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The Two Debtors

           PART II: THE PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM

                  CHAPTER 7  THE BEST PEARL
 

                                       Introduction

        Whereas the man who found the hidden treasure in a field
         was not searching for a treasure, the pearl merchant was
         actively seeking for a treasure (fine pearls).  This parable
         is found only here in Matthew 13:45-46.   This is the second
         parable that Jesus told to his disciples privately.
  The Story
                   "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like
                   a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When
                   he found one of great value, he went away
                   and sold everything he had and bought
                   it." (Matthew 13:45-46, New International
                   Version.). 

              Again, Jesus draws from an earthly story in order to
         teach a spiritual truth.   A pearl merchant was looking for
         fine pearls when he found a very fine, beautiful pearl.  The
         merchant sold everything he had and bought it.
 

          The Interpretation
             This parable teaches the same truths as The Hidden
         Treasure.  It is interesting to note that the word,  "Pearl"
         is  from a Sanskrit word meaning "Pure."  Jesus is The Best
         Pearl.  The merchant is the one who discovers the exceedingly
         high value of Christ and accepts him as his personal Lord and
         Savior.  By the act of selling all that he had, the merchant
         represents the believer placing God and his Son above every-
         one and everything else.
 

                                      Central Truth
 

                       CHRIST (AND HIS SALVATION)
                        IS SUPERIOR TO EVERYTHING ELSE.
 
                                       Conclusion

              A fitting conclusion for so great a truth is to receive
         Christ as your Savior if you have not done so.  Here is how
         to receive The Best Pearl:

         1. GOD LOVES YOU.  Realize that God loves you and desires a
         life of joy for you:

                   For God so loved the world, that he gave
                   his only begotten Son, that whosoever
                   believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
                   (John 3:16). 

              Not only did God tell you that he loves you, but    he
         proved his love by sending his Son to die for you!  His love
         is also expressed by the full and high quality life he has
         planned for you NOW--in this life as well as in the life to
         come.  Jesus said,

                   The thief [Satan] comes only to steal and
                   kill and destroy; I have come that they
                   may have life, and have it to the full.
                   (John 10:10, New International Version).

            Why is there so much evil in the world and why do many
         people not experience the abundant life?

         2. SIN HAS SEPARATED YOU FROM GOD. Because people are sinful,
         they are cut off from God and his blessings.  The Bible
         teaches and human experience confirms that we are sinful:

                   For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
                   (Romans 3:23). 

              We were created for fellowship with God, but that
         fellowship was broken when we rebelled against God.  Sin
         brought us spiritual death:

                   For the wages of sin is death, but the
                   gift of God is eternal life in Christ
                   Jesus our Lord.   (Romans 6:23, New
                   International Version).

              We continually strive for the abundant life but always
         fall short.  Business success, wealth, education, religion,
         fame, drugs, pleasure and all human substitutes cannot fill
         the God shaped void in the human heart.  How do we become
         reconciled with God and experience the abundant life?

         3.  JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY ANSWER.  Jesus Christ is God's
         only provision to forgive our sin and give us abundant life.
         Jesus died for us--he took our penalty of death:

                   Very   rarely   will anyone die for a
                   righteous man, though for a good man
                   someone might possibly dare to die.  But
                   God demonstrates his own love for us in
                   this: WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, CHRIST
                   DIED FOR US.  [italics mine].  (Romans  5:7-8,
                   New International Version). 

                  God demonstrated that Christ's death was accepted as a
                  sacrifice for us by raising Christ from the dead:

                       For what I received I passed on  to
                   you as of first importance: that Christ
                   died for our sins according to   the
                   Scriptures, that he was buried, that he
                   was raised on the third day according to
                   the Scriptures, and that he appeared to
                   Peter, and then to the Twelve.    After
                   that, he appeared to more than five
                   hundred of the brothers at the same time,
                   most of whom are still living, though
                   some have fallen asleep. Then he
                   appeared to James, then to all the
                   apostles, and last of all he appeared to
                   me also, as to one abnormally born.
                   (1 Corinthians 15:3-8, New International
                   Version).

                  Christ is the only way to God:

                       Jesus answered, "I am the way and
                   the truth and the life, No one comes to the
                   Father except through me."  (John 14:6,
                   New International Version). 

              It is not enough to know that God loves you, that sin
         has cut you off from God and that Jesus Christ is the only
         way to God.

         4.  YOU MUST RECEIVE CHRIST PERSONALLY.  You must personally
         receive Christ as your Lord and Savior.   The Bible states
         that,

                   Yet to all who received him, to those who
                   believed in his name, he gave the right
                   to become children of God--children  born
                   not  of  natural  descent,  nor  of human
                   decision or a husband's will, but born of
                   God.  (John  1:12-13,  New  International
                   Version).

                   You receive Christ by faith: 

                   For  it  is by grace you have been saved,
                   through  faith--and  this  is  not   from
                   yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by
                   works, so that no one can boast,  For  we
                   are  God's workmanship, created in Christ
                   Jesus  to  do  good  works,   which   God
                   prepared    in  advance  for  us  to  do.
                   (Ephesians   2:8-9,   New   International
                   Version).

            If you choose to receive  the truth about Jesus  Christ,
         then the Holy Spirit will give you faith to trust him as your
         personal Savior.  Then, when you  receive  Christ,  the  Holy
         Spirit  will give you a spiritual rebirth.  Jesus called this
         being born again:

                   You should not be surprised at my saying,
                   `You  must be born again.' (John 3:7, New
                    International Version). 

              This is the most important experience that you will ever
         have.  God will bring new life into your being. This new life
         will make you more like the Lord Jesus.
         The Prophet Isaiah  painted this beautiful  word  picture
         concerning the ministry of Christ:
 

  The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has
anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent men to
bind up the brokenhearted,to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the
year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in
Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
The  oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of
righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his
splendor. (Isaiah 61:1-3)(New International Version)

Isaiah speaks of the joy of deliverance from past  guilt
and  bondage of  sin.    However, it does not happen auto-
matically.  Christ stands at your heart's door, but you must open
the door:

  Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice  and opens the door,  I will come in to him and eat with him, and  he with me.
(Revelation  3:20,  King James Version).

You can  receive Christ in your heart right  now.  Pray this prayer from your heart:

      Almighty God, I confess  that  I  have  sinned  against  you.  I ask you to  forgive me.
       I receive  Christ  as  my  Lord  and  Savior.  Thank  you  for  forgiving my sins and
      giving me eternal life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.