"The parable of the treasure hid in the field and that of the merchant (Mt 13:44-46) both teach that we are to sell out completely." [From an Arminian paper.]
If the writer of the presumptuous line at the heading had a single scripture in mind to support his novel idea, we know not where it is to be found. The Saviour did instruct the disciples to sell what they had and give to the poor, but not in order to obtain the kingdom, for it was the Father's good pleasure to give them that. See Luke 12.21,32-34. That neither parable teaches any such thing is perfectly clear to the little children of God who have been taught by the Spirit of God to know their own spiritual poverty. Both of these parables begin with "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto..." Sell out what? Sell to whom? In what market? On taking even a causal inventory the child of God discovers there is nothing on our shelves worth peddling. Our stock was all lost in the Adamic fall. We have further bankrupted ourselves since coming forth from our mother's womb speaking lies. And we ask, who would want such pitiful scraps as we might feign to barter off? The Divine record tells us that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, so what must the rest be? Certainly no fellow human would, if either able or foolish enough, place sufficient value on our commodities to consummate a transaction worthy of the exchange.
As selling out to other sinners is out of the question, is there a possibility we might enter into a bargain with the Lord of all creation? We have no envy of the demented person that might dare haggle with his God to close such a vain deal. God stands in no need of improvement. "Every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills (Psalm 50.10)." Such a wild, God-defying proposition to sell nothing to Him who has all is almost beyond belief. "If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof (Psalm 50.12)."
The parable of the treasure hid in the field refers to a man, singular, that had found a treasure. He did not at once secure the treasure to himself, but rather he once again hid it, sold all that he had, and bought the field in which the treasure was hid. Is this in any way, shape, or form, the business of sinners? We are sure it is not. Christ came to seek out His treasure (th9 election of grace) and He found it. He did not, on finding them, deliver them up, but first purchased the rights to the property where they were, that is, the field. The price was all He had. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich (II Corinthians 8.9)." Again: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 20.28)." And again: "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men (I Corinthians 7.23)."
The parable of the pearl teaches substantially the same thing. Jesus was the merchant man. The pearl of great price was His elect. The price was all that He had. He gave His Holy life to procure but one pearl. Jesus was not that pearl - the sinner was. While we are blessed of the Spirit of God to believe this precious truth, we surely only see through a glass darkly the vast beauty of the price of redemption our glorious Merchant Man paid.
It is worth mentioning that the treasure was hid in a field when found. Are dead sinners engaged in searching for a hidden Christ? Jesus said this to those that claim (John 5.39) the Scriptures as their guide: "And ye will not come to me that ye might have life (John 5.40)." See also John 6.44. The field is the world, and that is where the treasure is hidden, and Jesus alone has both power and wisdom to find this treasure. When the Lord once again hid this treasure He hid it in that part of the field called earthen vessels, (II Corinthians 4.7). Remember too, He did not sell all that He had to buy the treasure; that was His when He found it. He bought the field, or the earthen vessels. The treasure needed no redemption, but the field did. The price He paid was for the old fallen man, not the new man in Christ. The treasure was always His, chosen in Him from eternity. The earthen vessels, however, required a price to be paid, for they had a curse laid on them.
If this treasure was to be bought by sinners, we hardly see how salvation could be by free grace too.
J. F. Poole
Volume 8, No. 6