The Exclusive Joy of the Greatest Treasure (Matthew Sermon 63 of 151)
July 27, 2003 | Andy Davis
We're looking this morning at Matthew chapter 13, the parables of the Hidden Treasure and of the Pearl. Early in the morning, January 24th, 1848, a man named James Marshall was strolling along the American Fork river in the hills of California. He was trying to improve a river powered sawmill that was there. He was digging around in the soil near a part of the mill when he noticed something unusual in the soil. He took a pen knife out of his pocket and started to scrape. The world was never the same again for he had discovered gold in the hills of California. The owner of the sawmill, John A Sutter, was a Swiss-born investor who hoped to make millions in lumber and in the natural resources of the area. But this changed everything. Now he thought that he was going to make millions in gold, but the key was keeping the secret so that no one heard about it. That proved impossible. Rumors started to swirl that gold had been discovered in California, and he couldn't stop it. It wasn't long before the President of the United States was mentioning it in a State of the Union address. Within a month that kind of news could not be contained and held, and it wasn't long before the reports of the first prospectors came back, able to scoop up gold with teaspoons out-of-river beds and make a million in a short amount of time. Seven prospectors hired 50 Indians to work a claim and pulled 253 pounds of gold out in two months. The troubling part about these stories is that they were all true. That was the hard part, because once the rumors reached all over the world across to the east coast, even to Europe, to Hawaii to China, people started streaming to California. Selling everything that they owned for an ox-drawn cart and some provisions and for some prospecting tools and a little claim on a river somewhere in California. People were willing to sell it all, for the possibility of treasure hidden in a field, somewhere. They travelled across the howling wasteland, across the deserts braving river crossings and winters, and long hard arduous travel. They got there and the overwhelming majority of them never made anything in gold at all. John Sutter himself who owned the mill where the gold was found was financially ruined by the claim. He'd owned 50,000 acres of land. It was all taken from him by squatters who then got lawyers to uphold their squatter's rights. He lost everything. There was treasure hidden in his field, and he ended up with nothing. People sold prosperous businesses in the east and came across and sold everything they had for nothing.
But Jesus in our parable here, promises greater return and more certain. He said that the kingdom of heaven is like a man who found treasure hidden in a field, and then, out of joy over the treasure, sold everything he had that he might buy that field and the treasure in it. He likens it also to a merchant searching for fine pearls, and when he finds one worth everything that he has, he sells it all, so that he might buy that pearl. Jesus is here teaching us the value of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let's remember where we are in Matthew's gospel. The overall purpose of the Gospel is to portray Christ as the King of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven is the place where God rules, and where his subjects are glad about it and delighted in it. Jesus came, and proclaimed, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, it's here now.” He began to explain and to teach and to show kingdom power through His miracles. When he gets to Matthew 13, He wants to explain in a deeper and fuller, richer and more mysterious way, the nature of the kingdom of heaven.
He said it's like seeds sown in different kinds of soil that has different kinds of results based on the nature of the heart receiving it. In some cases, it bears nothing, in other cases a little bit but then it dies out, and in some cases, 100, 60 and 30 times of what was sown. He also says that the kingdom advances, in a situation like a field sown with both wheats and weeds mixed together, and they're going to be mixed together. The progress of the kingdom will happen in a world where there are both believers and non-believers. It’s going to cause great torment and difficulty for the believers, but in the end, the torment is for those who will not believe. In the last sermon we saw that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed or like yeast which starts out small, and then just explodes and grows and takes over everything. He's taught us already some things about the kingdom, but here he teaches us in these two parables one central lesson, the immense, the incomparable value of the kingdom. It's worth everything that you have, it's worth everything that you are.
A Treasure and a Pearl: The Infinite Value of Christ and His Kingdom
The first is the parable of the treasure hidden in the field. You may ask why in the world would such an immense treasure be hidden in a field. In those days, the banks were untrustworthy. Marauding raiders would come in and take everything and go, like in the days of Gideon. Armies would come in. First it was the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, and then who knows who's coming next? What could you do with your possessions, to keep them safe, when these armies would come in? You really only had one thing you could do, go out into your property somewhere and dig a hole in the ground and stick it there. Hide it there, so that it not be taken away from you. It's exactly what Jesus said the man who received the one talent did remember, he went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money so that it wouldn't be taken from him. But the master intended he go out and use it, do something with it. But you can see that this was a common issue, hiding treasure in a field, so that it not be taken. Then at night, if you needed some, you'd go out and dig some up, take what you needed, leave the rest, cover it back over. But over the years, perhaps the place of the treasure was forgotten. Maybe a couple was childless, they had no relatives, they died. The weeds grew over the field and changed hands a number of times, nobody even knew it was there. Until one day, somebody maybe strolling through a particular part of the field that nobody had been in years or maybe working in the land a little bit, maybe he's in the employee of a master, starts to dig and prepare the field maybe for harvest and all of a sudden, as he's digging he hits something. Uncovers just enough of it to see what it is, to see the scope of the value, and he's overjoyed, he can't believe it, its treasure hidden in a field. Now, you'd say, "What happens next?” There are some ethical issues here, right? Doesn't it belong to the owner of the field?" Well, according to Rabbinic law it belonged to whoever found it. He was free to go and buy that field and only he would be the legal owner. He did not need to disclose that that treasure was there. Now the rules said if he was in the employment of someone else and he pulled it up out, it belonged to his master. He had done the work while he was on the job for his master, so he probably didn't fully pull the treasure out. He didn't have a full sense of the scope or the magnitude of the treasure, but he could tell already it was worth more than anything he had in the hut back home. So, go ahead and sell the hut, sell the clothes, sell it all, scrape together all the resources available that he might buy this patch of ground somewhere. He was willing to sell everything he had, and for him it was all done out of extreme joy. This fact is very vital to this text. I think the most noteworthy aspect of the story is the incredible joy that the man had over his discovery. In The NASB, in verse 44 it says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid again and from joy over it, he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.” The joy is directly connected to the value of the treasure. He's not kicking rocks as he has to go sell everything, he's not upset. This is the best day of his life that he gets to sell everything, that he can buy this treasure. I think it very much like Jacob's attitude over the seven years that he had to serve to get Rachel. Genesis 29:20 says, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” There was delight in this. We go from extreme joy, to extreme commitment. Everything goes. Everything — whatever is necessary to obtain that field. So that's the essence of the story of The Pearl... The hidden treasure.
The pearl of great price is about the same story with a subtle difference. In this case, in verse 45, there's a merchant roaming the earth. He's searching for pearls and as an expert, he knows what he's looking for. The Greek word “merchant” relates to essentially the sailors that go out on the sea, and travel to find merchandise that they can bring back and sell at a profit. For example, in Psalm 107:23, it says merchants went out on the sea in ships. But it isn't just those that sail. Anyone that travels or roams a great distance is a traveling merchant looking for things. There were traveling caravans, for example, the Midianites who carried spices and incense across the desert, or traders who brought tribute to Solomon from distant minor kings and kingdoms. There were royal merchants sent out by Solomon to purchase fine horses in Egypt. The people of Tyre were especially known as merchants. They would send out their ships all over the Mediterranean with cargoes of spices, gold, silver, and such to accumulate wealth. Marco Polo traveled along the Silk Road into China, trying to find things he could sell back. Christopher Columbus was looking for a different route to Asia because the Muslims held the entire coastline of Africa along the East coast of Africa and it was dangerous to take that route, so he was looking for a Western route to India for trade. There was Magellan’s search through what is now the Straits of Magellan. It took 39 days to get through this area and at any moment one could be crashed, dashed against the rocks. Magellan finally got through to a sea that he called the The Peaceful Sea which became Pacific Ocean. Little did he realize once he had crossed that section of South America, that he had another 98 days and 12,000 miles of interminable ocean which lay ahead in order to finish sailing around the globe. What was his motive? Personal glory, I'm sure, but also money and trade. So also, this man, this merchant in the story, is a merchant to find pearls. He's been all over his region, all over the known pearl world. He knows what he's looking for since he's an expert in pearls.
Pearls were deeply desired perhaps, I think, at that point, more than any other physical thing on Earth. Pearls were more valuable than any other physical thing on earth. They were believed to be produced by dew from heaven and many myths came around about their origins. Pearls are actually formed when a little particle gets inside an oyster, a certain type of oyster. Little by little, the creature covers it with something called nacre. It just gets an iridescent sheen on it, and it grows. There are different kinds of pearls, there are different kinds of quality, but they were very, very rare back then. 100 years ago, there developed a way of artificially producing pearls, of cultivating them, and so, with the law of supply and demand, the price went down. Many of you perhaps are wearing genuine pearls today that would have been priceless 2000 years ago, but now, even though they're every bit as high quality and perfect, they're not as expensive because they're easier to produce. Back then you had to have certain kinds of oysters, in certain kinds of places, and with certain kinds of people that could dive down and get them, and only a few oysters would actually have a pearl. Of those, only one every ten years or so would be worth buying and selling at that level. They were incredibly valuable. When pearl fever reached its peak in the Roman Empire, the Roman historian, Suetonius, said that a Roman general Vitellius financed an entire military campaign by selling just one of his mother's pearl earrings. Pearls were incredibly valuable. There's a story of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. She was trying to overwhelm the Roman conqueror with a sense of the antiquity and wealth of Egypt. She said, "I'm going to put on a banquet wealthier and more expensive than any you've ever been to in your life." And she did because at the height of the banquet, they brought a tray and when it was uncovered, there was nothing on it except a goblet of wine vinegar and a magnificent set of pearls. She took one of the pearls and dissolved it in the vinegar and drank it. Historian estimates the pearl that she drank was worth $10 million. At that point, he said, "You got me. I can't top that. Never seen anything like that." He was aghast.
The immense value of pearls. The kingdom of heaven in verse 45 is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. He's got an eye for detail; he knows what he's looking for. He knows when there's an imperfection, if the color is not quite right, if it's not perfectly spherical. He's willing at this point when he sees this pearl, he knows he's found at last, what he's been looking for all his professional life, the perfect pearl. Perfect in size, more immense probably than he could ever imagine. Perfect in its spherical nature and its color, its iridescence, everything just right. He says this pearl is worth everything that he owns. All of the other pearls that he has ever bought in his life he will gladly, gladly, trade them to get this one pearl. In Verse 46, “When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” When you buy something, for the most part, you don't buy it reluctantly. You decide that the thing you're going to get is better to you than the money you give to get it. You'd rather have the car, the house, the clothes, the groceries, the candy bar, whatever it is, than the money it takes to get it. There's a joy in the purchase or there should be anyway. This man is delighted to trade everything he has to obtain this single pearl. What's the difference between the two stories? I think the first man is just ambling through the field and kind of stumbles on the treasure or maybe is working in the field and uncovers it, never was expecting it, never looking for it and then just comes across it. I think this man is like somebody who really doesn't know what he's looking for in life. He doesn't know what's going to satisfy him, but when he sees it, then he knows. He's not searching for God, he's not looking for God, but God is looking for him, and at last, at a certain moment, he sees the value of the kingdom of heaven and He's willing, gladly willing to sell everything, but he wasn't seeking it to begin with.
In the other case, there's a man who is looking for something. He knows what he's looking for, but he just can't find it. He has looked everywhere and at last he finds it. And it's the pearl of great value, and he is willing to trade everything. We have in effect two parables telling the same thing, the immense value of the kingdom of heaven. I think it's one central lesson. The pearl is the treasure. They're one and the same and they represent the kingdom of heaven and specifically they represent Christ Himself. Listen to what Richard Sib says, “Christ Jesus is the great Pearl, he's the peerless Pearl. He's the pearl of infinite value, who therefore becomes a ransom for many millions that were in bondage.” Christ then is this Pearl. He is the treasure. Paul himself found Christ to be the treasure and the pearl worth everything that he'd had in his life. Philippians 3 so beautifully depicts Paul's personal testimony to the truth of this parable of the treasure and of the pearl. He said, “I’d be willing to trade everything, to sell everything that I have, that I might have this one thing. Knowing Christ. Knowing him in his suffering, knowing him in his glory. That I might know Christ and be found in him, that is the one thing I want in life, nothing else.” Christ is the treasure; he is the pearl. Colossians 2:2-3 says, “In order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Christ is the treasure; he is the pearl.
Questions about the Treasure and the Pearl
How may we obtain the treasure and the pearl? One of the parables has already answered this. We obtain by believing the message that's preached. By believing the proclamation of the kingdom of heaven. That's what the parable of the seed and the soils tells us. The message is taken in the ear, weighed by faith, found to be of surpassing value, such that the person says nothing else that I've ever heard, no religion, no philosophy, no material possession, no earthly ambition is worth this to me. That's how you obtain it. By simple faith in hearing the message. Jesus said in Mark 1:15, “The time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.” By repentance and faith, we acquire the treasure. By repentance and faith, we obtain the pearl. The kingdom is a free gift. It says in Luke 12:32, “Do not be afraid little flock,” said Jesus, “your Father is delighted to give you the kingdom.” To give you the kingdom, it is the Father's good pleasure. He enjoys giving you the kingdom as a gift. A free gift. And yet, the two parables that we're studying today seem to imply that there's a sacrifice or a commitment made on our part. The kingdom is the most expensive thing you could ever obtain. It literally costs you everything you have to get it.
That brings us to the question, what must we part with? In verse 44, “He goes out and sells all that he has and buys that field.” In verse 46, “When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” The question is, what must we part with? I'm going to give you two simple answers and a deeper, perhaps more complicated answer. What must we part with to get this treasure? What must we part with to get the pearl? First, the simple answer is, you must part with sin. It's impossible for you to treasure sin and get this treasure hid in the field. You can't have both. You can't treasure sin and get the pearl too. It's impossible. All sin must be sold forever. Richard Sibbes put it this way. "He that retains any one sin can never get this pearl. He that keeps in his heart but one beloved pleasure or profit of this life, let him read, let him pray, hear, profess never so much. The devil hath him sure by the leg or by the wing. As sure as if the whole man were in his hands. For he will willingly allow the man to go and use any good exercises, knowing they add to the man's damnation, so long as he retains a secret delight and liking to any lust, let it never be so small." Now, this does not mean sinless perfection, we know that. That's why Paul says in Philippians 3, “I press on. I press on to take hold.” There's not a sinless perfection being taught here. Philippians 3, “Not that I have already been made perfect.” No, that's not what it's teaching, but it has to do with a delight in the sin, a yearning for it. It's your secret treasure and pleasure, and you won't give it up. Well then you can't have this pearl. You can't have this treasure in the field. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” He's not going to give you the treasure, he's not going to give you the pearl. So that's simple answer number one. You have to get rid of sin. You have to say, "No, I will not cherish sin ever again." Does that mean you'll never sin again? No, of course you'll be deceived, and stumble, and fall. We all stumble in many ways, says James, but there's a difference between stumbling and cherishing. It's a different matter.
The second simple answer I want to give you is not only do you have to get rid of sin or let go of sin, you must also let go of anything that would hinder you from coming to Christ. Anything at all. Everything is sold, let's put it in terms that we understand. Even good things that hinder us from coming to Christ must be disposed of. Some bridges are burned when we come to Christ. Some friendships will never be the same again. Relationships with non-Christian relatives, parents, or children will never be the same again because you came to Christ. These are in themselves good things, but you're willing to turn your back on them for the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ. These things have been given up in favor of knowing Christ. Our career is sold, perhaps, it will never be the same again; you may never have as many advantages and opportunities for advancement now because you are a Christian. These are good things in of themselves, but we're turning our backs on them that we might follow Christ. Even pastimes, hobbies, possessions sold in one sense, if they have hindered us from coming to Christ must be given up. Those are the two simple answers. We get rid of sin and anything that would hinder us from coming to Christ. Now, we get complicated.
In what sense do we have to sell everything? Well, what do you have to give up? And the answer is everything and nothing. Let's talk nothing first. You can't buy the kingdom. Selling all your possessions and giving to the poor doesn't get you to heaven. God is actually brutally offended if you try to do so. Nothing in all your possessions, nothing in your hut is equal in value to this treasure. If you think, "I can go buy this,” you are mistaken. It's far... A far greater worth than anything you have. You can’t buy it. So, in one sense, you can't sell everything to obtain this kingdom. It's not of equal value. But in another sense, I think the text is calling us to something here. I guess the question is, do I have to become, and this is what's on your mind perhaps, a wandering beggar to go to heaven? Do I have to literally sell all of my earthly possessions in order to follow Christ? Don't be so quick in answering because you remember the rich young ruler. Remember when he came and said, "What must I do to get eternal life?" He said, "Obey the commandments." And he said, "I've done this." Jesus said, "One thing you lack. Sell everything. Give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me." We are answering too quickly, when we say, "Of course not. Of course, he isn't calling us to be wandering beggars in order to go to Heaven." St. Francis of Assisi, 13th century, in his childhood and growing up, was a popular youth who lived a carefree life. He was the son of a wealthy Italian cloth merchant. He was headed for a successful life as a knight, when suddenly Christ got a hold of him. He was converted through illness to faith in Christ. After that, he left home clothed in a ragged cloak and a rope that he had taken from a scarecrow. He went and begged from the rich and gave to the poor. As a matter of fact, in most Roman Catholic orders, people take a vow of poverty in order to join them. Is this what it means to sell everything? Prosperous evangelicals in America answer this one too quickly, I think. We forget that Christ lived this way. “If you want to follow me,” Jesus said, "Foxes have holes. Birds of the air have nests, and I have no place to sleep tonight." We forget that John the Baptist lived this way, out in the desert eating locusts and wild honey. Now you wonder where I'm going with this. Is this required to go to heaven? Do I have to live in the desert and eat locusts and wild honey to go to heaven? We forget also, in Hebrews 11, "The men of whom the world was not worthy,” lived this way, wandering about in deserts, and mountains, and caves, and holes of the ground. So, I think we're too quick if we say that God would never ask that of anyone. Elijah lived this way.
I think it goes a little deeper than this. I think what happens is, in your mind, you have to be willing to. I mean genuinely willing. I got this image, driving around near where I am, they're removing some trees to put in a house or something, I'm not sure. I noticed that some of the trees had orange spray paint on them. If I were a tree in that area and I had orange spray paint on me, I'd be worried. I'd start to notice a trend. “All my friends with orange spray paint, they're all gone, and I alone am left. Here comes the woodsman. It's not looking good for a tree with orange spray paint in that particular region.” I guess what I'm saying is that everything in your life has orange spray paint on it. Everything. And the woodsman comes when he chooses and said, "This is mine, I'm taking it." And you can't say to him, "You can't do that. You can't do that." What would that include? Well, how about your native land? Living here in America. Is that sold? Yeah, it is. God said to Abraham, leave your country and your people and go to the land I will show you. So, living here in America has got orange spray paint on it. He might call you to leave. How about earthly possessions? Yes. Sell your possessions, Jesus said, give to the poor, provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. Someday you'll have a conviction, something will come over you, and you'll be led by the Spirit to sell things that are valuable to you, so that you can in some way advance to the kingdom of heaven. Is that within the purview of following Christ? Yes, absolutely. How about your earthly career? Is it sold? Could he come and say, I want you to leave this lucrative career and I want you to go serve me in this or that way. Yes. Orange spray paint on each one of these things. He has the right to come do it. How about your earthly reputation? Suppose he comes and says, I want you to go to witness to your boss. “Wait a minute. They like me here, they really do. I mean, I've got good friendships here. My co-workers think well of me.” They don't think as well of you as you think; they really aren't thinking about you, I've learned. But you think, "Oh, what a good relationship I have with everyone here. If I witness, I will lose that." It's got orange spray paint on it. He can come and say, go witness to that person over there. You know that if they don't convert, they will treat you poorly perhaps from then on, and they do actually treat you poorly. I've seen it myself. Does he have the right to ask that of you? Yes, he does. How about your children? So, does he have the right to come and claim your children? Yes, he does. Sometime later God tested Abraham and said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and offer him up as a sacrifice.” Everything in your life is his. He has the right over it, he has the right of claiming it, and you would be delighted to give it up. That's the whole point.
“Out of joy he sold everything he had, that he might have that treasure.” What must we give up? Everything evil, all sin, and anything that would hinder you from coming to Christ. Everything in your life as Christ demands it from you. Now, you say, well, how do I know when he's coming? When does the orange spray paint moment come, and the thing gets cut down? That's not for me to say. That's something that the Lord does, but He does do that. The more and more you grow in Christ, the more you'll start seeing some of these things get claimed, and the trees get removed.
Final question, what do we gain? The gain is infinite. Sibbes said, "We shall think ourselves no losers in this trade. We shall have Christ and with him all things. And therefore, Christ in this life promises a return of a hundredfold. And it stands on God's honor not to make us losers when we trade with him." You're not going to look back and say, "Boy, that was the biggest mistake I ever made." In no way will that ever happen to you. On Judgement Day you'll not look back and say, "All the things I sacrificed. That was a waste, I shouldn't have done it." You will never say that for it's on God's honor not to make you a loser when you trade with him. Blessings of the kingdom you'll receive. Full forgiveness of all sins. A place with your name on it at the wedding banquet of the Lamb. You don't want to miss that one folks, you want to be there. To have a place reserved for you, a place in heaven, a face-to-face fellowship with Christ, forever, and in the meantime a fruitful, worthwhile, eternally significant life here on earth. The indwelling spirit to keep you company, and convict you, and guide you along the way. His law written in your hearts, a transformation of your own nature. What a deal. The treasure worth everything. And best of all, personal fellowship with Jesus Christ himself, the king of the kingdom of heaven.
The Exclusive Joy of the Greatest Treasure
This brings us to understand true conversion. What does it mean then to be saved? I understood more about this from John Piper than probably anybody else. This is, I think, the signature text for Piper's Desiring God. If any of you have read that, this is where it comes from, I think, more than any other text in the Bible. John Piper teaches us that there are two great drives in the universe. One great drive is for God to be glorified above all things in his universe. That he would be valued and held in honor and in esteem above everything else that he has created. That's one great drive in the universe. The second is yours. Your great drive is to be contented, joyful, and happy in your life. The two of them meet together in the treasure hidden in the field. What ends up happening at the moment of conversion is at last your eyes are open. You see the value of Jesus Christ. You see that there's nothing else in the universe worth him to you. So, God becomes most glorified in you, when you are delighted and satisfied in him, for the joy set before you, you take Christ no matter what it brings from you. This is conversion.
If this hasn't happened to you, if you still see greater value to anything else other than Christ, then you're not converted. Whatever religious ceremonies and other things you're going through, you've not been transformed internally. Christ is not of greatest value to you. Piper put it this way, "Conversion is what happens to the heart, when Christ becomes for us a treasure chest of holy joy. Saving faith is the heartfelt conviction that Christ is both solidly reliable and supremely desirable." He is something you can build your life on like a foundation. But he's also something appealing and enticing like a treasure and a pearl. These two come together when you're converted. This joy is so great, it begins to expel other pleasures and joys, so that it becomes the central focus of your life. I can tell you right now, no one will be checking the score of a ball game at the wedding banquet of the Lamb. It's not going to happen. I don't think there'll be a ball game. It'll just be the wedding banquet of the lamb, and you won't mind. "Boy, I wished we had ball games up here." You won't be wondering or wishing. The wedding banquet of the Lamb will be enough. You'll not be wondering how your mutual funds are doing as you walk down the streets of the New Jerusalem. It'll be enough to have Christ.
Similarly, here on earth, the perfection of conversion is to be totally consumed by the joy of knowing Christ. To realize there is nothing greater than knowing and being known by Christ. In a moment you're going to have an opportunity to sing, “All I once held dear, built my life upon, all this world reveres and wants to own. All I once thought gained, I have counted loss, spent and worthless, now, compared to this one thing. Knowing you Jesus.” That’s from Philippians 3. Paul was converted, wasn't he? That's what conversion is.
What application can we take with this? First let me speak to those of you who don't know yourself to be converted. We've been talking economics today, and talking about value and worth, right? There's a basic law of economics called the law of supply and demand. The greater demand there is for something and the lower supply, the higher the price. Conversely, the other way, if there's not much demand for something and tons of it like sand, it's got very little price, very little value. If I came and said, "Hey, I've got a handful of sand I'd like to give you,” I’m not going to sell much of it. The price is low. If there's something of great, intense desirability and not much of it is available, the price will be high. I want to ask you something. On Judgement Day, what will be the value and price of conversion and of forgiveness of sins, and frankly, of your soul, on that day? What would be the value to you? The desirability, as perhaps an angel is assigned to bring you to the brink of the lake of fire and just before he pushes you in, says, "Right now, of all of the earthly collection that you once had at your disposal, no longer, but at one point you had it at your disposal. What of those things would you hold back and not give at this moment for Christ?" Nothing, nothing. Having Christ at that moment will be infinitely desirable. How about availability, however? No. Today is the day of salvation. Now is the time. The offer's available now and today, and not then, and so therefore there will be no grace available on Judgement Day, no opportunity for justification by faith. There'll be no faith possibly, you'll be seeing your judge. Infinite price, because infinite desirability, no availability. Today is the day for you to be converted. Today is the day for you to sell everything you have, that you might have this treasure and this pearl.
But what about those of you that are Christians? I want you to set your heart on your treasure, for where your treasure is, that's where your heart is going to be. Focus on Christ, set your heart on him, let him be more valuable to you than anything in the universe. Let your joy over your treasure purify lesser joys. There are other things in this world, but as you focus on Christ, you start to see that everything's from Jesus. Eating a meal, being with your family, walking down a pretty mountain path and looking — It's all Christ to you, because He gave it. It purifies your lesser joys. Fill your days and your speech accordingly. Talk about your treasure. After that merchant bought the treasure, do you think he boasted about it? You better believe it. "What a deal I made. Look at this. Look where I'm living now, and I got all my old stuff back anyway. Just put it in hock and then bought it back. And now I've got all this profit. It's incredible. I've got it all." Yes, he boasted. Boast about Christ. Boast about him as your treasure, your pleasure. He's worth boasting over. Let me talk to you one more moment about sin. Let love for this pleasure drive out sin from your life. Piper put it this way, "Sin is what you do when your heart is no longer satisfied with Christ." When Christ isn't enough for you, then you sin. Oh, don't let it be. Let Christ be your treasure and your pearl.