D. Eric Williams Online

Of Incalculable Value
© 02.01.09 By D. Eric Williams

To discover what the kingdom of God is like is clearly a tremendous benefit to those who are seeking to demonstrate that kingdom. The Bible tells us to work out our salvation or to cultivate the new creation and that entails learning to be like Jesus. It means learning to think of others more highly than our self. We are able to learn what it means to be saved and to walk even as Jesus walked and to put that in practice because (as Calvin says), "it is the secret irrigation of the holy spirit that makes us bud forth and produce fruits of righteousness."

So in the cultivation and demonstration of the kingdom of God (and we cannot create an ironclad line of demarcation between these two), it is the Holy Spirit who empowers us and guides us in applying the word of God to our life.

Even as the instructions for a model airplane will always have a picture of the completed project to show what it should be like, the Bible gives us word pictures to aid us in our cultivation of the new creation and in the demonstration of the rule of Christ in our life.

For instance; we've been studying Matthew Chapter 13 and in this chapter we are told (in Jesus' own words), what the kingdom of God is like. We are told that it is like a field, or like a mustard seed or like leaven. So since we know that the kingdom of God is like "this" we have a better idea of how to demonstrate that reign of Jesus Christ. Since we are told that the kingdom of God is like a treasure or a pearl of great price we have a word picture that illustrates what we are shooting for. In a sense we are like children playing the game of copycat. Nothing wrong with that. To copy or to imitate an illustrating example is not wrong. Indeed it is like a child who is tracing a picture with the paper held against the window pane. In fact we are told to copy - to imitate - Christ and God. We are told to copy the apostle Paul; at least his original audience was told to copy him - and we are supposed to follow in the same footsteps.

Therefore, to find out that the kingdom of God is like a treasure or a pearl of great price provides us with some of the dance steps that we are required to remember as we act out our role in this cosmic drama.

To help us understand that role, let's turn to Matthew 13:44-46.

Again, 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. (Matthew 13:44-46)

Now, before we get into the doctrine of these two parables I want to deal with an issue concerning the parable itself. The problem is not with the point Christ is trying to make. As you may recall a parable will typically drive home a single point. We fall into problems understanding the intent of the parable when we try to allegorize every little detail. I'm not interested in doing that. My object right now is to look at this idea is portrayed - th e vehichle used to transport the doctrine. In other words I want to take a few minutes to look at the story itself. I think we need to recognize some of the details of the story not as parts of an allegory but to inform us as to how we can present truth to the world.

The problem with this parable - if I can call a problem - is that in this portrayal a man finds a treasure in a field that he doesn't own. Now, rather than tell the owner about the treasure the man goes in cells although he has and buys the field. Does that sound right to you? Does that sound like the sort of thing a person would do if they are attempting to live according to the Scripture? For instance in Deuteronomy 22:1-3 we read:

You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him. You shall do the same with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment; with any lost thing of your brother's, which he has lost and you have found, you shall do likewise; you must not hide yourself. (Deuteronomy 22:1-3)

A similar law is founded at Exodus 23:4. The only real difference is that the people of Israel are commanded to return the stray ox or donkey of their enemy. In other words there is no such thing as finders keepers for those who want to do the will of God. Remember the Bible is simply telling us what the mind of God is concerning a particular subject. Now, obviously, these passages of Scripture don't mention finding a treasure in a field that is owned by someone else. But as we have seen previously the commands of Scripture are presented to us as general principles. They are principles that are illustrated by the culture in which they were given and they are not supposed to be understood as being narrow descriptions of behavior.

The 10 Commandments must be understood as a distilling of God's viewpoint concerning morality. They are not to be understood in a narrow sense. Jesus said that if you hate your brother or are angry against him without cause that you have violated the commandment against murder. Jesus said that if a man looks upon a woman with less than he has violated the commandment concerning adultery. So, any commandment we find in the Scripture should not be understood as retaining only to the example used to illustrate the principle behind a command.

Therefore the law we read from Deuteronomy 22:1-3 and the law we referred to in Exodus 23:4 inform us that finders are not keepers. These laws teach us that a man who finds a treasure in a field that is not his own should not cover up that fine in order to deceive the order so that he might purchase the field at a reduced price. Jesus himself said, "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12). I don't know about you but I would want someone to come and tell me if they found a treasure in my field. Jesus doesn't tell us why this man was in the field in the first place. He might have been working there. Perhaps he was looking the field over to decide if he wanted to buy it. Yet it's not as if this man was shopping for a field to buy and found one that was a good bargain. He kept something hidden that vastly increased the value of the field. An under priced piece of real estate is one thing; an unexpected treasure which puts the property in an entirely different league is another.

In the end it doesn't really matter why he was there. The problem is his failure to inform the owner that he found this treasure.

Let me interject: I don't want to get hung up on this because this isn't the point of the parable. My goal is to help us to understand how Jesus communicated truth to others and in understanding that better we will increase our efficiency in conveying truth to other as well.

So what do we make of this?

As I mentioned earlier a parable is typically designed to drive home a single point. That isn't a hard and fast rule is just how a parable is normally constructed. And the point of this parable is not the legality or the morality of the man's behavior. The point of parable is that the kingdom of God is a treasure of tremendous value. Yet, is it not unseemly to use an illustration wherein the character in the one-act play is engaging in ungodly behavior?

There are some who try to get around this problem by suggesting that the treasure in the parable is Israel and that the man is Jesus Christ. Their suggestion is that Jesus "finds" Israel in a trash filled field of phariseeism or in the parable about the pearl he "finds" the church in the great field of humanity. But that ignores the fact that it is the treasure itself which is portraying the kingdom of God. The treasure itself portrays the reign and rule of Jesus Christ. Moreover, to call the treasure in the field Israel and the pearl in a second parable the church (or some other accommodation), flies in the face of the whole New Testament teaching concerning the two principal parts of humanity (Jew and Gentile), made into one body in Jesus Christ. To loose sight of the fact that the treasure is the prop in this one-act play representing the kingdom of God is to lose sight of the fact that the kingdom - the rule of Jesus Christ and all of the covenant promises that are given to us when we are ruled by him - is of tremendous value and available to Jew and Gentile alike when in submission to Jesus Christ.

Therefore, we must not try to sidestep this issue (if we considered an issue at all), by ignoring the obvious intent of the parable. In other words, we must not dismantle the point of the parable in an effort to rid ourselves of this embarrassing problem.

Now, I should interject at this point that there are plenty of folks who never give this a second thought. But I don't think that's the proper approach. I think it is good for us to deal with every little part of the Bible.

Look over at Luke 16 at the parable of "the unjust steward."

He also said to His disciples: "There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.' "Then the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.' "So he called every one of his master's debtors to him, and said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' And he said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' So he said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' So he said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' And he said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.' So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. (Luke 16:1-8)

We will deal with this parable down the road a bit. Today I want to use it as an example to help us understand why Jesus would present a truth concerning the kingdom of God with a story about a less than honest man.

In the parable of the unjust steward Jesus describes a man who is fired for dishonesty and incompetence. The man realized that he was not capable of making a living through manual labor and that he was not willing today. He also understood that he would not be able to work in his field of expertise because his reputation was ruined. Therefore, because he wanted to preserve his personal peace and comfort, he came up with a plan. It was a dishonest plan and it was a form of theft but he felt that it was worth running a risk with his former employer because it would (hopefully), allow him to continue his comfortable lifestyle. In other words, this dishonest steward acted in a fashion which was consistent with his principles in order to secure something he valued highly.

At the conclusion of this parable Jesus didn't say that we should copy the morals of the unjust steward. He tells us that we should copy his single-minded approach to life. In fact, Jesus chastens his disciples by telling them that they run a poor second to the ungodly in living according to the principles they espouse. In a sense the ungodly are wiser than the godly in that they live according to the principles in a more consistent fashion. John Wesley said that the ungodly are;

wiser, not absolutely, for they are, one and all, egregious fools; but they are more consistent with themselves; they are truer to their principles; they more steadily pursue their end; they are wiser in their generation - That is, in their own way, than the children of light.

In view of these things it becomes clear that the parable concerning the treasure in the field is supposed to grab our attention because of the unexpected nature of the find and the shrewdness or wisdom displayed by the man in pursuing the desire of his heart. This first point would not be conveyed if the man was shopping for real estate and upon finding the treasure told the owner about it. You see, this is a hidden treasure. It is not something that is easily noticed by everyone. The "unexpected" aspect means that most folks would never see it. Jesus isn't trying to convey any information about how we can evangelize or anything of that sort. Therefore it is important that the treasure be hidden from everyone in order to convey the idea that the kingdom of God is not easily discovered. In fact, he can't be discovered at all by the unaided human mind.

The second idea that Jesus conveys with this particular parable is the shrewdness of the man who finds the treasure. Just like the unjust steward, this man acts in a way that is consistent with his principles. We don't have to wonder what those principles are. There is no hesitation the part of his man. He finds the treasure and acts according to a firmly held self-interest. Therefore he is willing to take dramatic steps a security net find based on a sharp understanding of his value. Bottom line: he stumbled upon a treasure of incalculable value and did whatever he had to - according to his own standard of right and wrong - in order to secure it.

So you see, Jesus is not making any comments concerning the morality of finding a treasure in a field and failing to tell the owner.

By the way, there is every possibility that a person might find a buried treasure in a field in first century Palestine. If a man wanted to secure his valuables one good way to do that would be to bury it. Treasure kept in a home would be easy pickings for a thief. There were no banks as we know them and a person would be limited in what he could do to protect his valuables. He might wear them all the time if they were in the form of jewelry. But even then he would be asking for trouble. Instead, many people in first century Palestine would bury their valuables to keep them out of the hands of robbers - and aggressive Roman soldiers.

Before we continue in our examination of these two parables it would be good to understand that Jesus was not above using a "raw" story that would grab the attention of his listeners in order to convey a particular point. Everyone who heard Jesus tell this parable would be able to picture themselves walking through a field and stumbling upon a treasure. Then he would identify with the desire to secure the treasure for themselves by any means possible. Their focus would be on the morality of the act; they would be thinking about how wonderful it would be to have that treasure.

Therefore, the point of the story trumps the story itself. The message is more important than the messenger. In fact, the message will get a hold of the minds of the audience when the messenger is something they can identify with.

Christians today can make use of this technique. We need to be very careful when we do so but it is possible to emulate Christ in this. One example would be the movie Cool Hand Luke. I don't think that Stuart Rosenberg - the director of the movie - set out to produce a Christian movie. Indeed Luke (Paul Newman), is a man who rejects law and order and so finds himself in prison. Luke is the story of an antihero. It is a movie that proclaims the truth that there is no hope or redemption found in mankind. Just like the book of Ecclesiastes Cool Hand Luke tells us that apart from God life has no meaning, no hope and no purpose. Stuart Rosenberg may have unwittingly said that a life apart from God is without purpose and seems to be directed by forces beyond our control but say it he did.

Cool Hand Luke is not a movie recommending a life of crime even though it is about prison life in the Deep South. Instead it presents a powerful message concerning mankind's need for Christ the true Messiah.

My point is simply this: even though the story has "bad guys" as the main characters doing bad things, that doesn't mean that the story is promoting a sinful lifestyle. In fact, in the hands of a skillful storyteller that sort of drama can portray truth in a more powerful fashion then a tale which is all sweetness and light.

Alright, let's look at what the kingdom of God is like according to this parable. Remember now, the kingdom of God is the rule of Christ and the covenant promises, the covenant relationship which is ours when we are under the authority of Jesus the Messiah.

The whole point of these parables is that the kingdom of God is a tremendous value. In this first parable we see that some folks find the kingdom of God without really looking. In other words there are people out there who come into the kingdom of God not having been concerned with the state of their souls previously. In a way everyone is looking for something. They may not admit a search for spiritual meaning or a search for comfort through religion. Instead, some people search for purpose and meaning in a decadent lifestyle. Some people search for hope and a future by working themselves half to death. And yet there are a lot of people in this world who don't give much thought to the meaning of life or what will happen to them after they die. That seems to be the type of person that Jesus had in mind in his first parable.

Nevertheless there are some people in that condition who stumble upon the kingdom of God anyway. One outstanding example of Scripture would be the apostle Paul. Clearly he was not seeking the kingdom of God. Indeed, he thought he'd already found it. But one day he was confronted by Christ in a vision and immediately understood the incalculable value of living a life under the authority of Jesus Christ.

The second parable portrays a man who is actively searching for something of value. Indeed, it is his business to look for the valuable pearls. One day he finds a pearl of great price for sale in the marketplace. However, the parole is so valuable that it will require him to sell everything he has in order to make it his own.

What is interesting is that the merchant seeking pearls will place himself in the position of practical poverty once he buys the pearl of great price. You see, it he's not about to sell that pearl and so he will be left with nothing to live on. Having "sold all that he had" he finds himself with a treasure of incalculable value and yet lacking the means to care for himself.

So this fellow is looking for something of value and when he finds that he is willing to give up everything in order to secure it.

It seems to me that there are more people looking for something in life than not. Yet I may perceive it that way simply because I'm a pastor and those who are looking often seek out a pastor to talk to. Meanwhile those who are not looking for meaning in this life typically don't look for a pastor to talk to. In any case Christ gives us examples of both in these parables. One man stumbles upon the kingdom another finds it after diligent searching, testing the wate5rs of a variety of philosophies and religions, until one day he happens upon the pearl of great price: a life under the authority of Christ.

In both examples Jesus is telling his disciples that living under his authority and having access to the covenant promises is more important than anything else in life. Jesus is telling them that they must not allow anything to come between them and the kingdom of God. He wants them to be aware of the incredible importance of this relationship with him.

Now, in order to find a treasure or a pearl of great price a person must realize the value when he comes upon it. There is any amount of junk out there posing as treasure. And one thing we need to realize is that the unaided human mind cannot discern between counterfeit and reality. In other words, we must not forget that the new birth is required to enable a person to recognize the value of living a life under the authority of Jesus Christ. You see, the treasure of the kingdom may as well be in plain sight - and in fact it is. But if a person is not illuminated by the Holy Spirit they cannot recognize it for the treasure it is. The natural human mind is at enmity with God and is incapable of recognizing the treasure of the kingdom.

So the new birth is required in order for a person to see the kingdom for what it is and be willing to pay a great price in order to secure it.

It is helpful for us to realize that Jesus was directing this parable at his disciples. That doesn't mean it was just the 12; he is no longer on the lake at this point - or so it seems. Therefore, when the text tells us that Jesus "sent the multitude away and went into the house" and that his disciples came to him, we don't need to restrict that suggests the 12 apostles.

Therefore we may assume that the people who heard this parable and in fact experienced the new birth. Clearly they were not which were in the face; we only need to examine the lives of the 12 disciples before the outpouring of the Spirit in order to recognize that fact. However, the inner circle of disciples including those who were not numbered among the 12 handedly shown that they recognize Jesus Christ to the Messiah and thereby exhibiting evidence of the new birth.

This is not the time to get into all the details concerning the difference between the old covenant saints and the new covenant saints. Remember, until Christ died, rose again, ascended into heaven and poured out his spirit on the day of Pentecost believers were operating within the context of the old covenant age.

Our point is simply that the new birth is required in order to recognize the kingdom of God as something valuable. I think what Jesus has in mind here is the kind of person that one day has no interest in the things of God and the next day suddenly is struck to the preaching of the Word or the witness of a friend or by reading the Bible and immediately embraces the Gospel. That is how someone stumbles upon the treasure. They suddenly are converted and are then able to recognize the incredible value of a life lived under the rule of Jesus Christ.

You see a person can truly count the cost of a commitment to Jesus Christ unless the Holy Spirit illuminates their mind. Look over here in Luke 14:25-33. There we read:

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it- lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:25-33)

The man in the first parable was willing to sell everything he had in order to secure the treasure he founded the field. The second man was willing to sell everything he had in ore to gain the pearl of great price. The point is that the prize of a life under the authority of Jesus Christ will cost you everything, and that it is worth everything. In this address to the multitude from Luke 14 Jesus makes it very plain that it will cost a person everything to follow Jesus Christ. You cannot put relationships before Jesus - home, money reputation - nothing can be allowed to be of more importance than Jesus and his rule in your life. And

He also warns the multitude that they should not take this commitment lightly. No one likes to be seen as a fool. No one likes to make a public confession of Faith and then later fall away from that confession. Thus, Jesus warns the multitude, telling them that a life under his authority will cost you everything. "Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple."

Jesus is telling them that the kingdom is of a tremendous value - it will cost them everything. He is telling them that salvation is not available without submission. He is telling them that in order to have him as savior they must have him as Lord. Anything less than this means that they have not found the kingdom of God. It is a

How does this look? If we value the kingdom of God above all else what will that looked like in our day to day life. If we are as shrewd as the unjust steward or as single-minded as the treasure hunter and the merchant seeking pearls how will that affect our lives?

The treasure hunter and the pearl merchant took deliberate action to assure that they would gain the prize. There was no hesitation or studied disinterest. Both of them used whatever means they had at hand to secure this thing that they considered of such great value. Both of them realize that they would not be able to "strike a bargain" in order to get what they wanted. And yes, this desire for the prize is a primary part of the lesson we need to learn. In any case, the treasure hunter and the merchant considered the best way to proceed and then forged ahead without hesitation. There was no putting the hand to the plow and looking back.

We need this same kind of single-mindedness in the Christian walk. We need to consider how to secure the kingdom, to achieve this great prize of a life lived under the authority of Jesus Christ. And the first step is desire. The treasure hunter and the merchant both had an unquenchable desire for the prize. So the first practical application of the teaching of these parables is desire.

Sadly enough most of us understand a desire for a good meal better than we understand the desire to live under the authority of Jesus Christ. We know what it means to pursue a desire but we have a hard time thinking that way about the kingdom of God. We have a hard time desiring to live a life under the authority of Jesus Christ. We have a hard time desiring a life under anybody's authority. We are naturally rebellious and so we recoil at the idea of giving up our autonomy. Frankly the only way that we can have this tremendous desire to live under the authority of Jesus Christ is by the power of God.

Over the last year we referred many times to Paul's letter to the church in Philippi concerning the responsibility of working out our salvation. Let me read Philippians 2:12-13 for you once again.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)

The thing I want to focus on today is Paul's point that "it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure." In other words it is God who works in us to produce the desire to obey him. It is God by the power of his Holy Spirit who works in us to create a desire to live under the authority of Jesus Christ.

You see, desire is more than half the battle. If we really want to do something we are going to find a way to do it. If we really want to lose those 15 pounds and work in and do whatever we have to do to accomplish that. If we really want to finish writing that book then were going to do whatever we have to do in order to get it done. If we really want to pay off the house then we will make the kind of sacrifices that are necessary in order to retire that debt. So in a sense desire is not a problem. Desiring the right thing is the problem. If we can have a Holy Spirit fuel desire to live a life under the authority of Jesus Christ then we will be able to get it done.

If that desire is not there and we really don't care about it one way or the other then we would do well to pay attention to the admonition of the apostle Paul to the Church at Corinth. In two Corinthians 13:5 Paula says:

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

The context here is given to us in verse three. There were folks in Corinth when would not accept the apostleship of Paul. So if he closes the second letter he says if you're seeking proof that Christ is actually speaking through me then look at your own life and see if there is evidence of the new birth. In other words, evidence of the new birth in your own life will be proof that God is speaking through me says the apostle Paul.

I am making the assumption that all of us here and experience the new birth and so for our purposes we can read this verse from two Corinthians and realize the need to examine ourselves and see if there is a desire to live under the authority of Jesus Christ and it not, why not? If not, then the examination should turn up the reason. If we do not desire to live under the authority of Jesus then we need to pinpoint what it is that we are not willing to give up. It is amazing what we can hide from ourselves.

Certainly we can examine our own work to see if we are demonstrating the rule of Christ in our life (Galatians 6:4). That would be part of this whole process. A desire for the kingdom is the first step in manifesting the rule of Jesus Christ. But let's keep it simple today and focus on this issue of desire. Are we willing to give up everything in order to live under the authority of Jesus Christ? Do we view of the kingdom of God as a tremendous treasure? Do we desire the rule of Christ in our life and all of the covenant promises that come with that relationship?

One of the things I want to say by way of application is that we need to be creative in how we convey truths to the world. I'm not suggesting that we compromise in any fashion or do anything that will obscure the truth. However, when we look at example of Jesus Christ we see that he was not afraid to use a story about "bad guys" in order to get a point across. I would suggest that the church at large need to study the technique of Christ carefully before attempting to emulate it.

One of the things we see is that the stories of Jesus were because of the cultural context in which they were delivered. For instance the rabbis said that a man who found a treasure in a field would be guilty of theft if you lifted it out of where he found it but if he left it alone and purchased the field he remained morally pure according to rabbinic law. Jesus isn't affirming that point of view but because that society accepted the idea he was able to drive home his point about the value of the treasure with that particular illustration. In other words, people weren't getting hung up on the morality of the issue they were focused on the fact that the treasure hunter was willing to part with everything he owned in order to get his hands on the prize.

Earlier I alluded to the movie Cool Hand Luke and mentioned that it is a film about an antihero and his unfortunate prison experience. And yet it is a movie that proclaims truth; the truth that there is no hope or redemption found in man. It is a movie that makes it very clear that there is no hope apart from God. It is just one example of how Christians might proclaim truth with a story about the "bad guys."

Another thing that comes to mind is the Emerging Church. The "Emerging Church" refers to that part of the body of Christ which is attempting to make the Gospel and the Christian life relevant to younger generations. Sometimes they go too far but in that section of the Church we see something like this principle in action. There the idea is to speak truth in the language of the popular culture. Sometimes it seems that the Emerging Church is going about it all wrong but when we see what Jesus did in his proclamation of truth we might want to step back and reconsider.

Secondly, I want to ask you, do you see the kingdom of God as priceless? Don't' forget that the sacrifice of Christ which secured the covenant relationship we call the kingdom of God is priceless. So, do you understand the tremendous value of a life lived under the authority of Jesus? Do you recognize the incalculable value of being an heir of the eternal covenant? If you don't then I encourage you to go to the Lord in prayer. I encourage you to study what Christ has done for you and to study the promises of the covenant. And I encourage you to ask for wisdom

Finally, I ask you, do you have an unquenchable desire for the kingdom? This is really the heart of what I want to leave with you today. This is really where an understanding of the value of the kingdom must begin.

If you don't have a powerful desire to live under the authority of Jesus Christ and to demonstrate that relationship, then I urge you to turn to the Lord in prayer and beg him for that desire. Ask him to give you clear spiritual vision so that you can see the treasure for what it is - so that you can see that the kingdom is truly a pearl of great price. Cultivating a desire for the kingdom and demonstrating that desire sums up what we are supposed to do as Christians. One of the benefits of following that path is an assurance of our salvation.

Yes, the kingdom of God is most-valuable. The value of living under the authority of Jesus with access to the covenant promises is beyond reckoning. And let us not forget that the sacrifice of Christ which secured the covenant relationship we call the kingdom of God is priceless. I have confidence that all of us here have experienced the new birth. I trust that each of you recognize the value of the Kingdom of God. I encourage you to ask God to increase your desire for the kingdom and to enable you to demonstrate to the world the reign of Christ in your life.

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