who all of their lifetime were subject to bondage.

    Jn.5:28; all will hear the voice of the Lord and come forth from the grave.

    Ps.16:10; David said, God would not leave his soul in Hell.

    Ps.49:15; again David said, God would redeem his soul from the power of the grave.

    Hosea 13:14; God will ransom them from the power of the grave and redeem them from Death.

  • Where Jesus went after he died.

    Rom.10:7; after he died he descended into the deep (Greek text - abyss).

    Eph.4:9-10; Jesus ascended up far above all heavens, but first he descended into the lower parts of the earth.

    Prov.7:27; here speaking of the chambers of Death. The Hebrew word for chambers is Hell, Sheol and underworld. Basically those on earth abiding in Death, the grave and that part of Hades, the flames of torment.

  • Christ is now Lord over the heavens, the earth and things under the earth.

    Phil.2:9-11; at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth and things under the earth.

    Rev.5:3; speaking here of no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth.

    Rev.5:13; every creature in heaven, the earth, under the earth and such as are in the sea and all that is in them, saying, blessing, honor, glory and power to him that sits on the throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

  • What did Jesus do when he went to Hell (Hades)?

    1 Pet.3:18-19; he went and preached to the spirits in prison. The Greek word for preached is as an announcer rather than an evangelists. He made known to all that he now is King of kings and Lord of lords.

    Jude 1:6; the angels who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of that great day.

    2 Pet.2:4; the angels that sinned God cast them down to Hell (Greek text is abyss or Tartarus the deepest pit).

    Luke 8:30-31; the unclean spirit whom Jesus cast out did not want to go into the deep (Greek text - abyss).

    The domain of Death does not include Tartarus, because that is where the angels are who have sinned and are chained.

    Rev.1:8; Jesus now has the keys to Death and Hades.

  • There are eighteen verses with the phrase "the shadow of death." We will only show five, but the other fourteen are as follows:

    Job.3:5; Job 10:21-22; Job 12:22; Job 24:17; Job 28:3; Job 34:22; Ps.44:19; Ps.107:10; Ps.107:14; Isa.9:2; Jer.2:6; Jer.13:16; Amos 5:8.

    All of these verses give a much better perspective as to the dominion of Death, none of which can be directly related to the death of man.

    Job 16:16 "My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death;"

    Rom.5:12; death has passed upon all men, because of the sin of Adam.

    Job 38:17 "Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?"

    1 Jn.3:14; we have passed from Death unto life and that equals going through the doors of the shadow of death into the glorious light of Jesus Christ.

    Psa 23:4 "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

    Mat 4:16 "The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up."

    Luke 1:79 "To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

    Matt.16:19; Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom and therefore, the doors of the kingdom have been opened to all who obey him.

    All who are outside of the kingdom of Christ are living in the shadow of death.

  • The territorial boundries of Death are the whole face of the earth and through the gates of Death into the flames of torment, being that part of Hades. When Death and Hades are cast into the lake of fire, that includes the boundries of Death above and below the earth. The Hell part of Death and Hell being cast into the lake of fire is Tartarus where the angels are chained.

    Rev 20:13-14 "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."

    In the above verses, Hell (Hades) does not represent the grave, otherwise all in the graves either righteous or unrighteous will be cast into the lake of fire. This is further indication that Death is a domain.

  • Now more on our works being tried by fire. 1 Cor.3:13-15, do not apply to those in the kingdom of Christ whom the Lord will gather out at the end of time, because of their offences and iniquity, Matt.13:41-42.

    1 Pet.1:7; ours and their faith will be tried by fire.

  • What about those who came out of the graves and appeared to many in the city, those raised back to life again and one who was in the tomb, whom Jesus brought forth?

    Heb.11:35; the eleventh chapter of Hebrews might be called the faith chapter of the bible, where mention is made of those centuries before regarding their great faith. Verse 35 states, that women received their dead back to life again. The following two verses has reference to them.

    1 Kings 17:17-23; Elijah restored a young man's life back to him by artificial respiration.

    2 Kings 4:17-37; Elisha who also gave life back to another young man by mouth to mouth respiration.

    Luke 8:49-55; here our Lord said of the young maiden, she is not dead, but sleeping and they laughed him to scorn, because they knew she was dead. None the less, Jesus raised her from the dead and her spirit came again.

    John 11:11-14; speaking of Lazarus, first, Jesus said, he is sleeping and moments after that he said, he was dead. Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days, verses 38-44. This is the same as Jesus who was raised from a tomb. It must be pointed out that Lazarus died again whereas, Jesus did not.

    1 Cor.15:20-23; Jesus Christ was the firstfruits of all who had died before and afterward those that are Christ's at his second coming.

    Matt.27:52-53; after our Lord's resurrection, the graves were opened and many bodies of the saints who slept came out and went into the holy city and appeared unto many. Did they die again? The bible does not say, but it is very doubt-ful. We do know there were or are those who came out of great tribulation having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple and he who sits upon the throne shall dwell among them, Rev.7:13-15. In years gone by, many have taught that the bodies who came out of the graves did so after the death of Christ. In no uncertain terms the bible says otherwise.

  • What about the righteous dead in the resurrection?

    Those righteous dead have passed the test of fire, that is, the flames of torment (Hades). They are in the paradise of God in Abraham's bosom.

    1 Thess.4:14-18; the righteous dead will rise first and those righteous living together with them will meet the Lord in the air.

  • What about the righteous living when Christ returns?

    2 Pet.3:10; our Lord will come as a thief in the night in the which the heavens and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Note the works will be burned and that includes all of the works of man whether literal or spiritual.

    When he comes, the righteous bodies will be burned up, but unlike the three Hebrew children who came out with their fleshly bodies, the righteous bodies will be changed to be like our Lord's. Their faith and works will overcome the trial of fire.

    1 Cor.15:42-44; 50-54; how are the dead raised? Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

    Phil.3:20-21; Jesus will change our vile bodies and fashion them like unto his glorious body.

    1 Jn.3:2; we know that we will be like him for we shall see him as he is.

  • What about the unrighteous living when the Lord returns?

    Their bodies will be burned the same as the righteous living, but their works will not withstand the trial of fire.

  • When will all come forth from the graves?

    Dan 12:2 "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

    The Jews under the law understood full well that there will be a resurrection and not all will enter heaven.

    John 5:28-29 "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,..... And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

    In the words of our Savior, all will come forth from the graves. Some unto the resurrection of life and some unto the resurrection of damnation.

    Mat 25:31-34 "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:.....And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:.....And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left......Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:"

    When the Son of man shall sit upon his throne of his glory to execute judgment, he will separate the sheep from the goats, the sheep on the right hand and the goats on the left.

    Mat 25:41 "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"

    Those on the left hand are bound for everlasting fire.

    Luke 13:24-28 "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able......When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:.....Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets......But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity......There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out."

    This is a sad commentary of the rebellious Jews who rejected Jesus. Strait is the gate and many of them would seek to enter in, but are thrust out. Certainly, a bitter thing for them to swallow is that they could look and see what they could have had with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    Mat 7:21-23 "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven......Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?.....And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

    Simply addressing the Lord as Lord will not be enough. Only those who do the will of his Father in heaven will enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Rom 14:10-12 "But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ......For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God......So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."

    We all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and every knee shall bow, every tongue will confess to God and everyone will give account of himself to God. Every so-called Athiest will confess his name and bow the knee like it or not.

    2 Cor 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

    Will entering the kingdom of heaven precede the judgment? Absolutely not. The Lord made it very clear there would be a separation of the sheep from the goats.

    Zep 1:18 "Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land."

    Here the Lord is speaking of making a speedy riddance of the whole land, but will the same apply in the day of judgment, where silver and gold can buy ones way into heaven? Absolutely not. Some might say, but wait Lord, I want to have my legal staff to represent me. The Lord might say, sorry, they did not make it either.

  • With what body do we come from the grave?

    1 Cor 15:35-38 "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."

    This is the age old question, but the scripture gives the answer. Farmers understand what happens to the seed when it is planted. If it does not die it will not come up. When seed is planted it does not come up looking like the seed, but the plant.

    1 Cor 15:42-44 "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:.....It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. The is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."

    There is no mistake about, in the resurrection, the fleshly body will not rise, but a spiritual one. The part of this verse that refers to being raised in glory and power cannot apply to the unrighteous whose part is in the lake of fire and brimstone.

    Concerning the resurrection of the dead, all of those in Hades both those in paradise in Abraham's bosom and those in the chambers of Death, the flames of torment. The angels will not rise from graves, because they did not die and were not buried. However, that part of Hades, Tartarus, where the angels are chained under darkness will receive their just sentence.

  • What kind of body will the unrighteous have in Gehenna (everlasting fire and brimstone)?

    Christ is able to subdue all things unto himself and will prepare them a body fitted for everlasting torment where their worm dies not and the fire is not quenched.

    There are only three massive fires that we know about regarding the judgment of man. The flames of torment that now exist in Hades, the fire that will burn up the heavens and the earth and eternal fire (Gehenna) that will last forever. Gehenna does not qualify in this discussion, because it will occur after all things have been dissolved.

  • I say again, the keys to understanding this subject are the three Hebrew children in the firey furnance and the works that will burned up at his coming.

    1 Cor.3:15, states if a man's work be burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved so as by fire. It must be understood there are two kinds of works that will be burned. First, the works of the righteous; second, the works of the wicked. An excellent example of the works of the righteous that might be burned is explained by Vernon Gruver. That is, if a righteous man converts souls and some or all of them go astray, his work will be burned and he will suffer loss. The work that he did in converting souls was a righteous work and that work overcame the trial of fire. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.

  • Some good and bad works.

    Luke 12:47-48; those given much the more is required. To him that knew his Lord's will and prepared not himself will be beaten with many stripes. To him that knew not and did things worthy of stripes will be beaten with few stripes.

    1 Tim.5:25; the good works of some are manifest before hand, but those otherwise cannot be hidden.

    Rev.2:4-5; because you have left your first love, remember from whence you are fallen and repent and do the first works or else I will remove your candlestick from out of its place.

    Mark 14:3-6; she annointed his head with precious oil, a good work.

    Eph.4:12; the work of the ministry is a good work.

    1 Tim.3:3; the work of an elder is a good work.

    Gal.5:7-10; Paul wished those who troubled them were cut off.

    2 Cor.2:17; we do not corrupt the word of God as many others, making great profits.

    Micah 3:11; the heads of Israel judge for reward, the priest teach for hire and the prophets divine for money. Yet they leaned upon the Lord and said, is not the Lord among us? None evil can come upon us.

    Phil.1:15-18; some preach Christ of envy not sincerely.

    2 Tim.4:3-4; they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears and shall turn away from the truth and shall be turned unto fables.

    A total of 165 scriptures have been used in this lesson. Are they not enough to convince us?



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    © 2010 by Wendell Tenison