TREASURES IN HEAVEN
This reading is part of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus was discipling or teaching His followers. The sermon on the Mount, as it is commonly known, starts from chapter 5 of the Book of Matthew and continues through to the end of chapter 7. Only three chapters yet, they are so important to the life of the professing Christian.
Our reading this morning is right in the middle of these three chapters and is one that seems to me to be the most neglected as far as sermons go. Sure, the preachers mention it now and again and then only with a passing glance. With this statement let me go right ahead and tell you what it means and what it does not mean. Before we go into the message let me first difine the word treasure. My dictionary says this of treasure: It is “Wealth or riches stored or accumulated, esp. in the form of precious metals or money.” This is the most mentioned side of this reading so I am not going to say too much about it, but there is another side to the story which is seldom spoken on in connection with this reading. My dictionary has something else to say about treasure and it is this: “To put away for security or future use.”
You will immediately notice that the emphasis is shifted from wealth and riches to the future security that the treasure will bring. In material terms this will only happen when the treasure is locked away in a bank which is so safe that nobody will ever be able to break into, and we know that that is not possible. At some time or other someone will “Break the bank of Monte Carlo.”
So much for introduction. Let us first look at what a treasure in heaven is not:
1. IS GOOD WORKS A TREASURE OR NOT?
Would you say that good works is a treasure? Many preach that good works will get you into heaven, that good works is the ONLY way to everlasting life and also that each good work is ticked off in the Book of Life, as it were. [today many of the mainline Christian Denominations [have moved away from solid Biblical Teaching to a very watered down message of good works where a Saviour is not really needed.
[I hope you do not listen to Joel Osteen, Rick Warren Ophra Winfrey, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Robert Schuller etc, who are now embracing the New Age, and Catholicism which preaches salvation by good works and only through Mary.]
To many people good works is helping a little old lady across the road and all the other similar activities such as helping the poor and Meals on Wheels. All these works on their own are required of us and if we neglect them we neglect them to our own sorrow, but there is more to it than just “good works”.
On the Judgement Day to come we will all certainly be judged according to our works and I will say something about this later on, but first listen to what Peter says in 1 Peter 1:17-18, “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s works impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that is was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
From this verse we see that one of the most precious things in our life is the shed blood of Jesus and that it is extremely more precious than “good works”.
2. THE TRUE TREASURE
I want to read to you 1 Cor 3:10-15, and then say something about them. These are very important verses so listen very carefully. Paul says, “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be CAREFUL how he builds. For no-one can lay any foundation OTHER than the one ALREADY laid, which is Jesus Christ, If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, heay or straw, his works will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with FIRE, and the fire will test the QUALITY of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” [Emphases mine]
You will notice that these verses are linked to Matth 6:19-25 and cannot be separated from them. Paul reveals several points from these verses in his first letter to the Corinthian church with regard to treasures we are to seek.
a) THE FOUNDATION OF THE TREASURE
Any foundation for whatever building, is always of importance. If the foundation is not correct then the building will certainly COLLAPSE at some time or other. Psaml 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain.” Unless the treasures you are gathering are founded in Jesus you are gathering the wrong treasure. You will be like the person in Jesus’ parable who builds his house on sand instead of a rock foundation. When the rains or the troubles of life hit you, you will not be able to stand. In everything you do make sure that it is built on the FOUNDATION of the Rock, who is Jesus!
b) BE CAREFUL WHAT TREASURES YOU SEEK
There are treasures and there are treasures! Some look very attractive while others look very ordinary and plain. Beware of a cake with icing on it and which has been highly decorated over. Cut the cake open. Look at what is inside. It is not the first time that a wrongly baked cake has been iced over to make it look like the real thing.
Let us look at some of the treasures you are to seek and apply to your life. The first and foremost, of course, is that you have a PERSONAL relationship with Jesus Christ Himself. Just to know about Him is not enough; you have to KNOW Him, you have to have Him IN your HEART and you, too, have to be IN Him.
Other treasures are, faith in Jesus; genuine love of the other brothers and sisters in Christ and that means those of other races (remember with God there are no barriers): full immersion baptism as the Scripture calls us to do; the baptism of the Holy Spirit so that we can go out in the strength of the Spirit to witness to others; the fruit of the Spirit; the desire and application of the gifts of the Spirit; a dedicated prayer life; intercessional prayer; and so we can go on and on. Ask the Lord to reveal others to you.
c) THE MATERIALS THE TREASURES ARE MADE OF
There are only three materials that are of value to the Christian and they are Gold, Silver and Precious Stones, and these are those I have just mentioned in the last point. Anything other than these will be burnt away by fire. Church /bazaars, raffles and the like will never survive the trial by fire.
Gold signifies the purity of one’s life. A moral standard according to the Scriptures will always be required of us by God. If we are not complying to God’s standards then we will surely be tried by fire and it is only God who can let us through to heaven or to hell according to the type of life we have been living here on earth. Seek after a highly moral life in Christ, and when you have found it hold onto it because the eternity of your soul depends upon it.
d) FIRE WILL REVEAL THE QUALITY OF ONE’S WORK OR TREASURE
Before I reveal just what this fire is let me first say that faith without works is dead. Works on its own means nothing and does not guarantee eternal salvation. Similarly faith without works is the same as if we have built our house with straw and hay. Faith will be honoured but we will have nothing to show to God what we have done with our life in Christ.
Now just what is this fire that will burn all the dross in our life on the Judgment Day? It is the righteousness of God Himself. Habakkuk 1:13 says of God. “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” in Deut 4:23-24 Joshua told the Israelites, “Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God had forbidden. For the Lord your God is a CONSUMING FIRE, a jealous God.”
The writer to the Hebrew gave this warning, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptable with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a CONSUMING FIRE” (Heb 12:28-29) [Today there is very little awe or reverence for God compared to years ago. God’s and Jesus’ name is vilified and bandied about with very little respect.]
In conclusion I want to bring to attention that unless we willfully and deliberately obey all the commands God has given us we will indeed be consumed by fire. My earnest prayer this morning is that each one of you who have been hearing God’s Word from this channel have taken the decision to let Jesus into your heart. I end with Jesus’ Words in Matth 7:7-8, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
The Lord bless you as you earnestly seek and find and securely keep the treasures that “moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Let Jesus be your chief Treasure and Security to everlasting life with Him.