Introduction: Do you need to have someone keep an eye on
you? I know I do. Each week I teach the lesson that I write.
Turns out that this is an invaluable check on my thinking.
When Malachi 3 (and the other verses we have studied) tell
us that if we give materially to God’s work, He will pour
out a huge amount of blessings, I teach that this is about
money, among other things. My class members respond that it
is about other things more than money. Who is right? The
prime characters in the Old Testament were rich and the
prime characters in the New Testament were not. Consistent
with my view I read Matthew 6:19-20 to be talking about
money. “Treasure equals money.” Ouch! I’m an old guy who has
saved for retirement. But if the blessings in Malachi 3 are
not primarily about money, should we conclude that the
“treasures on earth” are also not about money? Let’s dive
into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!
I. The Nature of Treasure
A. Read Matthew 6:19. Is this a debatable statement?
(No. The Second Law of Thermodynamics, put simply,
is that things left alone get worse. We have all
seen it. Our treasures are not safe here on
B. Read Matthew 6:20. Heaven is a perfect place. I
believe that the Second Law of Thermodynamics does
not exist there. The practical question is: “How
do we make deposits there? How do we “lay up …
treasures in heaven?” (The answer to that is the
main discussion that follows.)
C. Read Matthew 6:21. Does this help us to understand
what is meant by “treasure?”
1. Can anything we love more than God be defined
as treasure? (I’m doubtful that is true.)
2. To aid our understanding of “treasure,” look
again at Matthew 6:19. What kind of things are
subject to rusting, being eaten, and stolen?
(This sounds like Jesus is talking about
tangible things. But if this is to be taken
literally, how would we get these tangible
things to heaven? And if we did, would we
value them up there?)
D. Read Matthew 13:44. This defines the Kingdom of
Heaven as like a treasure. Is the whole thing a
1. Is it for sale?
2. Let’s look at this from a practical point of
view. Why would the man in the parable sell
everything he had to buy the field? (Because
the treasure hidden in it was worth more than
a. Did he expect to make a profit? (Yes!)
b. Does that expectation apply to us? For
example, if we are talking about money as
treasure, should we get more money by
putting the Kingdom of God first?
3. If heaven is the treasure, does it make sense
to conclude that “laying up treasure in
heaven” mostly means getting there? When you
get there you have the treasure?
II. The Rich Young Man
A. Read Matthew 19:21. Have we arrived at the precise
instruction on how to create treasure in heaven?
We bank treasure in heaven by selling all that we
have and giving it to the poor?
B. Let’s read the context to better understand Jesus’
teaching. Read Matthew 19:16. What do you think
about this question? (Read Ephesians 2:8-9. This
teaches that salvation comes by faith and not
works. As we will see, the rich young man was
boasting about his works, which is the precise
problem identified in this text.)
C. Read Matthew 19:17. What a minute! Do you think
that Jesus believed that we are saved by keeping
1. Are Paul (writing in Ephesians) and Jesus in
D. Read Matthew 19:18-21. The rich young man says
that he has kept all of the commandments. Do you
think that is true?
1. Read Galatians 3:10-11. What does this suggest
about the truth of the rich young man’s
E. Read Matthew 19:22. Is this a commandment that the
rich young man would not keep? (He was unwilling
to sell all that he had.)
1. By the way, where is this commandment that
Jesus cites written in the Old Testament? (I
don’t think it exists. Of course, Jesus gets
to state the rules. But the Old Testament rule
found in Leviticus 19:18 that Jesus cites in
Matthew 22:39-40 is “love your neighbor as
yourself.” I would never ask my neighbor to
sell all that he had and give it to me.
Consider the practical problem if everyone had
to sell all they had to give to each other.
Once I give it to you, you have to give it
2. Do you think that the rich young man would
have become perfect if he had sold all that he
possessed and given it to the poor? (Re-read
Galatians 3:10-11. This tells us that because
the rich young man was unable to completely
obey by selling all he had, that he was under
a. How did the rich young man end up under a
curse? (By being one “who rely on works
of the law.”)
F. Read Matthew 19:23-24. We don’t want to lose track
of the issue. Is Jesus saying (Matthew 19:21) that
the way to deposit treasure in heaven is by
selling all that we have and giving it to the
poor. (I don’t think so. Instead of creating a
conflict with the Biblical statements of Paul,
Jesus is illustrating the truth of what Paul
writes – no one can keep the law perfectly – and
if you try you will fail and end up under a
1. How do you explain what Jesus says about the
difficulty of a rich person entering heaven?
(The rich person is tempted to trust in his
money instead of trusting God.)
2. Is that the not-so-obvious key to making
deposits in heaven – to trust God? (Think
about this. If Jesus were speaking literally,
that the rich must sell all to become perfect
to enter heaven, then no rich person would
ever enter heaven. Heaven would not be entered
by the rich with “difficulty,” they would not
enter at all.)
A. Read Genesis 6:13-15, Genesis 6:18, and
Genesis 7:6-7. Assume you never heard this story before.
How would you react to God’s command to build this
B. Read 2 Peter 3:3-6. What does this suggest the
pagan world did while Noah was building the ark?
(The idea of water covering the world was so
unbelievable that it is likely Noah had to deal
C. Reasonably assume, based on these texts, that Noah
was surprised by God’s command to build a massive
boat and the people around Noah were scoffing at
him the way pagans scoff at the idea of the end of
the world. What would be required of Noah to do as
God requested? (Noah would need absolute trust in
1. Did Noah receive treasure because of his
trust? (Read Genesis 7:23. Noah and his family
inherited the entire world.)
2. We have discussed the idea that heaven is the
actual treasure being discussed, and trust is
the key to obtaining that treasure. Do you
think the Noah story illustrates the “treasure
in heaven” concept? (I think it does. Noah
trusted God and he inherited the earth. This
is a parallel to our hope about heaven.)
IV. Sermon on the Mount
A. Matthew 6:20, the text about laying up treasure in
heaven, is part of the Sermon on the Mount. Let’s
examine what Jesus said almost immediately
thereafter. Read Matthew 6:24-25. What is Jesus
saying about money? What is He saying about trust?
(If we are right that laying up treasure in heaven
is about trust, Jesus now repeats the point that
if we trust money we will “despise” trusting God.
Failing to trust God makes us anxious.)
B. Read Proverbs 10:3-5. What does this teach about
hard work and planning?(Being diligent and having
plans makes you rich and being lazy makes you
poor. Choose diligence and prudence.)
C. Friend, we must not trust in the outcome of our
diligence. If we do we will not trust God.
Trusting God, not money, is the key to heaven.
Will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you trust
V. Next week: Unto the Least of These.
Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail,
but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this
link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the
Holy Spirit as you study.