By Donald P. Ames
In this day and age of money seekers, people are getting increasingly interested in obtaining the maximum available to them. There is, however, a very interesting parallel between savings account to be found in your local bank, and the dividends we acquire as Christians. This comparison is further enhanced by Pauls statement in I Tim. 6:17-19, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (cf. Matt. 6:19-2 1). Quite obviously, if we are interested in saving for eternity we must recognize that as our goal and save in that direction. If we follow the direction of the rich young ruler (Mark 10: 17-22) we too shall be disappointed.
Most banks will accept deposits into savings accounts from anyone. By that, I simply mean that if a wife wants to deposit some money into an account only in the name of her husband, the bank will not refuse her money — or that of a friend into the account of another friend. The same thing is true of the Lord. Many are busy putting money into “heavenly savings accounts” to the credit of someone else. They have never obeyed the gospel (opened their own account), but feel a good life and large contributions to the local congregation will get them into heaven where they can enjoy their “dividends.” Jesus answered such a group in Matt. 7:21-23 when he said, “Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” Paul spoke of those who had “a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” (Rom. 10: 2). If we hope to reap dividends in eternity, we must realize first of all that we are going to have -to get our name on the Lords records (Rev. 20:12, 15). Then we are accumulating “dividends” to our credit for eternity (Matt. 25:34-40). We cannot make it on anothers.
Likewise, one must pay attention to the deadline for deposits. Many banks have a cutoff date (i.e. if not in by the 10th of the month there will be no interest until the next month). We too have a deadline to keep in mind-if we wait too long we might miss the opportunity to collect any dividends. James reminds us we have no guarantee on the future (Jas. 4:14). What a tragedy it would be to find out there are no dividends because we waited too long (Matt. 25:1-13).
Unlike deposits, this is an entirely different matter. Banks may accept funds from anyone, but become very particular whom they surrender them to. You must have an authorized signature, etc. before any funds at all are released from an account — regardless of who may have put it in. So it is with our heavenly savings account. The Lord may permit the rain to fall on the just and unjust (Matt. 5:45) as you may be able to cash a check at a bank without an account, but the dividends are paid only to those who meet the specifications set forth by the Lord (or bank). In Heb. 5: 9 we find He is the author of salvation only to “all those who obey Him.” In Rev. 20:15, we find if you have not opened the account and placed your name on the heavenly “signature cards,” all efforts to claim the spiritual dividends (heaven and all its glory) will be futile. Thus Christ asks, “And why do you call Me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I ask?” (Luke 6: 46). Again, it must be my account to benefit me (2 Cor. 5: 10).
It is indeed a pleasant thing to be able to withdraw some of those accumulated dividends as special needs may arise. And, in the spiritual realm, the Lord is always there when we need Him to grant us some of those precious funds. He assures us we will have “rest for our souls” (Matt. 11: 29), freedom from anxiety by trust in him (Matt. 6:33), a sympathetic ear in time of trial (Heb. 4:15, I Cor. 10: 13), etc. These are blessings we enjoy as children of His and by communication with him in prayer. There is no end to his availability for these needs.
On the other hand, some do not use a savings account for savings, but merely as a place to deposit money and withdraw at will. Each withdrawal usually contributes even further to the reduction of his interest (withdrawals are usually considered as a lump sum against the initial deposit for figuring interest, with later deposits being figured separately). So it is spiritually. Some go through the motions of obeying the gospel and being added to the Lords church, and then immediately begins withdrawals. They will withdraw Wednesday evenings in favor of time at home with the family or being too tired; then on Sunday evenings in favor of an afternoon drive or company; and then another withdrawal of influence, so that they might be able to attend a dance, or go mixed swimming, or enjoy a drink with the other guys, etc. Each such withdrawal also hurts the account opened in heaven too. Such withdrawals can quickly kill all interest in an account, even though additional deposits may be made from time to time to keep a little money in the account. And the same is true spiritually. We may occasionally go to church, contribute to the collection, etc. to keep our “name on the rolls,” but the withdrawals can kill our hopes for any dividends (heaven and its glory). Paul gives us this admonition in Col. 1:21-23, where he says, “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach — if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard. . . .” (Cf. I Cor. 15:2). When this occurs, we must reverse that action and take the proper steps to discontinue it (Acts 8:13-24).
Closing The Account
Naturally, closing the account implies there is one there for us to reap the dividends, etc., on. If not your account, there are no dividends! The same pertains to those who may hope to get to heaven because they have married a fine Christian wife, or other members of the family have obeyed the gospel, etc. As already noted, it must be my account for me to reap the heavenly dividends (2 Cor. 5:10).
Many banks have set times for paying interest (i.e., quarterly, semi, etc.) and if funds are withdrawn ahead of that time, all interest is lost regardless of how much was on deposit or how many days may be left to go before interest is scheduled to be paid. God has also set up a timetable and our life does not permit us to foresee just when that time may be. Our withdrawals may ruin that account, when withdrawn for fleshly desires, before we realize the danger it is in. Other people withdraw all their accounts without any concern for interest-and lose it all! When people quit the church, go out into the world and forget the Lord entirely, that account is closed and all the dividends lost. God has given us a chance to reopen it and still enjoy the full benefit (I Pet. 3:8-9, Rom. 2: 4), but that decision and a proper sense of perspective values is up to us to make. He will not force us to keep that account, but will plead and await our return. As Ezekiel so well puts it, “As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, 0 house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11).
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 25, pp. 11-13
April 27, 1972