Debate on 1 Corinthians 3, James White Versus Tim Staples
January 28, 2010.
The debate audio is available online.
1 Cor 3:6 I [Paul] have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase
1 Cor 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
1 Cor 3:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
1 Cor 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
1 Cor 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
1 Cor 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Cor 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
1 Cor 3:13 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.
1 Cor 3:14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1 Cor 3:15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Catholic apologist Tim Staples began his opening statement with this:
"From a Catholic and biblical perspective, this is really not difficult to see, in a nutshell, St. Paul, is here giving us a vivid picture of the judgment, which is obviously after death, and he tells us that at the judgment, and I know we will get some play on this, there will be some who are already perfectly purified so that they will not experience the pains of purgatory, but they will receive their reward immediately, and there are those who will not have been perfectly sanctified, so they will undergo a purging of all imperfections so that they can enter into the glory of heaven."
This is a splendid example of eisegesis, reading into the text something that is not there.
First, what does the bible teach about forgiveness of sin?
Mat 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Mark 3:28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:
Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Rev 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
Scripture teaches sin will be forgiven by Christ. So just how is sin forgiven?
Heb 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sin cannot be remitted by subjecting the sinner to fiery torment and pain. The law demands the shedding of blood, death, to atone for sin. The Gospel message is that Christ has taken your sins to the cross, and offers His death in your place:
Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
These are the only choices. Die for your own sins, or let Christ's death pay your penalty that the law demands. No amount of pain and suffering on your part can remit your sins. To assert that your sins can be remitted by your own suffering, is to reject the Gospel message of salvation through the atoning death of Christ, that is blasphemy and antichrist.
"THE DAY": 1 COR 3:13
Second, Paul in the 3rd chapter of 1st Corinthians says nothing about a judgment that occurs at the time of ones death. Mr. Staples is attempting to force the Catholic teaching of a particular judgment into the text, which is alleged to occur immediately when one dies, resulting in one immediately being sent to burning torment in Hell forever, burning torment in purgatory to be cleansed and made holy for heaven, or directly to heaven, for those who are already perfect. Paul in 1 Cor 3:13 mentions "the day" when a man's work will be manifested and rewarded (vs. 8 &14), and he further explains when this test of a man's work will occur in the following chapter:
1 Cor 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
Paul is not saying that some bound for heaven must be tormented with fire to purge their sins, or that those who are already perfect will escape this infliction of cleansing pain. He is saying that the quality of ones work will be judged, and rewarded accordingly, that this judgment of the church will occur at the return of the Lord at His second coming, when Christ will reward His faithful servants for the work they have done in building the church by preaching the Gospel. Matthew corroborates this:
Mat 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
The kingdom parables of the faithful servants in Matt 25:21, 23, the parable of the talents, and the parable of the pounds, Luke 19:12-27, consistently teach the exact same lesson, that on the day the Lord returns He rewards his faithful servants according to the value of the work they have done. The same is true for the kingdom parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matt 20), which also teaches that compensation is given to everyone as a group, when the work is completely finished. John the Revelator also teaches that these rewards are given at the second coming:
Rev 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
In 1 Cor 3:12-15 Paul alludes to the second coming of Christ as described in Malachi, which also explains "the day":
Mal 3:2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
Mal 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Mal 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
Malachi, Matthew, the kingdom parables, and Revelation do not teach that a man is rewarded individually at the moment his particular work is done, at the end of his life, rather they teach that the entire church receives due reward together, at the same time, on the day of the Lord's second coming, when each man's work is tested as by a refining fire. On that day, all work professed to be in service to the Lord will be judged, only that work that was precious and profitable to the Lord will stand and merit reward, anything less that he did will be worthless, though the man himself will be saved (1 Cor 3:15).
So the Catholic teaching of purgatory is clearly refuted by Scripture.
What Happens When You Die? and
The Biblical Truth about Hell.