If we have been saved with the assurance that we are now sons and daughters of God, then Heaven is a promised place, and we already have a ‘passport’ to be there. And if we are tapping grace to live the Christian life i.e. to live holily for God (1 Peter 1: 13-17) and with a conscience void of offence towards God and toward man (Acts 24: 16) then Heaven is not just promised but also guaranteed; and, as it were, you have the ‘visa’: that passport’s official endorsement authorizing you to leave a country (in this case the earth) and to enter another (in this case Heaven). This is the guarantee as long as you keep holy by continuing to tap all graces.
But then there is the command to work the works of Him who has saved and called us. When we leave here for Heaven eventually these works of Christ we do here which are reckoned to us as our good works will there (in Heaven) be rewarded. So, generally, our good works do not promise us Heaven, let alone guarantee us Heaven. This is the basic and general truth of Scriptures. ‘Giving’, many would think, falls within works. That is partially true. In this series we have seen already and would always be seeing how ‘giving’ comes in, in the whole calculation of our making it at last to Heaven.
First, permit me to bring to our notice Luke 18:18-24 without saying much about a Scripture that could give us a volume, so that we can go ahead quickly and properly to this subject matter of channels of distribution:
“And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” Sum: Refusal to give, nay, to distribute denied this man Heaven, and will deny very many others.
Secondly, we must say straightway that ‘giving’ is a charge in Scriptures; and a charge not obeyed is disobedience and disobedience is sin, and sin cannot enter Heaven except it is repented of and turned away from. So then it should be clear that though giving cannot promise and guarantee us Heaven, that is if we are not yet saved or living holy it sure can prevent us from making it to Heaven though saved, and … You thought we were to add ‘living holy’ to the preceding sentence. We find it difficult doing that because disobedience to the charge to give is itself unholy.
And thirdly, we all agree that ‘giving’ is a lifestyle. What is lifestyle: It is manner of living; a way of life characteristic of a particular individual, group or culture. We are concern here with the individual level. Though manner of living or way of life may have something to do with works but it is certainly beyond works. The Christian lifestyle is beyond works. The Christian lifestyle is holy living, exhibiting godly virtues and obeying God’s commands. And ‘giving’ is a lifestyle, one of the Christian lifestyle, a manner of living, a way of life, and so an element of holy living, an exhibition of godly virtue and obedience to God’s command. So, what that should mean to Heaven can only be very obvious. Let us now start.
Giving and laying hold on Eternal Life
Brother Paul in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 puts it this way: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; 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” (Emphases are mine). That they may lay on eternal life!
What must believers do here to lay hold on eternal life? They should do good; they should be rich in good works; they should be ready to distribute; they should be willing to communicate. What if saints refuse to do these things? Can they still lay hold on eternal life? We leave you with your answer. What did Paul say is the first outcome of doing those things: He says that translates to laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come. Can anybody who is not laying up in store for himself a good foundation against the time to come make it to Heaven? You are free to satisfy yourself with your answer. But remember that the Master Himself said that we should lay our treasure in Heaven for were our treasure is our hearts will be also. So, if our treasures are not in Heaven, can our hearts really be in Heaven? And if both our treasures and our hearts are not in Heaven can we make Heaven? Can we make the rapture?
Noting Words qualifying giving
Then note too Paul’s choice of qualifying words in those verses: THAT THEY BE RICH IN GOOD WORKS, READY TO DISTRIBUTE, WILLING TO COMMUNICATE! If he has advised on doing good, distributing and communicating that would still make some to raise eyebrow because of the flesh that is only interested in grabbing or at best only ready to give out peanuts from their huge excesses as we noted in “Between Need and Excesses” in this series. Just as we saw there – that is, a desired level of giving that the believer who really wants to make Heaven should aspire to reach and adopt as a lifestyle– we see here also: Paul is not just talking of doing good works but rich in it or overwhelmed by it; not just advising on distribution but readiness, implying absence or silencing of all restraining thoughts or considerations that the flesh may throw up; not just admonishing on communication but willingness or the strong inclination and unquestionable enthusiasm in it, and that as a life project and ministry. When saints allow the Voice of God in this ministry the flesh and the landlord mentality of what God passes through us to His Church will go far into the rear as the Spirit will make us the faithful stewards, vessels, caretakers, and channels of communication that we really are supposed to be in the hands of God with His provisions graciously in our hands.
That the saints making Heaven at last is also connected to how they use whatever provision God has given to them should not be in doubt. God invested Himself to save us. He expects us to do everything, give anything to save others and further the gospel of the kingdom. The Spirit of God is the answer to all things: Spiritual or physical. And by money He is still answering all things physical today (Ecclesiastics 10: 19). And in the matter of the gospel effectively reaching everywhere and or expanding the Kingdom of God He needs the money He has deposited with us to answer all things physical about that. To yield is to be in alliance with the Spirit. To yield is to identify with His heartthrob: Saving souls! And not to, is grieving the Holy Spirit; not to, is attempting to or eventually quenching the move of the Holy Spirit. And these are all fearful things.
Store House, Treasure House in Heaven
Whatsoever He gives to (actually, through) us is not for us to consume upon our lust (James 4:3) but as stewards, they are for us to serve essentially and especially the body of Christ (the Household of Faith) to the end that we may have a sure and guaranteed foundation on high; for the charge here is that we should do good, be rich in good works, be ready to distribute, be willing to communicate; and by so
doing lay up in store for ourselves a good foundation against the time to come. This ‘store’ in Heaven is the same ‘treasure’ in Heaven that the Master Himself refers: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” – Matthew 6:20, 21.
Remember: To lay treasure in Heaven is to do good, be rich in good works, be ready to distribute (for actually, you are really a channel, a channel of distribution) to the brethren and God’s work in your neighborhood and in the world. To distribute is to lay a good foundation in Heaven. Jesus says lay up FOR YOURSELF treasures in Heaven. You must have a treasure-foundation or a store-foundation – a TREASURE-STORE FOUNDATION – in Heaven. When you do, your heart will constantly be linked up to Heaven, and when this is so, you have this assurance that you will at the LAST TRUMP lay hold on eternal life. Let us be channels of distribution. The reward is glorious and eternal.
Those who distribute know the gain even now. But this gain in many quarters has been turned to a curse rather than the blessing it is. Because the instant result of giving is seen, many a church groups have been turned into market places. Spiritual messages that points to Heaven are hardly heard in many circles; rather, mammon messages have swept everywhere and you now really can’t say categorically who is a worshiper of God or a worshiper of mammon. When men begin to seek what God says He will add while they want Him to add what He says they should seek that is always the result. Yes, they get these things because the Scriptures cannot be broken. They seek and get them for themselves including all the surpluses or excesses. They get them and consume them upon their lust; handle them as landlords and the Scriptures that says that it is easier for a camel to pass through the needle’s eye for a rich man to make Heaven stares them at the face. But should blessing really turn to a curse!
Reason for filled Barns, ‘bursting Presses’ etc
Some do well by honoring the Lord with their substance and they get bountifully rewarded for it is written: “Honour the LORD with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase. So shall your barns be filled with plenty, and your presses shall burst out with new wine” – Proverbs 3: 9, 10. And they do well by being liberal for this is good, wonderful and most rewarding as it is written: “the liberal soul shall be made fat and he that waters shall be watered also himself” Proverbs 11: 25.
But with ‘full barn’, ‘bursting presses’, ‘fatness’ and ‘watering in return’ they soon forget the God that made that possible and the chief reason He made it possible. They forget that this is the great way God makes His channels; channels of flow to others. God knows their needs, but He now gives them more than their needs, sometimes in overflowing excesses. Why is it so?
Is it because He loves them more than even Bible saints whose life and lifestyle most of us read every day? If prosperity is a sign of righteousness then the Laodicean Church, which many think may typify today’s Church, should have no reproach at all. But it had, and very thoroughly and sternly too! Was God at all filling the barns of His holy saints in New Testament times? Of course, yes! He was always filling the barns of the brethren then; but they were always being emptied for the Lord. Do you hear that? Go through the Acts of the Apostles again. Read the Epistles again.
There were no closed barns. Holy men, giving holily and wholly for God’s work and to the brethren (household of faith), and within a generation the glorious gospel was taken by the Holy Spirit across continents. Those willing saints living for God and consumed with the vision of the great commission and expansion of the Kingdom of God knew why the excesses came to them. O that we all may know as well, because a day of reckoning is ahead. The barns have a purpose. The New Testament saints have much lesson to offer; but not only them.
In Abraham, Job, Moses, for instance, there is so much to take home with and we hope to dwell on these Old Testament saints in the course of this series. Suffice to say presently that there is a SPECIAL REASON for ‘filled barns’ and ‘bursting presses’ and those patriarchs knew it, lived it out and where thus blessed; and that special reason is here reiterated: doing good, being rich in good works, being ready to distribute, being willing to communicate and thus laying up in store for ourselves a good foundation against the time to come with the end result that we may lay hold on eternal lie – 1 Timothy 6: 18-19. Before we move to our next topic we would read and conclude here with Romans 12:13: “Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”
Distributing to Necessities of Saints
Let us take the first part of that short verse first. We are expected to give, nay, to distribute to necessities of the saints. The word ‘necessities’ is from the word ‘need’. This is the concern of God for His people. And this is what Christ said we should pray about in what is commonly now known as ‘the Lord’s Prayer’, and He even specified how: prayer for daily bread or need! So, what is the point? If by any reason we are in position of that which is more than our needs, we should know by implication that it is needed elsewhere and for it to get to that elsewhere that is just why we became channels to get it there.
So, Paul is saying that such persons should distribute to the necessities or needs of other saints. And if only we know the serious needs of many a brethren especially those in the mission fields we would know without further word that we are caretakers and channels. But if we close our flow now how grievous and grave can it be now, and how terrible and dreadful will it be after now!
There is one more thing we need to draw attention to in this first part of this verse before we look at the other half briefly. We notice that the command is ‘distribute’. To give is good and fine and rewarding if done faithfully. But the word ‘distribute’ seems to go beyond that. To give mainly implies reaching out to another individual or few of them. To distribute reaches out to many. It suggests good spread. Channel that reaches out to many: channel of distribution that is! And this is not as difficult as we may think if we are distributing according to the needs of the brethren, not just according to their lust. The leading of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of discernment, personal diligence may be needed.
If we are expected to be content with what will meet with our needs and expected to spread the excesses around to serve the brethren, the course of Christ and the Great Commission, then certainly we must not distribute to feed the lust of others. And good enough, if it is distribution we are into we cannot give so much to one man to feed his lust for there will not really be enough to do that at the expense of the needs of others. In Exodus 16:16-18 we read: “This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.”
If you think this is only an Old Testament thing then let us see it represented in 2 Corinthians 8:13-15: “For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that n
ow at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.” This is written for our admonition.
Do you know why there is so much inequality in the Church today? Few, very few channels of distribution; many, very many closed channels! Many don’t distribute and even few give and most times selectively and very often not according to genuine needs or necessities of the people. They give to feed lust; they give to friends, relations and equals and thus maintaining a ‘class’. They give to those that can give to them. Talk of class structure today in the Church: What a pity! ‘That there may be equality’ presents no message to many, but it should.
While these thus ‘oppress the poor’ in our various churches and fellowships others even dare further to give to the rich for obvious selfish reasons not knowing anything of Proverbs 22:16: “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.” Let us learn to distribute, and let us learn to do it according to the needs of the people, that there may be none that has over and none that lack: that there be equality. This is why God prospers his people and this is why He has raised channels, channels of distribution. The closure of the barns and ‘bursting presses’ God has put in various points in His household of faith is endangering too much now, and certainly will engender so much horror, pain and anguish after now. So, let’s distribute to the truly personal, truly family and truly ministry needs of the brethren.
1 Corinthians 12:22-25 is still very relevant and shall always be relevant till, and including, the day of reckoning. This is what it says: “Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.”
‘And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour’. This is Christianity. ‘That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another’. No schism, division or ‘class’ issue in the Church.
Hospitality, angelic Visitors and Heaven
Now we come to the last part of Romans 12: 13: “… given to hospitality’. This means that we should make a practice of hospitality. Of course, this is one key expression of love which the Scripture says by it men shall know that we are His disciples. If men don’t know that we are His disciples certainly God does not know either. So, ‘love’ and here we are talking of this prong of its expression called ‘hospitality’ which the dictionary says involves “friendly, welcoming and generous treatment offered to guests or strangers” is very vital. We must know what it takes to be able to offer friendly, welcoming, and generous treatment to guests or strangers.
Closed barns don’t do that. Closed barns don’t because this is and must necessarily be a running concern, and that is because with one, two, and three the news fills everywhere; and you become the resort to many. This is a reason for the filled barn. It is a life ministry and project recommended to all saints. And how this in ages past has helped the Church of Christ and expanded His Kingdom!
Let’s start and continue with this and very soon you will be a resort to our missionaries, the brethren losing their jobs for no offense, only that they belong to Christ. What a way to lay treasures in Heaven! What a way to plant our hearts in Heaven! What a way to be ushered into Heaven! Yes, we are talking about the purpose of prosperity. We are talking about eternity with God.
So vital and pleasing to God some who do this as ministry; and who do it cheerfully, who do it willingly, readily and are rich at it have had angelic visitors. As it was of old so it is even today. If these are hosts of angelic beings here, is it any wonder that they will become first ‘guests’ at the ‘well-done’ marriage super of the Lamb and after the marriage is consummated become bona fide hosts in Heaven with all hosts of Heaven!
To Eliza Edmunds Hewitt belong these memorable lines:
1. Bear the cup of loving service,
Sons and daughters of the King;
Water from the living fountain
To the faint and thirsty bring;
Tended in His loving spirit,
Blessed will the mission be;
E’en the smallest cup that’s offered,
Christ, our gracious Lord, will see.
2. Bear the cup of loving service,
To the weary and the sad;
For the draught held out to others
Makes the giver more than glad:
So ‘twill yield a double blessing
Waking sweetest chords of praise,
While we strive to follow Jesus
In His pleasant, peaceful ways.
3. Bear the cup of loving service,
List’ning for the Master’s voice;
Ready always for His errands,
In the blessed work rejoice,
Yes, we know, for He hath told us
And His word is still the same
He will bless the cup of water
Humbly offered in His name.