Two Kingdom Questions
O Lord God, how often I must confess that I am not as faithful to You as I ought to be. The things of this world distract me, and Satan often uses them to mislead me. Forgive my many sins. Strengthen me this day through the hearing of Your Word. Help me to grow in my understanding of Your truths. May I always live to praise Your saving name. Amen.
The LORD was with faithful King Abijah and helped Judah defeat the wicked King Jeroboam and the armies of Israel in spit of their deceit. Trust in the LORD will always be rewarded!
The apostle Paul found the people of Athens to be very religious. They worshipped many false gods including an unknown god. Paul identified that unknown God as the LORD of heaven and earth and pointed the Athenians to Jesus!
Text: Matthew 13:44-46
Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
In Christ Jesus, whose kingdom will never end, dear fellow redeemed:
When you hear the phrase “the kingdom of heaven” of what do you think? Do you think of someplace filled with white mist, angels, and the souls of departed believers walking about carrying harps, or do you think of this world and everything in which you are involved? Do you think that “the kingdom of heaven” deals with the future, or do you think that it deals with the present? While it is true, as the Bible assures us, that “the kingdom of God (a synonym for “the kingdom of heaven”) is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17), let us recognize that “the kingdom of heaven” deals not only with heaven and our futures, but also with our present lives in this world. Satan would like to deceive us into believing that our present lives are separate from “the kingdom of heaven”…that “the kingdom of heaven” is something we do not have to be concerned about until some time in the future. That is entirely false!
The Bible reveals that everyone who is led by the Spirit of God to place his or her trust in Jesus as Savior is a member of “the kingdom of heaven” right now. The Bible also reveals that while “the kingdom of heaven” ultimately leads to everlasting life, it is properly understood as the powerful working of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit within our hearts and lives. “The kingdom of heaven,” therefore, has everything to do with our lives right here and right now. Let us then consider on the basis of our text TWO KINGDOM QUESTIONS! First of all, have you recognized its value? Secondly, have you secured its benefit?
Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field…. Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who…found one pearl of great price.” Notice that Jesus compares “the kingdom of heaven” with a thing—a “treasure” and then a person—a “merchant seeking” and then finding the most extraordinary pearl imaginable. The man recognized the treasure and understood the pearl’s extraordinary value. The question that each of us has to ask is, “Have I recognized the value of the kingdom of heaven?”
It is a truism that we do not recognize the value of something until we need it. A man on a beach in Fort Lauderdale in July would not recognize the value of wool socks and a parka, as would a man in International Falls in January. A person does not value a cure, if he is not sick, but if he becomes sick—especially with a fatal illness, then the cure becomes absolutely vital. Then he will pay anything for it!
Let us apply that logic to the kingdom of heaven. Think for just a moment of the Bible verse I mentioned only moments ago: “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Peace and joy are two things all human beings want, but what most people fail to realize is that lasting peace and unending joy can only be found when the Holy Spirit leads people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and they by faith come to possess His righteousness. Oh, Satan tries and often succeeds in leading people to accept less than the best—a peace based upon the aspirations and promises of men and a joy that flows from the enjoyment of mere things, but such peace and joy never last. Treaties are broken and the things of this world can be lost or are stolen. Jesus addressed that problem when He told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). He spoke of it as well as in His Sermon on the Mount when He proclaimed, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19).
The problem lies in the fact that Satan has blinded the eyes of the unbelieving world and is always trying to cloud the vision of believers, so that they do not see the absolute need of Jesus’ righteousness in their lives. The reason for this is that people often fail to understand the true nature and consequences of sin. The Bible is clear—any and all sin is lawlessness and rebellion against God. The inevitable consequence of sin is death. Ezekiel writes, “The soul who sins shall die” (18:20a). That is true of all sin—no matter how inconsequential any sin may seem to some within our society. Remember—the sin that introduced death to the world was eating a piece of fruit. James reminds us, “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (2:10). That means that each and every one of us here today, as well as every person everywhere else, stands guilty before God and is worthy of His divine judgment.
What hope do we have? Our own righteousness, Isaiah says, cannot save us, for in God’s eyes our attempts of righteousness “are like filthy rags” (64:6b). We need a righteousness beyond anything we can personally achieve. It is just that kind of righteousness, which God provides through His Son. The apostle Paul explains: “As through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18-19). Jesus spent thirty-three years living a perfect life to provide you and me with a righteousness that will stand the inspection of God. It is His gift to us when we turn to Him with repentant hearts, confess our sins to Him, and come to rejoice in His forgiving love. It is that gift of righteousness, which assures us that we are at peace with God, and that peace provides us with the joyous knowledge that we are God’s children and heirs of life everlasting. God’s forgiveness and promise of life everlasting are truly treasures. Without them we would be damned, but with them we will enjoy the blessings of God throughout eternity.
My dear friends, have you recognized the value of the kingdom of heaven? Do not let Satan tempt you to believe that you need not worry about such matters now. Do not let him fool you into thinking you can find true peace and joy in anyone or anything else other than the grace of God and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Cory Lidle, the New York Yankee pitcher who died earlier this week when his small plane crashed into a Manhattan apartment building, surely did not know that his life would end that day. Isaiah cries out, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake His way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (55:6-7).
Yes, let us consider TWO KINGDOM QUESTIONS—the second of which is have you secured its benefits? In our two short parables we are told when the man found the treasure he went and sold everything he had in order to buy the field, and when the merchant “found one pearl of great price, (he) went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Once these men had recognized the value of the treasure and the pearl, they did everything they could to secure them—selling everything in order to secure that which had become their heart’s desire. Are we that passionate about “the kingdom of heaven”?
Yesterday, my wife and I together with our daughter, Laura, were privileged to attend a small reception at MSU for students who had made the Dean’s List. The Dean of the School of Education spoke passionately about the work of the university in providing an excellent education for its students and especially regarding the efforts of its faculty and staff to encourage their students to excel in whatever area they would ultimately enter. It is good to be passionate about the calling into which the Lord has led you. It is just fine to be passionate about other things in this life which are important to you—your favorite sport’s teams, your favorite pass-times, your love for your family, your devotion to your country and community. Yet, we must all understand how important it is to secure the benefits of the kingdom of heaven. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Jesus asks (Mark 8:36). It would be much better to give up everything to secure the salvation of one’s soul, and that is what Jesus is saying to you and to me today through these two parables.
I would imagine that virtually everyone here would hesitate to suggest that he or she is like the men in our parables. None of us has sold everything we have to secure the kingdom of heaven. That, however, is not the point of the parables, for we cannot buy the kingdom of heaven. Jesus is not saying—“sell all that you have and give it to Me!” Rather, He is urging us to: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all you mind” (Matthew 22:37). There is to be nothing more important to you and me than faithfulness to our God who has saved us. He is saying: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Nothing and no one is to be more important to us than our Savior. He promises us that when we dedicate ourselves to Him, body and soul, then He will give us everything we need to accomplish all that He has prepared for us to do. Can we perfectly fulfill these commandments of our Savior? No, we cannot, but it is precisely for that reason that the gospel message of our Lord and Savior comes to us with its comfort and encouragement. Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
My dear friends, let us examine our hearts and lives and answer these TWO KINGDOM QUESTIONS, for they are of vital importance to our lives here and now and our futures beyond the here and now. May we always recognize the value of the kingdom of heaven and do everything necessary to secure its benefits. Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting