THEME: Kingdom of Heaven
The treasure that we seek is found in the Son of God.
“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. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding aone pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
As we noted in yesterday’s study there are significant similarities in looking at the actions of the two men in these parables after the gospel treasure was put before them. First, they recognized the value of what they had found. Second, they determined to have it. That brings us to the third point of similarity between the two individuals. Having recognized the value of their find and having determined to have it, they next sold all they had to make the purchase. I have already said that nothing in the stories is to be construed as teaching that salvation can be bought, except in the sense of Isaiah 55:1. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” What, then, is the point of the man and the merchant selling their goods? Clearly, it is a picture of renouncing everything that might be a hindrance to attaining that great prize. Martin Luther’s hymn has it right: “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.” Luther did not think for a moment that salvation could be purchased by the renunciation of those or any other valued possessions, but he was determined that nothing, not even life itself, should keep him from God’s kingdom.
Charles H. Spurgeon had a sermon on the merchant and the pearl entitled “A Great Bargain,” in which he suggested a number of things we must sell off in order to have Jesus. The first is old prejudices. All of us have some ideas of what it means to please God, but before God regenerates us those are inevitably wrong, if for no other reason than that “the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). The unregenerate person thinks of God as a man and, if the truth be told, of himself as almost a god. He thinks of earning his way. He thinks that God must take note of his good deeds and that, if God does not, he wants no part of him. He thinks he would rather be in hell with nice people like himself than in heaven with those religious folks he finds so offensive. All this goes when one finds Christ. Old prejudices die. Old values are overturned. The errors of past thinking are sold off.
Again, the person who would have Christ must dispose of his or her self-righteousness. It will not fetch much, but I daresay you think it is a fine thing. Hitherto you have been very good, and your own esteem of yourself is that as touching the commandments—“all these have I kept from my youth up.” And what with a good deal of church going, or attendance at the meeting house, and a few extra prayers on a Christmas day and on Good Friday, and just a little dose of sacraments, you feel yourself a tolerable good case. Now, my friend, that old moth-eaten righteousness of yours that you are so proud of you must sell off and get rid of it, for no man can be saved by the righteousness of Christ While he puts any trust in his own. Sell it all off, every rag of it. And suppose nobody will buy it, at any rate you must part with it. Assuredly it is not worth putting amongst the filthiest of rags, for it is worse than they are.1
Yet how we value our own righteousness! We want it to be esteemed by others. It is hard for us to say that we are miserable sinners in need of a salvation that comes entirely by grace. But that is what we must say. Self-righteousness must go. Will you not sell yours off? What am I bid for it? The bid is enough! Let us sell it now. Be done with it, and come to Jesus.
Finally, you must sell off your sinful pleasures and practices, too. It is not pleasure itself that must be sold off. There are holy pleasures, for the saints are a joyful people. It is only sinful pleasure that must go, for you cannot serve God and sin. You cannot say that you love Christ and fail to keep his commandments.
Do you find that hard? Do you draw back? Is that too great a price to pay for salvation? If so, you are not the man of Christ’s parable who finds the treasure and sells all he has to have it. You are not the merchant who trades off everything to possess the great pearl. You are not even properly seeing the value of what you are rejecting. Draw back, then! Reject the Lord Jesus Christ! He does not display his treasures for those who do not want them. Go your own way! Cling to your prejudices, your self righteousness, your sinful pleasures! There are plenty of others who want Christ, and they will come. Heaven will not be empty. The banquet table will be filled with guests.
But God forbid that that should be so in your case! Rather let it be said of you as it was said by the author of Hebrews: “We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” (Heb.10:39).
1 Charles Haddon Spurgeon “A Great Bargain” in Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vols. 7-63 (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications, 1972), 24:403.
What did the act of purchasing the treasure represent spiritually?
What doesn’t it teach?
What things do we let go of when we come to Christ?
Why is it difficult for people to renounce self-righteousness?
It is hard for us to say that we are miserable sinners in need of a salvation that comes entirely by grace. But that is what we must say. Self-righteousness must go.
Reflect on prejudices you had to sell when you came to Christ.