The Treasure Principle
Today we are beginning a new series of messages called, “The Treasure Principle” based on a book by the same title. In addition to our weekly Message Videos and the Message Application Guide, we have two additional resources we’re making available for this series:
BOOKS PIC – AVAILABLE TODAY – The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. This book has sold over 2 million copies worldwide. Reading along is not required but it will enhance your experience.
RIGHT NOW MEDIA – The Point provides a FREE subscription to over 20,000 discipleship videos for kids, youth and adults. This is the Netflix of Christian Discipleship and Bible Study. You can access a FREE RIGHT NOW MEDIA SUBSCRIPTION under the CHURCH ONLINE tab on the website at gotothepoint.com. And on the church app, click on the MEDIA TAB at the bottom of the home screen.
In the book Randy talks about the fact that all our lives, we’ve been on a treasure hunt. We’re constantly searching for a perfect person and a perfect place. If you’re a Christian, you already know that person’s Name is Jesus. And the perfect place, of course, is Heaven.
Jesus is the One who made it possible for you and me to get to Heaven. Jesus said it Himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6 (NIV) The way to prepare for that place called Heaven is by asking that person, whose Name is Jesus, to forgive your sins and come into your life. Because He is the only One without sin, He alone is able to rescue you from eternal condemnation and give you the incredible gift of eternal life. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12 (NIV)
Romans tells us that our salvation is the gift of God. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23 (NLT) There is nothing any of us have done to save ourselves. We are saved by God’s grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
Here is something we must always remember…Our salvation isn’t dependent on anything we have done or will ever do. Being saved from my sins is not about ME giving to GOD, it’s about GOD giving to ME. If you don’t know Him, placing your faith in Jesus is the best choice you can ever make. That is why we consistently point people to the One who saves!
But even if you have a relationship with Jesus, it is possible that you are not experiencing the full extent of the joy God intends for you to experience. Maybe you attend church regularly, pray, and read the Bible, but you sense something is still missing, but you don’t know what. Jesus addressed that missing element in a story about a hidden treasure.
Let me ask you a QUESTION: If there is a life-changing Kingdom principle that you might have overlooked, or have been unaware of up to this point, a principle that could change your life, would you want to hear about it? I hope all of us would! Let’s be open to what God has in store for us on this journey.
The foundational scripture for this series is found in Matthew 6. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB)
IMAGINATION – I want you to imagine you are a first-century Hebrew walking along on a hot afternoon with your staff in hand. On your way across an unfamiliar field, you stumble onto an unexpected surprise. Off in the distance you notice something shiny has caught the afternoon sun. Curiosity gets the best of you, so you decide to take a closer look.
Something has been buried in the dirt, but one small corner has been exposed. You drop to your knees and begin scratching away at the soil to expose what appears to be the top of an ornate treasure chest. It is obvious that it has been in the ground for a long time. It looks like it could be very valuable. You begin digging faster. Your heart is pounding a little harder and your hands are beginning to shake. Your mind begins racing. What could it be? How long has it been here? Who left it? What is it worth? Does anybody else know it is here?
You continue your excavation project until finally you have extracted a small chest that is filled with ancient treasure. The chest is filled with gold and silver coins, all kinds of beautiful jewelry, and precious stones! This is like something you would see in a movie.
This newfound treasure is undoubtedly worth a significant sum of money. Someone must have buried the treasure and died generations ago. Otherwise, it wouldn’t still be here. It’s obvious that this treasure has been here for many decades. There is no way anyone would have ever forgotten about a treasure like this. You look to the north, south, east, and west. There is not a house or building in sight. You know it would be wrong to take the chest. It is on a property that does not belong to you.
Then comes this outlandish thought…What if you were to buy the land that holds the treasure? That sounds like a great idea! But there is a problem. You know there is no way you can afford to buy it Your mind is racing, and the creative juices are beginning flowing.
What if you were to sell some things to be able to afford to buy the land. You could sell you car, your house, and even if it requires you to sell all your possessions, it will be worth it if that is what it takes. In your heart you know that would be a small price to pay for such a significant treasure. From the moment of this discovery, your life is forever changed. This treasure has captured your imagination. This will undoubtedly be a defining moment in your life.
You will never forget what has happened. You’ll be talking about this day, and this experience, for the rest of your life. This day, and this magnificent find will forever change your life. You will sell all that you have to buy the land that holds the valuable treasure you have found. Your short-term sacrifice will generate a long-term reward.
Jesus summed up this story in just one verse: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” – Matthew 13:44 (NIV) The Parable of the Hidden Treasure is one of many references Jesus made to money and possessions.
Jesus taught more about wealth than about any other social issue—more than marriage, politics, work, sex, or power. That is because…
Our approach to MONEY and POSSESSIONS is central to our spiritual lives.
That is what we find in the story of a wee little man named Zacchaeus. Here is Luke’s account of what happened after Zacchaeus was saved. He said to Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” – Luke 19:8 (NIV) Jesus affirmed Zacchaeus’ conversion by saying…“Today salvation has come to this house” – Luke 19:9a (NIV)
Zacchaeus’ new approach to money proved that he was genuinely converted. Think of the poor widow who put two small copper coins, which make a penny, into the offering box. Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them…“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” – Mark 12:43-44 (NIV)
In contrast to these examples, Jesus told the Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:16–21“. “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:16-21 (NIV)
Jesus also encountered a Rich, Young Ruler who asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Look what Jesus said after this man assured Jesus that he was a devout law keeper…“Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” – Mark 10:21 (NIV)
We try to separate faith and finances, but in God’s eyes, they are inseparable. Jesus knew that this rich, young ruler could not serve both God and money. That is why he walked away, not only from Jesus, but also the gift of eternal life. He was unwilling to rearrange his priorities. He tried to compartmentalize his life. He loved what He loved. He wanted the gift of eternal life, but not more than he wanted the wealth of this world. But the man in the Parable of the Hidden Treasure was willing to sell everything so that he could gain this greater treasure.
None of us feel sorry for the traveler in the field who discovered the hidden treasure. We recognize that he gained far more than he lost. That is why it says “…in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” – Matthew 13:44b (NIV) The man exchanged lesser treasures for greater treasures.
HE GAVE WHAT DIDN’T MATTER FOR WHAT REALLY MATTERED.
His sacrifice paled in comparison to his reward. It is all about establishing priorities and clarifying values. Jesus is pointing out the wisdom of giving up temporary, earthly treasure in order to obtain eternal, heavenly treasure. Any temporary earthly treasure we part with to obtain far greater eternal heavenly treasure is well worth the exchange!
And that brings us to The Treasure Principle found in Matthew 6:19-21 that teaches that you can’t take any treasures with you to heaven, but you can send it on ahead.
1. It is foolish to store up treasure ON EARTH.
Jesus commanded us not to lay up for ourselves treasures here on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal….” He spoke in terms that were easy for His listeners to understand. He was referring to things everyone would be familiar with – things like money, food, clothing, and possessions.
None of these things last for long.
• Money gets spent.
• Food gets eaten, or it rots or spoils.
• Clothing is quickly out of style or worn out.
• Possessions are depreciating every day.
Your new car begins to go down in value the day you get it. The tires are wearing out. The body is rusting out. It won’t be long until the thing is worn out. We all know what this is like. Jesus was simply reminding His hearers that nothing is completely safe.
Whatever treasure you are holding onto, it can be gone in an instant. Theft, fire, flood, market downturns, wars, accidents, major illnesses, and so on.
But let’s dig a little deeper into the meaning of Jesus’ command.
Jesus is not against…
a. Having POSSESSIONS.
Nowhere in Scripture is there a prohibition against owning property. The fundamental issue we need to deal with is about our attitude toward possessions. Are we stewards or are we managers? It changes everything when we begin to understand that God owns everything, and He wants us to manage His possessions wisely. A steward manages assets for the benefit of the owner.
Do you see possession as something that belong to you or something that belongs to God? What a difference it makes when we understand that we are stewards of all that God has entrusted to our care.
b. PROVIDING for the future.
Saving for a rainy day is encouraged. “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” – Proverbs 6:6-8 (NIV)
c. ENJOYING God’s good gifts.
Paul wrote to Timothy and said…“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” – 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)
Jesus isn’t against having possessions, or saving, or preparing for the future. He wants us to enjoy the gifts and the blessings we have received from God. The issue is with the failure to realize the Source of these blessings, the rightful place of these blessings, and the selfish accumulation of these blessings.
Scripturally speaking, you cannot justify extravagant and luxurious living that gives no thought for others. That kind of self-centered materialism is what binds our hearts to earth. A person’s life does not consist in the abundance of his/her possessions.
To lay up treasure on earth is not about making sensible provision for the future. It is about being greedy, selfish, and materialistic. Again, there is nothing wrong with enjoying God’s good gifts. But we must be careful to guard against the tendency to hoard, and the continual desire for more than we already have. We need to learn to enjoy and be content with what we already have.
2. WISDOM is found in laying up treasure in Heaven.
Jesus did not explain exactly what he meant by the command to “lay up treasures in heaven” but that does not mean that we don’t know what He meant. I think it would be fair to assume that treasures in heaven are incorruptible. That could mean the things we do on earth that effect eternity or last for eternity.
Jesus certainly wasn’t talking about some kind of works-salvation. That would be inconsistent with the teachings of God’s Word. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The primary way to lay up treasure in heaven is by investing in God’s CAUSES and God’s PEOPLE. The effect of these investments will last forever. They are eternal.
We store treasures in heaven by worshiping God, growing in our love for God and our neighbor. Financially, we are laying up treasures in Heaven by using money for Kingdom causes, things like introducing people to Jesus. Investing in Christian causes, which include giving money to the church, to outreach projects, to mission organizations, to Christian schools, giving to the poor, etc. These are investments that pay lasting and eternal dividends.
That is what we are doing when we are using the money, the material wealth, and possessions that God has entrusted to us to advance God’s causes and God’s people.
3. Jesus provides this wise motto about our TREASURE.
This is what Jesus said… “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21 (NASB) If you are laying up treasure on earth, your heart will be on earthly wealth. But, if you are laying up treasure in Heaven, your heart will be on eternity.
When you invest in the eternal instead of in the temporal, you store up treasures in Heaven that will never stop paying dividends. The treasures we store up on earth will be left behind when we leave. The treasures we store up in Heaven will be waiting for us when we get there. And that leads us to The Treasure Principle:
You CAN’T take treasures with you to Heaven, but you CAN send them on ahead.
That gives you an idea of where we are headed for the next three weeks.
BOOKS (available in the lobby today).
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Message Application Guides
This is a journey that I really do believe could change your life.
I believe our joy in Christ will grow as we invest in eternity rather than spending all that we have on ourselves.
My hope is that all of us will commit ourselves to storing up treasures in Heaven. This series is not about a special offering. It is not about getting rid of all your possessions. This series is about having the proper perspective when it comes to money, wealth, and material possessions.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it this way: “I do not cling to these things. They do not become the center of my life and existence. I do not live for them or dwell upon them constantly in my mind; they do not absorb my life. On the contrary, I hold them loosely…I am not governed by them; rather do I govern them; and as I do this I am steadily securing, and safely laying up for myself, “treasures in heaven.” – Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
It really is a matter of perspective.