Summary: God’s Word Leads to Lasting Treasure 1) Study it carefully 2) Follow it religiously
Have you heard of the book: “Secrets of the Alchemist Dar”? In regard to this book the Edmonton Journal ran an article entitled: “There’s real treasure to be found in this book’s pages.” The article explains that this book is the second by Michael Stadther, a millionaire and self-proclaimed eccentric. Apparently Stadther has put clues in the book’s text and illustrations that will lead to one hundred different rings he’s hidden around the world. In all, these rings are worth $2 million (US)! Since this is the second time Stadther plans to give away riches in this way (his last book contained clues that led to gold coins), you have to give him credit for generosity (the newspaper reports that Stadther has yet to make a profit on his books but that isn’t his purpose).
While Stadther is generous, he’s hardly original. God was the first to write a book that leads to treasure, lasting treasure. The good news is that we have this book; it’s the Bible. Since the Bible leads to lasting treasure, Moses today encourages us all to study God’s Word carefully, and to follow it religiously.
I have to admit that when I read the article about Stadther’s book I wanted to get my hands on a copy to start dissecting the clues to the rings. After all, for an investment of $21.99 (listed price for the book on Amamzon.com), one stands to make thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars. But let’s say that we did find one of the rings. No, let’s say we found all one hundred hidden rings. We would be $2 million richer but then what? The excitement of the hunt would soon wear off and the bills for our lavish expenses would start to pour in. $2 million sounds like a lot of cash and it is but it wouldn’t last very long. If you don’t believe me, ask the New Jersey woman who twice won the lottery in the mid ‘80’s for a total of $5.4 million but is now broke. It’s no wonder Jesus warned: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19, 20a).
The true treasure that Jesus wants us to pursue is everlasting life in heaven where we will be forever free of the pain, sorrows, bullies, and fears of this life. How do we obtain this treasure? Just as a careful study of Stadther’s book will lead to the expensive rings, a careful study of God’s Word leads to the lasting treasure of heaven. So what would you think if someone who purchased Stadther’s book tore out pictures and crossed out lines of text he didn’t like? I don’t think you would expect such a person to find any of the rings. In the same way, if we take lightly God’s Word and think that we can ignore verses we don’t like or add ones we think are missing, we could miss out on the treasure of heaven. Moses put it this way to the Israelites: “1 Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you” (Deuteronomy 4:1, 2).
Are we guilty of adding to or subtracting from God’s Word? For example do we think that salvation comes to those who believe in Jesus and do good works? While we may easily recognize the error of that statement, for salvation is by God’s grace and not our works (Ephesians 2:8-10), do we in practice add to God’s Word when we forgive the sins of those who only first say they are sorry to us and make up for their wrong in some way? God wants us to forgive one another unconditionally, even before an apology is offered. Subtracting from God’s Word is something we can do as easily too. For example when we ignore God’s teaching about with whom we are to worship and pray, we are “trimming” (literal translation of “subtract”) what we apparently consider to be Scripture’s “rough” edges.
Any adding or subtracting is dangerous because every teaching in the Bible is designed to point us to heaven or keep us from losing the treasures of heaven. That’s why we put such an emphasis on the study of God’s Word here at St. Peter’s. That’s why we want you, our children, to attend Sunday School and to listen carefully to devotions at home. Whenever we read the Bible or talk about it, we’re pouring over the map that leads to the treasures of heaven!