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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Good Friday: Life in the Blood | Main | Obedience (6) »

    The Hidden Treasure (7 -- Wearing the Gold)

    Although the labor represented by an intricately-wrought chain of gold is enormous and eminently various, the gold ore having been digged up and refined and painstakingly crafted through many thousands of hours, the final end to which all this diverse toil has been directed may be expressed in this one thing, that the chain be worn about the neck as an ornament of grace and beauty. The woman who delights in fine jewelry is not at all satisfied to rejoice in the beauty of her ornaments as they hang upon the pegs of her jewelry box, but must use them to adorn her own person, so that their own innate loveliness is imparted in some measure to herself. The beauty of the jewelry is never so great as when it enhances the beauty of its owner.

    In the same way, King Solomon speaks of wisdom as never so beautiful or profitable as when it enters into the heart, and becomes pleasant to the soul. When it is a merely external treasure of knowledge it retains just its own beauty, but when it is taken into the soul, it becomes a beauty that adorns the character of its possessor, so that he shines with a loveliness that he had never known before. Thus Solomon counsels his children to bind mercy and truth about their neck, and to write them upon their heart; for thus wisdom, so affectionately embraced, will bring one to honor, and will be for him an ornament of grace and a crown of glory.

    Let us lay this counsel to heart as we continue our quest to find the gospel-gold of the knowledge of the Savior; if we are seeking to lay up heaps of gold to delight in only from the secrecy of our own bedrooms, we are not putting it to its right use. When Moses became familiarly acquainted with the Savior, his face was transformed, and began to glow with the beauty that he had gazed upon. In the same way, as we look into the mirror of God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit draws back the veil from our hearts, so that we might see and know the Lord Jesus Christ, the effect of this knowledge is that, we soon begin to be changed into the same glorious image which we have rejoiced to gaze upon. In this way, the true gold of knowing Jesus cannot just be piled up, but must eventually serve to adorn its possessor with its own native beauty.

    So powerful is this operation that the true gold of the gospel knowledge of Christ cannot fail to have this effect in him who is laying it up. Do you know a man who makes much of knowing many points of theology, and who prides himself on his familiar knowledge of the bible; and yet who, for all his understanding, ever displays a harsh spirit of indifference to the needs of others less fortunate, who wields a sharp, gossiping tongue to destroy those around him, who gives off an arrogant and condescending air when discussing his great knowledge? Then you may be sure that it is not the gospel gold he has treasured up, but fool’s gold after all. The gospel gold must be worn as an ornament of grace, or God will not permit it to be had at all. When one fails to use his talents aright, they will all be taken away and given to him who has put them to a proper use. And when one fails to embrace wisdom in the depths of his soul, and will not use it to adorn his life, he will find himself deprived of all he had hoped to retain.

    The truth is, that the hidden treasure can only be grasped and held onto with the firm grip of faith. Without faith, one cannot look to the heavens and rejoice in the glory of the risen Lord, and the beauty of the inheritance he has laid up for all who hope in him. Without faith, one cannot see that which is unseen; and the gospel treasure is called a hidden treasure precisely because it is unseen to the carnal eyes of men.

    But consider: what kind of faith is that which does not produce works? It is a dead and impotent faith, and can no more lay hold of the hidden gold than the carnal eye of man can look to that which is invisible. When Abraham bound his son upon the altar, his works justified his faith, even as his faith justified himself. His righteous deeds, as choice fruits, worked together with the vibrant root of his unwavering faith to produce a perfect tree, upon which he might hang all his hopes with certainty. And so we, when we bind our wisdom about our necks, and embrace it in our arms, certify that it is ours indeed.

    Remember also the words of our Savior: if you love me, you will keep my commandments. Note the order of this blessed saying: when one has come to know the Savior, so that his heart is stirred with choicest love and tenderest admiration, he cannot help but follow and obey him. If a jeweler has so learned to admire the beauty of his golden chains that he cannot bear to be without them, he will certainly bind them about his neck, and carry them with him wherever he goes. He has grown to delight so fervently in them that he cannot leave them alone.

    So too, when one has learned to rejoice in the hidden gold of knowing Jesus, and admires it for its surpassing excellence, he will certainly use it to adorn his life, for he cannot bear to be without it. And the way he does this is by obeying the commands of his Lord. This is because the Lord’s commands are all exemplified in his own life of perfect obedience to the Father. When one gazes upon Jesus, he must be struck with the beauty of his character – his meekness and gentleness, his love of the truth, his unwavering commitment to the glory of the Father, and many other such things. And as he learns to love these things, he finds himself wanting to hold them in his breast at all times.

    This is why the one who loves Jesus will obey his commandments: because Jesus’ commandments are all things that the treasure-seeker has seen in Jesus himself, and has grown to admire. They are not grievous, but eminently desirable. When a man is in love with a woman, he will delight in a scarf that came from her person, and which still retains her smell, because it reminds him of her own loveliness, which it has absorbed to some degree. And so the one who loves Jesus will delight in his commandments, which have dropped as honey from his own sweet lips, because they have the savor of his own perfect character. Thus the one who loves Jesus will keep his commandments, and his commandments will not be burdensome.

    We have seen that the one who has learned to admire the gospel-gold will put it to its proper use by letting it adorn his character. Now let us observe, further, that only by so doing will he be strong to retain his possession of it. When the subtle household thief breaks in by night to steal the treasures of him who is away, he will only take what has been left in the house. Those ornaments which the household master is wearing upon his person will be left untouched. So it is with us; the serpent is an enemy of deceit and treachery, and will steal away the treasures that we have left unguarded; but those that we have used to adorn our person he will not be able to touch. He has been stripped of all his power to harm the Christian by the cross of the Savior, so that he must work by subtle suggestions and lies; but when he is resisted in the name of the Lord Jesus, he will flee at once. He can never steal away the arms of him who is steadfastly resisting, but he can steal those arms away which he has enticed the foolish soldier to lay down. Let us be careful that we do not give him that opportunity! If we bind our gospel wisdom about our neck, letting our knowledge of the character of the Savior adorn our lives in a righteousness which is imitative of him, our riches can never be plundered away. But when we forsake this wisdom, and begin to gossip and be greedy of perishable riches and doubtful of God’s good promises, then we may lose the joy and satisfaction we had from the knowledge of our Savior, and our treasures of gospel-gold, which we had forgotten to bind about our heads as a crown of righteousness, will be plundered away by the serpent.

    What a strong motivation we have to apply our knowledge in a proper obedience! For in I John chapter two our Savior has assured us that, if his word abides in us, we will abide in him and in the Father! And again in the third chapter, he confirms that if we keep his commandments, we will abide in him, and he in us. Now, for us to abide in Christ and for him to abide in us is the very essence of the gospel gold. Here is implied a personal knowledge of the most intimate kind, a knowledge reflective of the very mutual indwelling and inter-relationship of the persons of the most blessed Trinity! This is the gold at its greatest degree of refinement, and our highest joy for all eternity; and we have a most solemn promise from our Savior that if we but wear the gospel chains about our neck, that is, if we take the knowledge we have acquired of our Lord and apply it to our lives in a personal righteousness reflective of the beauty we have seen in him, then we will continue steadfast in our possession of this golden treasure of an intimate and personal relationship with God. Our treasure will then never be stolen away by the deceitfulness of riches, the cares of this world, and the whispered lies of the Serpent, but will only grow in our hearts, filling us with a joy and wonder that can never fade away.

    Friends, if you have glimpsed the face of Jesus, let his glorious image start to shine from your own countenance! Let the knowledge of him permeate your heart and soul so that you start to give off the same fragrance. Let his commandments be your delight, inasmuch as they are suggestive of his own lovely person, and let the keeping of them be no burdensome thing. Fashion your gospel gold into finest chains and wear them about your neck, so that your whole life might shine with the beauty of the Lord; for in so doing, you will become rich indeed, with a treasure that can never be taken away.

    Posted by Nathan on March 24, 2008 11:49 AM

    Comments

    I find that readers respond very well to The Hidden Treasure posts that present your personal weaknesses, failings and the gaps in your individual information relatively than those posts the place you come across as figuring out every thing there is to know on a topic. People are attracted to humility and are extra possible to answer it than a post written in a tone of somebody who would possibly harshly reply to their comments.

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