The Treasure Map
by Dr. C. Matthew McMahon
Imagine finding a map which described the way you could locate a long-lost chest of buried treasure? Imagine obtaining doubloons, gems, precious stones, pearl necklaces, and the like—a treasure worth billions! It would be all yours for the taking if you followed the map’s instructions to the hidden treasure. It may be that the map described difficult circumstances to overcome, maybe a perilous journey to reach the buried treasure. Would that stop you from trying to obtain it? What if you knew that without a shadow of a doubt the treasure would be yours absolutely? Would that make the journey any more tempting? I think it would.
What you are holding in your hands is a map to a treasure. Yet this is a very peculiar treasure indeed. You do not have to traverse the raging sea on an old pirate ship, or climb the Alps, or work your way through a dozen life-threatening booby-traps to obtain it. There is difficulty involved in obtaining it, but not that kind of difficulty. It is also a unique map, in that, without gaining the treasure which this map leads you to, you will not only lose your life, but your very soul as well.
This map is a map to the treasure of eternal life and the glory of God. Eternal life should be far more pleasing to gain than a few nuggets of gold which can be stolen or spent on worldly pleasures. Eternal life, for those who have it, is a treasure they can keep for all eternity. The map I am speaking of is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In its full context, the treasure map to eternal life is fully explained in the Bible, but I believe we can traverse the basics of that map here in a short outline.
Salvation is a mighty work of the One True God of the Universe. He has outlined in His Word the map to gain this treasure of salvation very clearly. First we must ask, what is "salvation"? Salvation by God through Jesus Christ is the deliverance from His wrath due to us by sin, and regaining the ability of glorifying Him in righteous living. The salvation which God offers us begins with an understanding of who God is and what He requires of us. This is the first clear marker to the treasure of eternal life on our map.
What is God? God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. He is the Sovereign King over all of creation. He rules us with all the perfections of His character. Psalm 47:8 says, "God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne." He is not an idol of gold, or a image of a bird-man. He is not part of creation. He is not a mere force. He is the Creator, not the created. Our first marker to eternal life is the glorious God of creation.
Our second marker on the map to eternal life tells us what God requires of us. God requires that all men should perfectly obey His commandments and imitate His righteous, just, and holy character to the glory of God. In other words, we are to be perfect. Are you perfect? Have you ever sinned? Matthew 5:48 says, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect." If we are to be perfect, and we know we are not perfect, does not that present a great problem for us? Has any man born under Adam ever been perfect? The answer to this is "NO!" The problem: God is holy and we are not. He has given us His law that binds our conscience to perfect conformity in character and conduct. But we are not able to keep His law. His commandments condemn us at every turn. They continually point out our sin. The Ten Commandments exist to demonstrate God's holy character and our sinfulness. Romans 3:20, "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Through the law we are made conscious of sin, but we cannot keep the law, and always sin before the face of God and His holiness. There is nothing He does not see us do, and nothing we can think that escape Him. He is all knowing, and knows our thoughts and actions completely. We are open books to His holy gaze that sees all our sinful deeds. The law stands to condemn us in this. We stand guilty before Him because of our sin and wickedness (disobeying the law). Why do we do what we do? Why do we sin so much? That leads us to our next marker.
Our third marker helps us to understand who we are before God. God created Adam, the first man, in righteousness, holiness and truth, with dominion over the animals. When Adam sinned, he sinned as a representative of the whole human race. We all sinned in him and with him because he was our representative. Through Adam we have inherited a corrupt and sinful nature. That is why we can never be perfect. God counted Adam's sin to our account. This corruption of our nature is wholly at odds with God. Its lacks righteousness before God because it is not a perfect righteousness. Our sin nature has an inclination toward evil thoughts and renders us unable to save ourselves by keeping the commandments God gave us. Nothing we can do can make us perfect. Romans 5:12 says, "...through one man, sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because all sinned." We are all sinful before God. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." And none of us can earn our way into heaven; "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight." (Romans 3:20) No work is good enough to merit eternal life before God.
The next marker on our map is quite dreadful. As a result of our sin in Adam, and since God is holy, He must punish imperfect sinful people. Our rebellious nature, and our violation of God’s revealed will, deserve His justice against our sin. He must punish sin justly. Sinning against an infinite God deserves a punishment of infinite duration. It is eternal punishment. Ezekiel 18:20 says, "The soul that sins, shall die." This death is not merely the death of the body, but eternal death in hell. Hell is where God’s wrath is carried out against sinners forever. Matthew 10:28 says, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell." This is a most severe and dreadful punishment. It is utterly horrifying to be cast into hell among the damned of God. Those who are in hell now, would give anything to have one moments peace and rest away from His wrath. They are wishing that their torment was just one sin less than it is right now because it is so horrible.
Yet, though the truth of eternal damnation be horrifying for all sinners, there is a marker on our map to eternal life which is able to give us hope. This is the most glorious and shining marker on our map—it is the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who became a man to save sinners from God’s wrath. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." As a sinless man, Jesus is able to represent sinners as One who has perfectly obeyed God’s holy law and has imitated His righteous character in every way. As the only God-man, He was able to die on the cross for sinners in their place and fully satisfy the deserved punishment those sinners would have received. John 10:11, 17 says, "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. Therefore My Father loves me because I lay my life down that I may take it up again." Sinners must believe this to be saved from God‘s wrath.
Jesus Christ did not remain dead in the grave. He is not dead even now. He has risen from the grave and ascended up into heaven in a glorious state. 1 Corinthians 15:20 says, "But now Christ is risen from the dead." And all those believing on this risen savior shall be saved forever. John 11:25 says, "I am the resurrection and the life!! He who believes in me though he die, yet shall he live." Jesus is the "X" that marks the spot!
We see that our treasure map to eternal life has lead us to the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross and rose again from the dead for sinners. But there is another marker on our map which can help us understand how to obtain the salvation which has been spoken of above. In order to be saved from the wrath to come, one must plead for mercy and seek repentance through Jesus Christ. Repentance is a sight of sin, sorrow of sin, confession of sin, shame for sin, hatred for sin and turning from sin. We must see we are guilty. We must have sorrow over our guiltiness because we have sinned against God Himself. We must confess this sin and ask for the cleansing blood of Christ to wash our sins away. Our shame for this sin should cause us to hate it because it offends a holy God. And we must turn from it towards holiness of life. Luke 13:3 says, "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish." Unless this repentance is exemplified by you, you can never have the treasure of eternal life.
Repentance leads to yet another marker on our map of eternal life—faith in Christ. The faith that saves is not merely a head knowledge of certain facts about God and Jesus Christ; instead it is the trust of one’s life to these truths forever. This faith is a gift which God gives people. Ephesians 2:8-9 say, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works lest anyone should boast." This is saving faith. God grants sinners faith as they repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here we have our buried treasure. Here we have Jesus Christ; He who is far more precious than a few nuggets of gold. "To you who believe, He is precious." (1 Peter 2:7)
How wonderful it is that our treasure map of eternal life has lead to the treasure of Jesus Christ!—but there is still more. The map of the Gospel does not end. We do not just dig up the treasure of Christ and then think we have accomplished our goal in finding the treasure. This Gospel map also shows us what God requires of those who say they have believed in Christ and have faith in Him. When the treasure chest of Christ is opened up, we find other parts of the Gospel map which we did not previously have. It would be like an old treasure map which may have been torn up into pieces, and when one treasure is found then the next part of the map is found as well to reveal something more.
So how does this apply? It is true that the Bible was given to show us eternal life through faith in Christ. 1 John 5:13 says, "these things were written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know you have eternal life, and may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." But true faith breeds a holiness of life as well. Christ does not only save us, but He then requires our obedience. This helps us to know we are truly saved. Our assurance that we have been saved by Christ is seen in three ways: first, through the testimony of the Scriptures; secondly, through the Holy Spirit’s testimony to our own spirits that the Words of God are true concerning His Son (Romans 8:16); and lastly, it also comes through the testimony of a changed life. Our repentance (Acts 26:20), Baptism (Matthew 28:19-20), godly works (Ephesians 2:10), daily prayer (Matthew 6:5), Bible study (1 Peter 2:2), faithful attendance and membership in a bible-believing church (Hebrews 10:25) and our striving towards obedience of His commandments must all be present in us. These must be a part of every true believer. Salvation from sin demands this change. It is a radical salvation that God brings to us through Christ. How could we not be radically changed?!
So we see our treasure map, then, continues to lead us closer to Jesus Christ. The Bible can tell you much more than what was presented in this simple tract. Read it thoroughly. It will lead you to the "X" which marks the spot—the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There the chest is filled with salvation’s mysteries; the crown of thorns, the iron nails, the blood drenched beams of wood, the empty tomb, the Risen Savior. There you will find the glory of God, a treasure beyond your wildest aspirations. May the treasure map of the Gospel help you see the infinite worth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Redeemer of men, and help you to glorify Him forever. For it is this end which you were created—to glorify the Living God. In Christ we are able to do just that for all eternity. AMEN.