There is a treasure that is in the Gospel that is only found in the Gospel. Most people spend their whole lives pursuing things that appear valuable to them—money, possessions, children and grandchildren, retirement funds, sports teams, etc., but find only on their deathbeds that all those pursuits were empty. Frequently, even those who chase religious pursuits find that the end of those pursuits are just as empty, not because there is not a Lofty One to whom they should aspire, but because they pursued him wrongly.
When a person encounters the Law of God, there can be three distinct responses to it. The first response is the common response—to reject it as foolishness and thereby reject God. The second response is the response that we see from the Jews in Romans 9:32, namely the treating of the Law as a stepladder to God. Indeed, this is the typical response that any religious man has when he encounters a law. The religious man perceives the law, sees it as something that can be fulfilled with his works and disciplines, and then he labors his whole life under its yoke so that he might prove himself to God.
The problem that exists in such a treatment of the Law is the problem that Paul discusses in Romans 3:10, 11, viz. “There is none who is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God,” and of which Isaiah declares, “Our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Is. 64:6). No human law-keeping, no matter how sincere or how faultless, can ever commend a person to God. In spite of this clear declaration of the Scriptures, Paul says that the Jews who were seeking righteousness did not obtain it, because they sought it through their works (Rom. 9:31, 32).
What is absolutely remarkable about this text is what Paul says before his statement concerning the Jews and their failure: “What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith” (v. 9:30). It is as though the Gentiles were living wickedly and accidentally stumbled upon righteousness and attained it while the Jews who were working hard to attain righteousness missed it. This statement brings to mind the parable of the hidden treasure in which the man stumbles across a hidden treasure in a field and sells all that he has so that he can buy the field and own the treasure (cf. Matt. 13:44). So it was with the Gentiles, for they did not know the Law of God or his Promises, yet God in his sovereign pleasure caused them “to stumble” across the treasure of Jesus Christ. How marvelous!
If you think back on your salvation, can you not see God sovereignly orchestrating the events of your life so that you would “stumble” across Jesus? Praise him today for his great and unmerited salvation through Jesus Christ!
Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study