Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hidden Treasure (part 2)

Matthew 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Last week we dwelt on the first half of the parable, particularly the fact that the treasure was not exposed for all to see, but “hidden”, implying that the gospel is intended only for those who are enabled (by God) to find it. This speaks to the fact that the specific “whosoevers” that gain Christ’s righteousness were actually of God’s sovereign design. The seeming indiscriminate language of verses like John 3:16 KJV references the human perspective on who would embrace Christ as Lord; God has always known His elect. (John 6:64-65, 8:47, Acts15:18)

"Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

First of all note that there is joy. Sometimes a man can find treasure, without comprehending at first its true value. He still pays a price to gain it, but for a time may question whether or not it was truly worth it. Peter too had his doubts as he pondered the price he has paid…

Matthew 19:27-30 Then Peter said in reply, "See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?" (28) Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (29) And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. (30) But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

See, Peter’s dilemma was the same as ours: we sell out everything to gain the field, but we don’t immediately reap the full tangible value of the “prize” we have “attained”. In selling everything to gain what seems to the natural eyes to be of little value, it seems that we have taken a place at the back of the race because it seems that we have given up far more than we have gained…

Philippians 3:14-16 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (8) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (9) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- (10) that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (11) that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (12) Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (13) Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. (16) Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Both Paul & Peter were reflective, taking note of all they had lost in order to take possession of the field with its glorious treasure, but one seemed despondent while the other seemed joyous. What was the difference? Why did Paul, who at the time he wrote this had actually had lost more than Peter (with the loss of his freedom), have so much more joy than Peter? Verses 9 & 10 hold the keys- Paul had greater faith & knowledge in Christ. Truly, what “we have attained” by selling out to the natural man is the full righteousness of Christ. We really do possess the field & its inestimable riches, but can’t cash in to gain the full tangible value of the treasure right away. Examine Paul’s statement in verse 9, that we do in fact possess the righteousness of Christ, but cannot fully apprehend it, in this body, for all its magnificence. Therefore is the reason he says it “depends on faith”. In tough times, the natural man says “Look at all you have lost; for what? A worthless field that bears nothing but pain? O, woe are you.” Thus, the field seems in times of hardship to be too much of a burden to bear.

But yet there is joy to the one who keeps his eye on the prize of Christ & the day that the treasure’s full value will come to us. See, the thing to do in those low times is to take some time to research the value of the treasure. Spending time to study up on the as yet unattained full tangible value of the treasure of Christ that you surely possess will turn your depression into exuberant jubilation. This is, in part, is the value of Bible study, good preaching, prayer, praise, & fellowship. They train our eyes on “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

The field owner with no joy is the one who has lost sight of the glory of sharing in the riches of Christ. Study up on the value of having Christ’s righteousness & your joy will return.

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