Treasure in Heaven

LIFE, UNDER CONDITIONS of peace and happiness, is a priceless possession. Only those who are so acutely distressed as to be rendered to some extent mentally unbalanced, destroy themselves. To the normal mind, life is considered well worthwhile, even though accompanied by more or less disappointment and sorrow. In Matthew 19:16-21 we are told of a young man in Jesus’ day who was wealthy and who had a great desire to continue living, so he went to the Master to inquire if there were anything he could do that would assure him of eternal life.

First of all Jesus referred this young man to the Law of God which had been given to Israel at the hand of Moses. The promise had been given “that the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” (Lev. 18:5; Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:12) Our first parents were condemned to death because they disobeyed God’s law, and death had reigned over all from Adam to Moses because, although not necessarily willful sinners, they were born imperfect and shared in the condemnation which fell upon our first parents.—Gal. 3:21,22; Rom. 5:12-15

But, with the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, God extended an opportunity to the people of Israel to gain life by obedience to his Law; so when the young rich man inquired of Jesus what he could do to secure eternal life, Jesus simply referred him to the Law of God, epitomized in the Ten Commandments.

In reply to Jesus the young man declared that he had been obedient to the Law—“All these have I kept from my youth up.” Then he inquired further, “What lack I yet?” This was apparently a noble young Israelite, for we read in Mark 10:21 that “Jesus … loved him.” He had doubtless lived up to the requirements of God’s Law to the best of his ability, yet realized that the seeds of death were working in him. Even though young, he could recognize that, just like everyone else, he was already losing some of his youthful vigor, and that if this continued, he eventually would become old and die.

Hence the question, “What lack I yet?” Jesus said to him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” Mark’s account states, “Take up the cross, and follow me.” (Mark 10:21) Analyzing this reply, it simply means that Jesus asked this young man to die with him, sacrificially, symbolized by the invitation to take up his cross. In return for this, Jesus promised the young man that he would have treasure in heaven.


Jesus knew that because he would voluntarily die as the world’s Redeemer, the opportunity to secure everlasting life on earth as humans eventually would be available to all mankind, that even those asleep in death would be awakened and have this opportunity extended to them. But the time in the divine plan had not yet arrived for this. As the ‘seed’ of promise through which this wonderful blessing would eventually be made available to all the families of the earth, Jesus was to have associates who would share in dispensing the blessings.

Jesus also knew that the condition upon which these could qualify to be associate blessers with him was that they suffer and die with him, as symbolized by the cross. In the divine plan for the recovery of mankind from sin and death, this was the only way of life then open. Jesus described this way as “narrow,” and the “gate,” or entrance into it, as “strait,” or difficult. Indeed, it was too difficult for the young man, for “he went away sorrowful.”—vs. 22

This young man had asked Jesus what he could do to live; and what Jesus told him was that he could follow him into death. But with this invitation to die with Jesus there was offered the great compensation of ‘treasure in heaven’. This was a new concept to the young man, for up until this time God had not offered ‘heavenly treasures’ to the people of Israel. That Jesus should now do so, indicated that the plan of God was moving forward into a new phase, and the work of a new age was beginning.

In a vague way, Christians have always believed that they would share a heavenly home with Jesus, but few have realized that the hope of a heavenly reward was not held out to anyone until Jesus came. Moses and the prophets neither offered such a hope to the people of Israel, nor even for themselves! Paul wrote that Jesus brought “life and immortality to light through the Gospel.”—II Tim. 1:10

Just as a heavenly hope was not offered to the ancients, neither was immortality. Jesus brought both ‘life and immortality’ to light through the Gospel. God’s prophets of old were assured of an awakening from the dead, but they did not understand clearly the fullness of perfect human life which would be vouchsafed to them through Christ, the coming Redeemer. As for immortality, no hint had been given to them concerning it. This remained for Jesus to do.

Immortality is life, but life is not necessarily immortality. Immortality is indestructibility. It is a quality of the divine nature, and was possessed originally only by the great Creator of the universe. Jesus was exalted to the divine nature and was given immortality at the time of his resurrection; and immortality is promised as a reward to those who follow faithfully in the footsteps of Jesus.—Rom. 2:7

Immortality is one of the ‘treasures’ of heaven, and those who attain it will share a heavenly home with Jesus. To his disciples Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: … I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”—John 14:2,3

Concerning the heavenly reward for the followers of Jesus, the Apostle Peter wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”—I Pet. 1:3-5

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” (Heb. 3:1) The priests of ancient Israel were God’s servants through whom he extended his blessings to the people, and Paul is telling us that if we have partaken of the ‘heavenly calling’ we are to consider ourselves members of a priesthood under Christ—not an earthly priesthood, but a heavenly priesthood, over which the exalted Jesus is the Head.

Part of the function of Israel’s earthly, typical priesthood was the offering of sacrifice, and now those who have received the heavenly calling are also invited to offer sacrifice. Israel’s priesthood offered animals in sacrifice, but the prospective heavenly priesthood are admonished to offer themselves. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, … that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”—Rom. 12:1


This sacrifice of the human body is unto death, for it is only through faithfulness in laying down the human life that one proves worthy to inherit those ‘treasures in heaven’ which Jesus mentioned to the rich young ruler. Jesus showed the way, in this respect, by giving his own “flesh,” his humanity, for the life of the world. (John 6:51) Now those who would be his disciples are invited to take up their cross and follow him into death.—Matt. 16:24

Jesus promised, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10) Immortality is the ‘crown of life’, and can be obtained only through faithfulness in laying down the human, the mortal life in sacrifice; and it will be obtained in the resurrection. Describing the resurrection of those who are partakers of the heavenly calling, Paul said that “this mortal” will “put on immortality.”—I Cor. 15:54


To attain immortality and to be with Jesus in the place prepared by him, is likened by the Apostle Paul to a valuable ‘prize’, and in order to win this prize Paul said that he was willing to give up every earthly advantage he possessed, even life itself.

Paul wrote: “I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but 1 follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 3:8-14

The Christian hope of being exalted with Jesus in the resurrection, and of sharing his heavenly glory is further confirmed by the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:2-4, which reads: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”


Paul’s admonition to set our ‘affection’ on things ‘above’ and not on things of the earth, is quite in contrast with the incentives God held out to Adam in the Garden of Eden. We are informed that in that garden God planted every tree that was pleasant to the eye and good for food. It was a beauty spot which was offered to Adam forever on conditions of obedience to divine law. Trees of life were provided in Eden which would have assured our first parents of continued health and life

These earthly blessings were theirs to enjoy, and God wanted them to set their affection upon them. When they sinned and were sentenced to death it meant the loss of this earthly paradise; but through the redeeming work of Christ, human life with its earthly blessings eventually will be restored to Adam and his race.

However, this is not the ‘prize’ being sought after by the followers of Christ during the present age in the divine plan, for to these Paul wrote, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” To this he adds, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” The true followers of Jesus are looked upon by God as dead to the things of the earth because they are voluntarily following in the sacrificial footsteps of Jesus, being “planted together in the likeness of his death.”—Rom. 6:3-8

The purpose of suffering and dying with Jesus is explained by Paul in a letter to Timothy. We quote: it is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” (II Tim. 2:11,12) All the faithful of Jesus’ followers will reign with him as the ‘seed’ to ‘bless all the families of the earth’.


The privilege of reigning with Jesus as the spiritual ‘seed’ of Abraham will be one of the ‘treasures in heaven’ promised by Jesus. Jesus’ immediate disciples were very much concerned over this prospect, and two of them made bold to request that they might have a specially favored position in his kingdom, one on his right hand and the other on his left hand. (Matt. 20:20-23; Mark 10:35-40) Jesus explained that he did not have the authority to assign special privileges to those who would be in the kingdom with him, but if they wanted to be in the kingdom with him at all, they would need to ‘drink’ of his ‘cup’, and be ‘baptized’ with his ‘baptism’.

Jesus’ ‘cup’ was one of suffering, and his ‘baptism’ was one of death, and all who will reign with him when his kingdom is established will, first of all, have to suffer and die with him. Not many, in the more than nineteen centuries since Jesus suffered and died, have been willing to pass this test. There have been countless millions of professed followers of Jesus, but only a “little flock” to whom it is the Father’s “good pleasure” to give the kingdom, because only the few have been willing to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, footsteps which lead to suffering and death.—Luke 12:32

In one of the beautiful symbolisms of the Bible we see the resurrected Jesus exalted to Mount Zion, which pictures the spiritual rulership of the kingdom, and with Jesus—here shown as the Lamb which had been slain—there are “an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” It is explained that these are the ones who “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth,” meaning that they die sacrificially, even as he died.—Rev. 14:1-5

The significance of being on symbolic Mount Zion is revealed by the Lord in Psalm 2:6-9. We quote: “Yet have I set my King [Jesus] upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen [Gentiles] for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Jesus will share this highly exalted position of authority and rulership with his faithful followers. He promised: “He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.”—Rev. 2:26,27

‘Even as I received of my Father’, said Jesus to those who would be overcomers. Jesus had already been exalted to power and great glory. Paul wrote concerning Jesus: “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”—Phil. 2:9-11

In another promise to the overcomers the highly exalted Jesus said, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3:21) From these promises it becomes clear that to be a follower of Jesus implies much more than attaining salvation—that to the faithful it will lead to association with him in the glory of his kingdom through which all nations will be blessed.


The Apostle Peter admonished Christians to make their “calling and election sure.” (II Pet. 1:10) He also wrote that there are “given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” (II Pet. 1:4) Peter further admonished that to our faith in these promises we should add “virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity [love].” See II Pet. 1:5-8.

Peter indicated that by doing these things we will gain for ourselves an abundant entrance into “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (vss. 10,11) It is through the agencies of this kingdom that all the families of the earth will be blessed, in keeping with the promise God made to Abraham concerning his ‘seed’. One aspect of the promise was that the seed would “possess the gate of his enemies.” (Gen. 22:16-18) This denotes rulership and control, such as we would expect of a powerful king.

And so it is that Jesus and his faithful disciples will establish a kingdom through which they will rule the world, and it will be this righteous rulership which will extend the promised blessings of peace and health and life to the people. When Jesus was raised from the dead a glorious divine being, he announced that “all power” had been given unto him “in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. 28:18) And God’s promise to Jesus’ faithful disciples is that they, too, will be raised from the dead to be “kings and priests,” and “to reign with Christ a thousand years.”—Rev. 1:6; 20:6

The resurrected’ Jesus, having been exalted to the divine nature, was invisible to human eyes except as he miraculously manifested himself—which he did do to his disciples on a few occasions. Jesus, in the resurrection, had experienced a spiritual birth and, as he explained to Nicodemus, was now able to ‘go and come as the wind’, invisibly, and with great power.—John 3:8

When this same change of nature, from human to divine, is experienced by Jesus’ faithful overcomers, they also will possess the ability to exercise power, yet be invisible to human eyes. Thus, together with Jesus as their Head, they will be the invisible rulers of mankind during the prophetic thousand-year kingdom. Just as the unseen powerful and wicked spirit being, Satan, has ruled the world in unrighteousness, so the spiritual seed of Abraham will reign in righteousness.

Then Satan will be bound, and, at the end of the thousand years, destroyed. (Rev. 20:1-3) All wicked institutions and governments, through which Satan has used his influence to degrade the human race, will also be destroyed; or, as the Scriptures state it, ‘as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers’. All unrighteousness will be destroyed. Paul wrote that Christ must reign until all enemies are subdued, and that the “last enemy” to be destroyed will be death. This is why the Bible assures us that ultimately there shall be “no more death.”—I Cor. 15:25,26; Rev. 21:4

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