The sure hope of believers—God has promised us, his redeemed children (Hebrews 6:19), that our “expectation shall not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18; 24:14). Through faith in the Holy Bible, all the children of God may know—with absolute and infallible “assurance” (Isaiah 32:17; Colossians 2:2; 1Thessalonians 1:5; Hebrews 6:11; 10:22), about the precious things of eternity. Believers are assured: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2Corinthians 4:17-18). Those who hate the knowledge and counsel of the LORD will eventually face the great calamity of “eternal damnation” (Mark 3:29; Proverbs 1:24-33).
DEFINITIONS (American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828).
Precious: ‘Of great price; costly; as a precious stone…Highly valued; much esteemed…highly esteemed for some spiritual, nonmaterial, or moral quality: precious memories.’
Temporal: ‘Pertaining to this life or this world or the body only; secular; as temporal concerns; temporal affairs. In this sense, it is opposed to spiritual. Let not temporal affairs or employments divert the mind from spiritual concerns, which are far more important.’
Everlasting a.: ‘Lasting or enduring for ever; eternal; existing or continuing without end; immortal.’ Example: “…the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary…” (Isaiah 40:28).
Everlasting n.: ‘Eternity; eternal duration, past and future.’ Example: “…even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2).
PRECIOUS TEMPORAL MATERIAL THINGS
Things of the earth—The scripture lists many “precious things of the earth” (Deuteronomy 33:16), material things, such as: jewels of silver, gold, raiment, fruit of the earth, clothes, stones, spices, ointment, vessels, copper, onyx, sapphire, jasper, and the substance of a diligent man.
A man’s life—Two additional precious things in this world are a man’s “Life” (Proverbs 6:26) and “the lips of knowledge” (Proverbs 20:15). The Lord Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:15-21). When God has completed his purpose for his creation, “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2Peter 3:10).
Precious spiritual things in this temporal world
God’s words and thoughts—The “word of the LORD was precious” (1Samuel 3:1) in the days of Samuel. God’s pure and preserved words—which “are spirit” (John 6:63), reveal his thoughts, which are “precious” (Psalm 139:17). For this reason believers are commanded: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
God’s wisdom—The word of God proclaims: “Wisdom is the principal [most important] thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). Rubies are precious jewels, but “wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it” (Proverbs 8:11; Job 28:18-19).
In the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon wrote: “For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it” (Ecclesiastes 7:12); “Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.” (Ecclesiastes 9:16); “Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good” (Ecclesiastes 9:18; 10:10).
Wisdom is not received from temporal things—Rational and reasonable men may understand the wisdom of God by observing the things he has made, but true wisdom must come to men from God himself. Concerning the things of the earth, Job declared that the Lord’s “eye seeth every precious thing. He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light. But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living” (Job 28:10-13).
God word defines wisdom— “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). The heathen are commanded: “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:11-12; Proverbs 3:5-6).
Christ Jesus is our wisdom—The saints are all those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ by faith (John 1:12-13), who have been “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). The saints are “in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1Corinthians 1:30). Therefore absolutely no precious temporal thing of earth can be compared with wisdom, which “is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her” (Proverbs 3:13-20; Ecclesiastes 2:10-13).
Unity of God’s children—David said: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment…” (Psalm 133:1-3).
PRECIOUS ETERNAL THINGS
Precious Redeemer—The Lord Jesus Christ is the preeminent precious one, because God the Father has given him the preeminence in all things (Colossians 1:18)! Writing to those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle Peter wrote: “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious” (1Peter 2:7). Job said, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25). The children of Israel “remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer” (Psalm 78:35; 19:14; Isaiah 43:14; 47:4). The LORD testified through Isaiah: “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go” (Isaiah 48:17; 49:26).
Precious redemption—It is absolutely impossible for any natural man to give an acceptable ransom either for his own or for any other man’s soul. The scripture warns: “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption” (Psalm 49:6-9). Furthermore the scriptures make it very clear that the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God “manifest in the flesh” (John 1:1-14; 1Timothy 3:16), is the one and only Redeemer for sinners: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom [the price of redemption] for all” (1Timothy 2:5-6).
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17)!
Every man’s soul is precious—There is nothing more significant in this world among men than the Lord’s redemption of a man’s soul. One soul of man is more precious than the whole world, including all of its precious temporal things! The Lord Jesus asked: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). In other words, what is a man profited if he shall enjoy all of the precious temporal things of this world during the temporal days of his very short physical life, and lose his soul to the everlasting torments of the damned, because he rejected God’s gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23) through faith in the gospel of Christ (John 6:47)?
Eternal redemption is free and accessible to ALL—God gives every man the freedom to choose either to receive (John 1:12-13) or reject (John 12:47-48) the Lord Jesus Christ as his Redeemer. The scriptures make it very clear that Jesus Christ “died for all” (2Corinthians 5:15); that he did “taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9); and that “he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1John 2:2). “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2).
Because of his righteous judgment, God the Father cannot accept any other sacrifice for sins! Peter warns that “there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2Peter 2:1). Because God has “no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezekiel 33:11; 18:32), God “now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30), because he is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2Peter 3:9).
Precious redeeming blood—“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (1Peter 1:18-21). God will redeem any sinner who believes in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9; 1Corinthians 15:3-4): any one who receives him by faith (John 1:12-13).
No redemption after physical death—It is very important for men to understand that it is only possible for any man to receive eternal redemption from God while he is yet living his one and only life in this world. Reincarnation, purgatory, and limbo are purely imaginary religious myths and fables. The truth is that once a man dies, he will go to hell where he will begin an eternity “in torments” (Luke 16:23)! When any man dies in unbelief, the redemption of his soul ceases to be possible: “it ceaseth for ever” (Psalm 49:8)!
Speaking of the eternal state of men’s souls after the Lord Jesus Christ judges the “dead” at his “great white throne” (Revelation 20:11-15), the word of God declares: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” (Revelation 22:11).
Among many other definitions for ‘still,’ Noah Webster gives the following: ‘After that; after what is stated; Always; ever; continually.’ For example, see also Psalm 49:9 and 68:21. The scripture teaches that after the final judgment of the wicked, the unjust and filthy unbelievers will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15), where they—with “the devil that deceived them” and with “the beast and the false prophet…shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
PHYSICAL DEATH OF GOD’S SAINTS
Precious to the LORD— “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15; 72:14). Every man consists of three parts: “spirit and soul and body” (1Thessalonians 5:23). From his word we understand that the souls of God’s saints have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (Psalm 49:8, 15; 71:23), and that their spirits have been “born again” (John 3:3-8).
Nevertheless, until their bodies either die, or are changed and “raised incorruptible” (1Corinthians 15:51-53) to be caught up “to meet the Lord in the air” (1Thessalonians 4:17) at the translation [rapture] of the church, the saints have no choice but to continue to live temporarily in vile, corruptible bodies. In this world “we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
Precious also to his saints—Things that are precious to the LORD should also be precious to his children. Job said unto God: “Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me [soul and spirit] with bones and sinews” (Job 10:11). Paul declared: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). Solomon wrote: “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth” (Ecclesiastes 7:1).
The apostle Paul wrote: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:21-24); and, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2Corinthians 5:6-8).
THE PRECIOUS STONE
The precious corner stone— “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste” (Isaiah 28:16; 13:12). The scripture clearly identifies the foundation stone when it declares: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1Corinthians 3:11). The Lord Jesus was rejected by the builders of the Jewish religion, which, during his earthly ministry, was based on the unwritten Babylonian Talmud. He is “The stone which the builders refused [and] is become the head stone of the corner” (Psalm 118:22-23; Matthew 21:42).
The chief corner stone—The church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). Believers are commanded: “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious” (1Peter 2:1-8).
The head stone of the corner—On the day the impotent man was healed in the name of Jesus Christ in the temple, about five thousand men were saved through the preaching of Peter and John. Then the priests laid hands on Peter and John and put them in hold.
On the next day, standing before the Jewish rulers, elders, scribes, Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and the kindred of the high priest, “Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:1-12).
The smiting stone—Daniel’s interpretation of king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream concluded with a similitude of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to destroy the enemy nations and to conquer the whole world: the time when the kingdoms of this world will “become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
After describing the great image—which typified the actual history of the nations that have ruled the world from the days of Daniel until this present time, Daniel said to the king, “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:31-35).
During the thousand-year reign of the Lord Jesus (Revelation 20:1-7) David’s prayer for the LORD to “let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen” (Psalm 72:19) will be answered. “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
Precious faith will be tried—The second epistle of Peter was written “to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (2Peter 1:1). This precious saving “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), specifically the redeeming gospel, “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1Corinthians 15:3-4). Believers are promised that their faith will be tried, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1Peter 1:7).
Precious promises—Peter reveals that God has given unto us [born-again believers] “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2Peter 1:4). And then – because God has predestinated all believers “to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29); and because “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10) – in 2Peter 1:5-8 Peter lists seven steps of Christian growth: steps of progressive sanctification, steps all believers should take as they “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
The precious light of holy Jerusalem—John saw “that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:10-11, 19-20). “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23).
The greatest blessing in eternity—New Jerusalem, the eternal home of the church, is a place that is being prepared by the Lord (John 14:1-3), a place where the church will be with the Lord. The street of gold and the twelve gates of pearl in that holy city will no doubt be awesome and very beautiful. But the most wonderful and outstanding blessing for the blood-bought church of God in eternity is that they shall “ever be with the Lord” (1Thessalonians 4:16-18; Revelation 21:3; 22:3-5)!
David said to the Lord: “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11): “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psalm 17:15). The apostle John also wrote: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1John 3:2). Isaiah prophesied: “The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended” (Isaiah 60:19-20).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).