The Measure of Our Eternal Fare
By Fred O. Blakely
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
The direct relation between the measure of our fare in eternity and the quality of our stewardship of God’s grace in this life is a stark reality which it seems the majority of churchmen prefer either to deny or disregard. People like to, ostrich-like, deliberately ignore the hard facts of kingdom economy and live out their appointed days in easy complacency, foolishly expecting that, somehow, God will waive the rules for them, and grant them an abundant portion in Heaven, notwithstanding.
The Two Negative Attitudes. On the one hand are those who presumptuously construe God’s grace to be a universal equalizer among His children, regardless of the varying responses to it which they have accorded. To these brash souls, Heaven will be one grand plateau upon which everyone will possess identical portions, and all will function on the same level of exaltation and authority. Their reasoning appears to be that the great principle of salvation by divine grace necessitates this nature of things. Hence, one hears from these quarters such expressions as “I will be satisfied just to get to Heaven, and I know that the Lord will bring me there.” So do they, as with the wave of the hand, brush aside all the commandments of Scripture for painstaking diligence and perseverance in the service of their Master while in this world.
On the other hand is an equally foolish class of professed believers. These are the ones who theoretically admit the necessity of faithfulness in stewardship here in order to have an abundant entrance into “the everlasting kingdom” of Christ (II Pet. 1:5-11). In practice, however, they seem to be as indifferent and careless with regard to the responsibility as the others. Like the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees so scathingly arraigned by the Savior, they “say, and do not” (Mt. 23:1-2).
In either case, it is clear that the revelation of God on the subject has been positively disregarded or set aside and the divine will for His people rejected. By the operation of the unchanging rule of Heaven, it follows that both classes will reap the result of the error which they have embraced. That is to say, in the world to come, they will “suffer loss,” to say the least of it, because of their dereliction in this one (I Cor. 3:13-15).
The Principle’s Stress in Scripture. The principle of reaping in eternity what one has sown in time is so pronounced in Scripture that one marvels that either false theology or spiritual sloth can cause professed believers to belie and ignore it. To begin with, there is that oft-asserted fact that God will deal with every person according to the person’s doings. “The work of a man shall He render unto him,” declared Elihu, “and cause every man to find according to his ways” (Job 34:11-12). “I the Lord search the hearts, I try the reins,” spake the Almighty Himself by Jeremiah, “even to give to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer. 17:10; cf. chp. 21:13-14; 32:17-19; Ps. 62:11-12; Prov. 24:12).
This principle, far from being repudiated by the Lord Jesus, was re-enunciated and amplified by Him. “The Son of man,” declared He, “shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works” (Mt. 16:27). Among His last words to the church is a repetition of this declaration: “Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give to every man according as his works shall be” (Rev. 22:12; cf. 2:23).
Paul takes up and continues this emphasis to believers. Of God, he asserted that He will “render to every man according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6). He besought the Lord to render to Alexander the coppersmith, who did the Apostle much evil, “according to his works” (II Tim. 4:14). And he solemnly assured the saints that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done; whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10). “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” he wrote the Galatians, and went on to exhort them to liberality in sowing. “And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:6-10). “He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly,” the Apostle elaborated to the Corinthians; “and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (II Cor. 9:5-7). Corroborating and reasserting this certainty, Peter affirmed that the Father, “without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man’s works” (I Pet. 1:17; cf. Rev. 20:12).
The Witness of the Sacrifices. A particularly graphic prefiguration of the relationship of labor here for the Lord to recompense there by Him seems to have been generally overlooked or disregarded. It is that provided by the Mosaic law for the eating by the Jews of certain of their sacrifices. The sin, the trespass, and burnt offerings were specifically exempt from this provision, because they typified the propitiatory work of Christ and the self-dedication of the individual (Lev. 4 and 6). The other offerings, however -- such as the peace or thank offerings, those of the tithes of the increase, the firstly males of their herds and flocks, etc., -- were to be eaten by the offerer and his family, after -- in case of the animal sacrifices -- the blood had been “sprinkled upon the altar round about,” and the fat, with the caul and kidneys, burned upon the altar (Lev. 3:1-17; Deut. 12:17-18, 21, 26; 14:22-26; 15:19-20).
In case of the tithes of the increase, the sacrificial vows, firstlings of the flocks and herds, heave and free-will offerings, it was specifically required that they must be eaten “before the Lord” in the place in which He Himself chose to “put His Name” (Deut. 12:17-18, 21). So did Elkanah and his wives eat of their sacrifices at Shiloh on the occasion of Hannah’s prayer for a son (I Sam. 1:3-5). The Feast of Tabernacles was also especially characterized by the eating of the peace offerings which were made at that time. Now, obviously, if such were the provisions on the occasions for the assembly of God’s people before Him in the place which He had designated, the fare of the table was determined and limited by the extent of their offerings. This is the particular principle in these provisions to which attention is here directed. He that offered much to the Lord had much to eat before his God, while he who sacrificed little was accordingly restricted in his provisions.
The Sacrificial Nature of Service. When it is considered that all of our service for Christ antitypically takes the nature of these non-expiatory sacrifices by the Jews, the application to our subject is readily apparent. The counterpart of the sin and trespass offerings has, of course, been made, once for all, by the Savior Himself, when He “offered up Himself” on our behalf (Heb. 7:27; cf. ch. 9:23-28). In a lively realization of our reconciliation to God thereby and of our covenantal relationship to Him in the exalted Redeemer, we believers now are free to draw near and present to Him our various offerings of love and gratitude, corresponding in substance to that which was offered in the types which we have listed. It is well to consider that all of our proper stewardship of divine grace takes this nature. And it is comforting and encouraging to know that, as it is presented in sincere love of the Son and devotion to the Father through Him, that it is a “sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18; cf. Heb. 13:16).
But the actual “eating” of these sacrifices is not yet. That, clearly, is reserved for the place which God has chosen and where He has recorded His Name, which is the “holy city,” or “new Jerusalem,” the “true tabernacle” of the Most High (Heb. 8:1-2; Rev. 21:2). It is there that the great antitype of the Feast of Tabernacles, or Harvest-Home Festival, will be held -- the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:6-9). Then, shall we eat of our sacrifices before the Lord, and rejoice in the mercy which enabled us to present them to Him (Rev. 7:9-12). But -- the solemn thought, indeed! -- the extent of our eating in this respect will be limited by the measure of the sacrifices which we have offered up to our God.
Thus, the Lord Jesus’ exhortation: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Mt. 6:19-20). Again, “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations” (Lk. 16:1-13). And again, “He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto eternal life” (Jn. 4:35-38). So also John: “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward” (II Jn. 8). And Paul’s remark to the Philippians: “Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account” (Phil. 4:15-17).
The Awful Reality of the Matter. Oh, that we could duly impress the awful reality of this matter upon the hearts of the church! There is so much casualness and outright indifference and neglect in professed discipleship of Christ. People live as though how they lived and what they did for Christ in this life were altogther inconsequential touching that which is to come. Brethren, this is a damnable lie. We shall reap -- or shall fare -- in the world to come in direct proportion to how we have spent and been spent for Christ in this one. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”
This is an immutable law of the kingdom of grace, the same as it is of nature. “Be not deceived: God is not mocked.” Your table in Heaven will be spread with what you have laid up there for it by your “work and labor of love” unto Christ in this world (Heb. 6:10-12; cf. Mt. 25:31-46). Will it be bountifully or scantily provided? When the blessed Lord descends from Heaven for His own, He will bring His reward for them, which reward will be to “every man according as his work shall be.” Our labor is “not in vain in the Lord.” Let us, therefore, “receive not the grace of God in vain,” but be good stewards of it, “always abounding” in His work (I Cor. 15:58; II Cor. 6:1; I Pet. 4:10-11).