If Anyone’s Work Is Burned: Scrutinizing Proof-Texts -- By: John Niemelä

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 08:1 (Jan 2002)
Article: If Anyone’s Work Is Burned: Scrutinizing Proof-Texts
Author: John Niemelä

If Anyone’s Work Is Burned:
Scrutinizing Proof-Texts

John Niemelä*

[*Editor's note: John Niemelä received a B.A. (University of Minnesota), and earned the Th.M. and Ph.D. degrees in New Testament Literature and Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary. John is Professor of Hebrew and Greek at Chafer Theological Seminary. His email address is languages@chafer.edu.]


Within Christendom, some think that believers lack eternal security. They observe believers (1) completely departing from their walk with God and (2) imagine them going to the Lake of Fire. By contrast, those with a perseverance view1 deny both points. They contend that God will neither allow any regenerate person (1) to depart completely from walking with Him nor (2) to end up in the Lake of Fire.

Each theory makes one true assertion: The first correctly asserts that some believers stop walking with the Lord. The second rightly affirms that no believer can end up in the Lake of Fire. As painful as it is to see eternally saved friends depart from the Lord, it does happen. Even so, John 6:47 indicates that they still possess eternal life, Most assuredly, I say to you, the one who believes2 in Me [Christ] has everlasting life.3

1 Corinthians 3:10–15 contrasts best- and worst-case scenarios. In the former case, the believer not only has eternal life,

but full reward. In the latter, no believer can lose eternal life, even if he forfeits all eternal reward.

Unfortunately, it has become common for people to claim that 1 Corinthians 4:5 (or some other passage) proves that 1 Corinthians 3:15 does not actually mean that a believer at the Judgment Seat of Christ4 might forfeit all reward.

The following H. A. Ironside quote does not advocate fruit inspection (examining a person’s works in a vain effort to verify that he has ‘truly’ believed). However, his words lend themselves to that approach.

The apostle goes to the farthest extreme here [portraying a fire consuming all of a believer’s work in 1 Corinthians 3:15], but in the next chapter he shows that there will be no believer of whom this is actually true. Chapter

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