Paul is talking about judgment day in I Corinthians Chapter 3.
According to the Bible, there are two judgment seats: the great white throne judgment and the judgment seat of Christ.
People who have rejected Christ and the salvation He offers will appear before the great white throne of Almighty God the Father. They are not there to see where they are going to spend eternity. They are there because they made their decision against God in their life. They are there to be sent to Hell for eternity as they chose. Hell was not made for people, but for the devil and his demons. There are different degrees of punishment in Hell just as there are various levels of rewards in Heaven, according to what we do on earth.
Christians will appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Why? Because we received Jesus and the salvation He offers. We belong to Him, bought with the precious blood of Christ, and have a home in Heaven. Our works will be put through the fire. Wood, hay, stubble, gold, silver, precious stones. Something happened in the middle of this list. Wood, hay, and stubble are things that burn up in the fire. Gold, silver, and precious stones are purified by the fire.
What is the difference? Love is the key. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves are the only right motives of heart for anything a Christian does. What we do because we love God and we love people is like gold, silver, and precious stones. These deeds of love will go through the fire and we will receive rewards for each one of these in Heaven.
The things we do from a heart of vanity, self-righteousness and evil motives will burn up.
There are five crowns we can receive as rewards. The crown of life that is given to those who are faithful during persecution. An incorruptible crown that is given to those who unselfishly serve Christ and are a blessing to people. The crown of righteousness that is given to those who love Christ’s appearing and live in intimacy with Him. The crown of glory that is given to those who use their influence to help Christians become more intimate with Christ. The crown of rejoicing that is given to people who lead people to know Jesus personally as their Lord and Savior. Are you ready for this?
What will we do with our crowns in Heaven? We will wear them to the glory of God’s grace in our life. Then we will take them off and fall before Jesus and throw them at His feet in worship. Revelation says the 24 elders fall down and worship God.
Twenty-four elders symbolize all the saints of the Old Testament and the Church in the New Testament.
We will be in that crowd saying, “Lord, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You created all things, and for Your will they are and were created.”