This is just to bring clarity, when I said this particular statement: "Someone can be a Christian for 1 year and another for 20 years and get the same reward" , I was not implying that all will get all the same rewards, for obviously some shall suffer loss, and some will have more rewards, but was saying that one can be a Christian for 1 year and another for 20 years and get the same reward, in the sense, were I was thinking in my mind, that in some cases (not all cases) this might be truly so.
A good example of what you are saying here is the parable of the workers in the field in Matthew chapter 20. The ones that came in last got paid the same as the ones who had been working the longer hours. All got the same reward in the end.
1Co 3:11-15 (11) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; (13) 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. (14) If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. (15) If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
There are 2 subjects here concerning the fire.
There is a revealing fire which shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
And then there is a saving fire, that is being saved, yet so as by fire.
2 different purposes to the fire.
The revealing fire, shall reveal every man's work (believer's) of what sort it is, but when shall it be declared? At the time of the judgment seat of Christ which is when we shall receive rewards, or in some cases the lack thereof.
Who's judgment seat is it?
Christ's judgment seat.
I know that Christ Jesus is the word that is the living word, and here is a scripture that associates the word with fire.
Jer 23:29 (29) Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
Now the revealing fire has nothing to do with sanctification, nor persecution, but it has to do with a fire that reveals what kind of work, this or that believer's work was.
It will reveal the truth about our work for Christ, it will reveal the truth of how much of a witness we truly were, and how much fruit we did bear, which would result in us loving God's ways, and walking in his ways, which one of the fruit of the Spirit is love.
And in reality, it will reveal how far did we go with God in our sanctifying walk on earth, and what kind of foundation we stood on.
It shows that the foundation is Christ, and it will show how well we built upon this foundation, whether it turned out to be gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or stubble, which when it gets revealed, it will reveal how far we went with God in our sanctifying walk.
Now this revealing fire shall try every man's work, and I know that many times, mining wise, that precious metals often times need to be refined.
And once the precious metals get refined by the revealing fire, then we will start to see if it is gold, silver or a precious stone.
And these metals shall stand the test, for they shall remain, thus believer's on these foundations shall receive rewards.
But the hay, wood an stubble, shall not remain, they shall be burnt up.
And could this revealing fire, just simply be Christ Jesus the word, revealing what these works are?
And now we get to the saving fire.
The bible says this:
1Co 3:15 (15) If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Man's work being burned and not remaining tells me that these Christians did not bear much fruit in their walk with God, yet they themselves shall be saved, yet so as by fire.
All that remains really is the fire, and they just got in by fire.
They were still saved , but got in so as by fire.
The bible tells us that if a branch does not bear any fruit it shall be cut off, and cast into the fire, which is a very scary thought, which in that case refers to hell.
But obviously these believers did not get to that point for they were still saved, but obviously did not bear much fruit.
The fire that is mentioned here, that saves, is a sanctifying fire, and it was the wood , hay and stubble people that were saved as by fire, but not the gold, silver and precious stone, which seemed to thrive in some manner.
Now all believer's get sanctified, and some go deeper into sanctification than others.
But these people that were saved as of by fire, I believe, just allowed the sanctification process to work enough in their lives, so as to just making it into heaven.
And I do not think that people really realize how important sanctification is, and how intertwined salvation and the process of sanctification is.
Because for one thing sanctification flows from salvation, and that is one of the benefits of salvation.
And sanctification is a must, it is not an option.
And you can only fight against the sanctification process for so long, and you can only harden your heart towards this process for so long, to were it can eventually lead you unto losing you very soul, it can effect your salvation.
Now God is patient, he knows that not every one grows at the same pace, but nevertheless, it is very dangerous to fight against this process, just surrender to him, and let the process work in your life.
It is not enough to simply believe in Jesus, but we must obey his teachings and the teachings in the Bible. We must take up our cross daily and follow the Lord. We can't just go by feelings and a general belief that Jesus is who he said he is, but we must do as he commands. We have to get up in the morning determined to do as Christ would have us to do, and walk in the Spirit, rather than after the flesh.
Israel believed , simply, truthfully, honestly, at times.
What happened (over , and over, and over again) ?
"The story of Judges begins with a record of victory. “Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the people asked the Lord, saying, ‘Who shall go up against the Canaanites to fight against them?’And the Lord said, ‘Judah shall go up; behold I have delivered the land into his hand.’ And Judah said unto Simeon, his brother, ‘Come up with me unto my lot that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with thee into thy lot.’ So Simeon went with him. And Judah went up, and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and Perizites into their hand.”
This was all as it should be, and manifested the spirit of faith, obedience, and humble dependence upon God. A little farther on we read that they even took Jerusalem, and they captured Hebron and other strongholds, and they pressed down to the country of the Philistines, and drove their enemies from most of their strongholds. It seemed as if they still possessed the victorious faith of Joshua, and had in their midst the same Almighty Presence of their divine Leader.
But soon we begin to see the first indications of the coming failure. First of all, Judah begins to pause in his career of triumph, and we read the first word of defeat and discouragement. (Chapter 1: 19.) “He could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” Soon after we read of the partial failure of Benjamin, “And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but the Jebusites dwelt with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem, unto this day.” It was not “could not,” now, but “did not.”
Next we find Manasseh failing to drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and the neighboring towns. “But the Canaanites would dwell in that land.” (Verse 27.) Next Ephraim becomes discouraged, and fails to drive the Canaanites from Gezer. (Verse 29.) Zebulun also allows the enemy to remain in his town. (Verse 30.) Asher yields to the inhabitants of Zidon and his cities; Naphtali fails to drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh. (Verse 33.) And Dan flees before the Amorites of his mountain land. So that there was scarcely a tribe of Israel that had not in some degree compromised with the enemy, and given place to their foes whom God has sent them to completely extirpate from the land.
The steps of their failure are very striking as we follow them in detail. . . . "
That is a good account of what occurred after the children of Israel began to have doubts, Joseph.
Sadly, in the USA, et al, will the Lord "find faith" anywhere ? The example of Israel was written to teach, train, edify and warn everyone everywhere today ...
yes. there are still genuine spirit filled sold out to God believers around.
besides all that thru out time God has had a habit of even during times when God poured out judgment there was a remnant. A stump. vinedressers and husbandman... to work the fields. and in the judgment there are people who repent. there may be instances when it seems like there was no more mercy, but even in lamentations there is evidence of repentance. its how God works, He came to seek and save, not judge and destroy.
think about this... as in the days of Lot.... as in the days of Noah. How many righteous people were there?
the laborers are few... so let us press into God and make our calling sure. God is looking for those who will serve, who are available, who cry to Him, here i am, send me... who cry i cant do anything with my life like you can... use me to do your will. but those that pray this need to be ready to follow thru and pay the cost and make good on their vows because those who put thier hand to the plow and look back are not fit.
Hos 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
1Pe 1:7 (7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Now yes it is very clear in the bible, that God uses trials and persecutions in our lives, so to try our faith.
But is it the trial and the persecution that sanctifies us, or is it something else during those trials and so forth that sanctifies us?
Joh 17:17-19 (17) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (18) As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. (19) And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Heb 10:10 (10) By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
The word of God and Christ's finished work sanctifies us.
Persecution in and of itself, does not sanctify anyone, for if that was the case, then any one facing some kind of persecution, who are of whatever religion, who place their faith in any god, must be getting sanctified right?
No absolutely not.
What sanctifies us, during any trial or persecution?
It is the word of God, and through persecution, God is trying to stir us up, so that we put our faith in God, which will then bring in sanctification.
But Satan's goal is to destroy our faith, and if he succeeds, that is not sanctification working in us.
But of course if one fails, he can always get back up, place his faith in God, and repent.
The finished work of cavalry, and the word of God sanctifies us.
We overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony.
And I know sometimes I hear people, talking about praying for persecution, but is that biblical, and is there any examples in the bible of them praying for persecution?