THEME: Kingdom of Heaven
The treasure that we seek is found in the Son of God.
Matthew 13:44-46

“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.


There is a caricature of Calvinism that takes issue with the doctrines of election and “irresistible” grace. It imagines a case in which a certain individual—we’ll call him George—does not want to be saved. George loves sin, and never looks beyond it. Although he has heard the gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, he has no interest in it personally. But God has elected this person. So, although George does not want to be saved, he is nevertheless dragged by the scruff of his neck into heaven “kicking and screaming,” a most reluctant convert.
On the other hand, there is a second individual —let’s call her Mary— who wants to be saved. Every time she hears the gospel she is enraptured by it. Whenever an invitation is given she is the first one out of her seat. But God has not elected her. Although she wants to be saved, she cannot be. God says, “Mary, this salvation of mine through Christ is not for you. You must remain where you are. You cannot come to heaven.”
As I say, that is a misunderstanding of Calvinism, for in election and “irresistible” grace God does not disregard or act contrary to the will of any man or woman, as implied above. Rather, he regenerates the individual, as the result of which a will is born that now desires what the old will previously despised. Before, George hated Christ. Now he loves him and so comes willingly when the gospel is preached. Again, if Mary desires to come, it is not in spite of God’s predetermination in her case but because of it.
One commentator says,
When [people are] made over again they come running irresistibly because they would not have it any other way. You can put all kinds of obstacles in their path, but they are men of violence. They are going to take the kingdom by force! When they find this pearl they are going to sell everything they have and get it. That hidden treasure is going to be theirs. They are going to have it because they hunger and thirst after righteousness.1
I have begun this way because the prior work of God in a person’s heart is the underlying presupposition of the parables of the treasure and the pearl to which we now come. These parables describe the kind of people who have already been made alive in Christ. To use the imagery of the first two parables, they are the ones in whom the seed of the gospel has already been planted and is beginning to bear fruit. In the first, a man finds a treasure in a field. Jesus says, “When [he] found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” In the second, he describes a merchant looking for pearls. “When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (vv. 44-46).
The point of these parables lies in the nature and actions of those who discover the great treasure, which is the gospel. 
1John H. Gerstner “The Atonement and the Purpose of God,” in James M. Boice, ed., Our Savior God: Addresses Presented to the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, 1977-1979 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), p.115.


How can the doctrines of election and irresistible grace be misunderstood? 
What is the correct understanding?
Describe the actions of the men in the parables of the treasure and the pearl.
What is the great treasure or the pearl?


What was your experience when you first discovered the pearl?


The point of these parables lies in the nature and actions of those who discover the great treasure, which is the gospel.


Calvinism: the doctrines and teachings of John Calvin and his followers, emphasizing predestination, the sovereignty of God, the supreme authority of the Scriptures, and the irresistibility of grace.

Study Questions
Tagged under
More Resources from James Montgomery Boice

Subscribe to the Think & Act Biblically Devotional

Alliance of Confessional Evangelicals

About the Alliance

The Alliance is a coalition of believers who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today’s Church.

Canadian Donors

Canadian Committee of The Bible Study Hour
PO Box 24087, RPO Josephine
North Bay, ON, P1B 0C7