How God and Christians Treasure Christ, Part 2
First we saw (in last week’s article) that treasuring Christ is 1) first—absolutely first—something God the Father does in his heart. Then 2) it is something the Holy Spirit pours out in our hearts so that treasuring Christ is what our hearts do.
Third, treasuring Christ is something we spread to others in the power of the Spirit.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the news that sinners do not have to meet “the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16) but can meet him as our all-satisfying Treasure. If we repent of treasuring the world above Christ and, instead, receive Christ as our Savior and Lord and as the Treasure of our lives, “the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be [our] shepherd, and he will guide [us] to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes” (Revelation 7:17). The good news of Christ is not merely that he delivers from wrath, but that he becomes our Treasure. The gospel is not merely the absence of pain, but the presence of everlasting pleasure, namely, Christ.
This is what we spread. We preach Christ as Savior and Lord, and, in all his saving and lordly rule, as the all-satisfying Treasure of life. We don’t just offer the forgiveness of sins. We don’t just offer the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. We don’t just offer the leadership and protection of the Lord Jesus. We offer Christ as the Treasure that all our cravings have pointed to. All our acquisitiveness has pointed to this. All our lust has pointed to this. All our addictions have pointed to this. All our loneliness has pointed to this. All our longings for marriage and friendship and success and leisure and fun and significance and influence have pointed to Christ our Treasure.
We were made to treasure Christ. And so was everyone in the world. This is what we spread. Christ died for sinners so that every obstacle of guilt and corruption and divine wrath could be removed between us and our all-satisfying Treasure. The end of the gospel is treasuring Christ. This is what we spread. (For more meditation see Philippians 3:7-8; Matthew 13:44; John 15:11; 1 Corinthians 16:22.)
Fourth, treasuring Christ is something we sustain in biblical organisms called churches.
Only now, after seeing,
- first, that treasuring Christ is the ultimate, eternal experience of God himself as he treasures the Son, and
- second, that treasuring Christ is an experience that the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts by his Christ-exalting presence in us,
- and, third, that treasuring Christ is the goal of the good news that we spread—that Christ died and rose again to remove our sin and God’s wrath so that justified people might enjoy Christ as their treasure forever—
only now can we see clearly why Bethlehem Baptist Church calls our multiplying strategy Treasuring Christ Together. Only now can we hear these words for what they really mean when we say that Treasuring Christ Together is a multiplying movement of multiple campuses, new churches, and a Global Diaconate.
There is an assumption. This central experience of the universe and the Christian life—namely, treasuring Christ—is sustained in churches. God has ordained that when people find the “treasure hidden in the field [Christ!]” (Matthew 13:44) and are converted from world-treasuring to Christ-treasuring, they are sustained and strengthened and matured and transformed and refined and guided and mobilized in organisms of Christians called churches.
When Paul says, concerning the church, “Let all things be done for building up” (1 Corinthians 14:26), he means for deepening and intensifying and strengthening the experience of treasuring Christ. That is what the church is for. The church is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-32). Therefore the local expressions of the universal church (called churches) are to sustain the affections proper to a bride for her infinitely precious husband. By the ministry of the Word (John 15:11) in the power of the Spirit (John 16:14), the church sustains the experience of treasuring Christ—for her members and for the world.
Therefore, let us pray and work for this great cause of savoring and sustaining and spreading and showing the deepest experience of treasuring Christ. And, to that end, let us love the multiplying and growing of churches where this is sustained.