Summary: The Gospel is more valuable than anything we own because it connects us to eternal life.
An article in last Wednesday’s newspaper reported that a Mickey Mantle rookie card recently sold for $48,000! Do you have a card like that kicking around your attic? If you’re not sure, there are 48,000 reasons why you should look. Even if you don’t find a Mickey Mantle rookie card, you might discover something else that’s valuable. Isn’t that why kids love to spend time in their grandparents’ attic? Even though it’s dusty and stuffy up there, they dream of finding some long forgotten treasure, like a rare baseball card or an antique medicine bottle, that will net thousands of dollars when offered up for sale on eBay.
Chances are you’ve never found any such treasures in Grandma’s attic. That’s all right. You already have a something more valuable than a Mickey Mantle rookie card. You have the Gospel. Sure, the rest of the world thinks that the message about Jesus is junk, the Apostle Paul, however, insists that it’s a treasure. This morning Paul gives us two reasons to value the Gospel. We value the Gospel because it’s ancient, and because it’s potent.
It often seems that the older an object is, the more value it has. For example this penny from 1793 is now worth at least $1,100. Two hundred years ago you may have been able to buy a loaf of bread with this penny, today you could buy a thousand loaves with this same coin.
If older means more precious, than nothing can match the Gospel’s value for Paul calls it an ancient mystery (Romans 16:25). Just how ancient is the Gospel? The Bible tells us that already before God created the world he had in mind what he would do to save the world. He didn’t just know that he would have to save mankind from their sins; he knew how he was going to do it through his Son (Ephesians 1:4, 5).
When I worked at the Seminary library I regularly handled books that were two hundred, three hundred, even four hundred years old. I never got tired of blowing the dust of those books, cracking them open, and wondering how many other pairs of eyes had read the same words I was now reading. Even if you’re not a booklover, I still think you would think it quite a treat to handle such books. Well guess what? Every time you crack open your Bible you’re handling a book that is thousands of years of old. No, your Bible might not be that old of a printing, but the message contained therein is as old as God himself.
But just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s valuable, does it? I’m sure that my father has baseball cards of players from Mickey Mantle’s era and even before, but their cards aren’t worth as much. Why not? Because the cardboard on which they were printed is inferior to the cardboard used for the Mantle card? No. The Mantle card is not worth $48,000 because it used a gold-fibered cardboard. It’s worth $48,000 because of what’s printed on the card.
So it is with the Gospel message. It’s not valuable just because it’s old. It’s valuable because of what it says. The Gospel message reveals God’s thoughts. That’s what Paul meant when he called the gospel an ancient mystery (Romans 16:25). The Gospel isn’t a mystery because it’s hard to understand or grasp, it’s a mystery because we wouldn’t know it unless someone told us about it. That’s exactly what Paul says the prophets of the Old Testament did. God commanded them to write about the coming of the Savior and in so doing they revealed to the world the plan of salvation God had concocted before time began. God continued to speak through his Apostles during the New Testament time so that the Bible, as we have it today, is God’s revelation, not man’s explanation of spiritual matters.
How much would you be willing to pay to find out what kind of things God thinks about? Would you pay $1,900? That’s how much this antiques dealer is hoping people will pay for this letter to find out the kind of things Napoleon thought about. If historians are willing to pay this much to get their hands on a letter not even addressed to them, how much more precious is the Bible! The Bible is God’s letter to us. Without it we would be lost. We would be like millions of people today who don’t think that God is angry with them because of their lust, their jealousy, or their love for money and praise. If they think he is angry, they blame their sins on other people, or they think that sacrificing a chicken or bringing money to a shrine will buy God off. The Gospel message makes it clear that no amount of money or good deeds will appease God’s wrath. Only a payment of holy blood can do that.