by Jerry Gentry
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal. 6:7-8).
It is early spring now; planting time is here for your garden. You get your seed packets together, prepare your ground, and plant your seeds. Potatoes and onions you put in early, then lettuce and radishes and some early peas next. You put in cauliflower and broccoli and carrots and bush beans. Oh yes, you plant some sweet corn and melons to harvest during the hot summer months.
If you keep the weeds down, and receive ample rainfall, you are certain to get a harvest. You know exactly what you will get; you have seen the pictures on the seed packages and you have held the fruits of prior harvests in your hands. Your sweet corn will produce bright, yellow ears; your carrots long, orange roots. Your lettuce will produce edible green leaves, and your potatoes and onions will make true to their types as well.
Not for a moment do you worry that your corn might mysteriously turn into, say, carrots; or that your potatoes might produce broccoli. That is ridiculous; it has never happened; furthermore, every gardener knows it will never happen.
There is a law of the garden that says, "You will reap what you sow," given proper growing conditions. And so it is, particularly with the Christian life, as well.
The Bible says, "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you" (Hosea 10:12).
Yes, it is a great law of the universe that we reap what we sow, absolutely. Christian, saved by faith, did you know that what you sow in life today you will reap by and by? Many if not most converted Christians ignore this great law of sowing and reaping.
God fearing Job understood this principle: "Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same" (Job 4:8).
Converted Christian, do you "plow iniquity, and sow wickedness?" Then you too will reap the same in due time.
"Oh, no!" you say. "I am saved by faith. My sins are washed in the blood." Ah, yes, dear Christian. You are indeed saved by faith alone, washed in the blood of Christ, justified by His life. The price of your eternal salvation is paid in full by Jesus Christ, thank God.
That is where most Christians stop, with their prepaid tickets to eternal life in hand. Having entered that door of the kingdom called salvation by faith, they then do "every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes" (Deut. 12:8), in place of "that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God" (Deut. 13:18). Such Christians depend solely on grace, while they plant their hybrid seed of personal opinions and private interpretations about the Word of God. There is a work to be done beyond personal salvation: "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:20). Every reward and kingdom fruit depends on the seed we plant and the ground we plant in. Saved believer, are you now sowing good seed, or iniquity? Hear the warning today: "He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity" (Prov. 22:8). Don't think the law of sowing and reaping was nailed to the cross. Brother and sister, your sins and sins alone were covered there.
"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" (Matt. 16:27).
Did you catch that? "Reward every man according to his works." Are you saved by faith alone, oh yes? Faith that is real produces works. And "he shall reward every man according to his works," no doubt. It is an undeniable reality that "grace only" Christians mostly ignore. The Bible teaches "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). This is a command, not a suggestion.
"Good works," Christian friend, must be planted in this life. And good works start with good seed planted in good ground, if we are to receive a bountiful harvest both now and in the life to come.
Be not deceived. It is the inexorable law of God: "For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7), our text today.
"But that is legalistic," you say. "I live under grace, freely given and freely received." And thank God you do. For if salvation depends on our performance of the law, then we are all lost to the flames of hell. "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10). Yes, converted believer, you live under the grace of Jesus Christ, for your salvation alone. But not for your reward, which will be paid to you according to the works you have deposited into your account in this life. You must deposit funds into a bank, before you can withdraw funds later. A withdrawal without a deposit first is called a bank robbery. There will be no robberies in the coming kingdom. "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more" (Luke 12:48).
Christian, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29). Your salvation is through the gift of heirship. But what is the characteristic of Abraham's genuine heirs? "Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham" (John 8:39).
Be not deceived, Christian. Abraham, the father of the faithful, did not obtain his position in the kingdom by sitting idly in motionless faith. We know the story of Abraham, who proved his faith by his works. Faith alone was his starting point. Once he "believed God," Abraham still "rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him" (Gen 22:3). There, he prepared the wood, tied his son Isaac and placed him on the wood, then raised his knife. He stopped only at the command of the angel.
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
If you, a genuine Christian, jump off a fifty story building, do you think the law of gravity will not bring you sudden death? If you, a converted Christian, live in adultery, will it not destroy your marriage? If you, a real Christian, take heroin repeatedly, will you not become a drug addict? The answers are sure. The law of sowing and reaping sees to it, even among the saved.
Be not deceived. What goes around, comes around, both in this life and in the hereafter. "For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," is a law for both the saved and the unsaved.
Sowing and reaping requires four elements: 1) Seed, 2) Ground, 3) Time, and 4) Harvest.
Be not deceived. Hear now a parable concerning the sower of seed:
"Behold, a sower went forth to sow" (Mat 13:3).
"And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up" (v. 4).
"Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth" (v. 5).
"And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away" (v. 6).
"And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them" (v. 7).
"But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold" (v. 8).
Good seed scattered in the ditch produces nothing pernament. "The wayside" is no place for genuine Christians to remain, because, "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:13). You will not find life outside the "narrow. . . way" personified in Jesus Christ. "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), He teaches. Seed sown in "the wayside" soil among those "gone out of the way" (Rom. 3:12) will be plucked up and devoured. Are you a wayside Christian, fallen in the ditch, one who moves in the outer fringe of the church? Is your time more occupied outside the camp than inside? It is only a matter of time before the enemy will come and pluck the Word of God away from you and you will fall away in the deception of your own heart. Genuine Christians pull their load in the center of the road.
In like manner, good seed fallen on rocky soil cannot grow for long. That "Pharaoh's heart was hardened" (Exod. 7:22) became his destruction. Israel was warned, "Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:" (Ps. 95:8), because "he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief" (Prov. 28:14). The root of mischief is "good for nothing." Whereas, God will "revive the spirit of the humble, and. . . revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15). Such rocky soil is that "stubborn and rebellious generation" (Ps. 78:8), who are "stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears. . . [These] always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye" (Acts 7:51). Do you hate your personal enemies? Christian, are you stubborn and hard hearted? In your personal relations, is it your way or the highway? Yes? Then humble yourself, and pray earnestly that God "will take the stony heart out of. . . [your] flesh, and will give. . . [you] an heart of flesh" (Ezek. 11:19). "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt. 5:44).
Though you walk in the limited truth you now have, the living church will leave you behind. The "Sun of righteousness [will] arise with healing in his wings" (Mal. 4:2) for the repentant only. What you learned yesterday is old news today. Christian, move yourself out of your stubborn, rocky ground, lest you be scorched and withered in unwatered dust, while the living, moving church advances forward in truth. "If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (1Cor. 8:2). A stony heart cannot "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Pet. 3:18) because it does not tremble at His Word. Spiritual growth is measured in your yieldedness, not in how much you know.
"And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them" (v. 7).
Good seed also falls "among thorns." Such seed is good, but cannot grow to maturity because "the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful" (Mar 4:19). We all know such Christians, whose lifestyle betrays their lack of sincerity, their double mindedness. They make their appearance at church. Sometimes they do lip service, but their fruits never ripen. Even when their lips give testimony to the goodness of God, their actions betray hypocrisy: "With flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak" (Ps. 12:2). These are warned: "know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4). "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matt. 7:16).
The last group in this parable are genuine Christians, good soil wherein the seed of the Word sets deep roots, grows and produces much fruit. How do you know they are producing much fruit, "some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty?" You know by the priorities these Christians openly set. These openly declare that their personal "heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9). In a discussion of God's truth, these are not puffed up with knowledge. One of these will tell you that "he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (1Cor. 8:2). He will personally apply the Psalmist's exhortation: "verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah" (Ps. 39:5). These of the good ground will "be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 1:19). He will have "ears to hear" (Matt. 13:9). "He will "Be. . . angry, and sin not: [he will] let not the sun go down upon. . . [his] wrath" (Eph. 4:26). Above all, he will watch his words, because he that "bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain" (James 1:26).
Is your heart deceived? Yes? Then join the club by admitting it openly. We all entered this life "hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebr. 3:13). The question is not whether we are deceived, because "Satan. . . deceiveth the whole world" (Rev. 12:9). The question is, will you and I admit to our deceived condition, turn to God in heartfelt repentance by humbling ourselves, and then "diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and. . . do that which is right in his sight, and. . . give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes" (Exod. 15:26), in place of doing our own thing?
Christian, the good seed is the pure Word of God, planted in the ground of your heart. How you respond to that Word tells God and the world where you are. Are you wandering in the ditch, by the wayside? Expect the Word you have received to be devoured out of your heart by the devil. Are you set in your stony heart, proud, stubborn, arrogant and self willed? Then expect the good seed you now have to become scorched, withered and dried up as you resist God's perfect will in your life? Are you caught in a briar patch of worldly cares? Expect even the seeds of truth now growing in your heart to be choked out eventually. In the end, only the good seed planted in good ground remains. There, the good seed springs forth, grows strong over time and sends its roots deep into the soil of your supple heart. Your good ground with deep, rich, fertile soil provides the right seed bed from which a fruitful harvest is born.
Christian, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."