How God and Christians Treasure Christ, Part 1
Treasuring Christ is first--absolutely first--something God the Father does in his heart. Then it is something the Holy Spirit pours out in our heart so that treasuring Christ is what our hearts do. Then it is something we spread to others in the power of the Spirit. Then it is something we sustain in Biblical organisms called churches. Let’s look at these four experiences. Two this time, and two next time.
First—absolutely first—God the Father Treasures Christ.
“God is love” in more than one sense. But one of the senses is that from eternity (that is what I mean by “absolutely first”) God has loved his ever-existing Son. There never was a time when the Son was not there, and was not God. He has always been the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Hebrews 1:3). Since God the Father is perfect, he loves perfectly what is perfectly lovely. The first—absolutely first—love of the Father was his love for his own glory fully reflected and represented in his Son. The Son is not created. He is not made. He is eternally begotten. As long as there has been the Father, there has been the begotten, treasured Son.
Jesus prayed and said to his Father, “you loved me before the foundation of the world,” and then he asked his Father, “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). God delighted fully in the glory of his Son for all eternity. He treasured his Son. That is what love toward an infinitely worthy being is. It is treasuring. It is not pitying, or sympathizing, or showing compassion, or meeting needs. That’s the way you love a needy creature, not the way you love God. So the first—absolutely first—treasuring of Christ is God’s treasuring of Christ from all eternity.
Second, treasuring Christ is then something the Holy Spirit pours out in our heart so that treasuring Christ is what our hearts do.
The Holy Spirit has always been there from all eternity proceeding from the Father and the Son. He is not a creature. He is not the Son, and he is not the Father. But all that they are in their divine essence he is. One way to think of it is that, as the Father has treasured the Son, and as the Son has treasured the Father from all eternity, the Spirit has been the Person representing that divine act of treasuring. The Spirit’s being and Personhood proceed as the Father’s and the Son’s treasuring of each other. As long as there has been the Father and the Son from eternity, there has been the Spirit proceeding from them as the Person who is their treasuring of each other.
Therefore when the Spirit is sent on his new mission after the resurrection of Christ, his purpose is to awaken and intensify the experience of treasuring Christ. Jesus said that when the Spirit comes, “He will bear witness about me” (John 15:26). “He will glorify me” (John 16:14). That means he will make Christ appear glorious to the hearts of his people. He will make him appear and be experienced as a treasure.
Before fallen human beings can treasure Christ, they must be born again. That is, they need a new spiritual nature that has the capacity to see Christ as a treasure. This happens by the Spirit: “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Therefore when true, heartfelt worship happens, it is because the Spirit has caused us to be born again and has enabled us to glory in Christ’s infinite worth. So Paul says that Christians are people who “worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:3). By his Spirit, God “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). That means: the Spirit of God has enabled us to treasure Christ as the infinitely valuable image of God.
Before treasuring Christ is something we spread to others (which is what we will see next time), it is the experience of God that he shares with us by the Spirit. That’s what it means to become a Christian. We pass from darkness to light and from death to life. Christ is that light and that life. The evidence that you are raised from the dead with Christ and born again by God’s Spirit is that you treasure Christ.
This Christmas, see and savor the treasure that Christ is. To that end remember, God the Father has treasured Christ above all things from all eternity. And the Holy Spirit was sent to enable us to see his worth for what it really is.