"I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see."
- Revelation 3:18
In our modern society, Christian faith has gotten turned into something that Jesus and the apostles would never recognize. This one verse exposes how distorted the Gospel has become.
We generally picture buying gold as the province of the rich. Yet, here Jesus counsels us to buy gold, in order to become rich. That means that He calls us poor before we receive His riches, and naked before we receive His garments, and blind before we receive His eye-salve. Then with what do we pay for His gold? Isaiah 55:1, "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." The purchaser comes to the merchant with empty hands, yet the merchant, the Divine Merchant, accepts it as sufficient, and puts His wealth into the hands of the purchaser.
This runs so counter to the dominant spirituality of our time. "Surely I am good enough. I will give my good works to Jesus." Yet, He responds, "You have all become like one who is unclean, and all your righteous deeds are like a polluted garment," Isaiah 64:6. You are offering filthy rags as a payment for fine gold.
Even among evangelicals, it is common to treat faith as something the believer gives to Christ. We congratulate ourselves for looking at Buddha, Mohammed, or the newest inspirational speaker on TV, all as equally-valid alternatives to Jesus; "Hmmm, I think I'll go with the savior behind door number 4. Won't he be grateful?"
But what does the Bible say? Ephesians 2:8-9. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, that no one may boast." The faith with which a true believer responds to Christ isn't something that he gives to Christ; it is something that he receives from Christ. That which is our return to Him, He has first given to us.
The Westminster Assembly in the 1640's accurately summarized the biblical teachings on saving faith in the 72nd question of the Larger Catechism: "What is justifying faith? Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assents to the truth of the promise of the Gospel, but receives and rests upon Christ and His righteousness therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation."
So, if your response to Jesus's invitation to come to Him to buy fine gold is to pull out anything of your own, your good works, your faith, your knowledge, anything you have, then you can't afford the purchase. Rather, when you can say, "Lord Jesus, I have no price to give, give me grace that I may respond in faith, and receive that gold without price," Then, and only then, have you understood your condition, acknowledged your need of a Savior, and received His gracious gift of salvation.
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