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dealing with a good workman; in other words it speaks of service. When the Lord finally
tests "every man's work of what sort it is" (I Cor. 3: 13), all will be in two categories:
faithful, with the Lord's approval, or unfaithful, with His disapproval. The former will
receive the Lord's eternal reward, symbolized by a prize or crown, the latter will be
denied it (II Tim. 2: 11-13). This doctrine then is to be distinguished from salvation by
grace, apart from works. It is additional to salvation and must never be confused with it.
Failure to do this has resulted in the teaching of being saved today and possibly lost
tomorrow. Such an idea undermines the whole redemptive purpose of God and would
make this dependent on the creature, rather than on the almighty power and wisdom of
the Creator and Saviour of men.
On the surface, it looks as though the subject changes at the beginning of chapter 10:,
but a careful examination shows that this is not so. Having clearly taught that a believer
can be securely saved, yet lose the Divine prize through slackness or unfaithfulness, the
Apostle now illustrates this by appealing to Israel's past history in the wilderness:
"For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, how that our fathers were all under the
cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and
in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual
drink; for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ.
Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the
wilderness" (I Cor. 10: 1-5 R.V.).
Nothing was more certain than that all Israel were delivered from the bondage of
Egypt and typically redeemed. Yet it is equally clear that only two out of the great
multitude who were rescued from Egypt attained the promised land, i.e. Caleb and
Joshua. The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us why. They could not enter because of their
unbelief (Heb. 3: 16-19). And unbelief means more than not believing; it includes
active disobedience. Entering the promised land was equivalent to "going on to
maturity" of Heb. 6: 1, and represents the prize element which they lost.
In these verses one should note the stress on all, and then contrast it with most of them
in verse 5. All the Israelites enjoyed the privileges of redemption, i.e. freedom from
bondage and the provision of all their pilgrim needs in respect to food, drink, clothing
and protection. All of them ate the manna, so wondrously provided every day by the
Lord. This was spiritual food, as likewise the water from the smitten rock was spiritual
drink, and the rock itself was spiritual (verses 3 and 4). This is an interesting and
instructive usage in the Scriptures of the word "spiritual". So many seem to think that
this word always designates something shadowy and unreal, but the manna and the water
were definitely literal and material. They were `spiritual' as well, which shows that they
had a further significance in addition to their material function as food and drink. In
other words they were typical; they represented spiritual truth as the Lord's great
discourse in John 6: 30-42 clearly shows.
The O.T. record sets forth the ten times Israel provoked the Lord by reason of which
they lost their prize--entry into the promised land. The Corinthian believers were
therefore to take warning. They need not think that they would escape such a penalty if
they provoked God in a similar manner. Their fathers lusted after evil things. They