Date: September 5, 2004
Bible Text: 2 Corinthians 9:6 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
God’s law of the harvest—let’s read II Corinthians chapter 9 beginning with verse 6. If this doesn’t speak to you, you need a spiritual hearing aid. “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” You say, “I know this.” Do you live it? It’s so clear, isn’t it? As clear as John 3:16. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” And look at this, “And God is able…” Amen. That’s what I try to preach about. God is able. You’re not able. Your retirement fund is not able. It’s feeble. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not able. Your job is not able, but He is able. “…[He] is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)” Think about what that is saying. “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” In this passage, in verses 8 and 9, we see God’s law of the harvest. Now this law is no secret. I venture to say that just about everybody in this auditorium has heard this idea preached, and probably many times. But few practice it. Most Christians have heard of the name R. G. Latourneau. He was well known when I was a teenager. He was a very successful Christian businessman. He was an inventor of great earth-moving machines, and he died in 1959. Shortly before he died, he gave his testimony as to how God dealt with his life and taught him His law of the harvest. During the days of the Depression when business people made no profit, he made $35,000. But his pride got a hold of him and he said, “Well, you know things are tight. Next year I will reinvest the normal $5,000 that I promised to give.” So he kept the $5,000, reinvested it, and the next year instead of making $35,000, he lost $100,000. But praise God, in doing so, God broke him to the place where he said, “I will give anything that You want me to give.” God laid upon his heart that he was supposed to give $10,000 for that year, which would be the $5,000 from the year before and the $5,000 for that year. Now his bookkeeper resigned over it because there was no money. He couldn’t pay the payroll. You say, “That’s not right if he couldn’t pay the payroll.” But he trusted God, if you understand what I’m saying. He said a drastic change came into his life at that time, and eventually he felt that God wanted him to give 90% of his income and live on 10%. He used to say, “It’s not how much I give to God, but how much of His money I keep.” There’s a lot of truth to that. God prospered him beyond belief. And Latourneau’s money funded tremendous works all over the world. He used to say that he had two loves in life. One was to design machinery, turn it on, and see the equipment work. The other, he said, was to turn on the power of the gospel and see that great machine work in people’s lives. He used to say that the great machine that God used in his life was God’s law of the harvest. And when he died he had over 200 patents on huge earth-moving machines. One would cut a swath through a jungle 35 feet wide and grind the trees up into powder. Of course, more than that, he liked the great works funded by him all around the world. When asked his secret of success, he would always answer it was because he learned how to turn on the power of the gospel through God’s law of the harvest. There are three basic things found in II Corinthians 9 concerning God’s law of the harvest. The first thing I want to look at is the four principles of God’s law of the harvest. The first principle is of investment. Sometimes when I’m preaching on giving I almost feel foolish because it’s just “horse sense.” The first principle is we reap only if we sow. Now, suppose you take a kernel of corn and see all the potential and power in it, but you say, “That’s a beautiful kernel of corn. I’m going to get an artist to decoupage it, and I’m going to hang it over my desk.” You save it and you look at it, but it will never do any good, will it? We know what you must do to truly see the power of that piece of corn. You need to dig a hole and cover it with dirt. And when you give it to the ground, you will multiply that piece of corn. In John 12:24-25 Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Now this is not a new doctrine, is it? This is not something strange in the Bible. I could pull hundreds of verses out of the Bible that teach about the blessings of giving. But Jesus said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” You see, when you take the corn and invest it by giving it to the ground, you reap. Now, I’ve invested my life in the Lord’s work as many of you have. We’ve invested time. We’ve invested energy. We’ve invested our talents. We’ve invested money. I’m told that one kernel of corn might produce as many as 2,000 or 3,000 kernels of corn. And that illustrates the principle of investment. We only reap when we sow. We have energy, we have money, we have time; but if you do not invest it—if you’re one of those who hold back and give as little as possible, or if you find every excuse that you can to stay home from soulwinning, or working here, or whatever it might be—if you hold onto it and you don’t invest that energy, money, and time, you’ll never reap from God. If I hold on to what I have, and I never invest it, maybe I’ll die with what I have, but I’ll never have anything for an eternity. Look at verse 6 of chapter 9 (II Corinthians), “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” I heard a true story of a man who worked and worked and was a very successful businessman. For 45 years, he made money. He claimed to be a Christian, but he had no time for God’s work. Now he was dying. He was on his death bed, and he was obsessed with his hands. He would mumble in his sleep about his hands. He would wake up and cry in the night and say, “Look at my hands!” His wife tried to find out what was wrong. She got his business partner who also professed to be a Christian and said, “Come and talk to him; convince him there is nothing wrong with his hands.” When the business partner came, he said, “Look at my hands!” The business partner said, “There’s nothing wrong with your hands. There’s nothing in your hands.” The man sobbed and said, “That’s what I’m talking about. I’ve worked, I’ve made money, I’ve succeeded, but now I’m dying and they’re empty.” He cried for good reason—because he didn’t invest in eternal things. He said, “I’ve lost all. My hands are empty.” The first law of stewardship is investment. The way to have is to give. The only way you will reap is if you sow. Then, the second principle is of identity. We only reap if we sow, and we get what we sow. This is basic. If you sow corn, you’re going to reap corn. If you sow carrots, you’re going to reap carrots. If you sow oats, you’re going to reap oats. I’ll tell you something else, the Bible says if you sow to the flesh, you’re going to reap corruption. The Bible goes on and says if you sow to the spirit, you’re going to reap life everlasting. Built into this principle of identity is likeness. If you sow criticism, you will reap criticism. If you sow bitterness, you will reap bitterness. If you sow anger, you will reap anger. If you sow jealousy, you will reap jealousy. If you sow gossip, you will reap gossip. Think about the person you know who has a positive attitude. When that person spreads that positive attitude, people are positive toward him, isn’t that right? People like to be around him, and they are positive toward him. Then think about the person with a negative attitude. Who likes to be around a negative person? Every time you talk to them, they always point out the negative. Does anybody like being around them? So, what happens? You reap negativity. You think everybody hates you because you’re negative. You reap what you sow. And if you sow financially, you will reap financially. Then there’s the principle of increase. You reap only if you sow, you get what you sow, and praise God, you get more than you sow. Verse 6 says that if you sow sparingly you reap sparingly, if you sow abundantly you reap bountifully. Now, if we were to sow that one kernel of corn—we put it in the ground, we fertilize it, we come back and there’s a nice stalk of corn—and we peeled back and saw just one kernel sitting on top, we would quit, wouldn’t we? There would be no sense. Why bury it if all you’re going to get is the same thing you buried? Look at verse 6, “But this I say, [and it’s talking about finances] He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” Is that clear? Why don’t we believe God? Why are we so tight? Why are we so liberal with our cars, and our home, and our investments, but we’re so tight with God? “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness…” Let Him give it to you! Note in verse 10, “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness...” See the word “multiply” and “increase”? Luke 6:38, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” This is a principle. Look at the word “abundance.” How many times is it used in these two chapters dealing with money? Look at verse 2 of chapter 8, “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” Verse 7, “Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.” It’s talking about the grace of giving. Again, verse 6 of chapter 9, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” We see that word over and over again—bountifully, bountifully. You say, “I’m doing pretty good.” For now. I want God to give me my bounty. It’s more exciting. Look at verse 8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” God is able! You say, “I’m doing good!” How’s your family? “It’s doing okay.” I’d rather have God give it to me. How’s your peace? How’s your joy? I’d rather have God give it to me. Look at verse 10. “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” Verse 11, “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God.” Over and over, time and time again, God wants to show us the great God of abundance. You may think you can take care of yourself, and like the dying man with the empty hands, you may take care of yourself. But I’d rather have God take care of me. He’s the abundant God. If you invest, God says He will increase His blessings abundantly. If you don’t, He says, “I won’t.” You reap only if you sow. You get what you sow. You get more than you sow. Now look at the principle of interval. This is important. There’s a time period between sowing and reaping. We don’t plant a garden at the end of May or whenever you do it and then go out the next week and say, “I want to reap some corn.” That would be foolish. If you planted your tomato plants, the next week you wouldn’t say, “I want some BLT’s! Where’s the tomatoes?” A farmer would never act that way, but Christians do. They get excited at stewardship time, or they hear a sermon and they say, “I’m going to try God.” I hate that. “I’m going to try God.” Try Him; He’s real! But listen to me, people think it’s going to be so easy and everything will go so smoothly; no, God tells you otherwise. When Christians say, “I’m going to try God,” there’s an attack from Satan, and all of a sudden they quit. What does a farmer do? He may lose an entire crop or more because of drought, or flood, or something like that. What does he do? He goes to the bank and he gets a loan. And by the way, the bank will give him the loan because they believe in this principle more than most Christians do. The farmer will say, “I lost a year. Maybe I lost two years. But I know this principle is true: you do reap what you sow.” Don’t think it’s going to come tomorrow. There is a principle of interval. We work so hard with the college. We didn’t see much reaping, especially the first year. A friend of mine who took a church and started a college the same day we did had 168 students his first year. We had 13. I remember going to God in prayer and saying, “Are you sure You want us to have this thing?” He said, “Yes, keep going.” I’m not going to go all into it, but we’ve got three missionaries out of our church on furlough right now who are graduates from our college. The Kenderdines in Cambodia, the Brenenstuhls in Africa, and the Leakes in Wales. Last Thursday we had a future missionary preach a good sermon to us. And it’s not just missionaries. We’ve got graduates sprinkled all over the country teaching and preaching. We’re reaping. The harvest is coming. What I’m trying to say is, don’t quit. You invest, and invest, and invest, but there is an interval. Trust God. Parents, this works in child rearing. I’m convinced people fail in child rearing because of this. They think that if they try God again, if they try God’s way, they’re going to really do it; but things don’t turn around right away, so they quit. It’s hard! Do right. Have your devotions every day. Pray. Make sure your children have the right friends. Talk to the principal about their problems. You see, the problem is that so many want to hide their problems. “Oh, I’m embarrassed of problems.” Face the problems! They are given to you by God. Don’t think child rearing is going to happen overnight. You work with the youth pastor, you counsel with the pastor, and you will reap. But it takes years. That’s why I like graduation. I don’t like the formal aspect of graduation, but I love graduation itself. I love to see our high school kids come across the platform. I think we had 13 seniors walk across the platform and from what I can see, every one of them is living for God. Isn’t that exciting? And you know what will happen? Maybe all 13—I know at least the vast majority of them—will walk across the platform in four or five years from the college, and the majority of them will go out into full-time Christian service. You can say, “That is an increase.” But it doesn’t happen when they are five years old. I used to always talk about my daughter Becky. Now I look at my grandkids and I say, “Wow! They are full of the devil (or maybe Roger Voegtlin, I don’t know)!” There are some bad kids here. It’s hard. It takes time. But you sow, and you sow, and you believe, and you sow. And, praise God, you reap what you sow. I want to stress, though, it’s hard and it takes an interval, whether it’s financially or spiritually. It’s always a battle, but eventually you always reap a reward, an abundance. Praise God, I want to encourage you, whether it’s in the family or finances, harvest time will come. And it will come when you need it, that’s for sure. Listen to Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Ecclesiastes 11:1, “Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days.” Hebrews 6:10, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love…” He’s not going to forget, but there is an interval. Don’t quit. Now, let’s look at the product. What do these principles produce? I’ve got six very short points. First of all, prosperity, both spiritually and financially. These laws will produce a prosperous person. When we sow bountifully, we’ll reap bountifully. Again, what does verse 8 say? “God is able...” I love that term. “…God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” All things. Listen to me, please. That is not a “come-on” by this preacher. This is God’s Word. Believe it! God says you will have all sufficiency in all things. Look at verse 10. I know we’ve read it before, but notice the “bread” and the “righteousness.” “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” Isn’t this exciting? Second, these principles produce proof of our love for God. Look at verse 13. “Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.” It shows that you have been subjected unto the gospel of Christ. Look over in chapter 8, verse 8, “I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” I love to preach on giving. I love to preach on giving because it teaches us better than any other subject. It shows us God’s love and His truth better than any other subject. But listen to another reason. You don’t love God if you can’t take care of money. I don’t care if you go soulwinning. I’m not saying that money is more important than soulwinning, but I’m saying I don’t care what else you do. You could be in full-time service. I’ve met people in fulltime service who are tight with their money, and God never blesses them. Don’t say you love God and then not even tithe and give what He wants. Third, giving produces provision for those in need. I wish I had more time, but look at verse 12, “For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God.” Remember when I talked about Sokhan’s church/ house in Cambodia and how your giving built that house? It supplies the needs of others. We gave lots of money for the building of the church down in Mexico. That church wouldn’t be there without the gifts of God’s people. We can go into most any area, whether it be Russia, the Bible Builders as we assemble the Scriptures and they are distributed, etc. That’s the product. To supply the wants of the saved. Giving provides the building and the utilities. It takes care of and provides for the pastor and youth pastors, and Bible college, and Christian education. Very practical. Fourth, it provides many thanksgivings to God. Maybe you never thought of that. Look at verse 11 again, “Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” Through us, it provides many thanksgivings to God. Look at verse 12, “For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God.” Verse 15, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” You see, when you give, a product of that is thanksgiving to God. You give your dollar, and it’s exchanged, let’s say, into a Japanese yen and the Gardners have that money for their ministry. Or, it’s exchanged into a Mexican peso for the Rardins, or a Russian ruble for the Schrocks. I know our missionaries enough that when that money comes in they don’t just take it and spend it, they praise God for it. They thank God for it. It promotes thanksgiving unto God. God gets the glory. Fifth, it promotes prayer on your behalf. Look at verse 14, “And by their prayer for you….” That missionary not only thanks God, but he prays for you. I get letters from our missionaries all the time, and of course they pray. I covet the prayers of our missionaries. Hundreds of times, literally, I’ve been told personally or by letter that people say, “I pray for you because of the Fundamentalist.” That’s one ministry you don’t think of very much. But they say, “I read it from cover to cover, and I pray for you.” Listen to me, when they read it from cover to cover and they pray for Fairhaven Baptist Church, they’re praying for you. Eric Miller, one of the people we support in Indianapolis, said this week, “Do you have any prayer requests? What can I pray for? I pray for your church all the time.” It’s no small thing that literally thousands of times I’ve been told, “Because of the college, because of preaching out, because of the Fundamentalist, because of our stand for fundamentalism, I pray for you every day.” That’s no small thing. Praise God! What a product of our giving! Sixth, it produces opportunities to give again. Verse 8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” Verse 10, “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” You give, and He gives you more to give again. I don’t know all the reasons that God allows us to make money. But I know that one of the reasons is to take care of His work. I would say it would be the number one reason. To invest in His business. To promote thanksgiving to God. To provide for the needs of the saints. To prove our love. Prosperity, spiritually and financially. To promote prayer on our behalf. So we looked at the principles of God’s law of the harvest, and then the products of God’s law of the harvest. And now, quickly, I want to look at verse 15, the perfect example of God’s law of the harvest. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” Now, we have theologians in here, and they know that one of the first laws of interpreting the scripture is to do it within the context. Paul has been talking about God’s law of the harvest, sowing and reaping. He’s been talking about how you don’t reap unless you sow, you reap what you sow, you reap more than you sow. And I believe that God is giving here a perfect example of His law of the harvest. God looks down through time and He sees millions and billions of men, women, and children going to hell. And He says, “How can I stop that? How can I bring many sons to glory?” He established the law that says you reap what you sow. So in John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son….” I don’t think I’m stretching it. He takes His only begotten Son and sows Him. Look at I Corinthians 15:20. He gives His Son, He is murdered, He is buried in the ground, He raises from the grave. And in I Corinthians 15:20 we read, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” Just like we put that kernel of corn in the ground and we got 2,000 or 3,000 kernels, Jesus Christ was buried, and He became the firstfruits of them that slept. The Bible very clearly teaches us that millions will raise from the grave on that resurrection day because He was buried and rose from the grave. Romans 6:4 and 5, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” In closing, look back at Hebrews 2:10. Because He died for us, was planted in the ground, and rose again, we will live. “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” God sowed a Son so as to reap many sons in due season to glory. Listen, if God believed in this principle so much that He sent His Son, we ought to believe it. How much should we believe in His great law of the harvest? “…God so loved the world, that He gave….” Let’s show love and give. “… For in due season, we shall reap, [not maybe, shall] if we faint not.” Don’t quit. Don’t give up. You will reap in your life. You will reap in your family, in your ministry, in your finances. I challenge you, why don’t you trust God? You know, people who don’t tithe bring shame to God when their finances are a mess because others think they are tithers. I want to write a sign and put it on their back saying, “No, he doesn’t tithe.” You’re miserable. Let me give you a hint. People who are financially miserable don’t tithe. You don’t have to put a sign on them. Why don’t you learn? You say you believe in God. He sowed His Son that many would live. Why don’t you believe and learn how to give liberally and with faith? It is exciting!