Worth Giving Up Everything

Sunday, February 24, 2013, 5:00 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “As the Deer.” In fact, that song was going through my head all last night during the night and into the morning. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Matthew 13:31-33; 44-46:

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”

He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

…“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.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

Hidden Treasure

“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.” (Elvina M. Hall)

Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a hidden treasure found in a field, and to a pearl of great value long sought after. Both the man who found the hidden treasure and the man who found a pearl of great value sold all that they had to buy what they deemed worth giving up everything for, that they might gain something of much greater worth (value).

The kingdom of heaven is Jesus Christ – his life and ministry - the cross of Christ, his death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, and his coming again to rule and to reign on the earth; the salvation he provides by his grace through faith; the gospel of Jesus Christ; our promised eternity with God in glory; and the church, the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ was/is the embodiment of the kingdom, so when he preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” he was speaking of himself and his spiritual kingdom present among them, as well as he was speaking of our future glory with God for eternity.

Buying It

Yet, we do not “purchase” the kingdom for ourselves through good deeds or even through personal sacrifice, or through giving up certain things in order to have this treasure. There is nothing we can do, in and of ourselves, in our own flesh and will, to attain heaven or to gain favor with God. It is by grace we have been saved. While we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us on the cross. Jesus Christ paid everything to attain this treasure/pearl of great worth for us. He gave his life so we might gain eternity with God and have life to the full. He died so we might be free of the penalty of sin (eternal damnation), so we might be free of slavery to sin day-to-day, and so we might be free to be slaves of righteousness, for when we were slaves to sin, we were free of the control of righteousness (see Romans 6).

Through Jesus’ blood sacrifice on the cross for our sins, he made the way for us to be forgiven of our sins, to be reconciled to God, to be transformed in heart and mind, and to be made into new creatures in Christ Jesus. He gives us the gift of his grace and the gift of faith, but we have to appropriate what he has so freely given to us to our own lives, i.e. we have to make it our own by faith. “By grace we are saved through faith…” So, what is faith?

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny (renounce; refuse) his selfish will and ways and take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him (see Luke 9:23-25). He said if we hold on to (try to save) our old lives of sin and self that we will lose them for eternity, but if we willingly die to our old ways of living in sin and living for self, then we will gain eternal life with God. We read in Ephesians 4 that the way we come to know Christ is by putting off (forsaking; dying to) our old lives of sin and self, by being made new in the attitude of our minds (the working of the Holy Spirit), and by putting on our new self, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (vv. 17-24).

When we, by faith, accept Jesus Christ’s invitation to salvation and to life everlasting, we enter into death to sin with Christ, and we are made alive with Christ, so that we might live completely new lives in Him. This is a radical transformation of heart and mind, like a metamorphosis (like changing from a caterpillar into a butterfly). Our old lives are gone, and we are made new. This is faith, and this is what it means for us to sell all we have in order to gain something of much greater value, i.e. the kingdom of heaven. We don’t earn it or deserve it, yet the very act of genuine faith involves giving our all to Jesus and allowing him to now live out his life in us and through us for his purposes and for his glory.

In and Out

Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to yeast. Yeast is often referred to in scripture in reference to evil, wickedness and sin, which when allowed to continue, unchecked in people’s individual lives or within the church, ends up ruining lives, and corporately ruins the Body as a whole. Yet, in this instance Jesus Christ is using yeast to illustrate the inner (the “In”) transformation of the heart via the Holy Spirit of God in the lives of individual believers as well as corporately within the Body of Christ, his church. Yeast permeates, i.e. it saturates, penetrates and spreads throughout the dough. Our lives and church should be permeated with Christ, his gospel, his words, and his love, which is how we grow in Christ, and there should be no part of our lives that is not given over to Christ Jesus, fully committed to following him wherever he leads us, and to obeying his every command.

As well, Jesus also compared the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed. The term “seed” is often referred to in scripture as pointing to Jesus Christ, the promised seed, and to the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ planted in people’s lives. When the seed of Christ and his salvation and his gospel are planted in our lives and they take root, a tree begins to grow, i.e. we begin to grow in our new lives of God’s grace individually and corporately, as the Body of Christ. And, we continue growing, hopefully, throughout our new lives in Christ Jesus, as we branch out (the “Out”) through the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and through the giving of (and living out of) our testimonies for Christ so that others (the birds perching on the branches) will come to know Jesus Christ, too. This is one of the ways in which we grow in Christ, and this is how the kingdom grows and expands, too.

So, what can we take away from these parables and to make practical application to our lives today? For one, I believe we need to stop believing a false gospel which teaches that death to sin and obedience to Christ are not required for salvation. They clearly are Biblical requirements involved in genuine faith, and God, by his Holy Spirit, gives us the ability to have such faith, to die to sin and to walk in obedience to Jesus Christ. So, we must willingly give up our lives (meaning of selling all we have) of sin and self, and we must be transformed into new creatures in Christ Jesus, free from slavery to sin, and we must become slaves of righteousness, walking in holiness and obedience to our Lord daily.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose
(Phil. 2:12-13).

As the Deer / Martin J. Nystrom
Based off Psalm 42:1
Wouldn't it be great if we all OBEYED! :D
Yes, it would! Only by the grace of God and in his power and strength within us can we obey his truths, yet none of us will obey perfectly while we still live on the face of this earth, yet we should also never use that as an excuse for disobedience, either. That is why we must daily take up our cross and follow Jesus.