Wood Hay Stubble Rom.14:10-12, 1 Cor.3:11-15 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Rom 14:10 says, “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” One aspect of this judgment will determine the reward we receive or the loss we suffer for how we build on the foundation of Jesus Christ [1 Cor 3:11-15]. You see, Paul began building “an holy temple… an habitation of God,” [Eph 2:19-22] for the “household of God.” This building is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ [1 Cor 3:11] who is the chief cornerstone in a foundation that includes the apostles and prophets. After them, anyone who has been involved in the building of this building has been adding to what they started nearly 2,000 years ago.
Not everyone who is saved is involved in building this building. They should be. But Paul recognized that some are building their own buildings and others aren’t building at all. So, he says in 1 Cor 3:12, “IF any man build upon this foundation.” Are you involved in building this building? If you are, then here are some things to consider. You are either building with gold, silver and precious stones or you are building with wood, hay and stubble.
Wood, hay and stubble are recognized to be inferior building materials. They cannot survive the fire that will try every man’s work. They will burn up. They are certainly building materials but they aren’t suitable materials for this temple of God. Wood was used in Moses’ tabernacle to make the ark, the altar of incense, the table of shewbread, the pillars and the walls [Ex 25:5, 10, 23; 26:15, 32, 37]. You wouldn’t have known these were wood by just looking at them because they were covered in gold. Hay is the straw that was used by the Jews to make brick in Egypt [Ex 5:7]. Stubble was used instead of straw in Ex 5:11 when the Jews had to find their own building materials.
Wood typifies men [Mk 8:24] and suggests earthly methods as opposed to heavenly means used by many when attempting to build the temple of God. Hay is seen in Ps 129:6-7 on thatched roofs and represents men, as well. Hay suggests temporal as opposed to eternal objectives in building. The temple that men build is man-made, like man-made professions of faith instead of Spirit born conversions. 1 Cor 3:6 says that God gave the increase; not man. Stubble in Mal 4:1 represents lost people who are burned up at the 2nd advent of Jesus Christ. Stubble, therefore, represents lost men that preachers try to add to the household of God for numbers sake.
You see a lot of wood, hay and stubble in the building today. For instance, when Billy Graham began his ministry, thousands of people were getting saved. But when the numbers began to dwindle, the evangelistic association began using ecumenical means and man’s methods to keep the numbers up. They started using wood, hay and stubble. These building materials are visible; they are meant to be seen; they look good to men.
When men resort to inferior building materials they will corrupt the word of God [2 Cor 2:17], they will preach man’s wisdom [1 Cor 2:4], they will promote men and man followers [3 Jn 9], they will build Laodicean churches [Rev 3:16-18[ and they will draw away people with every wind of doctrine and the sleight of men [Eph 4:14]. It’s all a show.
Gold, silver and precious stones, on the other hand, are eternal building materials. They survive the fire that tries our work. Gold concerns things done for the glory of God. It’s his building, after all. Silver concerns the redemptive work of Jesus Christ [1 Pet 1:18-19]. Precious stones are not stones in our soul winners crown, per se [comp Zech 9:16]; they are saved people in the building [1 Pet 2:4-5].
Notice how these three building material are manifested in a well-balanced ministry:
- Gold – exalt the Savior, who is God.
- Silver – evangelize sinners, for whom Christ died and shed his blood.
- Precious stones – edify saints, the stones in the building.
The gold in the tabernacle covered shittim wood. That’s like us. We are just wood until we get saved and then we are like wood covered with gold. Job said, “When I am tried I shall come forth as gold.” Only gold and silver were used in the tabernacle; brass was used outside in the court. The gold, silver and precious stones in the building of God are clear as crystal; they can’t be seen [Rev 21:11, 18, 21]. And so those building with these building materials are not working to build something you can see or to build something for their recognition [1 Cor 3:7]. They are building something eternal and invisible for the Lord. Look at these building materials:
The foundation is Jesus Christ the rock, the chief cornerstone [Eph 2:20]. Paul and the apostles and prophets are in the foundation of it. The building is a body that groweth [Eph 2:21] and maketh increase [Eph 4:16].
The gold represents things like the Spirit of God, who is God [Eph 2:22; 1 Pet 1:22] and the word of God [1 Pet 1:23; Ps 19:10, 119:72]; and faith [Rev 3:18 1 Pet 1:7].
The silver represents things like the blood of Christ [1 Pet 1:18-19; Col 1:20; Eph 2:13]; the word of God [Ps 12:6]; and, therefore, the preaching of the Cross [Eph 2:16; 1 Cor 1:18].
The precious stones represent saints in the household of God [Eph 2:19-22; 1 Pet 2:5; the body of Christ, Eph 4:12-16]. Saints are also typified by gold and silver [2 Tim 2:20].
So, what are some lessons we can learn from what we have seen in the scripture about these building materials and the temple of God.
- We should never judge our work before it is through. Paul didn’t judge his work [1 Cor 4:3]. Our work will be judged by Jesus Christ at his judgment seat. You just need to make sure Jesus is pleased and that you keep building with God’s building materials.
- We should never judge our work by the standard of another man’s work. Paul said, “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour,” [1 Cor 3:8]. If you start worrying about what other men are doing you will try to compete.
- We should never concern ourselves with the lack of visible results. The building we are building is an invisible building and the materials in it are invisible. You can see the word of God, but you can’t see what the word of God is doing in a man’s soul.
- We should never change God’s building materials to get better “results.” Modern versions like the “Cowboy Version” are wood, hay and stubble designed to get results. Look, if God’s building materials aren’t getting the results you want what makes you think that your building materials are going to work better than his? Modern music and methods to get up a big crowd down here might impress and entertain men, but they’ll just make a bigger bon fire at the judgment seat of Christ.
- We should never trade our accountability to God for accountability to men [Rom 14:12]. You aren’t going to improve the work of God by making his ministers accountable to men in an organization that oversees churches. To impress the men who judge you, you will have to make results happen.
- We should never quit doing our work in the building until we are through. Jesus said, “It is finished.” Paul finished his course. There is still work going on in the building. We cannot stop until God is through using us to build.
Conclusion: Are you building in God’s building? Everybody had to get involved when Nehemiah built the wall. Have you resorted to man’s means to make your work look good? Have you slacked off or quit? Get with it and work with these materials God has given us to finish the temple of God.