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Presentation 14. Introduction The scientific law of cause and effect can be found in the Christian life - “a man reaps what he sows” v7. Any farmer.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 14. Introduction The scientific law of cause and effect can be found in the Christian life - “a man reaps what he sows” v7. Any farmer."— Presentation transcript:

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3 Introduction The scientific law of cause and effect can be found in the Christian life - “a man reaps what he sows” v7. Any farmer will tell you that if you sow seed potatoes, you will harvest a crop of potatoes. If you sow corn seed you will harvest corn. There is nothing haphazard or surprising about that. The farmer is not upset if after sowing lettuce a field of carrots does not spring up. He gets what he sows! The same principle operates in the moral and spiritual sphere. Many are baffled by the spiritual development of their lives. Why are they not as spiritually sharp and effective as they ought to be? Paul says we need to ponder the law of cause and effect for ‘a man reaps what he sows.’ Presentation 14

4 The Principle Outlined Paul has already made it clear that the Christian life is a struggle, there is a war going on inside the Christian between his fallen sinful nature and the new spiritual man, which is the creation of the Holy Spirit. We are exposed to a twofold influence. Our response to these influences determines the quality of our lives. Why are some Christians blind to this principle? They could be deceived v7. Jesus called the devil “a liar and the father of lies”. Many sow seed thoughtlessly, blind to the fact that it will produce a corresponding harvest. Or, they sow one kind of seed and foolishly expect to reap another kind. Presentation 14

5 The Principle Outlined They are either, fooling themselves or, they are trying to fool God. But of course that is impossible and Paul reminds us, “God is not mocked.” The original word is striking, it means literally, “to turn up ones nose at somebody, to treat them with contempt.” What a picture! How foolish to think that you can fool God. Now Paul does not leave us with the bare skeleton of a spiritual principle, he clothes it with flesh by providing a number of helpful illustrations or, practical applications Presentation 14

6 The Principle Illustrated a. In The Christian Ministry. The first illustration of the principle of sowing and reaping is a very practical one within the Christian fellowship cf v6… The implication is quite clear - those who have laboured in preaching should be maintained by those who have benefited from listening to it. When Jesus sent out the 70 he reminded them, “the labourer deserves his wages”, Lk. 10v7. Writing to the church at Corinth, Paul says, “If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you”, 1Cor. 9v11. Presentation 14

7 The Principle Illustrated A minister’s wife who was rushed to hospital suffering from malnutrition. Unknown to her husband, she had been doing without food in order to feed her children. His salary from the church was abysmally low! But sharing “good things” means more than sharing materially. One of the good things the congregation can share with its teachers is that of encouragement. A word of encouragement is never out of place. There are people who withhold encouragement because they think it would make the recipient proud or puffed up. Flattery can do that but not encouragement. Does encouragement puff you up? Does it not rather humble you at the same time do something of great benefit for you? Presentation 14

8 The Principle Illustrated What happens when we fail in our responsibility towards those who have the task of communicating God’s word to us? We reap what we sow. When I was a student I was asked to take services at a particular church. For a number of years their minister had been clinically depressed and eventually sadly he committed suicide. I found myself asking, was there no one within his congregation with whom he could share his burden? Were there any who sought to encourage that dear man? Had those dear people failed in some way in their responsibility towards their minister? We reap what we sow! Presentation 14

9 The Principle Illustrated b. In Christian holiness The second sphere in which the seedtime and harvest principle operates concerns Christian holiness v8… Paul has moved from the particular to the general, to the moral behaviour of God’s people. He returns to the picture of the Christian life being that of a battleground on which two implacable enemies ‘flesh’ and ‘Spirit’ are at war. The remnants of our fallen nature battle with the new life being created in us by the Holy Spirit. Put it this way, each holds before us a packet of seeds and says, sow my product. Presentation 14

10 The Principle Illustrated The principle unpacked here is that whatever packet we chose will produce quite different harvests. “The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” We are not helpless victims of our nature, temperament or environment. Indeed, what we become depends largely on how we behave; our character is shaped by our conduct. Think for a moment of the two kinds of sowing in view here. Presentation 14

11 The Principle Illustrated First what does it mean to sow to the flesh or, to our fallen human nature? It means to pander to it, to cosset and cuddle it instead of crucifying it. Every time we allow our mind to harbour a grudge, nurse a grievance, entertain an impure fantasy, wallow in self pity we are sowing to the flesh. Every time we linger in bad company, whose influence we know we cannot resist or sit glued to a T.V. programme we know is bad for us, or read books we know to be harmful, when we allow ourselves to be distracted by trivia when we should be reading our Bibles and praying, we are sowing to the flesh. Some sow to the flesh in these ways every day and wonder why they do not reap holiness. Holiness is a harvest; whether we reap it or not depends almost entirely on what we sow. Presentation 14

12 The Principle Illustrated To sow to the Spirit is the same as “to set the mind on the Spirit” Rom.8v6 and to ‘walk by the Spirit’. Again the seeds we sow are our thoughts and our deeds. We are to seek ‘to set our minds’ on the things of God cf Col.3v1-2. How do we do that? By the books we read, by the company we keep and the leisure occupations we pursue. And by the disciplined habits of devotion both in private and public including worship with the Lord’s people and by the quality of fellowship we have with them. Presentation 14

13 The Principle Illustrated Seeds are little things, yet wonderfully good seeds are able to produce a rich harvest. Little habits of godliness, little acts of godly determination that we are going to live in a certain way, these are the things that decide whether or not we will have a harvest of holiness. Holiness begins with very little steps.... Paul distinguishes between the two harvests as well as between the two sowings. If we sow to the flesh we shall “from the flesh reap corruption”. That is, a process of moral decay will set in. We shall go from bad to worse. Presentation 14

14 The Principle Illustrated If we sow to the Spirit we shall reap eternal life. That is, a process of moral and spiritual growth will begin and it will not reach its climax until we reach heaven. And when we see Jesus we will be like him. 1Jn. 3v2. Paul holds two very stark pictures before us. We must not misunderstand him. He is not saying that the harder we try to be holy the more certain we can be of eternal life. That would contradict the thrust of this epistle which stresses the freeness of salvation that becomes ours by faith. If that faith is real we become new creatures, we receive a new nature, we are indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit. Presentation 14

15 The Principle Illustrated Now Christ-likeness or, holiness does not become ours automatically. We are involved in a battle and thankfully the Holy Spirit is constantly encouraging us to press on, to crucify the flesh and walk by the Spirit. When we fail to do that, when we decide to indulge the flesh and turn our back upon the Spirit’s leadership then he faithfully dogs our steps, he follows us into the spiritual wilderness to use the Psalmist’s imagery. Cf Ps.107. He convicts us of the sheer folly of our sinful behaviour and is eager to point us back to the way of holiness. Presentation 14

16 The Principle Illustrated c. Christian service. Paul’s final application of the sowing and harvest analogy is taken from the sphere of Christian service. cf v9-10… Christian service can be tiring, exacting work. It is easy to become discouraged, to slack off even give up. What incentive does Paul provide? Keeping to the sowing analogy, Paul says, that ‘in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.’ The farmer knows what it is to wait a considerable period of time for his harvest. When our children were small they wanted to know why the seeds they’d planted weren’t ready the next day. It is possible for Christians to have that same impatience with regard to the ministry in which they are engaged. Presentation 14

17 The Principle Illustrated Paul does not tell us specifically what harvest we might expect from patiently doing good within the Christian fellowship, local community or world at large. It may involve restoring some Christian who has wandered by speaking with them in a spirit of meekness, bearing patiently with them, praying for them, not giving up on them. Or, it may involve bringing comfort and relief to those in need. It may be the means of someone becoming a Christian. Our lives may have helped to arrest the moral deterioration of the society of which we are a part for, ‘we are the salt of the earth’. Presentation 14

18 Conclusion In three separate spheres of life Paul has applied the principle that “whatever a man sows he reaps”. First, the seed as God’s word sown by teachers in the minds and hearts of their hearers. Secondly, the seed as our own thoughts and deeds sown in the field of the flesh or the Spirit. Thirdly, the seed as good works, sown in the lives of other people both in the Christian fellowship and the world at large. And in each case although the seed and the soil are different, seed-time is invariably followed by harvest. Presentation 14

19 Conclusion The teacher who sows God’s word will reap his living. The sinner who sows to the flesh will reap corruption; the believer who sows to the Spirit will reap ever deepening communion with God. The Christian who sows good works in the community will reap a good crop in the lives of those he serves and a reward for himself in eternity. We must not ignore this law of the harvest. We need the good sense to let it govern our lives. We must expect to reap what we sow. As we keep on sowing good seed we shall in good time reap a glorious harvest Presentation 14


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