The Lord's Jewels.
One of the sweetest truths in the Bible is, What are we to God? What God is to us is very precious, but it is wonderful to find what God says we are to Him. We sometimes say that we could not live without Christ, neither could we. We say we could not be satisfied without Christ, and we could not. We say we could not be happy without Christ, and we could not. But, on the other hand, remember that Christ would not live without us, would not be satisfied without us, and would not be happy without us. He could not be all this without those for whom He died, that He might have them forever with Him in glory.
First then, turn to Matt, xiii. 45, and look at that sweet parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman, seeking goodly pearls; who when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." In reading that parable, I used to think that the Lord Jesus Christ was the pearl of great price, I was the merchantman, and the price which I paid was one sin, and another, which I gave up to accept Christ. Now, in reading this blessed Word, I can find no place in which the sinner is said to purchase Christ, or eternal life, or anything else. Certainly in that beautiful chapter in Isaiah, the sinner is invited to "come, buy wine and milk;" but the price is there stated, and it is "without money and without price;" if we are to pay nothing, then it is a gift which we receive, not a purchase which we make. Again it is said: "Buy the truth and sell it not;" but this is for the Christian and not for the unsaved soul. The sinner cannot purchase salvation, Christ has purchased it. The Lord Jesus Christ has purchased His Church; He was the purchaser, not the Church. Remember, it makes all the difference in the world to make sure of this, because the buyer has the right to sell. If I had purchased Christ, then I could part with Him; but if He has purchased me, I cannot part with Him, I am His by right of purchase. Men do not buy with the intention of selling at a loss. So when the Lord Jesus Christ purchased the Church, He paid a very high price for it, and He can never part with it until He gets a higher price; that He can never get. He laid down His Own life for the Church, and the Church is safe until a higher price is offered.
Eighteen hundred years ago, Satan offered a price—"All these things will I give Thee if Thou wilt fall down and worship me." The price was too low. Christ was about to pay His life-blood for the Church, and He would not sell it for these earthly things. Turn to one or two passages to prove this point. In Acts xx. 28, we read, "The Church of God, which He hath purchased with His Own blood." There you get the merchantman, the pearl of great price, and the price paid.
Again, in Gal. ii. 20, "Who loved me, and gave Himself for me." Once more, in 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20, vii. 23; "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price." If we had time, I might read fifty passages to prove that it is Christ who purchased the Church, and not the Church which purchased Christ.
Well, now look at the common-sense view of it. Suppose I go into one of the grand jewellers' shops in London, and say, "Do you sell pearls?" "Yes." "Have you any fine ones?" He goes to a great safe, and brings out a tray covered with chamois leather. "Here are some as fine as you'll get in London." I look at them, and see one above all the rest in beauty and purity, and I say, "What is the price of that?" "It is very expensive. Do you wish to buy it?" "Yes, I do." "Then it is £20,000." "Well, to-morrow I will come and buy that pearl." Next day, I drive up to the door of the grand shop in a covered waggon. I jump out, and go in and say, "I have come for that pearl." "Have you got the money?" "Well, not exactly the money." "What then?" "Oh, I have been to every part of London, and gathered all the refuse, and rubbish, and filth I could find, and I have brought a whole load of it to pay for the pearl." They would think I was mad, and yet it is no more foolish than to think that my sins and iniquities will pay for "the pearl of great price." Only the Lord Jesus Christ could pay the price required for that pearl, and He died to purchase it. The pearl of great price is the Church, the merchantman is Christ, and the price is His Own precious life-blood, paid eighteen hundred years ago on the cross.
Think now; He calls us "pearls." What are pearls noted for? For purity. I suppose the purest thing upon earth is a pearl. The very moment it is found, it is perfect and pure, needing neither polishing nor grinding. So the Church of God upon earth ought to be pure, "even as He is pure," because the Lord Jesus Christ calls us His pearls. He calls us so, because He would have us pure.
Do you know where the purest pearls are found? In the deepest depths. The pearl-divers have to go to the bottom of the ocean for them, and the deeper they go, the purer are the pearls they find. So the pearl of great price was down in the depths of sin and degradation; but the Lord Jesus Christ plunged from the very height of glory, until He cries out, "All Thy waves and Thy billows have gone over Me," and there He found the pearl which He sought.
When He came up again, He had secured the pearl of great price----the Church of God—which He had purchased with His Own life-blood. We are safe because He has purchased us, and has died for us; but He would have us to be pure and holy, and let our good works be seen by the world, that He may be glorified, and our heavenly Father praised.
Now turn to Mal. iii. 17, and here, in contrast to the pearls, we have the Lord's jewels: "They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels." Every one of us knows that the Church is one in the Lord Jesus Christ; therefore it is not pearls, in the plural number, but "the pearl" that is, in the singular number. Here, however, it is my jewels, not my jewel. As individual saints, then, He calls us His jewels.
What are jewels for? Ladies get them that they may be admired. So the Lord Jesus Christ gets jewels, that He may be admired. How careful must we be that we so live by His grace, that He may be admired in us!
Now a few passages as to jewels. Turn to Job xxviii. You find that the whole of the chapter is taken up with jewels. All the various precious stones that we know of are mentioned here; and it says, "His eye seeth them all." What encouragement to us in seeking to win precious jewels for Him! In the roughest and vilest places, His eye sees them! Search the Word, and see where the Lord found His jewels. Out of Moab, He brought one bright jewel—Ruth. Another bright gem was found, a harlot in Jericho. In that gloomy prison, Paul and Silas found a lovely jewel—the Philippian jailor. So do we still find such jewels for the Master's crown, just where we least expect them. But when God sends us to look for them, we must search diligently. Precious stones are found by the careful seeker. True, they are occasionally found as it were by accident, but generally it is by diligence in searching.
Some little time ago, a black fellow found a beautiful diamond on the diamond-fields. Someone asked, "Why is it that the best stones are found by natives, and not by white men?" "Because we black fellows get down on our knees to look for them, and white men don't like to get down in the dirt." So it is when we get on our knees that we find the beautiful jewels for our Master. As workers for Christ, we may meet with a great deal of disappointment and trial; but that is nothing to the joy of finding just one precious soul as a bright jewel, to set in the crown of the Lord Jesus Christ. What is the trouble? He will repay it all. Let us go on then, brothers and sisters, seeking for these precious jewels for the Lord. He sees where they are, and will guide us to them if we are seeking to serve Him. Sometimes He permits us to win many; but if it be only one, it is worthwhile. I believe, when we see Christ, our greatest joy in His presence will be, that we found some of those jewels that deck His crown.
Turn now to 1 Chron. xxix. 2: "I have prepared with all my might, for the house of my God, the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance." Notice, "glistering stones." There is a difference between a pearl and a diamond. The pearl is perfect and pure when found, the diamond is not. These stones glistened because they had been cut. That is what the Lord is doing with us here. He is cutting His precious jewels, that they may glisten in His holy temple. He chastens us, that He may cause us to shine. Some murmur because they are chastened. They should rather murmur if they were not chastened.
The jeweller does not cut and polish a paving-stone. No, it is the precious stones that he cuts. It is then a sign that the Lord counts us worth cutting when He chastens us. He lets the world alone, but He chastens the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ would have us to be glittering stones, and so He chastens us. The pearl is known for its purity, and the diamond for its beauty. We should have both qualities, and if we are pure, we shall be beautiful, no doubt about that.
Now another thing about the diamond. I used to imagine that the diamond would give light in the darkest spot; but it does not. I had one given to me some time ago, and I found that if I took it into a dark room, it ceased to sparkle. Take a diamond into the darkest mine, hold it before you, and it will shine no more than the paving-stone does; but let one gleam of light come from any part of the universe, and it will catch the ray. It is then only a reflector, nothing else. So with us. When we get away from Christ, we give forth no light, not even a sparkle; but let a beam of His light enter our soul, and it will instantly shine forth; we shall reflect it. That is what the Christian, and each individual Christian, is—a reflector. Our lustre in this dark, benighted world comes from Him alone.
Now I will tell you how diamonds are cut. Some time ago I went with Major Whittle to the watch manufactory of which he was then the manager. After seeing other parts of the work, we went into the room where they cut jewels for the watches. I said to the man there, "Please tell me how you cut jewels." "How do you think?" "I suppose you use a good file." "The best file in the world would not graze the surface of a diamond."
"How do you do it, then?" "I just take one diamond to cut another." That is just how the Lord does with His jewels; He uses one jewel to cut another. We talk about bad surroundings, a bad world, and bad people hurting us. I tell you, all the power of the world, and the people in it, and the devil himself, cannot damage one of God's jewels. Satan cleverly uses one jewel to mar another, and both get injured in his hand. So do we not find that all the real dangers to the Church arise from within. So Satan manages to spoil our beauty. But in God's hand, one of His jewels is used to cut and polish another, and there is no marring. Are we using our tongues or our lips to mar the beauty of a fellow-Christian? Shame on us to do the devil's work! Never should we lend ourselves to his ends. May God help us to yield ourselves to no hand but that of our blessed Master, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Turn now to 2 Chron. iii. 5: "He overlaid it within with pure gold; and the greater house he cieled with fir-trees, which he overlaid with fine gold, and set thereon palm-trees and chains. And he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty." In that temple, there were a great many things that seemed useless. The foundation-stones were useful, the great beams were wanted; but as for those jewels, they appear to be useless. What were they for? For ornament and beauty. They were to garnish the house, and make it beautiful. So there are some of God's saints who seem to be useless.
I went lately to see an invalid, a Christian lady. I found her lying on a couch, helpless. She could not move, and could only use one hand; yet she seemed very happy. I asked, "How long have you been lying here?" "I have been helpless for eighteen years." "Are you miserable?" "No, I'm as happy as I can be." And so she seemed. She could do nothing but lie there, and ornament the house. She glorified God in her helplessness. Paul, the great apostle, could do no more. No one can do more than glorify God in the place in which God has set him. Glorify God by being satisfied to do or suffer His will, filling the place He would have us in, and thus ornament the house.
Lately I visited a famous pottery. In one room, I found a young lady painting a beautiful flower on a vase. I said, "You take a great deal of trouble with that" "Yes, it takes me a long time to do it" "But what is the use? "With my finger I could in a moment spoil the flower." "How do you manage to keep the painting on the vase?" "When I have finished the painting, a man comes and takes the vase to the fire, and after it has passed through the fire, no power in the world can take it off." Ah, friends, we must pass through the fire. The Lord Jesus Christ would paint on us the likeness of the lovely rose of Sharon, contact with the world takes it off; but He puts us in the fire and burns it in, then it won't rub off. The lessons learned in the fire of affliction are never forgotten. I suppose we all know that, and every Christian learns at length to thank God that He was afflicted and had passed through the fire.
And now I must close; but turn to one more passage, the second last chapter of the Bible. There we see the Church, the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God, and it is likened unto a jewel. There it is, perfected at last in the beauty of holiness.
Some time ago I was staying with a scientific gentleman known to most of you. I was talking to him of diamonds, and he asked, "Do you know what a diamond is?" "No, I don't" "Nothing but carbon; that is charcoal. I could reduce a diamond to a mere piece of carbon in a short time." "But can you make that carbon into a diamond?" "No one can do that" "Oh, yes, I know One who can." "What do you mean?" "The Lord Jesus Christ can. He takes the worthless carbon and transforms it into the precious diamond to shine in His crown."
May the Lord help us to be like the pearl and the diamond, to be pure and beautiful, shining back the light of the Sun of Righteousness. "The Gospel Watchman" 1880.