Wednesday, October 21, 2015

More Precious than Gold

Read 1 Peter 1:3-9, 18-21

The greatest ransom ever paid in gold was during the time of the Conquistadors in Peru. Gold was indeed plentiful in the land of the Incas. They even called gold the sweat of the sun.

One Conquistador, Francisco Pizarro was enamored by the idea of El Dorado, a land of gold. The Incan king, Atahualpa was captured by the Spaniards and held for ransom. To save his life, he boasted that if he gave the order his people would bring enough gold to fill a room. He reached up and made a mark on the wall. The room was 17 X 22 feet. He also offered to fill a smaller adjoining room twice over with silver, in the space of two months. Pizarro agreed, and soon golden goblets, ewers, salves, vases, utensils, tiles, plates, imitations of plants, animals and Indian corn.

The value was over 15 million dollars plus all the silver. Before it was even all collected, the Spaniards melted them down into gold ingots and divided them among the conquistadors, with 1/5 set aside for the King of Spain.

Pizarro feared an insurrection against the Spaniards and charged Atahualpa. He held a kangaroo court and sentenced him to be burned. At the last minute the Roman Catholic priest convinced Atahualpa to be baptized as a Christian to avoid being burned. He agreed and was garrotted instead. It was later proven that no such insurrection had been planned.

Gold has been used as currency for more than 5,000 years. 75 % of the world’s mined gold is used to make jewellery. Gold is extremely rare, requiring several tons of ore to produce just one ounce of gold. It’s the metal of choice to pass on from generation to generation.

It’s something the world considers valuable. Their greed for gold drives them. They kill for it; like Pizarro.

Gold is one of the most durable substances in the world, and it seems to last forever. And since it’s an actual element on the periodic table, it doesn’t stop being gold, but it can be melted.

The point of this interesting historical fact, is that Peter uses gold to teach us something important.

There are two things compared with gold in these verses. The first is the genuineness of our faith. The other is the price of our redemption.

Let’s look at the first one; The Genuineness of our Faith.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Peter tells us we were not ransomed (redeemed) by silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ He says we’re rejoicing over the fact that we have in Heaven an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled. He says it won’t fade away and that it’s reserved in Heaven for us. He says even as we’re rejoicing, for a little while, (and that’s really what our lives are compared to eternity) we are grieved by various trials. I like that he used the word grieved, because it does cause us grief, doesn’t it? And we grieve what we’ve lost.

But then he tells us the reason for our trials; that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

You all know that when gold is mined from the earth, it has many impurities mixed in with it. So the process of getting rid of the impurities, called dross, is to superheat it. The true gold is heavy, and stays at the bottom of the pot, while the dross floats to the top, and is scraped off. They repeat the process many times, until you have the purest gold you can get.

So, like gold is “proven” to be true gold in the fire, our faith is proven to be genuine through the fires of our trials. And like the testing of gold, we will go through various kinds of repetitive trials.

What scares me is that not only can we be deceived into believing wrong things about God, but we are also capable of self-deception. When you read Matthew 7:22, 23 it’s shocking because these are religious people who thought they were okay, and going to Heaven.

“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

Don’t you want to know that you’re not deceived? I do. Elsewhere Peter says, “test yourselves, whether you are in the faith.” One way we know is to have our faith hold up in our trials.

The second comparison to gold is The Price of our Redemption

“…knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,  but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.  He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:10-14

But the comparison is between corruptible things like gold or silver, and something of infinite value, the blood of Christ. When Scripture speaks of blood, there are two things in mind; first the blood itself, to remind them of the blood of the sacrificial lamb, sprinkled once a year on the mercy seat. The other is the idea that the word blood reminds us of his death, and all that was involved in His crucifixion. His broken body, the crown of thorns, the mocking, the spitting. It’s a part for the whole, like the idea of saying someone has a nice set of wheels. They are talking about a car.

The image here is of a perfect, unblemished lamb sacrificed in place of the guilty sinner, the blood poured on the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant once a year on the Day of Atonement. All the repeated individual sacrifices pointed forward to the yearly sacrifice, and the yearly sacrifice pointed to the One Lamb of God, Who would be sacrificed to take away sin permanently. Because Jesus was sinless, He was the perfect Lamb.

How can someone’s blood cover the sins of all the sins of all the people of God? The answer lies in the value of the One whose blood was spilled.  God literally paid a king’s ransom for our souls.

Another aspect of gold is worth mentioning. Rev. 21:21 tells us, “The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”

When you picture gold, what do you imagine? Yellow gold, maybe white gold? Do you see a problem here? This verse says the gold is like transparent glass. Back in Bible times there was no way they could have heated gold and changed it to a state that would make it clear. But gold in its purest form is clear. Astronauts have a layer of gold covering their helmets so the sun won’t destroy their eyes in space. Gold is the only thing they can use that is clear. Also, the Royal Bank tower in downtown Toronto has a covering of real gold on their windows. (Our service charges at work). L  Yet another “proof” that the Bible is trustworthy.

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