The Lord’s Treasure

The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field: the which when a man has found, he hides, and for joy, thereof goes and sells all that he has and buys the field” (Matthew 13:44).

The Lord of glory has a treasure on earth, nothing can exceed its value in His eyes, for He sold all that He had to secure it; it is His most precious possession; He will never give it up, and no evil power that was or shall be can snatch it from Him. The world belongs to Him by a two-fold right, He created it and He has purchased it as His parable tells us but He has nothing in it today but His treasure. The world does not acknowledge His rights. “He was in the world and the world was made by Him and the world knew Him not.” He came to Jerusalem, to the Temple, to Israel, and they were His own, but His own received Him not. Seven centuries before He came the prophet cried, “Who shall declare His generation for he was cut off out of the land of the living;” and again, “He was cut off and had nothing.” So it seemed, but that cutting off was the price that He paid for the world; and now though cast out of it, He has something in it—His treasure is here.

This is the first hint of it in the New Testament, but as the truth develops in it we discover that this treasure is His church. “My church,” He calls it in Matthew 16, and we must lay the emphasis on the possessive pronoun; it is His. I am not speaking of the great outward profession that passes by that name—the mustard seed of Matthew 13:31-32—which is so prominent in this world, and which is moving on to certain judgment because of its unfaithfulness to Christ, but of the true church that the world does not knew, even as it does not know the true children of God that are in it. “Therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not” (1 John 3). Every genuine believer in Jesus, redeemed by His precious blood and sealed by the Holy Spirit, is part of His church, and every one of them should be interested in their Saviour’s treasure; since it is precious to Him, it should be precious to them.

I was asked to address a company of young Christians who were gathered together in a holiday resort for happy service to the Lord. One of them said to me, “I hope you will speak about the church.” “Why?” I asked. “Well, Mr. — came to our town some time ago and spoke on the preciousness of the church to Christ; it was like a new conversion to me, and I have wanted to hear all I could about it since.” That is it, this great truth opens up a new world to the soul, a world of divine and eternal love. When it is known truly and by the Holy Spirit it is like a second conversion.

The parable came from the Lord’s own mouth; it is He who tells us of the joy of finding the treasure, the value of which was so great that He sold all that He had to possess it. Consider this, “He was rich,” He came from Godhead’s fullest glory, and He became poor; so poor that He had no resting place, no home on earth. Yet He might have taken all the kingdoms of the earth as His own, He had only to have spoken the word, to have asked of His Father, and the uttermost parts of the earth would have been His, but He did not ask, He went to the Cross and endured its unspeakable suffering instead. Why? “For the joy that was to before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12).

Every believer can take up Paul’s words, “The Son of God, loved we and gave Himself for me,” we must all start there, and each one is loved by Him as though there was not another to be loved, and we are never to lose this personal knowledge of the Lord’s love, but in the greatest of Paul’s Epistles he says, “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it.” This is His supreme love, a love that is stronger than death; many waters could not quench it, neither could the floods drown it, and it is as changeless as it is strong, it is the love of Christ that passes knowledge.

We rejoice in the knowledge that His love will be fully satisfied, “He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied.” That will be when He presents His church to Himself, “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). Then He will say the prize is worth the price and never will there be a shade of disappointment on His joy, for His church—the Lamb’s wife—“adorned as a bride for her husband,” shall receive into her heart His love without measure and respond to it without reserve, for ever and ever.

That is the future, and the point in this paper is the present—now in this tumultuous world, where the powers of darkness are urging men on to their final rebellion against God, Christ has His treasure, His chief interest, His church. Can we be indifferent to it? Not if we love Him. But how shall we show our interest in it? Surely not by breaking it up into fragments and dividing it into parties, and boasting, “I am of Paul and I of Cephas and I of Christ.” The treasure is one, it embraces all the saints and abides in its indivisible oneness and value to Christ. So in Paul’s Epistle already quoted, we read of “love unto all the saints” (ch. 1:15), “able to comprehend with all saints” (ch. 3:18). Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (ch. 6:18). The Spirit of God is gathering them out of every nation and tribe and people and tongue, and they are one. In some lands they are being sorely persecuted, for the devil hates them because they are Christ’s treasure, and in some other lands he divides them into self-complacent parties. And the latter is worse than the former. We should be awake to his wiles.

In this connection I will give an important quotation, “if the view that has been taken of the church be correct, we may adjudge that he is an enemy of the work of the Spirit of God who seeks the interest of any particular denomination, and that those who believe in the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ ought carefully to keep from such a spirit. This is a most subtle and prevailing mental disease, “he follows not with us,” even when men are really Christians … its tendency is manifestly hostile to the spiritual interests of the people of God, and the manifestation of the glory of Christ. Christians are little aware how this prevails in their minds, how they seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ and how it dries up the springs of grace and spiritual communion; how it precludes that order to which blessing is attached—the gathering together in the Lord’s name. No meeting which is not framed to embrace all the children of God in the full basis of the kingdom of the Son, can find the fulness of blessing, because it does not contemplate it—because its faith does not embrace it” (J.N.D.’s Collected Writings, vol. i, pp. 37-38). Are these words too strong in their condemnation of party work and spirit? I pass them an without comment.

Those who are in conceit with the mind of Christ will look upon all the saints with interest and love. Their affections will flow out to all whom He loves, and they will desire and labour to see them watching for the coming of the Lord; and they will desire that all may be saying in the communion of the Spirit, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

How precious is Christ’s treasure to Him! We see this on the Resurrection day. On that day of His great triumph over death He did not go to the Temple and convince the leaders of Israel that He was indeed the Christ, nor vindicate His name before the Roman judge, nor claim the crowns and kingdoms of the world which were His right. No, in an upper room in an out-of-the-way street in the city there crowded together a band of men; frail, fickle, fearful, and of no account in the world, but they were more to Him than crowns and kingdoms, they were the beginning of His treasure, His Father’s gift to Him, for whom He had suffered and paid for with a great price, and to them He went and spoke words of peace and made them glad by His presence, proof of His unchangeable love. His treasure is still here, and being here it is something worth living and suffering for, yes, and even dying for, as Paul knew well when he said, “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church” (Col. 1:24).

J. T. Mawson