"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).



Laying Up Treasure in Heaven

"Charge them that are rich in this world . . . that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (I Tim. 6: 17-19).
Whatever one may think of salvation by God's grace, this and other texts like it clearly establish a relation between good stewardship of that grace and the inheritance of eternal life. In the case of this world's rich, it is to be noted, the indication is that the laying hold of the heavenly prize is conditioned on their properly using the earthly treasure entrusted to them here. That was the message of Albert G. Stoner, Jr., in remarks on God's charge to the rich.
Lest most churchmen exempt themselves from the charge on the ground they are not rich, Brother Al hastened to deprive them of that refuge. The great majority of the church today is "rich" in worldly possessions, as here intended by Paul. That is evident by the fact that they have much more than the essential "food and raiment," with which we are told to be content (I Tim. 6:5-8).
The Doctrine of Jesus. The teaching of the Lord Jesus on the subject accords perfectly with that of Paul, it was pointed out. In His parable of the Judgment, recorded in Matthew 25:31-46, the final determination of personal destiny was represented as made by how people had responded to human need. Inheritance of the eternal kingdom was said to be because the faithful ones had lovingly shared themselves and their posses􀀬ions with others (vv. 34-36).
It was similar with Christ's parable of the unjust steward (Lk. 16:1-12). The wisdom of the conniving steward was in his provision for his ouster from his master's household. The point of exhortation for us, said Jesus, is that we should make to ourselves "friends of the mammon of unrighteousness" (material possessions), that when we fail, or leave this world by death, they may receive us into "everlasting habitations" (v. 9). That is but to say, as Paul told the rich men, we are to use our earthly goods to lay up treasure for ourselves in heaven. Verses 10-12 go on to elaborate that point.
So also the Lord's instruction and exhortation in Matthew 6:19-21 and Luke 12:33-34. In the first passage, the urge is for us to "lay up" for ourselves "treasures in heaven," where they will abide (Mt. 6:20). In the second, we are told one way to do it: "Sell that ye have, and give alms" (Lk. 12:33; cf. ch. 18:22-27). In other words, by good and liberal use of our earthly goods, as Paul indicated to the rich, we convert the perishable treasures of earth into the imperishable ones of heaven.
The Principle Involved. These representations of the situa­tion may, on the surface, appear to impinge on the scripturally emphasized doctrine of salvation by God's grace through man's faith. It is not so, however, the speaker explained. In portraying practical benevolence and liberality as bearing upon salvation, both Christ and the Apostle are simply taking the effect for the cause. Such love and generosity are the fruit of genuine faith and the grace of God received "not in vain" (II Cor. 6:1). It is the grace and the faith primarily that saves; the fruitage thereof but evinces its reception and possession.
As John observes, for one to withhold help from a brother in need shows that the love of God does not dwell in him (I Jn. 3:16-18). That, of course, is how it also is with grace and faith. Duly received and yielded to, they will express themselves in love and good works. Where the latter are lacking, it is evidence per se the former are also. "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (Jas. 2:26; cf. vv. 14-18).
The Determinative Factor. The perspective of the situa­tion respecting the possession and use of earthly goods is the determinative factor, Brother Al noted. When they are viewed as a stewardship from God, over which we have but temporary charge, we are freed from their dominion. Then only can we, as masters of our possessions, use them as good stewards under God.
Abraham, for example, was rich in the treasures of earth, but he was also "rich toward God," as Jesus would say (Lk. 12:21). It has well beeµ remarked, Abraham had a lot of this world's goods, but this world did not have much of Abraham. That is how it should be with those who are dead and whose lives are hidden "with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3; cf. ch. 2:20-22).
According to their spirituality or lack of it, people have one of two attitudes toward their worldly possessions, it was observed. It is that of stewardship of them for God or of a personally-grasping and holding attitude that causes their hearts to entwine with their possessions.
During the days of His flesh, the Lord Jesus perfectly ex­emplified the spiritual detachment from the world that God in­tends for His people. Although, as the Creator, He possessed all things, as a sojourner here, He had "not where to lay His head," and was content with that condition (Mt. 8:20). He, as should be the case with us, was thus detached from this world, but solidly related to His Father and the world to come. It is only in that stance that people can properly handle the trust of earthly riches given to them by God.
The Way of Procedure. The way of procedure as a good steward for God is set forth by Paul in his instruction of the rich, Brother Al pointed out. It is to be "rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate." Distribution, as here used, denotes almsgiving or ministering to the physical needs of people; communication means supporting preaching of the gospel or God's truth (Acts 4:32, 34-35; Rom. 12:13; II Cor. 9:12; Gal. 6:6; Phil. 4:14-15; Heb. 13-16). Dorcas, it will be re­called, was "full of good works," having served the needy (Acts 9:36-39), and the Philippian church was especially abundant in support of Paul's ministry of the gospel (Phil. 4:14-16).
It is by such use of our worldly goods that we today are to exercise our stewardship of them, the speaker stressed. There is certainly plenty of human suffering to demand and employ our distribution, and very much and pressing need for financial assistance in gospel proclamation to call for our communica­tion.
We should consider that it is in direct relation to such use of earthly treasure that the great pronouncement of Galatians 6:7-8 is made: "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Good stewardship, it it declared, is sowing "to the Spirit," which sowing results in the reaping of "life everlasting."
Also in the same connection is the declaration of Second Corinthians 9:6: "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also boun­tifully." There is positively no escape from this law of the harvest. If we want a "good foundation against the time to come," as the text of First Timothy puts it, we must not be selfish or tightfisted, but "ready to distribute" and "willing to communicate.''
The Essential Recognitions. It should be recognized, we were reminded, that the reward for such faithfulness to our trust is not confined to the world to come. As Solomon declared, "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself" (Prov. 11:25).
A keen sense and due discharge of one's trust under God gives him a lively awareness of partnership with the gracious Father in kingdom work. That, in turn, serves to put and keep him in intimate communion with God, which of itself is, for now, the acme of blessing and joy.
These reflections, Brother Al further explained, do not mean that we are to despise earthly possessions or to neglect legitimate worldly responsibilities. Rather, in single-hearted devotion to God, we are to use our treasure to His glory and the benefit of our fellowmen.
Money, as well as all other earthly treasure, is a morally­ neutral quantity. It is how it is regarded and used that deter­mines its moral nature. That can make money either good or evil. Lucre becomes "filthy" only as it is wrongly esteemed and used for gratification of the lower nature (I Tim. 3:3).

"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).



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