Dear radio friends,
What is most valuable to you? What do you treasure above all else? Your children? Your own life? Your home? Your car? Some other material possession? What is of greatest value to you?
Jesus Christ taught us that the kingdom of heaven is the treasure. He taught this throughout His ministry and He taught it in a striking way in a parable that He spoke in Matthew 13. In that chapter, verse 44, amid the many parables that Jesus is speaking of the kingdom of heaven, He spoke these words: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
The aim of Jesus Christ in that parable is to teach us that the thing of infinite value, the thing of inestimable worth, that which is of incalculable preciousness, is the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is the treasure. The Lord Jesus means to say that when, by God’s grace, you know the value of God’s kingdom and the wonder that you have been brought into that kingdom, then you will put that kingdom before the whole world. And, for the sake of that kingdom, you stand ready to renounce all your own carnal desires. The Lord Jesus means to teach us that if the whole world were put before you—all of its money, property, pleasures, and honors—you would walk away from it all in a moment for the sake of His kingdom, the kingdom of heaven. When you know the priceless and precious value of Jesus Christ and His kingdom and of being brought, by grace, into that kingdom, you will put that kingdom before all other delights and all other comforts of this world. And you will renounce everything that would draw you away from this kingdom.
Is this true for you? Jesus is speaking to us in the parable. If you have the kingdom, you have the treasure of the soul. And you will count all things else loss for the excellency of this kingdom. Jesus is saying, If you don’t have My kingdom; if you have not been brought into this kingdom; if you do not know the kingdom of heaven—you are poverty-stricken. No matter the earthly wealth you might possess, you are negative in your balance in heaven, you are empty of soul, you are to be pitied. For the kingdom of heaven is the treasure.
Do you know that? Is it your treasure?
It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit may grant to you and me, through these brief moments of exposition of the parable, a sense of the weight and the glory of Christ and His kingdom—the joy of having the kingdom, the zeal to sacrifice everything for the kingdom, and the joy of knowing the treasure of the kingdom as inestimably precious, so precious that we stand willing to surrender all that would interfere with the kingdom.
We ask the question first, then, “What is the kingdom of heaven of which Jesus is speaking?”
The Bible calls God’s kingdom by various names. It is called in the Bible the kingdom of God, the kingdom of His dear Son, the kingdom of Christ, an everlasting kingdom, a kingdom of righteousness and peace. And no one ever spoke of the kingdom more than did Jesus Christ. He was the great man in the Scriptures who spoke of the kingdom of God. In Mark 1:14, when we are given notice of the beginning and of the theme of the ministry of our Lord, we read the following: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” Then, you might remember, that in Matthew 5-7 we have what is commonly called the “Sermon on the Mount.” It is called the Sermon on the Mount because of the location where it was spoken (on a mountain); but it could better be named after the content of the sermon. What was the content? The kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5-7 is Jesus’ sermon, His longest sermon recorded in the Scriptures. And what was it on? The kingdom of heaven.
What is the kingdom of heaven? The kingdom of heaven, according to Jesus Christ, is the sovereign rule of God’s grace in the heart through Jesus Christ. It is begun in a spiritual rebirth, out of the death of sin, the implanting of the life of Christ. It is a rule whereby God gives us repentance, whereby our enemies of sin are defeated. And it is a rule in which God creates a people for Himself.
Let us note three things about the kingdom. Let us try to fasten these things in our minds and souls, for there is much false teaching and much misunderstanding concerning the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God, first of all, according to Jesus is the rule of God’s grace within the heart of a man or woman, a boy or girl. The kingdom of heaven is not an earthly realm. It is not an earthly nation. And it is not either simply a future state. But it is, first of all and primarily, the rule of wondrous grace within our hearts whereby we submit, by grace, to the King, Christ Jesus.
Jesus said in Luke 17:20, 21: “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation,” that is, you do not see with the physical eye the advance of the kingdom. The kingdom of God is not like an army marching across a distant land and you can plot on a map its progression. No, the kingdom of God does not come with observation. “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold [now note these words of Jesus], the kingdom of God is within you.” So Jesus would say (John 3:3), “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
The kingdom of heaven, then, is not an area on earth. It is not in Jerusalem; it is not in Grand Rapids, Michigan; it is not in Moscow, Idaho; it is not as if the kingdom of heaven is waiting for that geographic area where all things become Christianized and then, at last, the kingdom of God can be said to have come. Oh, no! God rules, right now, over all nations, accomplishing His own purpose. We sing and rejoice with Psalm 103: “His kingdom rules o’er all from pole to pole.” The kingdom is not, first of all, an earthly power. Its value is not to be counted in earthly wealth. It does not possess an earthly economy. Jesus said (John 18:36), “My kingdom is not of this world, else my disciples would fight.” The kingdom is the rule of God’s grace in our hearts, causing us to bow willingly and lovingly to the Lord Jesus.
We may say secondly, then, that the kingdom of heaven is God’s saving or redeeming rule. The kingdom has come with power. Whenever that kingdom has dispelled the forces of unbelief and demons and has defeated the power of unrighteousness within a person’s life and has brought a person to salvation and righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, then the kingdom can be said to have come with power. It is God’s saving or redeeming rule. It has to do with the forgiveness of sins. It has to do with the implanting of a new desire. It has to do with what the Bible calls sanctification of life, the daily, constant renewal of the child of God’s life in repentance, turning from evil and choosing that which is good. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is advanced, not by social legislation, but by the gospel. It is advanced by the white horse of the gospel ( Rev. 6), who goes forth to conquer. The kingdom of heaven is advanced by the Word preached—when the Word of the gospel goes forth and is used by the Holy Spirit to claim for the gospel and the kingdom those for whom Jesus has died. The kingdom of heaven is advanced when sin is defeated in our own lives and the chains of evil holding us are broken and we are set free.
Therefore, the third thing that we can say of the kingdom is that it is consummated when Jesus Christ returns, the second coming. And when the kingdom is established in the new heavens and the new earth, Jesus said in Matthew 25:34, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Right now the blessings of the kingdom of heaven are great. There is the blessing of forgiveness. There is the blessing of an imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, a righteousness that Christ credits to our account. There is the blessing of fellowship with God. But the fullness of the kingdom awaits us at the King’s coming. For then the kingdom shall be consummated and perfected. Then there shall be no more sinning in us, the citizens of the kingdom, no more sickness, injury, death, depression, spiritual warfare, or sorrow. We shall enter into the glory of the kingdom.
So what is the kingdom of heaven? It is God’s rule of grace, begun in spiritual rebirth, saving us from our sin, placing Christ on the throne of our hearts. It is spread by the gospel. And one day it shall be perfected in glory when Jesus comes. That is the kingdom.
Now, Jesus said, “Again the kingdom is like unto a treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” The point of the Lord is clear. The kingdom of heaven is so valuable that losing everything on earth, but getting the kingdom, is a happy trade-off. Having the omnipotent, saving reign of Christ in our hearts and over our life is so valuable that if we lose everything in order to have it, it is a joyful sacrifice. That is the point.
Jesus tells a story. He says it is like a man who goes out into a field. He does not own this field. Perhaps he has rented it to farm. He has planted his tomatoes, his peppers, his corn. He is out plowing, perhaps, or hoeing or weeding. And as he is working he finds a buried treasure in the field. In those days it was very common, during the raiding of armies of Moabites or Philistines, that a man would take his valuables, his jewels, diamonds, and rubies and hide them in a field. Now this man has found this lost and hidden treasure, this massive treasure. And we read, said Jesus, that he hides it and then goes and sells all that he has and buys the field.
Now, what is the point? The point is simply this: So valuable is the kingdom that if it costs you all that you have to be obedient to it and to possess it, it is a good deal. So valuable is the kingdom that losing all on earth is a happy trade-off. If, for the sake of the kingdom, you must sacrifice job and advancement, friends and home, investments and reputation, do not be gloomy! It is a happy trade-off. That is what Jesus means. The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he…for the joy thereof goeth and sells all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
The kingdom of heaven in its full biblical reality of the sovereign rule of God’s grace triumphing over everything that stands between me and everlasting joy is more valuable, more precious, than everything else. When that kingdom comes to you, when you are saved from destruction unto the everlasting enjoyment of Jesus Christ for ever, then you have been given the greatest of all treasures—the worth of having God rule over you, breaking the chains of sin; the omnipotent, all-knowing, all-wise God ruling over, not just you, but all things in your life, working in such a way to bring your eternal good, everything working for your good no matter how painful. God now rules over every detail of your life, in order that you might have as much good and joy as eternity will allow. Oh! That is valuable. That is incalculably valuable.
Children, young people, suppose you could go to the gymnasium, your school gymnasium, and could load it with jewels—crown jewels, the gold of South Africa, bonds, all the assets of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett—and put it all in that gymnasium. It is all yours! Jesus is saying, if you know the value of His kingdom, you would turn your heels on all that wealth in a heart-beat. You would be willing to sacrifice everything. You would be willing to endure the loss of all things. You would choose, rather, for the sake of His kingdom, to live in a hut or in a cave because then, with the kingdom, you would be eternally rich.
Jesus says that we will sell all that we have, and we will do so with joy. The emphasis falls here on the actions of the man who has been given the kingdom and the joy of the man in doing it. Jesus said, “Which when a man hath found, he hideth [there is the action], and for joy thereof [there is the joy] goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” In the parable the man sells everything that he has.
So what will we be willing to do for the kingdom when we understand what the kingdom is? Jesus says that we will place nothing ahead of it. We will say that there is nothing of greater value than the kingdom of Jesus Christ. For the sake of the kingdom we will happily endure the loss of all things. This is the way the apostle Paul put it in Philippians 3:7, 8: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”
What is the point? The point is this: For the kingdom, and for the sake of the kingdom, you will endure the loss of everything when you know its value.
Now, of course, the point of Jesus is not that we buy the kingdom, that we barter for the kingdom. No, He means to say this, that when the kingdom is given to you, your life will show that you value the kingdom. Of course you do not buy it. You cannot buy it. The Scriptures contradict the whole idea of meriting any spiritual blessing. Jesus said (Matt. 5:3): “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” Poor in spirit—bankrupt sinners who have nothing to pay. Jesus said (Luke 12:32): “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” The kingdom is ours, not because we can write a check on the bank of our good works or on the bank of the saints’ merits or find somewhere we can get value to get a stock in the kingdom. No, you cannot merit this kingdom. Be done with merit! Be done with thinking that your actions earn something of salvation. Be done with it. You and I did not get into this world on our own. How do we think that we are going to get into the next world on our own?
But the point is this: when the kingdom has come to you, you will respond in one way—this kingdom will be so valuable that the whole world will lose its charm. The goal of your life will not then be a new suit, a jetta, a nightclub. You will not be found drooling on Sunday afternoon after the world of sin. But you will be found ready to sacrifice every earthly comfort, ease, and prosperity for the kingdom of God. And you will do so with joy. Do not miss the word “joy.” I think that is the most important word in the whole parable: Who for the joy! Jesus is saying that when we are born again into the kingdom and Christ rules over us, then there will be joy, deep down in our souls. Such a joy! Peter puts it this way (I Pet. 1:8): “A joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
The man in Jesus parable was not driven by cold duty. He did not say, “Oh, poor me. I have found this treasure. Well, I guess I had better cover it up so no one else finds it, drag myself to the land office and part with my little cottage which my wife and I have made for ourselves. Oh, it is terrible to have to give these things up for the kingdom.” Of course not. Jesus says, “For the joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys the field.” The loss of earthly things for the sake of the kingdom is not sad. It is not sad when we have Jesus. It is a blessed privilege. The sacrifice of money, possessions, time, energy, my whole future—that is joy. If it is not done out of joy, then it is not done.
Why do we do this? Why are we ready then to sacrifice? Why have missionaries in the past been willing to give up everything—life itself—to labor in the gospel? Here is the answer: For the joy of it.
Jesus says that you do not sacrifice for the kingdom without joy. And you cannot have joy without a real feeling in your heart of your sin and hell and the value of God’s sovereign redeeming grace in the kingdom.
So those who know the kingdom of heaven will consider nothing in their life to be of greater value than the kingdom. They will be ready to sacrifice all things for that kingdom.
Consider now three brief points if this is true for you and me today.
- If this is true, then we will feel a burden, as the church of Jesus Christ, to do missions. We will feel a burden as an individual believer to live a faithful life of witness. When Christ is our highest treasure; when the gospel, the good news of the kingdom, is our love and joy, then, in obedience to the Master, we will go preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. We will pray that the Word of God will be spread by faithful congregations in the preaching of the gospel. We will not be content simply to feed ourselves with the precious gospel—the Reformed, biblical faith. But when we treasure Christ, when we treasure the kingdom and its value, we will pray that the gospel spread out beyond us. In our personal lives we will certainly witness of the gospel of the kingdom. And we will desire that the church be active, ever more active, in spreading the gospel in every way that they can—through preaching, through radio broadcast, through literature. We will struggle and pray for the spread of the gospel.
When the church is content with itself, when the church has no burden for missions, then that church has not treasured Christ and His kingdom as they ought to. When we horde the joy just for ourselves the joy rots. It is joy that is active. It is out of joy that we are active in spreading the word of the kingdom. When we have the kingdom, our joy will be manifest in a joyful desire to spread the gospel. Is that true for you?
But more. It will also mean that we are ready to sacrifice for this kingdom—our gifts, our offerings, for the church, for missions, for the Christian school, for the poor—we will be ready to give our all for the kingdom.
Then, finally, we will treasure the Word of God in which the kingdom is made known to us. We will delve into the Word of God.
Hear the Word. The kingdom is the treasure. And when, by God’s grace, you know that, you will go and sell all in joy.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word and pray for its blessing upon our hearts in this day. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.