If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. —1 Corinthians 3:14-15
What are the differences between the fiery trial below and the one which is coming, when the Day will be revealed by fire?
First, the trial below may be hidden from others. You can be in a trial and nobody know it, but God's fire on that Day of days will bring us out into the open.
The second difference: the trial below is usually brought on by earthly pressures—people or perhaps our own stupidity. It may be persecution, it may be financial difficulty. But on that day the fire will be God's fire, without the need of earthly pressures to show where we are.
The third difference: the trial below sometimes comes by way of satanic attack. If you are in a fiery trial now, the devil is not far away. The fiery trial may be the devil attacking you, but on the Day of the Second Coming it will be entirely the intervention of God sending His Son with fire and glory. The devil will have no part in that trial.
The fourth difference, and perhaps the ultimate point that needs to be made, is that the trial below exposes where you are in our progress, but there's hope that when you fail, God will come a second time around and you will do better. But on that Day, it is final; there will be no repeats; that is it.
Do you see why James said, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2)? It lets us know how we are doing. It is preparation for the Day of days. It shows where we are spiritually, and it is showing that God is still working to get our attention. Our work will be tested.
Excerpted from When God Says "Well Done!" (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1993).