God’s Word is more precious than gold
Gold fever – the excitement and greed associated with a gold rush. On several occasions during the 1800s, gold fever struck many in our country. News of gold being discovered led many to risk life and limb, to travel thousands of miles to relatively uninhabited, unknown territories, in many cases across difficult mountain passes, transporting hundreds of pounds of gear and supplies – just for the chance to strike it rich. Very few ever did. Many never even made it to their intended destination. But gold fever drove them.
What would you do for a chance at a fortune? Would you be willing to suffer hardship? Would you risk life and limb – or at least maybe face some ridicule? Would you sacrifice some of your hard earned wages for a chance at a fortune?
We have something even more precious than gold. We have God’s Word. We have the gospel message of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. We have a treasure beyond compare.
That is why you are here this morning. That’s why 50 years ago, this congregation was established. While we might enjoy many friendships or have family relations within the congregation, while we might enjoy many of the different events and activities that happen here at St. Paul’s – the reason you are here is because you recognize that here God’s Word is proclaimed in its truth.
What makes gold so precious? Mainly it’s because of its rarity. Most gold is used either for jewelry or for financial purposes. While it does have some practical, everyday type of uses – those make up a very small percentage. Gold is precious because it’s rare.
What makes God’s word even more precious? King David in Psalm 19 reminds us of the precious treasure we have in God’s word and directs us to why it is so precious. With six different names for God’s Word and six attributes of that word and six blessings that the word gives to believers – King David helps us to realize why God’s Word is more precious than gold. We will take a look at a number of those reasons.
God’s Word is trustworthy. You can count on it. You can trust everything it says. The Bible is God’s Word. It doesn’t merely contain God’s word. The Bible is entirely God’s Word – 100%. So it is 100% true – it is an absolute guide for life and for eternity. You can’t always trust what any person might tell you, but God does not and cannot lie. So all the promises contained in the Bible are sure. You can count on them. The promises God makes to us give us comfort in every situation, even in the face of death. We have certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.
God gave to the writers the exact words he wanted them to write. The apostle Peter tells us, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The writing of Scripture is not something which the writers simply decided to record. The author of the Bible is God himself. While God used the individual talents and styles of the different writers, the Holy Spirit gave the writers of the Bible the very words to write.
Sadly, many churches today treat the Bible as little more than a myth or a cleverly invented story. While they may see value in the teachings of the Bible, they pick and choose what they think are appropriate lessons. They see the Bible not as God’s inerrant word, but as simply containing God’s word. “That may have been fine for people living 2000 years ago, but today with our science and technology, we know better,” they may claim. And so human reason and human wisdom must decide and interpret what is God’s word and what the Bible has to tell us – rather than letting God speak and letting Scripture interpret Scripture.
What about us? Do we always give the Bible its proper place and attention in our lives? The devil continues with that ancient temptation – “did God really say?” He tempts us to question God’s Word. At times, we find it difficult to subject our reason and logic to what the Bible says. When a particular Bible teaching makes our life difficult or doesn’t fit with society, how tempting to interpret the Bible according to our way of thinking, instead of simply letting God speak to us. At times, it becomes difficult for us to make time for God’s Word. So many other things need to be done and we fail to give attention and effort to listening to the Lord and his Word. We need to ask the Lord’s forgiveness for our neglect of his word.
The Bible is the inspired Word of God – so it is able to make wise. It is able to “make us wise for salvation.” God’s word is so very precious because it is the only thing that can deal with our greatest need. Gold can be used to buy all the things we need for earthly life. Gold can enrich a person’s life here on earth. There are even some medical uses for gold – so perhaps gold could even prolong a person’s life. But no matter how much wealth a person might have, it can’t prevent death. God’s word is the only thing that can solve the problem of sin and give to us eternal life.
By nature, we were spiritually poor. The prophet Isaiah uses that picture when he prophesies concerning the coming Savior. In chapter 61, Isaiah writes, “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 me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners.” By nature, we were those spiritually poor prisoners of sin. By nature, we were spiritually bankrupt. There is nothing good in us by nature and nothing we can do to gain the riches of heaven for ourselves.
But through his word, God comes to us and gives us the gifts of his grace. While nature testifies to God, only through his Word as God reveals himself to us can we know who the true God is and what he is truly like. Only through his word can we know our Savior Jesus and the forgiveness and salvation that he secured for us on the cross.
Through that Word, not only does God reveal to us our Savior Jesus. But he works in us the faith to believe and trust in Jesus. The apostle Peter tells us, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” Through that word, we have been born again. We who were dead sinners have now been made alive. We have been purified. Our sins have all been washed away in the blood of Jesus. The blessings that Jesus won by his death on the cross come to us through God’s Word. There God has revealed our Savior to us. There he has told us about the way of salvation – something we could never have figured out or achieved on our own. Through his Word, he makes us his very own.
What a great treasure we have. The apostle Paul reminds us of the great treasure we have in Jesus. Paul writes to the Colossians, “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
And as King David points in the Psalm – God’s word gives joy – it makes the heart glad. No matter what the circumstances of this life, we are able to rejoice knowing that Jesus, as our substitute, bore our sins to the cross and paid for every one of them – and so we have a certain hope of eternal life. What comfort to know God’s love in Christ. What comfort to have God’s promises which sustain us as we wait for Jesus’ coming again in glory. That’s why the apostle Paul, even as he wrote while imprisoned, could say – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
And it is all ours without cost. Those prospectors hit with gold fever – expended a great deal of effort and in many cases expense trying to strike it rich and find gold. But, the treasures of God’s grace are given to us. They have been paid for by Christ’s blood. We buy them for nothing. A picture that the prophet Isaiah uses when speaking about the work of the Savior. Isaiah writes, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” Jesus has secured the treasures of heaven for us. It’s a treasure that is worth far more than any amount of money or gold or silver or anything that this world has to offer.
But while the treasure of the gospel is given to us without cost on our part, that doesn’t mean that the life of a Christian will be always easy with no struggles. The world will hate and may ridicule and even persecute us. The Christian life means a constant struggle against sin and temptation. It means that we may give up certain things for the sake of our Lord and his gospel. It means sacrifice and a cross. It requires spending time with the Lord and his Word – so that we don’t lose that treasure we have been given.
But God’s word and his promises stand firm forever. His word tells us that we have been washed clean in the blood of Jesus. That message of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus is our comfort and hope in every situation. Throughout the past 50 years, many things have changed – many changes in our world, in this community and in this congregation. Members have come and gone. The congregation has been served by different pastors. The church building has undergone changes and additions. But through those years, one thing has not changed. The Word. Christ crucified for sinners is still proclaimed. And as we go forward as a congregation, there will be changes in the future. But the Word of God is one thing which cannot and must not and which we dare not change. The temptation is for us to want to change that Word. We’re tempted at times to think like the rest of the world, that the Bible somehow doesn’t speak to our modern world. We might feel that somehow it restricts our lifestyle. Or perhaps we are tempted to think that it would be wonderful if we could update some things so that we could attract more people to our church.
But it is only the pure word of the gospel that is able to save. It is only the pure word of the gospel that is able to give eternal life. And so it is only the pure word of the gospel that is able to give true comfort and hope in every circumstance. So faithfulness to God’s word is important. We will work hard to stand firm on that word. Our attitude will be like that of the apostle Paul who said, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
Gold fever can lead people to expend great energy and effort in order to gain that wealth. We have been given a treasure far more valuable and we will put our effort into holding on to that treasure we have and in sharing that treasure with others. What a wonderful blessing and treasure God has given to us. He has given us his own Word. Cherish that word. Delight in it. And recognize its great and lasting value. How precious God’s word is.