Friday, July 13, 2007

The Pearl of Greatest Price

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:45,46

The Puritan theologian John Owen on what it is to have the Pearl of greatest price:

Men…have no real acquaintance with Christianity, who imagine that the placing of the most intense affections of our souls on the person of Christ, the loving him with all our hearts because of his love, our being overcome thereby, until we are sick of love, the constant motions of our souls towards him with delight and adherence, are but fancies and imaginations.

Though all our refreshments actually lie in the streams, yet by them we are led up to the fountain. Jesus Christ, in respect of the love of the Father, is but the beam, the stream, wherein though actually all our light, our refreshment lies, yet by him we are led to the fountain, the sun of eternal love itself.

There is no man whatever that hath any want in reference unto the things of God, but Christ will be unto him that which he wants….Is he dead? Christ is life. Is he weak? Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Hath he the sense of guilt upon him? Christ is complete righteousness….Many poor creatures are sensible of their wants, but know not where their remedy lies. Indeed, whether it be life or light, power or joy, all is wrapped up in him.

Let us receive [Christ] in all his excellencies as he bestows himself upon us; – be frequent in thoughts of faith, comparing him with other beloveds, sin, world, legal righteousness; and preferring him before them, counting them all loss and dung in comparison of him … and we shall not fail in the issue of sweet refreshment with him.

To have the eternal glory of God in Christ, with all the fruits of his wisdom and love while we ourselves are under the full participation of the effects of them, immediately, directly revealed, proposed, made known unto us, in a divine and glorious light, our souls being furnished with a capacity to behold and perfectly comprehend them, – this is the heaven which, according to God’s promise, we look for.

…the more we behold the glory of Christ by faith now, the more spiritual and the more heavenly will be the state of our souls. The reason why the spiritual life in our souls decays and withers is because we fill our minds full of other things, and these things weaken the power of grace. But when the mind is filled with thoughts of Christ and his glory, these things will be expelled (see Col. 3:1-5, Eph. 5:8). When we behold the glory of Christ by faith every grace in us will be stirred up. This is how our spiritual life is revived (see Rom. 5:3-5, 2 Pet. 1:5-8).

As my two week class studying the Puritans draws to a close today, these are the descriptions that are etched in my mind of the Pearl that John Owen and the Puritans as a whole treasured. They knew Jesus Christ not just as Lord but perhaps more importantly as their Treasure. And I must ask myself if the life that I live in the 21st century reflects the same value of the Pearl that the lives lived by the Puritans in the 16th and 17th centuries reflected. The Pearl's value has not changed because "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). And if He is infinitely valuable, which I do believe He is, then I am the one who is farther away from the truth of His value than the Puritans.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…
Philippians 3:7,8
Father in Heaven, forgive me for the way that my life in the 21st century gives testimony that Jesus Christ has depreciated in value when set next to the lives of the Puritans instead of moving closer to a true apprehension of His infinite worth. Though they fell short, and we always will as finite creatures, may You today give us sovereign grace to create in our hearts intense longing, delight, admiration, and love for Your Son that You demand in spite of our utter inability to create or sustain such affections. May You continually enlarge our hearts and never let them fall beneath the point where they are bursting with yearnings for Him. In Jesus' infinitely precious name, Amen.

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