Monday, October 13, 2008

God's Treasure (repost)

(First posted 7/19/07)

As I meditate more upon God's love in action, which I believe is really the only way we'll ever even begin to walk in it ourselves, a couple more examples that come to mind are based upon two parables.

Steve McVey of Grace Walk Ministries (see his blog), when he was visiting my church a couple of years ago, shed light and opened my eyes to the beauty of God's love demonstrated in the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price. I'll put it in my own words below.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matt 13:44)

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matt 13:45-46)

I've always, always, always heard that the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price is JESUS, and that we're to sell all we have so that we can have Him. But hold on a minute. How can we purchase what God gives us freely? And to think about it a little further, isn't there a price that Jesus paid so that God could have us? "For God so loved the world (the treasure, the pearls) that He gave His only begotten Son..."

...our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us... (Titus 2:13b-14a)

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all... (1 Tim 2:5-6)

Let's be real about this... Did we ever do a thing to seek out or to earn any of this? "There is no one righteous, no not one..." "There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God."

The pearl of great price. The treasure in the field. Isn't Jesus talking about us? And again, the price that was paid - isn't that what Jesus did? Isn't it Jesus who went looking for the lost sheep? All we can really do is to respond to what He has done for us! We cannot treat it as a debt, because He gave all this to us freely. And even our response is by His grace. How we've forgotten that the coming of Jesus wasn't about what we could do for God, but it was ALL about His love for us, and how He considered us so precious that HE did all this for us!

One of my favorite passages that gets to the heart of God's love in action is found in Philippians 2. We're encouraged to love one another, be of one accord, be of one mind, etc, by looking to the example of Christ:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:5-11)

By all of this we know God's love for us. He demonstrated it fully and perfectly.

When Jesus told the rich young ruler, "sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven," He Himself was in the very process of demonstrating it, by giving up His rights to deity ("selling all He had") and becoming one of us, coming in our likeness, being obedient to the point of death on a cross (giving Himself to us, the "poor")... and ultimately being exalted to the highest place, and receiving the ultimate treasure in heaven...



  1. If salvation is free then why did Jesus tell the rich guy to sell everything?

  2. Because the rich young ruler wanted to know what he could "do" to "merit" salvation. He had already said he kept the law; impossible.

    So Jesus told him the one thing He knew he wouldn't "do": give up everything.

    Salvation is by faith alone. The "thing" you "give up" is the right to think you can earn your way into heaven. You can't; you must except God's Grace in the Person of Christ crucified. The wisdom of God is foolish to men who seek to prove their self-righteousness.

  3. I don't understand why Jesus just didn't tell him to believe in him? I don't want to go to hell but I don't want to give up my lifstyle either. If I just believe in Jesus will that keep me out of hell?

  4. Jesus simply answered the man's question which was, "What good thing shall I "do" that I might have eternal life?" And even when Jesus said, "keep the commandments", the young man said, "Which one?" The young man and Jesus were not coming from the same place. Jesus' whole point was to bring the young man to the end of himself; the young man could not get past his performance and so he went away not realizing his salvation was in front of him the whole time. Just like us!

    See John 3:1-18.

    Believing will do more than keep you "out of hell." It will allow you to apppropriate everything God gave us in Jesus at the cross: NEW LIFE. Jesus is more than "fire insurance"; He is the Christian's very Life.

    I think once you discover the Grace, mercy, and love of God in Jesus your lifestyle won't be your focus. It isn't His. He wants you. He loves you. Just like you are right now. You just choose to believe and accept. That's the "good news." :)

    Sorry, Joel, too good to pass up. :)

  5. No prob at all RJW... lots of great stuff to discuss here. :)


    The gospel itself is truly simple - believe in (trust) Jesus. But arriving at that simple truth involves the breaking down of self-reliance and self-righteousness (our own attempts at righteousness, and our own self-justification).

    In another very similar example (Luke 10), "a certain lawyer" also asked Jesus "what shall I DO to inherit eternal life." I think Jesus perceived that this man was focused on his own works, and instead of just coming right out and telling the man, he pressed in to show the man just how far he would get with his own works. Verse 29 says outrightly that the man was "wanting to justify himself"! And so Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan, and in the end he told the man, "go and do likewise."

    The church has missed the point with this parable, by ignoring what was going on between Jesus and the lawyer! It's not an object lesson on how Christians should behave, but it's a parable that shows just exactly how far TRUE LOVE really goes... and so if people think they can REALLY justify themselves, this parable should show them how far short they've fallen.

    All that to say: Again, in order to be saved a person must let go of their self-righteousness (their own attempts at righteousness). It's only then that they then can receive the free gift of righteousness by faith.

    It's not about giving up your lifestyle. It's about giving up your righteousness. The life of Jesus then comes to live in you, and the love that is in you eventually changes your whole lifestyle naturally.

  6. Beautiful! I liked the response to anonymous by you and Jamie as well!

    Jesus told the rich ruler, there is still "one thing you lack". That's the problem in trying to please God by our self-efforts - there will ALWAYS be 'one thing we lack'.

    Even His disciples asked him right after this, if it is this HARD, "Who then can be saved?"

    And here is the answer:

    "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."

  7. Yes, Bino, indeed... Whenever a person comes to God with their list of accomplishments and righteous deeds, there's always going to be one more thing they lack. And then one more thing. And one more thing. I think there are lots of people in the world who keep on approaching God like this. It never ends until they come to the end of their trying to earn it, and simply accept the free gift!

    God's righteousness is not possible when it comes to man trying to attain it... but with God all things are indeed possible!