Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Golden Faith

Good morning,

In this morning's text, the faith of the believer is compared to pure gold.  Why is gold so valuable? Why was gold selected as the material to be used for currency in ancient times?  Why is saving faith compared to pure gold?

Let's begin by examining the properties of gold.  Of the 118 elements on Chemistry's "periodic table", there are only a few which would qualify as good candidates for currency - - - the 8 "noble" elements. They are called "noble" because they do not react with other elements.  The whole reason we have a study of Chemistry is because when you place different elements in close proximity to each other, they become unstable; you get a chemical reaction.  That does not make for good currency!

Of the 8 "nobles", 6 of them were only recently discovered due to the fact that it is very difficult and costly to extract them from ore.  A very, very high smelting point is needed, which was unavailable in biblical times.  And, some of them are extremely rare.  Rhenium, for example, is one of the most rare elements in the crust of the Earth; it was, therefore, not discovered until 1925.

The other 2 "nobles" are silver and gold.  Both of these were used for currency over the years, although gold "set the standard", because silver is subject to tarnishing when sulphur is detected in the atmosphere.

Gold is prized because of the following:

  • It is relatively uninteresting, chemically.  A stable element, it is not "bothered" or changed by either atmospheric conditions, water or the other elements.
  • It is non-toxic.  It won't physically poison either you or others who come into contact with it.
  • It endures.  You can create something out of gold and discover it in excellent condition 1000 years later.
  • It is versatile.  It can be cast in many different shapes for many different purposes.
  • It is refined (made more pure) by fire - - high temperatures.
  • It is not impossibly rare (like rhenium), although it IS rare.  Look at this quote: "If you were to collect together every earring, every gold sovereign, the tiny traces of gold in every computer chip, every pre-Columbian statuette, every wedding ring and melt it down, it's guesstimated that you'd be left with just one 20-metre cube, or thereabouts. " **  (20 meters is about 65 feet)
  • It is beautiful!  All the other elements are either silver-colored or copper-colored.  Gold is ... golden.
The apostle Peter compares the believer's faith in Jesus Christ to this rare element, gold.  1 Peter 1:5-7 - - (HCSB)

You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 

The two similarities that Peter mentions are value and purity.   But, let's take the comparison as far as it will go, using the bullet points mentioned above.  Here I refer to the personal, saving, life-changing faith possessed by every true follower of Jesus Christ:
  • Our faith should be stable, unpolluted by the changing conditions around us.
  • Our faith should not "poison" those with whom we come into contact.
  • Our faith should endure, even through all eternity.
  • Our faith should be versatile - - - applicable to any life situation.
  • Our faith should become more genuine and more pure when we encounter the trials of life.
  • Our faith should stand out as rare in a dark, lost and dying world.
  • Our faith should shine forth to others in its beauty:  golden faith
Unlike gold, our faith will never "perish".  Gold is not eternal; our faith is.  This is because our faith is a supernatural gift from God, and none of His gifts are imperfect.

Christians, your faith should be your most treasured "possession".  Assuredly, when your spirit leaves this world, your saving faith in your Savior, Jesus Christ, is the only thing you will take with you into eternity, where our faith will bring to God "praise, glory and honor".  The Message version translates verse 7 like this:

When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

So, Believer, do you know how very, very rich you are?  How can we not share this incredible treasure with those who are lost?

Using her many talents as a hymnwriter, Fanny J. Crosby was inspired by 1 Peter 1:5-7 to write this hymn *** in 1882:

  1. Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ,
    Wealth that can never be told!
    Riches exhaustless of mercy and grace,
    Precious, more precious than gold!
    • Refrain:
      Precious, more precious,
      Wealth that can never be told!
      Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ!
      Precious, more precious than gold.
  2. Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ!
    Who shall their greatness declare?
    Jewels whose luster our lives may adorn,
    Pearls that the poorest may wear!
  3. Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ!
    Freely, how freely they flow,
    Making the souls of the faithful and true
    Happy wherever they go!
  4. Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ!
    Who would not gladly endure
    Trials, afflictions, and crosses on earth,
    Riches like these to secure!

** http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-25255957
*** http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Unsearchable_Riches/

Good morning, precious Jesus.  Thank you for welcoming into Your loving arms yesterday afternoon my dear brother, Dean, who possessed this precious treasure, more valuable than earthly gold.  Help all of us left behind for a little while to endure, as our personal faith in Your finished work is refined and tested and proven to be pure.  Dean has passed his final test.  He finished well.  May we do the same, through the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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