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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
Title:Kingdom Treasure
Text:Matthew 13:44-46 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord
I Sought the Lord
Jesus, Priceless Treasure 
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross 

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

“Kingdom Treasure”
Matthew 13:44-46
There was a farmer in Persia, Ali Hafed, who sold his farm in order to find diamonds. Farming in Persia was like farming here. It took a lot of effort; you could make some money, but you could also lose everything. He had a successful farm, but he heard about people who discovered diamonds in South Africa. Those who found diamond beds in South Africa became exceptionally wealthy, so he sold his farm and moved to South Africa seeking treasure. But he never found treasure in South Africa. He expanded his search to other countries as well, but he came up empty. All his money was spent; when he died, Ali Hafed was a broken, disillusioned man.
Meanwhile, the man who bought the farm from Ali Hafed, years after buying the farm, was at a stream running through the farm, giving his camels a drink when he saw something shiny glimmering beneath the surface of the water. He discovered there, in the stream, the Diamond Beds of Golconda, which are some of the richest diamond beds in the entire world. The richest treasure was right there on the farm that Ali Hafed had sold. 
In the two short parables of Jesus, here in these verses, no one misses the treasure as Ali Hafed did, but both people whom Jesus speaks about came across the treasure of the kingdom of heaven in opposite ways. One person, just walking through the field, stumbled onto a great treasure. The other person, a merchant, diligently sought the finest pearl, and finally, after an extensive search, found the perfect pearl of great value.      
These two short parables teach us that not everyone comes into the kingdom of heaven in the same way. Some, like the Ethiopian eunuch, seek diligently through the Scriptures but don’t understand until finally someone comes along, as Philip did in the account of Acts 8, to explain the gospel. At long last he understood and grasped by saving faith that great treasure of knowing Christ, of belonging to Him and being in the kingdom of heaven.
Others are like the Samaritan woman who went to the well to draw some water. Whom should she find there but one named Jesus who told her about the “living water.” Her life of sin was confronted, she was transformed. Even though she had not sought long and hard for the treasure of salvation, it was given to her as she “stumbled” – by God’s gracious providence and electing love – into the kingdom.
In addition to pointing out to us that people come into the kingdom of heaven in different ways, Jesus goes on, in these two short parables, to show us that if we truly are in the kingdom then we will recognize the great value of our salvation. When we recognize the supreme value of the kingdom of heaven and the sacrifice Christ has made to grant His people entrance, we too will see that it is a priceless treasure.
In both parables, the people spoken about recognized the value of the kingdom of heaven. They both sold all they had to get the treasure they had found. However, recognizing the value of being in the kingdom of heaven is not always easy, not because the kingdom isn’t valuable, but because our eyes are so easily clouded.
The world holds out before us so many counterfeit pearls. Our eyes, not trained as they should be in spiritual matters, can so quickly be misled by the imitation – by the “cubic zirconia” – that we miss the real diamond, the real treasure of knowing Christ by saving faith and being in his kingdom.
Part of growing to be mature Christians includes, as the Holy Spirit works within us, training our eyes to see the fake pearls that the world puts before us. Part of maturing as a Christian means not pursuing the counterfeit treasures of this world, but pursuing the true treasure of Jesus and His Kingdom.
That’s what Moses did. Hebrews 11:25 describes how “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”
David had that same spiritual vision to see through the counterfeit treasures of this world. In Psalm 84:10 he wrote, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” A doorkeeper was similar to a janitor; it was not a position of power or prestige. But David would prefer that position over even the kingship of Israel, for he delighted in the house of the Lord, for there he learned about Christ and the kingdom of heaven which is entered only through saving faith in Christ.
Jesus put it this way: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” (Matt.  6:21) That statement should lead us to ask, “Where is my treasure? Where is your treasure? Do we recognize membership in the kingdom of God as a great treasure? Or is it so familiar to us that sometimes it’s boring? Are we chasing after the counterfeit pearls of this fallen world?
There is no greater treasure than being in the kingdom of our God, of knowing Him by saving faith who laid down His life an atonement – a covering, propitiation – for the sins of His people. But there is a word of caution concerning the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven here on earth can include unbelievers who will be weeded out on the Day of Judgment. Earlier in this chapter, Jesus told the parable of the weeds. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.” (Matt. 13:24-26)
His statement teaches us that the devil has planted imposters and hypocrites within the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Just as we speak about the church visible and invisible, so too the kingdom of heaven has a visible and invisible aspect. Just as not everyone who is in the visible church will be in heaven – the invisible church – so too not everyone who appears to be in the kingdom of heaven is genuine. There are weeds within the kingdom here on earth – imposters, hypocrites, false teachers, and others who do not have saving faith in Christ alone.
When Jesus returns, they will be weeded out of the kingdom. In the parable of the weeds, Jesus described how “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
   “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
   “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
    “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” (Matt. 13:27-30)
Theologians point out that the kingdom of heaven has an “already” and a future (“not yet”) aspect. It is already here on earth but it can only be entered through saving faith in Christ alone. The kingdom will be fully realized in all its perfection throughout eternity in the new heavens and the new earth.
By God’s grace and Spirit’s power, may you and I be true citizens of the kingdom of heaven, not imposters or hypocrites just “going through the motions” of Christianity, but joyful Christians who hunger and thirst after the righteousness of Christ.
Giving Up All
A second truth these parables teach is that if you know the treasure of Christ, then you must be willing to give up all to be in his kingdom. Did you notice how in these parables both of the people went and sold all that they had to gain the treasure they had found?
Is that true of you?  Of me?  Would we give up all for the sake of knowing the treasure of Christ and His kingdom?
That doesn’t necessarily mean selling everything we have. But it does mean that we get rid of all that hinders our relationship with the Lord. You simply cannot hold on to the counterfeit treasures of the world and to the real treasure of the kingdom of God. It is always one or the other. It is either-or, never both.
Old Testament Israel tried to have it both ways. They served the Baals and false gods of Canaan but still gave lip service to the one true God of Scripture. They were similar to the so-called "Carnal Christians" today who want the counterfeit treasures of the world and the true treasures of the kingdom at the same time.
It doesn’t work that way. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus you might recall that he left sad (Matt. 19:16-22). He left sad because although he had lived a good life – in his view he had kept all the commands of God – he wasn’t willing to part with his material wealth. 
By contrast, the Apostle Paul, who had a lot to lose, gave up everything for the kingdom of God. He was a man of influence, a Pharisee with social standing and he was undoubtedly well off financially. Yet he gave up everything when he was transformed by God’s grace from Saul of Tarsus to the Apostle Paul.
He gave it up because he found the treasure of knowing Christ. And he knew that treasure was far superior to anything the world offered. As he wrote in Philippians 3:7-9: But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith…”
If you and I had to lose everything to follow Christ, would we?  Because of the persecution of Christians in Iraq, Iran, and other nations like them, hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled to safer counties, losing all for the sake of Christ. Other Christians, who cannot escape to a safer country face the persecution and martyrdom that comes because they are citizens of the heavenly kingdom. Only those who know the true treasure of Christ, through saving faith in Him, will give up all, even their lives, for Christ and the kingdom of heaven.
Kingdom Joy
A third truth these parables teach us is that when we give up all our worldly treasures for Christ, we find great joy. Verse 44 describes how the man who found the great treasure “In his joy… went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
Christians, of all people, should be filled with joy:  We have the greatest treasure – and that treasure can never be taken from us. Yet how many professing Christians do we know who exhibit none of that joy?
I never knew my grandparents, but my mother used to tell me how my grandfather had done so well in real estate after immigrating from Holland. But then he lost it all in the Great Depression. He had to move to the other side of town, to a little run-down house. He was very sad, she said. He never seemed to recover. He didn’t seem to have that joy that should mark every person who has found the treasure of being in God’s Kingdom.
That is not something that just happened back in the Great Depression of 1929. Many people know what it is like to lose the value of their investments. The market crash of 2008 and 2009 took a big chunk out of the portfolios of everyone who had invested in the stock market.
Some people who had retired early, some still in their fifties, bought motor homes, and were touring the country confident that they were fully provided for. But meanwhile, companies went broke, portfolios became worthless, and health insurance was pulled. Their earthly treasure was gone. And our current situation is similar in many ways, to those other economic downturns.
All human treasure is so uncertain. Jesus pointed that out with clarity in Matthew 6:19-21. He said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Likewise, 1 Timothy 6:17 warns us not to “set our hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”
But there is no uncertainty with the treasure of the kingdom that Jesus tells us about in this parable. Once we have the treasure of Christ and saving faith in Him, nothing can take that treasure from us.  Peter puts it this way in 1 Peter 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you…”
Then he describes the hardships of life, even – or especially – for people of faith. He describes how we “suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” The ridicule and persecution because of your faith in Christ, or sickness, the lost job, the strained relationship, the fight with sin, the loss of a dear loved one, that is all part of the grief and suffering of this life. Yet, Peter goes on to write: In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials… …Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6, 8, 9)
If you and I know the value of the kingdom of heaven, then regardless of our circumstances, we should be as joyful as the man who sold all he had for the treasure in the field. Our treasure is priceless, and our treasure is secure.
Security in Christ
Why is it secure?  Because from first to last our acquisition of the treasure of salvation is from the Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 puts it so clearly: It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’”
It is because of God’s electing love that we are in Christ, through the Holy Spirit’s convicting and regenerating work within us. And when God begins something, He always finishes. Philippians 1:6 assures us that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
While these parables are honest in telling us that we must surrender all to Christ, we know from the rest of Scripture that it is not we who buy the treasure of salvation. That was bought for us by the only One who could pay the price. Psalm, 49:7, 8 put it this way:
“No man can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for him—
 the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—"
The only one who could pay the price, who could pay the ransom for our sin, is Christ. And He did pay. He paid with his life.  2 Corinthians 8:9 – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Although some stumble into the kingdom and others seek it out with diligence, it is always of the Lord that we are in his kingdom and come to know the treasure of Christ. As we sang in that beautiful hymn on God’s electing love:
          I sought the Lord and afterward I knew
          He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking
          me. It was not I, who found, O Savior true, 
          No, I was found of Thee.
Sometimes we have visitors who seem to just “happen” to visit the church. But no one is here just by “happenstance,” not even the visitors who come and observe for a service or two and then disappear. Who knows how the seed of the gospel will grow in the future?  None of us know whether at some later time in their life the Holy Spirit will illuminate to them the glistening treasures of His kingdom. 
Many of us have grown up in the church, but maybe some still haven’t found the Lord of the church. Maybe some of you have seen the counterfeit pearls of the world and they look more real and glisten brighter than anything you’ve seen. Be assured from Scripture that you will find no greater treasure than Christ. You will find no greater sacrifice than that sacrifice which Jesus made for His people. You will find no greater love than that of Jesus Christ. And you will find no greater blessing than the eternal blessing of being a true citizen of the kingdom of heaven.
And you young people, don’t be like the Persian farmer, Ali Hafed. Don’t leave the church, turning from the kingdom of heaven to look for treasure in the world. The greatest treasure is here in front of you. There is no greater treasure than knowing that you are justified by faith in Christ and in His shed blood, and that you belong to Him, body and soul, in life and in death, and that nothing can separate you from His love.
There is no greater treasure than knowing and believing by saving faith that Jesus lived, died, and rose again for your justification. There is no greater treasure than knowing that He has imputed – credited – His perfect, righteous obedience to you so that you stand before your triune God clothed, not in filthy rags of self-righteousness, but in the radiant robes of the righteousness of Christ!
No matter how you have come to know Christ, you must be able to respond as Isaac Watts did, in our closing hymn:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing so divine
Demands my soul my life my all.  Amen.
sermon outline:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field... Again, the kingdom of heaven is
   like a merchant looking for fine pearls...” - Matthew 13:44...45
                                                “Kingdom Treasure”
                                                   Matthew 13:44-46
I.  These two parables show that the entrance into the kingdom of heaven, which is only found
     through saving faith in Christ, is the greatest treasure:
      1) Some don’t seek the treasure of salvation, yet find it (44; John 4:4-26)
      2) Others diligently seek before finding (45-46; Acts 8:26-40)
II. Regardless of how we come to Christ and into His kingdom, we must (44-46):
     1) Recognize the great value of our heavenly citizenship (Matthew 6:21; Philippians
         3:20; Hebrews 11:24-28)
     2) Give up everything that hinders our relationship with the Lord (Philippians 3:7-11)
     3) Delight in the joy of salvation (1 Peter 1:6-9) 
III. Our assurance: Our treasure is secure because of Christ (Philippians 1:6; John 10:28)


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2013, Rev. Ted Gray

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