God‘s Hidden Treasure
By Dennis Davidson
A British TREASURE HUNTER discovered a huge stash of Roman coins buried in a field in southwest England. Using a metal detector, Dave Crisp located a large pot holding 52,000 coins. These ancient silver and bronze coins dated from the third century AD weigh more than 350 pounds. They were valued at $5 million.
While Crisp’s treasure may cause us to dream about somehow finding similar riches, we as Christians should be on a different kind of treasure hunt. What we seek does not consist of silver and gold. Rather our quest is to gather the precious gems or wealth that comes from a full knowledge of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:2-3).
The Bible is God’s Word to the world. It is God’s treasure chest. If we are to find God’s treasure we must find Jesus. The surest place to find Jesus is in the Bible. As we get to know Jesus we discover the hidden treasure of God. If we truly are to get to know Jesus we must be immersed in His Word, and be led His Spirit.
God’s truths must be sought earnestly with all the attention of someone seeking hidden treasure. The psalmist said, “I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great treasure” (Ps. 119:162). Are you eager to discover the treasures of truth stored in God’s Word? Then lets start digging into the treasure chest of God’s eternal Word!
Our text contains a warning against the subtle mixing of Christian thought with the false philosophies of the world. Knowledge is not the answer to meaning in life. Jesus is. We do not think our way through to reality. We find truth and reality in Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is foundational for the Christian life.
Paul’s labor of love was not limited to those he personally knew; it extended to those who had not met him personally. He might be confined in a roman prison, but his love and prayers were not confide in a small, selfish, dark heart.
Love is what united this congregation. It was what encouraged them to oppose those leading them astray. This unifying love for Christ gave them confidence and strength of conviction that yielded a fuller understanding of the truth. Do you realize that there is no full knowledge apart from commitment to Christ? Complete understanding results from complete yielding.
Understanding or insight (syneseôs) refers to applying biblical principles to everyday life. Only Christians can live a life based on true understanding because “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14). Because “those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh” (Rom. 8:5), they are “darkened in their understanding” (Eph. 4:18).
When the believer begins to live in light of spiritual truth, it becomes truly understood and leads to assurance of his or her faith. Here the New Testament concludes that knowing the truth and acting on it leads to full assurance of understanding.
[People often express doubts about their salvation, even though they have been to church regularly. Their primary problem is not a lack of knowledge, but a failure to apply the truths they know. Truth that finds solid footing in a strong heart and works itself out to fellow believers in love results in deep conviction. That is the basis for assurance. [MacArthur, NT Com. Colossians. 90.]]
This rich understanding is Christ centered. For Christ, is the mystery of God, who reveals God to man (John 1:18; Heb. 1:2-3). Knowledge is not the answer to meaning in life. Jesus is. We do not think our way through to reality. We find truth and reality in Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is foundational for the Christian life. And true insight into God’s ways enables believers to know (epignôsin) Christ fully.
The Bible say that we find our completeness in Christ. If you possess Him, then you are completed or fulfilled by being possessed by Him. Having Him, you have all you need. We are called upon to appropriate God’s fullness for ourselves by yielding ourselves to the indwelling Christ.
Spiritual truth is often hidden. The treasure of the kingdom is unrecognized, unknown, and walked over by millions of people. People can be standing close to it and not know it’s there. While those who follow Christ know how valuable a relationship with Him is, most of the world has no clue. The bulk of unbelievers are caught up in other pursuits, oblivious to the true treasure that could be theirs. If you’re serious about spiritual matters, you must be willing to go below the surface.
I want to help you to discover the treasure that you have in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many years ago, the SPANISH ARMADA was sailing off the coast of Florida. A hurricane struck, and those ships that were laden with millions of dollars in gold and silver ingots went to the bottom, in shallow water. People knew the treasure had been lost, but they didn’t know where the ships had gone down. One ship went down near Vero Beach, in Fort Pierce, Florida.
Many have been in that water there by the Sebastian Inlet. Many have been in that water, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, spear fishing right around that area but didn’t come up with any millions. They didn’t come up with any silver or any gold. Many ships have been there in shallow water. Fisherman, doubtless, fished over that spot. They would hang a hook, perhaps, on a lump of gold, and curse their luck, because they had hung a hook down beneath the water on something they could not see.
Then one day, some explorers decided, “The ship must be here.” They went out, and they made the surveys; they tested, and they went under. And, there it was, in shallow water-so shallow that any of us who could swim normally could have gone to the bottom. They brought up millions of dollars. There it was, but they didn’t know it was there.
I believe that many of us are yet to discover the full treasure we have in Jesus Christ. Oh, dear friend, in Him-in Jesus Christ-”are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Think of that-all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And it’s all in Jesus. [Illustration by Adrian Rodgers]
For in Him are hidden (Col. 1:26) all the treasures of wisdom (sophia, 1:9) and knowledge. Knowledge is the apprehension of truth; wisdom is its application to life. Knowledge is the data of truth, whereas wisdom is the ability to apply what truth has been learned. Both are found in Christ (Rom. 11:33; 1 Cor. 12:8) [whose wisdom is foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:21-25), but who is the power of God by which a believer receives "righteousness, holiness, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30)].
Now, how can those treasures be yours? Neither knowledge or wisdom is not the answer to meaning in life. Jesus is. We do not think our way through to reality. We find truth and reality in Jesus Christ. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the foundation for the Christian life is where knowledge and wisdom begin.
All wisdom, all knowledge is in-not from-Jesus. Whoever desires wisdom to navigate life successfully must come to the realization that there is nothing more, nothing less, nothing else than Jesus. All treasures of wisdom are in Him.
[It is vitally important to understand Christ's deity. No person can be a Christian at all without this true knowledge of Jesus Christ as the incarnate God. Yet so many Christians who affirm the deity of Christ live as if He were not the One in whom all spiritual sufficiency resides.
Jesus is the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He alone is sufficient. [Hidden is from apokruphos, from which we get our English word apocrypha. It was used by the false leaders to refer to the writings containing their secret knowledge. But] there is no hidden spiritual knowledge needed for salvation and sanctification outside of Christ. These treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ are hidden from all but maturing Christians.]
[Because Christ is sufficient, there is no need for the writings of any cult, philosophy, or psychology to supplement the Bible. He is the source of all true spiritual knowledge. That knowledge is also crucial to assurance because doubts about Christ's sufficiency bring doubts about His ability to do what He promised.]
Three and a half months later, the aides returned to Hearst. “Did you find the treasure?” he asked.
If you have Christ you already have all the wisdom and knowledge you will ever need to live life successfully. For it’s all in Christ. When you got Him, you got it all. So stop searching the world for what you already have in Christ.
[The treasures of truth in God's Word are best mined with the spade of meditation. If we read the Word of God hurriedly or carelessly, we will miss its deep insights.]
Why is this understanding so important? Because it is the only way to keep from being sucked into “enticing words,” cults, and other dead-end pursuits of pseudo-spirituality. That’s what was happening in Colosse. People were coming on the scene, saying, “What Paul is preaching is fine, but there’s much more.”
“No,” Paul says. “Be steadfast in your pursue of Christ. All of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him.”
Karl Valletin of Munich, Germany, was a master among that rare group of PERFORMING ARTISTS we call clowns. The scene for which he is best remembered took place on a darkened stage illumined only by a solitary circle of light thrown by a street lamp. Valletin, with long-drawn face and deeply worried expression, walks around and around this circle of light, desperately looking for something. A policeman enters the scene and asks, “What have you lost?” “The key to my house,” replies the clown. The policeman then joins the search, but they find nothing. After a while the policeman inquires, “Are you sure that you lost it here?” “No,” says the clown, pointing to a dark corner of the stage, “over there.” “Then why on earth are you looking for it here?” asks the policeman. The reply, “There is no light over there.”
Valletin’s performance is a picture of the snare in which we become entangled. We go to whatever promise of light is available. Not unlike the Colossians, we respond to explanations that appeal to rational thought, to offers of insight that put us and our efforts in the center, to any philosophy that puts us at the center of the mystery. So Paul warned: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (v. 8).
Our present generation is inundated, especially through the persuasive medium of television, with offers to fill our emptiness-from toothpaste and deodorants to where we live and what cars to drive. All of this media manipulation is an expression of overarching philosophies that attempt to offer us meaning. One is hedonism-anything that feels good must be good, so “if it feels good do it.” It is seen in the self-realization philosophy which says that “I am number one,” and in the philosophy of materialism that reduces us to consumers and producers or what we are is what we acquire, and our worth is in our productivity. Then there is astrology, scientific determinism, situational ethics, multiculturalism, values education, moral relativism [voided moral boundaries], escapism, and it goes on and on.
There is no need to look beyond Christ. There is no purpose in pursuing other systems of thought. There is no eternal value in fine sounding arguments and the reasonings of man. There is no value in initiations, secret rites, and mysteries. In Christ is all God’s wisdom and knowledge.
In verse 5 Paul rejoices that the believers are standing firm in their faith in Christ. “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.”
Deception has always been part of MILITARY STRATEGY. The British put it to good use during World War II in North Africa against German forces led by General Erwin Rommel.
The Brits constructed pasteboard look-a-likes of tanks and airplanes to deceive the Germans. From the air this fake equipment looked real enough to fool reconnaissance personnel, and it could he easily moved.
Don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies. Know the truth of God’s Word, and be battle ready through a disciplined life and an unswerving commitment to Jesus Christ. God’s truth is the best protection against Satan’s lies.
While a majority of guys fail, some accomplish their goal of body transformation. Their not-so-secret tip for success: Get a workout partner-somebody committed to giving encouragement and getting stronger together.
The same principle works in building spiritual muscle. Many men want to become more Christlike. We join a church but slip into the service on Sunday morning and slip out when it's over. We don't connect and don't experience significant life change. What we need is a spiritual workout partner. Even better might be a group of Christians with similar goals and interests. Paul writes in Colossians 2:2, "I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding." Believers have always grown stronger in small groups. Small groups provide a place to firm up our faith where we can question, share struggles, build friendships, and help each other through life's journey.]
The story is told that in the days of the ROMAN EMPIRE, a certain wealthy senator became estranged from his son. When he died unexpectedly, his will was opened. “Because my son does not appreciate what I’ve done, I leave all of my worldly possessions to my loyal slave, Marcellus,” the will read. “However, because I am a man of grace, I bequeath to my son one of my possessions of his choosing.”
“Sorry,” said the testator to the son. “You can only take one of your dad’s possessions. Which will it be?”
Brilliant! That’s the idea. When you take Jesus Christ, you get all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. When you open your heart to Him, you find everything you need. It’s all in Him.
Why don’t you wise up today and take Jesus to be your only and all-sufficient Lord and Savior?
|(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)|
Believing And Obeying God
Lesson 38 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
Today we’ve reached the conclusion of the book of Romans, the final words of Paul’s letter that punctuate his goal for writing it. These words also underscore the purpose for which God wants to renew your mind: so that you might believe and obey Him. Here’s what Paul said:
“Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey Him–to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen” (Romans 16:25-27).
Paul often concluded his letters by giving praise to God, just as he did in his letter to the Romans. Sandwiched in between his words of praise, he also mentions the purpose for which the mystery of Jesus Christ has been revealed: so that all nations might believe and obey Him. This is God’s desire for all people in all nations, including you and me-that we would believe and obey Him.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier devotionals, there’s a difference between believing inGod, and believing God. You can believe in God, yet still not believe Him–still not be convinced about who He is and what He can do in and through your life. God wants you to believe in Him, for sure. But He also wants you to believe Himwhen He tells you something regarding your life, and He wants you to take action based on that belief.
This is a major part of renewing your mind as well. God wants you to renew your mind so that you can bring your thinking in line with His. When you do this, you’ll be better able to believe and obey Him, regardless of whatever life may throw your way.
I’ve been praying quite a bit this week for my wife Lana, who as many of you know, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer a few months ago. Apart from a miracle, the doctors say that this type of cancer is incurable and will shorten her life considerably. As you can imagine, our faith has been put to the test on a daily basis regarding what we believe about God and what He is doing through all of this. Yet with all that’s going on, we continue to find God’s peace in the midst of it.
How? Because God has spent considerable time and effort over the years filling our minds with His thoughts about us, that He is for us, not against us, and that He will work all things for good, even in this.
At the risk of being extra-vulnerable, I’d like to share one of my journal entries with you from earlier this week. I often write down my questions for God in my journal, and then listen for what He might be saying in response. While I’m not always sure if the thoughts I attribute to God are really mine or His, they do give me a starting point for helping me think through what He might be trying to say to me. With that disclaimer, here’s what I felt God was saying to me earlier this week regarding His will for Lana and her healing, most of which are based firmly in what He’s already written in His Word:
“Eric, you know my will is that she be healed, that she have no more pain, and that she never be separated from you. You also know that in this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world. Peace I give you, peace I leave with you, not as the world gives, but My peace I give you. I know you believe I could heal her in an instant. But I also know that you believe I can work all things for good, ALL THINGS, no matter what happens. Eric, I have prayed for you that your faith may not waver. Yes, I do give, and yes, I do take away, but I know and I trust that you will still praise Me. Your faith is, of course, more precious to Me than gold. Yes, pray for her healing, but also pray for her heart to be at peace. Pray that she will continue to know that I am walking through this with her every step of the way.”
At that point, I asked God for a verse that might help me express this dichotomy I feel inside me, that while I trust in God fully for Lana’s healing, I also trust Him whatever the outcome may be. The verse that came to mind was from Job 1:20-22.
While I sometimes think it’s cliche to think of Job when things are going bad in life, I also realize there’s a reason people turn to Job when things go awry: because no matter what happened to Job, he still gave praise to God!
The Bible says that Job was the greatest man among all the people of the East. He was blessed with seven sons and three daughters, seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a large number of servants.
He was upright and blameless in all he did, even praying for his sons and daughters on a regular basis, offering sacrifices on their behalf in the early morning, just in case they might have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.
Yet for all his faith, and all the good that he had done, tragedy struck. In a single day, he lost almost everything with which God had previously blessed him: from his sons and daughters to all of his livestock and servants. Overwhelmed with grief, Job tore his robe and shaved his head.
But what encourages me about this passage is that through it all, Job still trusted God. The Bible says:
“Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:20-22).
Job still gave glory to God, even when life turned against him. I can see why people might lose their faith when tragedy strikes. But I can also see, from this story of Job, that it doesn’t have to be that way. Job had no guarantees of what the future held, but he knew who held his future, and he trusted Him implicitly.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he didn’t know what his future held either. As we learn from the book of Acts, it had a fair share of tragedy as well. But through it all, Paul trusted God implicitly. He knew that God was able to strengthen him through Jesus Christ for whatever he might face, and that God would be glorified through it, no matter what happened. As Paul said in his closing to the Romans:
“Now to Him who is able to establish you [to strengthen you] by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ… to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen”
I don’t know what you’re going through today, but whatever it is, don’t let fear and doubt overtake you. Take it all to Christ instead. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
“…take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b).
No matter what comes your way, take it to Christ. No matter what people say, take it to Christ. No matter what life throws at you, take it to Christ. Let Christ speak to you in all situations, overriding anything that anyone might say that is contrary to His Word.
The truth is that God loves you. He is for you. And He will work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Whenever a thought comes your way that goes against what God says in His Word, ask Him to establish you, to strengthen you, through Jesus Christ. Ask God to renew your mind, to fill your thoughts with His thoughts, to give you faith to believe His Words, and to walk in obedience to whatever He calls you to do.
Through it all, trust that it will bring glory to God, and help you to enjoy Him more fully. This is, according to the historic Westminster Confession of Faith, the chief end of man:
“To glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
As Paul said to the Romans, let me say to you:
“Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ… so that all nations might believe and obey Him-to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for being able to establish us in our faith and help us to be obedient to You. Renew our minds again this week, and help us to take every thought captive that sets itself up against You. Fill us with faith, help us to walk in obedience, and may your name be praised through it all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. Next week, I’ll be sharing some final thoughts on the book of Romans as we bring this series to a close on Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind. Then, in the months ahead, I’m looking forward to starting a new study with you focusing on how to make your prayer life more effective called Psalms: Lessons In Prayer. In the mean time, I’d like to ask you for prayers again for me and my family in the days ahead, that God would be glorified in all that we do. I’ve included a picture of our whole crew from Mother’s Day last weekend that you can click and print to use as a reminder to pray for us. And if you’re ever needing prayer, please know that you can always post your requests on a special prayer page on our website. Although we’re not able to respond to every prayer request personally, please know that a team of volunteers is praying for every prayer request that is posted, by name and by need. To post a request, or to view and pray for the requests of others, just use the link below.
Questions for Reflection
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