Treasures In Heaven
September 4th, 1983 @ 10:50 AM
DR. W. A. CRISWELL
9-04-83 10:50 a.m.
This is the pastor bring the message entitled Treasures in Heaven. It is the fifth on a series on economology. There are two more. This is the fifth, Treasures in Heaven. And we read from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapter 6, verses 19 through 21. And the sermon is an exposition of this passage of our precious Lord, Treasures in Heaven, Matthew 6:19-21:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will be your heart be also.
Our Lord first avows that all of the treasures that we might ever possess in this earth are temporal and transient and vulnerable. He says here that our possessions in this earth can be devoured by the insects, or it can be consumed by the rust, or it can be taken away by the furtive and clandestine thief. In nowise, our Savior avows, are our possessions in this earth permanent and everlasting. They are temporary and transient.
I often think about that because of the innumerable funeral services that I conduct. If anything can be placed in our hands, it can also be taken away. And there is nothing more inexorable than the thievery of time. When I look in a casket, there are two parts of the human body exposed. One is the face, so silent. And the other is the hands, so empty; always empty. Treasures on earth are fragile and fleeting. If they are defined in our strength, and in our physical health, and in our facial beauty, they last for a moment.
I have not words to describe my reaction when I have seen a famous athlete, and the years have passed, and he is a shadow of his former self. And I think, is this decrepit old man that famous athlete that I used to know, or a beautiful and famous Hollywood star; how glamorous, how alluring, how romantic, and now she is an ugly old hag, literally? I can hardly believe it—the same person—the years have stolen away the strength and the beauty of manhood and womanhood.
It is no less fragile and fleeting if our treasures are in a field. I had a wonderful deacon who had counted so much on the harvest of a vast wheat field; saw him standing on a hillside overlooking those vast acres. Just before harvest time a vicious pounding, thundering hailstorm crushed into the ground every stalk of his harvest. It is no less so if our treasures are in a store.
A little boy said to his mother, “Mommy, I am afraid Daddy will not go to heaven.”
And she said, “Why, son? Your daddy is such a good man. Why do you think he will not go to heaven?”
And the little boy said, “Well, Mommy, when I asked Daddy to play with me, he says, ‘I can’t, son, I am too busy at the store.’ And when we want to go on the picnic, we ask Daddy to go with us, and he says, ‘I can’t, I am too busy at the store.’ And when we ask Daddy to go with us to the church, he says, ‘I can’t. I am too busy at the store.’” And the little boy added, “And Mommy, when time comes to go to heaven, he is going to be too busy at the store.”
Our treasures in this life are so fragile and fleeting. And if our treasures are in the marketplace, it is no different. You know, it is a strange thing the effects made upon me by things when I was a youth. Right after the great crash in 1929, I stood in the Chicago Board of Trades. And not long after that, I stood in the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street; and those men there, thrown into indescribable and abject despair, some of them committing suicide—treasures in this earth, so fragile and so fleeting, so transient and so temporal.
I read where a merchant man, a godly man, a merchant man, a visitor from the church came to see him. And he wrote out a five thousand dollar gift for the church [for] some interesting project presented. And as he wrote the check and handed it to the deacon, a cablegram was placed in his hands, and it read, “Your ship has been sunk in a storm, and the entire cargo has been lost.” And the merchant man read the cablegram and then turned to the deacon from the church and said, “You will have to give me back the check.” And the deacon said, “I understand. And the church will understand.”
The merchant man then wrote out a check for fifty thousand dollars, and placed it into the hand of the deacon. And when the deacon looked at it, he was astonished. He said, “But the cablegram said your ship was sunk, and the cargo was lost!” And the merchant man said, “Sir, that was a cablegram from heaven saying, ‘Lay not up for yourself treasures upon earth’” [Matthew 6:19].
They are fleeting, and they are fragile, and they are transient, and they are temporal. They can also be a curse. Possessions can damn our lives. When Achan saw the Babylonish garment, and the wedges of silver and gold, and the spoils of Jericho, it ruined him and his family. God sentenced them all to death. God called it, the accursed thing, covetousness [Joshua 7:13-26]. Ahab, because of Naboth’s vineyard [1 Kings 21:1-16], listened to the sentence of God, “The dogs shall lick up your blood where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, the vineyard, accursed! [1 Kings 21:19].
I have often thought, as you have, of Judas holding the thirty pieces of silver [Matthew 26:14-16]. And each piece cried out a condemnation from heaven, betraying the innocent blood. And finally, unable to grasp them any longer, cast them on the floor of the temple and went out to destroy his own life [Matthew 27:3-5]. Possessions can be a curse.
It was so in the life of Ananias and Sapphira [Acts 5:1-11]; it can be in your life. Possessions can be a damnation and a judgment. You see, they can shape our values. They can direct our actions. And they can command our allegiance: possessions, earthly treasure. It is a strange thing about earthly possessions, money; and the more I look at it and think about it, the stranger it becomes to me. Money has only a negative value, and that is all. If you don’t have it, you can’t buy food or clothing or shelter. But outside of that, it has no meaning whatsoever, none! None. It has no positive contribution to life at all. It can’t buy joy; it can’t buy peace, and it can’t buy happiness.
On the outside, on a sidewalk is a poor, lonesome, poverty-stricken wretch. And on Fifth Avenue, he sees through the window a rich man with a silk jacket, seated before a warm fire, burning in the beautiful fireplace. And the wretch on the outside envies the rich man in the silk jacket seated before the fire. But what the wretch does not know is that the rich man seated there is contemplating suicide. Like George Eastman, who took his own life, founder and head of the Eastman Kodak Company. It has a negative value only. It cannot change the sorrows or the sadnesses of life. Money can’t. As there is a thorn in every rose, as there is a worm at every root, as there is a canker in every bloom, as there is a black drop in every cup, so every house is a garnished sepulcher just waiting for the family to fall into the grave.
That is what Jesus meant, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt,” and where the thief of time can steal it away [Matthew 6:19]. Our Lord is interested in our hearts, in our souls, in our destiny, in our eternities. “For where your treasures are, there will your hearts be also” [Matthew 6:20-21].
And if they are in this world, our hearts are in this world. And our Lord would lift us up into heaven. God doesn’t care how much wealth you have. God doesn’t care if it rises up to the skies, just so you rise above it! God doesn’t care if you amass a vast fortune, just so you use it and it doesn’t use you; just so you possess your possessions and they don’t possess you; just so they ennoble your soul and bless your life.
Why, when I read the Bible, some of the saintliest, godliest, noblest men in Holy Scripture God blessed with abounding riches. Abraham is described as being rich and blessed of God [Genesis 13:2], and Abraham entertained angels [Genesis 18:1-8]. Job is described as one of the richest men in all of the East [Job 1:3]. And when he lost his fortune [Job 1:13-20], Job said, “The Lord gave it to me, and the Lord is taken it away from me; blessed be the name of the Lord” [Job 1:21], godly Job. Zaccheus was a wealthy man, and he said to the Lord when he was converted, “Half of what I have, I give to the needy” [Luke 19:8]. Lydia—I am preaching on her in a few Sunday nights—God’s businesswoman, Lydia, was an affluent merchant woman [Acts 16:14-15], and in her house, the church at Philippi gathered each Lord’s Day [Acts 16:40]. It is just that people matter more than property, and men count for more than money. And our riches must not be alone centered in the possessions we have in this world, but also in their use in the kingdom and glory and furtherance of the gospel of God.
And that leads me to our treasures in heaven, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves cannot steal them away” [Matthew 6:20]. Put them up there in glory.
“Well, Lord, I am interested in that. I know all the things that the pastor has just said are true. I experience it in my own life. I see it in the world around me. I can’t hold in my hands what I possess in this world, and I know that soon—not if, but when—I will give an accounting before Thee in glory [Luke 12:20]. And I can understand the appeal of my Lord, ‘Lay up your treasures in heaven’ [Matthew 6:20]. But O Lord, how do I get them over there? How do I send them from here up there where You are? How do I lay up treasures in heaven?”
And the answer is plain; you have to send them by someone who is going there. You have to turn your treasures into the coin of heaven. You have to exchange it from this coin to that coin, from this currency to that currency, from this location to that location, from this bank and would to God’s bank and world. We have to send it up there.
I want to take a moment to speak of the coin of heaven. “Pastor, what do you mean by the coin of heaven?” I will show you. Have you ever been in John Wanamaker’s store in Philadelphia, the Wanamaker Department Store? That is absolutely one of the most beautiful stores in the world, and one of the most spacious. It is a glorious store, right down in the middle of town, right under the shadow of that tall statue of William Penn. Well, John Wanamaker was a devout Christian boy. His father was a brick maker, and he worked in his father’s brickyard.
They attended the church on Broad Street. And in those days when John Wanamaker was a lad, they had a grand old pastor named Dr. John Chambers. Now the old pastor would stand up in the pulpit, and he would say, “I am so ashamed of the walks around our church. They are disintegrating, dilapidating, and they don’t honor our Lord. I think we ought to put in new walks around our church; a new street.”
Well, they paid no attention to the old gentleman and what he wished for the church. So John Wanamaker, in his old age, told this. He said, “As I sat there—sixteen years old—and listened to the old pastor, I resolved in my heart I was going to build new streets around the church, make it look beautiful.”
So he said, “I went to my father, and I went to all the other brick makers in Philadelphia, and I gathered the material. And then I took all the money that I had saved up, and I asked money from others. And while the old pastor was gone, we laid a beautiful new brick street all around the church.” When the pastor came back, John Wanamaker said, “I hid behind a corner to see how the old pastor would react.”
Well, he came down the street, Dr. John Chambers, with his head bowed, thinking about his sermon to be delivered that morning. And he stepped onto that new brick street, and he took one or two steps and realized on what he was walking. And he pressed his foot down to see it was real. Then he walked up that way! Then he walked up that way! And John Wanamaker said, “Unconsciously, I got behind the pastor and began walking behind him.”
And he said, “The old pastor suddenly stopped and turned around and looked at me, and he said, “Son, you did that, you did that! Oh, my boy! My boy! Thank you, son. Thank you, son!” In his old age, John Wanamaker said, “I have never forgotten it.” Then he said, “That was the beginning. That was the beginning of my working and giving to God! And I kept it up and have doubled it, and doubled it ever since.”
That is what I mean: the coin of heaven, exchanging what we have in this life for the coin of heaven and then sending it over there. How? By those who are going over there. Sending it over there where they are, where God is.
There were two couples that came before the gatekeeper of heaven. And the first couple was laden down lugging stocks and bonds, and deeds, and all kinds of material possessions. And his wife was laden down with jewels, and caskets of gold and silver, and diamonds, and silks, and laces, and satins.
And when they came to the gatekeeper, he said to them, What are you doing with that stuff? And the couple said, “Stuff! Stuff! This is the wealth of a lifetime: stocks and bonds, and deeds, money, silver, gold, diamonds, the wealth of a lifetime!”
And the gatekeeper says, “You see that sign over there that says junk? Take all of this stuff and put it over there where the junk is. And then you can come in.” And he says, “This gold?” And the gatekeeper says, “Even the streets are made out of gold” [Revelation 21:21]. And she says, “And these diamonds?”
Now, you have to have a little Greek lesson here. When they came to the word “iaspis,” they did not know what iaspis was, iaspis. It says that the wall of the city is made out of iaspis, and it says it was as clear as crystal [Revelation 21:18, 11]. They didn’t know what it was, so they just spelled it out, iaspis. When you spell it out in English it is j-a-s-p-e-r, jasper, iaspis, jasper, didn’t know that it was, clear as crystal. You know what I say that is? That is diamond, clear as crystal; the wall is made out of solid diamond! Think of that! The walls of the city, one thousand five hundred miles long on each side made out of solid diamond.
Now let us go back: “and you are coming in here with these little diamonds?” See this little old, where is it? Right there, [indicating his tie tack] see that little old thing right there? Imagine comparing that with one 1,500 miles this way, and 1,500 miles that way, and 1,500 miles that way, and 1,500 miles that way [Revelation 21:16]—solid diamond!
“You want to bring that in here? Put it over there with the junk; put it over there with the junk. Put it over there with the junk.”
Now, lest you think, “Now, pastor, that is far out and far-fetched.” Listen to me just a moment: I was holding in these years past a revival in Austin Texas, our capital city, and they called together a joint session of the legislature, and they gave me the privilege to be present. And you know what we did? We listened to Eddie Rickenbacker, Eddie Rickenbacker, a hero of the [First] World War, a man who later was the head of Eastern Airlines. And Eddie Rickenbacker stood up before that legislature, the joint sessions of the Senate and House of Representatives, and he described the tragedy that he experienced in the vast South Pacific.
In World War II, he was sent on a mission by air to the South Pacific and was to come to a little speck, a little island, and somehow the navigator missed it. And they were in the air, in that vast illimitable expanse of the Pacific, and gradually running out of fuel. And Eddie Rickenbacker said while the operator was pounding out SOS, SOS, and the fuel was gradually disappearing, he said, “We began to throw overboard every possession we had. In order to lighten the plane just a little, all of our equipment, and all of our tools, and all of our personal possessions, and everything we had, we threw it overboard!” And for twenty-two days and twenty-one nights they floated in a tiny rubber raft in the terror of death, in the torture of hunger and thirst.
And Eddie Rickenbacker said, when he got through with the story, he said, “If you think that things in this world matter, you just have an experience like that.” What we have does not matter. It is useless. And the only purpose is just to be as our sweet friend, Dr. Weldon said, Dr. Weldon Estes said, “Just to be a good steward of it, that’s all.” Has is no other meaning at all.
Edgar A. Guest, the peoples’ poet:
Out of this life I shall never take
Things of silver and gold I make.
All that I cherish and horde away,
After I leave on the earth, must stay.
Though I call it mine and boast its worth
I must give it up when I leave this earth.
All that I gather and all that I keep,
I must leave behind, when I fall asleep.
I wonder often just what I shall own
In that other life when I pass alone.
When Jesus shall find what shall He see
In my soul that answers the call for me?
Shall the great Judge learn when I am through,
That my life has gathered riches, too?
Or shall at the last it be mine to find
That all I had worked for I left behind?
[Attributed to Edward A. Guest]
Dear me, blessed God, grant me treasures in heaven to be rich toward God; send them there through those who are going. Well, who is going? I walk around this dear church, and I see these deaf people, the oral deaf. I stumble into them all the time. And they all try to say sweet things to me. And I wish I could answer back. They’re going; they’re going, our oral deaf; they are going. Every service these Special Education youngsters speak to me, sweetest in the world, they’re going; they’re going.
And I look at our Good Shepherd Chapel over there; they’re going. And these flotsam and jetsam of humanity won in our inner city chapel, some of them now over in our school studying to be preachers, they’re going. And I think of all of the outreach ministries of our church and the families they reach, they’re going. And I think of those on the foreign fields; they’re going. They’re going. And I look around here at our church: every one of these children, they’re going. Our children are going.
And then I just look over our great redeemed family of Jesus here, they’re going. And when I put my treasure in them, they’re going. That’s how I get it over there. Through these who are going.
Let me tell you, John Raskus put three hundred dollars in the collection plate when it passed in front of him. And he said softly, “I’ll see you in heaven.” And those seated around John Raskus, one said to his wife, “Old brother John Raskus is getting aged.” And another one over here whispered and said, “Old brother John Raskus is getting senile. He says he’s going to see that three hundred dollars in heaven.” And after the service was over, those families were just around, you know, talking, and they mentioned what old brother John Raskus had said when he put that three hundred dollars in the collection plate, “I’ll see you in heaven.” And they all said to one another, “Well, he may meet his Maker over there, but he certainly is not going to meet his money.”
For you see, when the church treasurer took the three hundred dollars that old brother John Raskus had placed in the collection plate, with some of it, they paid the electric light bill to the Dallas Power and Light Company. And with some of it, they gave it to the preacher to buy gasoline for his car. And with some of it, they helped some of these boys over here to go to CBI. And some of it was exchanged for funny looking currency and sent abroad to the mission field.
Old John Raskus, they said, will never see that three hundred dollars again. That’s what they said. You know, the following early Sunday morning, we say: John Raskus died in his sleep. What God would say: the angel came for him and took him to heaven. And that first Lord’s day, he spent in glory. And old brother John Raskus walked down those golden streets. And a young fellow came up to him and shook his hand and said, “Thank you, John. Thank you, Brother John.”
And old brother John Raskus said, “For what do you thank me?”
And the young fellow said, “I was so cold and I was so lonely, and it was a dark night, and I saw the lights in the church. And just to get out of the dark, I went into the church. And while I was there, the darkness went out of my soul. And I found Jesus as my Savior, and I want to thank you, Brother John, for the lights in the church.”
And old brother John walked down those golden streets [Revelation 21:21], and he said to himself, “You know, I believe I got more out of that electric bill than the Dallas Power and Light Company.”
He walked on down those streets, those golden streets, and a young fellow came up to him and said, “Thank you, Brother John. Thank you, Brother John.” He said, “You know, the preacher came to my filling station where I work. And as I filled his tank full of gas, he talked to me about Jesus, and he won my soul to the Lord. And I want to thank you, Brother John, for the gas that went into the preacher’s tank. It was an occasion of my being saved.”
And old brother John, said, “You know, I thought about that preacher of ours and the souls that he had won, but it never entered my mind about that young fellow at the filling station.”
As old brother John Raskus walked down those golden streets, he met a throng who shook his hand and said, “I want to thank you for those CBI boys that you trained. They preached the gospel to me and my family, and we found the Lord.”
And as he went on, old brother John Raskus met funny looking people of a strange language, and of strange dress, and they said, “Thank you, Brother John, for sending us the gospel across the seas.”
Well, old brother John came to Hallelujah Square, and he sat down on a park bench by the side of an angel. And they were having a concert there in Hallelujah Square. They were praising Jesus:
Glory, I’m saved. Glory, I’m saved!
All praise to the Father, all praise to the Son,
All praise to the Spirit, the great Three in One!
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
[“Saved by the Blood,” by S. J. Henderson, 1902.]
They were just praising Jesus, and old brother John Raskus turned to that angel by whom he was seated, and he said, “I just feel sorry for you angels. You have never known what it is to be redeemed, cleansed, saved by the blood of Jesus my Lord. You don’t even know what it is like.”
And then old brother John Raskus mused a moment, and he turned back to that angel, and he said, “And you don’t know what it is to take the treasures and the possessions we have in earth and transform them and exchange them into the treasures of heaven. You don’t even know what that’s like.” And the angel replied to old brother John Raskus, he said, “Sir, all we do is just watch it from the balustrades of glory.”
My friend, God hath given to us an incomparable open door. The angels don’t possess it. God hath given the privilege to us to preach His gospel, to magnify His name in the earth, to win people to Jesus, to exchange the currency of this life for the coin and the treasures of heaven [Matthew 6:19-21]. May He be praised forever and ever.
We are going to stand in a minute and sing a hymn of appeal, and while we sing that invitation a family you in the balcony round, a couple, a one somebody you, there is time and to spare. “This is God’s day for me pastor and we are coming.” Or the press of people on this lower floor, into one of these isles and down here to the front, “Pastor, God has spoken to us, and we’re answering with our lives today.” May those angels that watch us in glory [Psalm 91:11; Matthew 18:10] attend your way as you come. May the fullness of the Spirit of God make glad your heart. And may every day be a precious and beautiful day. As in this pilgrimage you walk with the Savior from this earth to the world and the earth that is yet to come. Welcome. “Want to take Jesus as my Savior and here I stand.” “I want to come into the fellowship of the church, and I am standing with you and the people of God. I want to be baptized as God has said in His Word” [Matthew 28:19-20]. Or, “I want to bring my family into the fellowship of this church,” a thousand times welcome, while we sing and as we stand.
TREASURES IN HEAVEN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-4-83I. The temporal, transient, vulnerable nature of all earthly possessions
A. So fragile and fleeting
1. Health, strength and beauty
2. In a field
3. In a store
4. In the marketplace
B. So easily become a curse (Joshua 7:1-26, 1 Kings 21:19)
C. Distort our values of life
1. Can command our allegianceII. Jesus is interested in our soul’s destiny
A. Our riches must not be centered on our earthly possessions
B. Riches in the Bible (Job 1:21)III. Treasures in heaven
A. How do we get them there?
B. Send it on before, by someone who is going there
1. John Wannamaker
2. Couple bringing “junk” into heaven
3. Eddie Rickenbacker
4. John Raskus