Surprised by Hope: What Are “Treasures in Heaven”?

Jesus was fond of promising his listeners “treasures in heaven.” I’ve often wondered what that really means? Will there be degrees of reward? And what would that mean?

I mean, is it a bigger room? Higher quality gold on the street? Sitting closer to God at the great banquet table? Better cuts of meat?

Well, I don’t know. But a crazy thought occurred to me I thought I’d share. And it starts with what we’ll be doing in heaven. There are at least three possible things I’ve been able to find —

Judging

(1 Cor 6:2-3) Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

We don’t talk much about this one. After all, we picture ourselves as the ones being judged — which will surely happen. And so what does this mean?

Jesus had earlier promised the same thing to his apostles (Matt 19:28; Luke 28ff. Cf. Dan 7:22).

Some Old Testament prophesies speak of God coming at the Eschaton with his “holy ones” or “saints”

(Zec 14:5-9) You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. 6 On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. 7 It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime — a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. 8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. 9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

But these don’t speak of the saints coming in judgment. However, in Ephesians, we see the church described as the body of Christ —

(Eph 1:22-23) And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

(Eph 2:6-7) And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

In these verses, the church is seen as already “seated” (past tense), as Jesus’ body, on his throne. And if Jesus is to judge the world, and if we sit on his throne with him, then it only makes sense that we would judge with him.

Ruling

Now, the same image suggests that we’ll share Jesus’ rule. As we sing in “Christ Arose,”

“And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.”

And many verses say the same thing —

(2 Tim 2:12) if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;

(Rev 22:4-5) They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 … And they will reign for ever and ever.

(Rev 5:9-10) And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

The idea of reigning with Jesus is actually a recurring theme in the New Testament. Of course, it raises an interesting question: reign over whom? By the time we get to Rev 22, we’ll be the only people left on earth. And that means we rule not over people but over the new Creation (I think).

This parallels the job of Adam in the Garden. In Paradise, they were charged —

(Gen 2:15) The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Even God’s own garden required tending.

Serving

(Rev 22:3) No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.

Finally, we are promised the blessing of serving God for eternity. We aren’t told what we are to do, but we’ll be in God’s service somehow or other.

Treasures

(Mat 6:19-20) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

(Mat 19:21) Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

And here’s my crazy theory: “treasures in heaven” is a metaphor (of course) for how serving God today changes us. The more our hearts are changed to love serving God, the more we’ll enjoy heaven.

We are the treasures in heaven, that is, our hearts and our willingness to serve. And if we enjoy judging as Jesus’ judges (with grace), and if we enjoy ruling the Creation as Jesus rules (caring deeply about the Creation), and if we enjoy serving as Jesus serves (self-sacrificially), then heaven will be a blast!

And if church work and talking to people about Jesus and caring for those in need and tending to God’s Creation isn’t fun today, well, it may not be much fun in the new Earth.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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