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How far would you go to find buried treasure? Many have risked their lives searching for riches in unlikely places. But did you know that God has promised you the greatest treasure of all? You can find it in the pages of your own Bible!
The spiritual treasures in your Bible are far more valuable than anything physical. Are you searching for those treasures?
Movies, books, and television programs excite the imagination when they present stories about hunting for treasure. The pirates of old amassed fortunes in gold, silver and jewels. Some of those riches are still hidden to this day. But there are treasures far more valuable than anything you can find in a buried treasure chest or a sunken pirate ship. Those treasures are found in the Bible. We call them the promises of God, and their value is beyond measure!
More than 40 years ago, author David MacDonald wrote an article titled "Oak Island's Mysterious Money Pit" (Reader's Digest, January 1965). It old the story of how, in 1795, 16-year-old Daniel McGinnis went hunting on Oak Island, south of Halifax, Nova Scotia. He found a 12-foot depression, with a block and tackle hanging from a tree overhead, and returned the next day with two friends to begin digging. About 10 feet down, they hit a wooden plank. At 20 feet, they reached a second plank, and at 30 feet they discovered a third plank. The boys gave up their digging and went back to their farms, but returned to the site nine years later, and began digging again in earnest.
This time, they sank a steel rod into the ground, which hit what they thought was a treasure chest about 95 feet down. But they could not reach the treasure; the next day, they returned to the site and found the shaft filled with water. It seems that whoever buried the treasure had used ingenious engineering techniques to build flood tunnels above the treasure, to safeguard it against discovery. One estimate suggests that it would have taken 200 men as long as two years to build the elaborate system of tunnels.
McGinnis and his friends died without ever reaching the treasure. Since then, other treasure hunters have poured millions of dollars into the "money pit" but have recovered just three links of gold chain and a scrap of ancient parchment. Still, treasure hunters speculate that amazing pirate riches may be buried there—perhaps the booty of Captain Kidd, or of the infamous Blackbeard or of the pirate Henry Morgan. Some think the elaborate pit may hold Inca treasure stolen by Spanish explorers, or that it may contain the French crown jewels that once belonged to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
For more than 200 years, wealth-seekers have spent their fortunes and exhausted their lives seeking the treasure at Oak Island. One treasure hunter was said to have remarked, "I have seen enough to know there is treasure down there, and enough to know that no one will ever get it."
There is one treasure hunt that will always yield immense riches—if you are willing to dedicate yourself to the search. That treasure hunt begins in your own Bible, where we find wonderful treasures of truth, and the priceless promises of God.
If you are like most Englishspeaking people, you probably already own at least one Bible. A 1993 poll by the Princeton Research Center discovered that 93 percent of Americans own a Bible, and 27 percent of these own four or more. In the U.S., even most atheists have a Bible in their household. A 2005 Barna Research poll reported that 45 percent of Americans read the Bible at least once per week. Of course, many—including many Tomorrow's World subscribers—read the Bible daily. Just as Jesus encouraged us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11), we should feed on God's word every day.
If you are looking for a Bible, or trying to decide which of your Bibles to use, we at Tomorrow's World generally recommend the New King James Version as the most accurate English-language translation overall. Of course, other translations can also be helpful as you go deeper into your study of the Bible.
However, merely owning a Bible is not enough. Even though most Americans own one or more Bibles, their knowledge of Scripture is sadly lacking. A 1997 Gallup poll found that only 46 percent of Americans could name all four Gospels, and only 42 percent could name five or more of the Ten Commandments.
Americans are not the only ones losing touch with God's word. A 2004 survey in Great Britain found that the British are forgetting God's commandments. In an article titled: "The (forgot)ten commandments" Jeremy Reynalds reported: "According to a new British poll, the country is quickly forgetting the Ten Commandments. Only three of the laws—passed to Moses on tablets of stone in Old Testament times—made any showing in the poll… Less than half of the population remembered the admonitions not to steal, murder or commit adultery, but it appears that commandments such as 'don't take the Lord's name in vain' are fast becoming a distant memory. Only 9 percent of those polled recalled the commandment not to lie. Worst remembered of all the commandments was 'keep the Sabbath day holy,' which was correctly identified by only 4 percent of those polled" (London Assist News Service, September 17, 2004).
Like so many Americans and Britons, many of us need to get back to the faith of the Bible! Weneed to read the Bible—and study the Bible. Doing so will help open your eyes to the great truths of God. One of those great truths is that God has promised to give us eternal life. In Matthew, a young man asked Jesus what he should do to gain eternal life. Jesus answered, "'if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.' He said to Him, 'Which ones?' Jesus said, 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 19:17–19).
Jesus told the young man to obey the Ten Commandments! He listed five of the Ten Commandments—and, in case anyone might think that He was giving permission to break other laws not mentioned, He finished by quoting from the book of Leviticus: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18).
Here, Jesus showed that the Ten Commandments are vital not only in our physical lives, but in our receiving eternal life from God. We should notice that the Ten Commandments are not just prohibitions; the Fifth Commandment is even called "the first commandment with promise" (Ephesians 6:2). God tells us that those who obey the Fifth Commandment will receive blessings!
Sadly, the young man in Matthew 19 "went away sorrowful" (v. 22), choosing not to obey Christ's words. He was too attached to his "great possessions" and could not realize that he had neither obeyed the Ten Commandments nor obeyed Jesus Christ, who had given him those commandments.
Treasure hunters may spend a lifetime seeking riches. Many fail. But even if they succeed, what have they gained? Will they become like the rich young man of Matthew 19, who valued his wealth more than his God? Jesus' followers, by contrast, seek an eternal treasure—the Kingdom of God. Christians need to seek God with even greater zeal than treasure hunters seeking gold and jewels. Jesus said, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). Those who seek physical, material treasures often fail in their search. But if we seek God's kingdom and His righteousness, we will find the greatest treasure of all—and God also promises to provide us with what we need.
When you are truly seeking God's will, He will answer your prayers. "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:7–11).
Of course, we must do our part. We need to "seek" and "knock." Are you searching for a job? Yes, pray for a job. But God may expect you to research potential employers, and make some phone calls. Seek God's righteousness—and through God's Spirit, do what is righteous.
The Bible compares God's kingdom to a valuable pearl. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Matthew 13:45–46). The pearl of great price represents spiritual riches. Human beings are still learning the hard lesson that no amount of material wealth will provide lasting happiness. We see this in the lessons King Solomon learned. He had it all, but throughout the book of Ecclesiastes we find the theme repeated, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Solomon was the wealthiest man on earth, but his wealth did not bring him contentment. After searching for happiness in so many ways, what did he conclude? "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all" (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
As Christ taught, and as Solomon learned, the true riches are available even to those who may be financially poor. Are you one of those people who gives honor and attention to those with healthy bank balances, while neglecting those in financial difficulty? Are you neglecting those whom God is honoring? The Apostle James reminds us: "Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:5).
God has promised His Kingdom not to those who have great financial resources, but rather to those who love Him. Though they may be poor in the eyes of this world, those who are rich in faith have the true wealth—the true treasure. They are seeking God's way in their lives. God's way is treasure, as we read in the book of Proverbs. "My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding" (Proverbs 2:1–6).
Those who receive the treasure of godly wisdom are receiving wonderful promises that can change their lives—and their eternity. As the Apostle Peter wrote: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:2-4).
Do you want the divine nature in your life? Christians, having received God's Holy Spirit, have been given a measure of that divine nature. This is one of the Bible's most precious promises. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter stood before thousands to preach. "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call'" (Acts 2:38–39).
As Peter said, God's promise is "to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." If God is calling you, you need to respond to His calling. Repent, count the cost of commitment (Luke 14:28), and go to God in prayer, asking for His guidance. Perhaps you feel ready for baptism. If you would like counsel about baptism, just contact the regional office nearest you, listed on page 30 of this magazine, and a true minister of Jesus Christ will get in touch with you, at a time and place convenient to you, to counsel you and help you prepare for baptism.
Without God's Spirit, we cannot inherit His Kingdom. As the Apostle Paul wrote, that Spirit is the spirit "of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). Through God's Spirit, your human nature can be changed, and you can truly begin to follow God and obey Him. As Paul wrote: "And hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us" (Romans 5:5, ASV). Through God's Holy Spirit, you can replace your selfish human nature with God's loving nature.
Christians receive the gift of God's Holy Spirit, according to His promise, after repentance and acceptance of Christ's shed blood for the remission of sins. This gift includes God's wonderful promise of salvation through the living Jesus Christ. "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:6–10). Yes, God's awesome promise is that He will save us through the living Jesus Christ!
As we have seen, the Bible is a treasure chest of divine promises. One of the most precious, yet often-overlooked, is found in the book of Philippians. If you want peace of mind, you will want to act on this promise. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6–7).
As Solomon discovered, all the world's riches and treasures cannot buy you peace of mind. But God can give you His peace, which "surpasses all understanding." How can you claim this promise? By fervent prayer. As you read the Bible, you will find countless promises that God has made to you. On your knees, in prayer, tell God how much you want—how much you need—what He has promised. Pray boldly. Remember the scripture: "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
Christians can pray with confidence, knowing that they have a great High Priest to intercede on their behalf. God is love, and He is the greatest giver (James 1:17). He even wants to give us the earth as an inheritance (Matthew 5:5). Eventually, God plans to give us an even greater gift: "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son" (Revelation 21:7).
God's promises are for you. Search your Bible daily, and as you draw closer to God, thank Him for the many great and priceless treasures—including God's very Truth—He wants you to have, now, and in Tomorrow's World.