Treasure Seekers

Recently I asked in a post, “What is the heavenly treasure that Jesus promises?”  In a discipleship lesson with two young men, I had asked them this question.  My motivation was to get them to value the treasures of heaven over and above earthly treasures, to better help them put off sin and live to righteousness.

In the post, I had encouraged readers to respond to this question.  The post received some nifty answers.  Here are a few quotes that capture their essence:

Jared Olivetti:

My first treasure is God himself (Jer. 31:33), fully and eternally. As John Piper has taught us, “God is the gospel.”

Knowing as I am known will bring me so many more treasures: joy and peace beyond description, freedom from indwelling sin, freedom from tears, an eternity of heartfelt and purposeful service to the light of heaven…

James Faris:

Christ is the one in whom are hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3). He is my greatest treasure, and as I seek him other treasures fall out all over the place in life. Hebrews 11:26 says that Moses considered the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. Even the worst we experience in Christ is better than best the world has to offer.

Joel Hart:

The prospect of knowing Jesus was enough of a treasure for Paul to give up his entire identity (Phil. 3:1-11). My heavenly treasure is knowing Christ…

Rebekah Brown:

When I love, trust and obey God, he gives me a present glimpse of the future treasure. By the power of the Spirit I enjoy love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodnes, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Because of my sinfulness, I experience these things in small measure compared to the treasure awaiting me in heaven, but the taste is enough to make me long for the day I will be made complete.

As these answers make clear, the ultimate treasure of heaven is Christ Himself.  These answers echo the Psalmist when he says, “Whom have I in heaven but You?  And besides You, I desire nothing on earth” (Psalm 73:25); or Paul when he says, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).  Jim Elliott captured these truths poignantly when he said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  To these things we should say “Amen and amen!”

I had said at the time I would have responded by last week if I needed to answer further.  By not doing so, I am satisfied with and joyed by the sufficiency of the above answers.

Yet I cannot help but dwell even more on the treasures that flow from Christ.  As we learn to value them according to the economy of God’s kingdom, we will be more apt to let go of our earthly trinkets that have no more ultimate value than Monopoly money or a toy from a McDonald’s Happy Meal.  This was the “deal” Christ was offering to the rich young ruler.  Give up your earthly treasures, follow Me, and I will give you treasures in heaven (Mark 10:21).  What the believer needs to understand, which again is made clear in the answers above, is that this treasure is received in part now and in fullness in the consummation.  At the moment of transaction, when we give up our earthly ways and idolatrous pursuits, we begin immediately enjoying heavenly treasure and will increasingly do so throughout eternity.

Though the treasures Christ offers are innumerable, consider just five of these transactions He asks you to make.  There is nothing in this world worth clinging to in light of His offers!

1) The foolish control over your life for His gentle rule –  One will lose his soul if he tries to control it.  “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).  But if we submit to His Lordship, Jesus Himself will preserve our soul.  He will put His light yoke upon us and teach us the joyful rest that comes from  submission (Matthew 11:29-30).  Then for all of eternity we will rejoice in declaring the worthiness of His rule over us (Revelation 5:11-14).

2) The sentimental desire for relationships for His true family – So many hold on to earthly family relationships and time with them, trying to make them work and be significant.  Yet Jesus calls us to value the family of God supremely.  For even as His own earthly family stood waiting outside, He said that “whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50).  When Peter reminded the Lord that he and the other disciples had left home and family to follow Him, remember the Lord’s bi-eon response, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life” (Luke 18:29-30).  One of my mentors in the faith, Dr. Roy Blackwood, echoes this when he says that the relationships we have now in Christ will continue on into heaven.  As stated above, ultimately we will all be drawn into the unity of love enjoyed by the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit (John 17:23-24).

3) The evil love of and anxiety over money and possessions for His caring provision – Concerns over material possessions can choke out the life in our hearts (Matthew 13:22).  The results are devastating.  “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).  In the Sermon on the Mount, He told them that the unbelieving world eagerly seeks and worries about such things as food, shelter & clothing.  But His followers are to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).  Though suffering for Christ is inevitable, the disciple will be cared for and honored by Christ.  “He will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:30).  Indeed, in His Father’s house are many dwelling places, and He has gone “to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

4) The vain hope for worldly significance for His lasting honor – The Lord knew that in the heart of every man is the desire for self-exaltation, to “be noticed by men” and to “love the place of honor” and to “be called leaders” (Matthew 23:5-10).  Yet He calls us to a life of humility, self-denial, and service.  What are the rewards for so living?   As the Parable of the Talents and other places show, Christ gives His servants responsibilities and gospel knowledge in this world to invest in the kingdom of God.  If they are faithful, He will pronounce them so on the day of judgment.  He will give them eternal honor and responsibility in the new heavens and the new earth (Matthew 25:14-30).  Even the smallest of works done unto Him will be greatly blessed (Matthew 10:42; 25:31-40).

5) The lustful pleasures of this world for His everlasting satisfaction – To the woman at the well, with at least five former husbands and a present live-in boyfriend standing as a testimony to her unsatisfied lust, Jesus offered the water of life to quench her thirst (John 4:10).  Clearly, He was offering Himself to this poor lady who eventually believed.  When one believes in Christ, he or she receives eternal life.  Yet what is this eternal life?  An everlasting relationship with our God, for as Jesus’ prayer tell us:  “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).  In this life we begin drinking of the Spirit of Christ (John 7:37-39), and we will continue to drink from this river of life eternally in heaven (Revelation 22:1-2; 17).

Stand amazed.  Jesus never asks you to give up the worthless prizes of the world without offering to you the priceless worth of heaven in their place.

4 Comments

  1. timbloedow April 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    Something else we’ll be doing in the next life?

    “I Corinthians 6: And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!”

    I’ve not yet read anything I find satisfactory about how the final outcome of our imperfect training experience in this life will impact our work in the next life while still affirming the complete perfection of the next life. If our work in this life is only good for this life, even if it’s for future generations in this life – which helps, but even in reformed circles these days, I don’t hear much about multigenerational thinking – perhaps that’s also a result of abandoning postmillennial teleology? – but it helps, but nevertheless, if our work in this life is only good for this life, how does that elevate men to a status greater than that of a hamster?

    The spiritualistic language that seems designed to maintain momentum and motivation for most Christians in our day is really inadequate for me.

    The items fleshed out in your column here are much more helpful than most of what is taught about the relationship between this life and heaven.

  2. Anonymous May 3, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    As a Christian, how are we supposed to value relationships within the family of God more than relationships within our physical family or outside the family of God, when relationships within the family of God take much more work and have been a source of pain in the past? What about when you have tried, but people within your current part of the family of God just don’t seem interested in long-term friendships with you?

    Also, you said that we are supposed to pursue leadership or leadership experiences righteously, when so often such pursuits are simply motivated by self-exaltation as you mentioned? I mean, we do need leaders, particularly spiritual/social/political leaders to guide us in the right direction!

    • Barry York May 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

      Those are tough questions. I have found that people who have been hurt by folks in a church often struggle with trusting the Lord that the church can be a place of deep, fruitful relationships.

      I would encourage you to really pray through the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, then keep praying through the next two verses that follow about forgiveness. You have to forgive, forgive some more, and keep forgiving in the church to achieve the type of relationships you are longing for. Then keep sowing seeds of kindness and love. If you wait in faith, you will eventually receive a harvest.

      I do not think we are really to pursue leadership responsibilities as believers. Instead, we are to pursue service and, if we are to be leaders, then leadership will come to us (Matthew 20:25-28).

      We do need spiritual leaders or shepherds. Their importance is seen in such places as Hebrews 13:17 and I Peter 5:1-7.

  3. Anonymous May 3, 2012 at 12:29 am #

    I meant to say “Also, /how are supposed/ to pursue leadership or leadership experiences righteously…?”

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