#IYKYK - Week 4
BREAKING THE ICE
Describe a time when you found something that was very valuable or rare. What made this item so special? What did you do?
What is the most valuable thing that you possess?
EXPLORE AND DISCUSS
What is the Kingdom of Heaven?
The Kingdom of Heaven is God’s redemptive rule and reign over his creation. God has authority and sovereignty over everything he created in the universe; so, it could be said that the kingdom of heaven is everything in the universe that is under God’s rule. Instead, the way that Scripture teaches the “kingdom of heaven” is that it is how God asserts his authority by the redemption of Jesus Christ. When Jesus uses the phrase, “kingdom of heaven”, he is making a profound statement that the King is here, and his kingdom is present and advancing. The kingdom of heaven is at hand; it is presently here. (See Mark 1) However, the kingdom of heaven is a coming reality: the King is coming back, his kingdom will one day be complete and he will reign eternally. Jesus is talking about the presence of kingdom of heaven - the redemptive rule/reign of God in Christ that will only be complete when Christ returns.
What is your understanding of the kingdom of heaven?
Where is the kingdom of heaven? Is it a physical or material thing?
Who is in the kingdom of heaven?
How can you explain and understand that the kingdom of heaven is both present and coming?
Valuables like coins and jewels were often hidden in a jar and buried in the earth (see 2 Cor. 4:7). The discovery of these buried treasures was a popular theme of many stories at the time. The point of this particular story is to show the joy experienced by the man as he discovers the hidden treasure. The treasure represents the discovery of the kingdom of heaven experienced by a disciple through a relationship with Jesus. The man expresses his willingness to give up everything to take possession of this field. However, it must be noted that in the case of this man, ‘giving up’ is not equated with ‘sacrifice’; the man sold from self-interest, in order to buy something far greater. The disciple’s ‘giving up’ is in the context of joy. John MacArthur states, “So, the kingdom is precious. The kingdom is hidden. The kingdom is personally appropriated and the kingdom is the source of true joy. For the joy of it, this man sold everything he had to take that treasure for his own, for joy’s sake. Nothing wrong with that. The Lord wants us to rejoice. The Bible says, “Rejoice always and again I say, Rejoice.” We should be the most rejoicing of all people, for we have found the treasure.”
The first two of these parables are intended to instruct believers to prefer the kingdom of heaven to the whole world, and therefore to deny themselves and all the desires of the flesh, that nothing may prevent them from obtaining so valuable a possession. We are greatly in need of such a warning; for we are so captivated by the allurements of the world, that eternal life fades from our view; and in consequence of our carnality, the spiritual graces of God are far from being held by us in the estimation which they deserve. Justly, therefore, does Christ speak in such lofty terms of the excellence of eternal life, that we ought not to feel uneasiness at relinquishing, on account of it, whatever we reckon in other respects to be valuable. - John Calvin, Commentary on Matthew, Mark, and Luke
THE TREASURE OF THE KINGDOM CANNOT BE EARNED
Both of these parables demonstrate that none are qualified to receive the grace of the gospel; however, upon discovery of the treasure (the kingdom of heaven) willingly surrender everything to possess the treasure. John Calvin writes, “the treasure is ascertained to be valuable, after that it has been found and know; and it is the skillful merchant that forms such an opinion about the pearl. These words denote the knowledge of faith.” Calvin asserts that the kingdom of heaven is incapable of being earned because apart from the knowledge of faith given by God, man is not able to perceive the existence or the value of such a great treasure. The man in this parable is not looking for the treasure; he is going about his daily routine of working and stumbles across a great treasure. Much like this man, we come to know Christ, not through our own effort and searching, but through the extension of grace whose presence was previously unknown and not experienced.
What comfort can you take in the fact that the kingdom of heaven cannot be earned? How do you know you cannot earn it?
How would your view of the kingdom of heaven be changed if you were able to earn it on your own?
Describe the first time you ‘discovered’ the kingdom of heaven. How has your life changed since you first discovered the kingdom? How is your understanding of what it means to be part of the kingdom of heaven changing/growing?
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, when he was young, sort of resolutely attended church because it was the thing to do, but he didn’t know Christ. And he wasn’t seeking Christ. He was content with his religiosity. He was only fifteen years old, one New Year’s morning, when he decided it would be proper to go to church. The blizzard was so great that he was not able to reach the church of which he was in the habit of attending. “When I could go no farther,” he said, “I turned down a court and came to a little primitive Methodist church. The preacher who was to have conducted the service, never got there because he was held up by the weather, and quickly one of the officers had to be brought forward to conduct the service with the congregation of perhaps 15 people. The man,” said Spurgeon, “was really stupid. His text was—Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. And he just kept repeating it because he didn’t have anything else to say.”
But something about young Spurgeon caught the preacher’s eye. “Young man,” he said suddenly, “You look very miserable. Miserable in life and miserable in death, you will be if you don’t obey my text.” And suddenly he literally shouted, “Young man, look to Jesus, look, look, look.” And said Spurgeon, “I looked. And then and there the cloud was gone and the darkness rolled away and that moment I saw the Son.”
He wasn’t searching for anything but it got him anyway. He stumbled into a fortune. Few people who have ever lived have affected so many souls as Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I don’t know who that stupid guy was that just kept repeating the text, but it was of God.
How does the story of Charles Spurgeon resemble your own story of coming to know Christ as Savior and Lord?
How is it evident in both the story of Spurgeon and your own story that it was not your own effort that earned your salvation but was the extension of Christ?
CHRIST IS THE TRUE TREASURE
We learn one main thing: The kingdom of God is so valuable that losing everything on earth, but getting the kingdom, is a happy trade-off. Having the omnipotent, saving reign of Christ in our lives is so valuable that, if we lose everything, in order to have it, it is a joyful sacrifice. - John Piper
The man discovers a great treasure and sells all that he owns to possess this treasure.
What in your life (job, possessions, relationships, family) prevent you from possessing the treasure that is being part of the kingdom of God?
What may be getting in the way of experiencing the fullness of what God has intended for those who are part of his kingdom?
Describe how you notice yourself putting these things before God.
THE TREASURE OF CHRIST WARRANTS TOTAL COMMITMENT
“The kingdom of heaven is something worth losing everything for. Oh, see the picture of reward here. There is great reward in submitting to the redemptive rule and reign of God in Christ; it is greater reward than everything this world has put together. See the worth of having God rule over you, knowing that He will work all things, even the toughest things, together for your good. Even amidst earthly pain, you can know that He is working all things for your eternal joy. Paul said in Philippians 3, “I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I suffer the loss of all things in order that I may gain Christ.” - David Platt
The kingdom of heaven is something worth losing everything for. We joyfully let go of all things in order to passionately take hold of one thing. Like a merchant who finds one pearl and gladly sells all of his other pearls to get that one. We come to Christ because He is great reward. He’s better than the best things of this world put together, and He’s worth letting go of all things in order to take hold of Him as the one thing.
Pastor Sterling referenced the story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot and their ministry to the Huaorani tribe of Ecuador. Jim Elliot is quoted saying, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot lived this belief out in his life as he gave his life proclaiming the gospel to an unreached people group. His story is told in numerous writings and in the film, The End of the Spear (2006).
What are you trying to hold onto and keep that God is telling you to surrender in order to pursue a relationship with Him?
What commitments do you need to make in obedience as you live out your life as a subject of the kingdom of God?
This parable has a direct application to each of us as individuals. It is very possible to live in the kingdom, under the dominion of God and not be a member of the kingdom. If you are alive on the earth you are under God’s rule because he is the sovereign ruler of the universe. But you’re not a subject of the King; you’re not a personal member of the kingdom. Just like there are a lot of people in the church who aren’t Christians. The entire world is under the rule of Jesus Christ, but is not necessarily a part of His true kingdom. There were some Jews who, although they are Jewish and are although under the covenant of God with Israel, are going to forfeit all that that means because they’ve never personally come to know God. In Romans 2 it says that circumcision is not the circumcision of the flesh but of the heart. And in Romans 9:6 it says, “All Israel is not Israel.” So, you could be a Jew, as it were, under that monarchy, or theocracy, that rule of God, and never be a true member of the kingdom. And the same is true today: there are people in the earth who are here but have never appropriated the kingdom. It is not enough to be under the influence of the kingdom. It is not enough to just be under the influence of the church, or the influence of Christianity. And at some point in time, in order to do that, men and women must come to the point where they realize the value of it.
Are you a citizen of the kingdom of heaven? How do you know? Have you surrendered your life to Christ as your savior and Lord?
Based on this week’s discussion, does your life reflect the life of a citizen of the kingdom of heaven?
After this week’s discussion, what in your life needs to change to truly reflect your citizenship in the kingdom of heaven.
Use the RANSOM method to study Matthew 13.
Try to identify what the collection of parables tells us about the kingdom of heaven.
For further guidance on the RANSOM Bible study method see:
For free Bible study resources use:
Blueletterbible.org or Blue Letter Bible app