More precious than gold


 

Scripture : 1 Peter 2 Video

Speaker : Robert Kingdon

I’m a scavenger. I go regularly to the beach and collect an Ikea bag full of seaweed, which I then take home and use as an ingredient for making compost. On my last visit to Pathhead Sands, I met a fellow scavenger at the car park. He was carrying a large metal bucket of mud stones and water. I was intrigued. Getting into conversation, he told me that he was searching for gold! He knew where to look – in mud and stones buried under larger rocks. He would now go home and take great care sorting out all the mud and stones, drying them and, presumably, breaking them up in the hope of finding a few particles of precious gold. He would keep visiting many Fife beaches hoping eventually to gather a small treasure of fine gold.

Gold – the most precious metal!
Gold – real treasure!
Gold – worth so much diligent search and effort!

This morning I want to speak about a very different treasure – the preciousness of Christ.

1. Jesus is precious to God the Father
In our Bible Reading from 1 Peter 2 this morning we read: ‘As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him…‘ (Verse 4)

and again in verse 6: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone…’(drawn from Isaiah 28:16)

God the Father shows us plainly, even in the Old Testamant, the high value and honour of his Son.
‘Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.’ (Isaiah 42:1)

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ (Isaiah 9:6)

‘Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.’ Isaiah 9:7)

But about the Son he [that is, the Father] says, (Hebrews 1:8) ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the sceptre of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.’ (Psalm 45:6,7)

‘I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.’ (Psalm 2:7-8)

‘The LORD says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. The LORD will extend your mighty sceptre from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.’ (Psalm 100:1-2)

The New Testament makes the preciousness of the Son, Jesus, to his Father much more patent.
At Jesus’ baptism: As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ (Matthew 3:16-17)

At his transfiguration: ‘While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’ (Matthew 17:5)

On another occasion, Jesus prays: Father, glorify your name! Then a voice came from heaven, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ (John 12:28 )

At his ascension, Paul tells us: ‘Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name…’ (Philippians 2:9 )

We have Jesus’ own testimony: ‘All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’ (Luke 10:22)
‘For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.’ (John 5:20 P

In one of Jesus’ parables we read: ‘Then the owner of the vineyard said, `What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ (Luke 20:13)

Paul says:‘For he (God the Father) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.’ (Colossians 1:13-20)

2. Jesus is precious to God’s people
As we read in verse 7: ‘Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.’ (Drawn from Psalm 118:22)

What a difference there is between believers and those who don’t believe! Jesus is of no perceived value to the world.
Pharaoh says, ‘Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go?’ (Exodus 5:2)

The Daughters of Jerusalem say, ‘How is your beloved better than others, most beautiful of women? How is your beloved better than others, that you charge us so?’ (Song of Solomon 5:9)

Jesus townsfolk say, ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?’ (Matthew 13:55)

The citizens in the parable say: `We don’t want this man to be our king.’ (Luke 19:14)

The crowd before Pilate says: ‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us! (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!’ (Luke 23:18-21)

But even if unbelievers see no value in Jesus, Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. In what way is Jesus precious to believers? Paul tells us his purpose and mission: ‘My purpose is that they [believers] 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.’ (Colossians 2:2-3)

So Jesus is a treasury of wisdom and knowledge to believers, and the more we know him, understand and comprehend him, the fuller our riches will be. Wisdom and knowledge: won’t that just make us big-headed? Not at all! Not when we consider what this wisdom is all about – ‘It is because of him [God]that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’ (1 Corinthians 1:30-31 see also Jeremiah 9:24)

So the treasures of wisdom the believers have from God, in Christ, are righteousness, holiness and redemption. It’s what Jesus said about the wise man building his house on the rock. It’s God’s plan of salvation for us. Let’s look at these further. Our righteousness is our justification, our being declared righteous, our being made right with God.

‘As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature (or our flesh) and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 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. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.’ (Ephesians 2:1-9)

Peter gives us further details: ‘For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.’ (1 Peter 1:18-19)

And as our passage puts it: ‘Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.’ (1 Peter 2:10)

The blood of Christ, that washes us clean – that makes us righteous, is more precious than perishable silver and gold! The second treasure believers have in Christ’s wisdom is holiness. So believers have the treasure of righteousness. What do they do with this treasure? Do they wrap it in a cloth, put it in a drawer and forget about it? Not at all! They invest it by living holy lives.

In another parable Jesus says, ‘So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. A mina was about three months’ wages. (So say £30,000)`Put this money to work,’ he said, `until I come back.’ He later comes back to find out how his investments have performed:
The first one came and said, `Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. `Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
The second came and said, `Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ His master answered, `You take charge of five cities.’
(Luke 19:13-19)

A great return for the master! What joy and satisfaction for the servants! How precious the praise and honour given to the servants!

Paul gives us another way of looking at holiness: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.’ (Titus 2:11-14)

Holiness is saying ‘No’ to wickedness and ‘Yes’ to uprightness, godliness and good works, under the teaching and influence of the Holy Spirit. As our passage says; ‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ (1 Peter 2:9)

Is holiness a treasure? The world would say that it is drudgery and misery – the very opposite of having a good time. The believer says that it is satisfaction and fulfilment: pleasing the Lord, the best of masters. Indeed: the believer is eager to do good. Did not Robert McCheyne say regularly, ‘To be holy is to be happy’?

The third treasure from God’s wisdom, after righteousness and holiness, is redemption. Although the believer’s redemption is begun in being made righteous, and continues through pursuing holiness, it is made complete at the coming of ‘the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.’ (Titus 2:13 )

At the great conclusion of his earthly pilgrimage, Paul, soon to die, puts it this way: ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.’ (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

3. God’s people are precious to Jesus and God the Father
Not only is Jesus precious to God the Father, and precious to believers, but our passage tells us that God’s people are precious to him. ‘But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ (Verse 9)

Peter is adapting the words of God to the Israelites at Mount Sinai: ‘Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ (Exodus 19:5-6)

A treasured possession! ‘For this is what the LORD Almighty says: After he has honoured me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you–for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye…’ (Zechariah 2:8)

‘They will be mine, says the LORD Almighty, in the day when I make up my treasured possession.’ (Malachi 3:17)
‘But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.’ (Malachi 4:2) What an encouragement!

In conclusion I bring the litmus test of God’s word to each of us. ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ (Matthew 6:19-21)

Where is your heart? What is your motivation? Are you like the seed in the parable that got choked by thorns? ‘The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures…’ (Luke 8:14) – and never came to maturity. Or are you rather the seed on good soil – those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15)

Or what about: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.’ (Luke 8:15 ) Does that sound terribly risky? Or is it a no-brainer? ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.’ (Matt 13:45-46)

Could you sing: I’d rather have Jesus, than silver and gold; I’d rather have Jesus, than riches untold.
Or: You are the pearl of great price that I long for, Giving my life in pursuit of its worth.

We started with the man on the beach with his bucket of mud and stones, searching for fragments of gold. Come, rather, to Christ ‘in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’ (Colossians 2:3)