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Sow for It! Reaping Abudant Eternal Life
as a Reward (Galatians 6:8-9)
by Bob Wilkin
"For he who sows to his
flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the
will of the Spirit reap everlasting
life. And let us not grow weary
while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not
lose heart." (Gal 6:8-9)
A radio announcer somewhere, sometime, was running
down the starting lineup of the
home team: "At quarterback,
number 7, Bill Smith, a senior out
of Hall High in little Rock. . . ."
Shortly thereafter he said, "At
wide receiver, number 22, Bill
Smith, a senior out of Mater Dei
High in Los Angeles.
Either Bill Smith had a split
jersey and was extremely fast (fast
enough to run under and catch
balls he himself had thrown), or
else there were two players on the
same team by the name of Bill
So it is with the expression
eternal life in the New
On the one hand, passages
like John 3:16, 4:10, and Rev.
22:17 say that eternal life is a free
gift which is appropriated by
faith alone. On the other hand,
passages like Matthew 19:29,
Romans 2:6-7, and Galatians 6:8-9
say that eternal life is a reward
for work done.
Obviously the expression
eternal life has two different
meanings in the New Testament.
Like the two Bill Smiths, who
were alike in that they both were
gifted athletes who played offense
on a college football team, the
two eternal life entities of the New
Testament have much in common.
Yet, they also are different.
Free Eternal Life as Unending
Fellowship in God's Kingdom
The eternal life which is free
refers to a life of unending fellowship in God's kingdom. Whoever
believes in Jesus Christ has this
life (John 3:16). Even believers
whose works will be burned up
(1 Cor. 3:15). Even believers who
will be found to have been faithless servants in this life (Luke
19:20-26). At the very moment of
faith the believer obtains a relationship with God which will
Costly Eternal Life as Unending
in God's Kingdom
The eternal life which is
costly refers to a life of unending
abundant fellowship in God's
kingdom. We need to remember
that the Scriptures present eternal
life not only as a basic experience, but one that can be
experienced in various degrees. Did
not the Lord Jesus say that He
came that we might have [eternal]
life and that we might have it
more abundantly (John 10:10)?
Commenting on Galatians
Hodges has expressed
well this principle:
It must not be forgotten
that eternal life is nothing less
than the very life of God
Himself. As such it cannot be
thought of as a mere static
entity. Rather its potentialities
are rich beyond the power of
the mind to conceive them.
Thus we find Jesus declaring,
"I have come that they may
have life, and that they may
have it more abundantly"
(John 10:10). From this we
learn that eternal life can be
experienced in more than one
measure or degree.
Gospel Under Siege
No one can earn eternal life
as a reward unless he first
receives it as a gift. That is, only
those who have received by faith
the free gift of eternal life can go
on to earn the costly reward of
abundant eternal life.
Once we accept the gift of
eternal life, where we will spend
eternity is set. However, the quality of the eternal
existence we will
have while there is not determined until we die. How we live
our Christian lives will determine
how much we enjoy eternity. All
believers will have joy forever;
but, only overcoming saints will
have abundant life forever.
There need be no confusion
on this point. Galatians 6:7-9
clearly conditions this life of
unending abundant joy upon
works. The analogy of sowing
and reaping is taken from farming. It takes a lot of effort to
plow the ground, sow the seeds,
water, weed, and then harvest.
Only by persistent hard work will
a farmer reap a good crop. So,
too, only by persistent hard work
will the believer reap an abundant
eternal experience (see also 1 Cor.
9:24-27 and 2 Tim. 2:6).
I am repeatedly tempted to
give up, to grow weary in doing
good, to throw in the spiritual
towel. We all are, aren't we? The
flesh wars against the Spirit and
won't quit until we go to be with
the Lord (Gal. 5:17). But, gratitude for what Christ has done for
me and a desire for abundant
eternal life strongly motivate me
to keep on keeping on in the
Don't give up. Keep on.
Persevere. Our judgment day, the
Judgment Seat of Christ, is coming
soon. A lot is at stake. Indeed
the very quality of our eternal
experience hangs in the balance.
Bob Wilkin is the Executive
Director of Grace Evangelical
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