Select Wisdom Brand

Click the image to watch the video.
Scroll down for more options.



The Treasure of Scripture

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Romans 3:1–2

The Bible was given to the Jewish people as a sacred trust to be cherished, read, learned, lived, and declared among the nations. Can we, as Christ’s followers, do anything less with God’s Word?


Hans Christian Andersen wrote a rather famous story about a proud emperor who was flattered and deceived by some men who promised to make him the most amazing suit of clothes. They convinced the king that his suit would be so special that the only people who could see it were the wise and pure in heart. People who lacked wisdom would be unable to see and appreciate such exquisite and beautiful clothing.

When his “suit” was supposedly finished, the king proudly wore it in a public parade. Of course, there was no suit at all, but the whole kingdom joined in praising the king’s beautiful clothes, lest others would think they were unwise and unsophisticated. But then a little a child, standing in the crowd, was heard to say, “Mommy, the emperor has no clothes.”

The innocence of an honest child, who didn’t know what he was supposed to see, exposed the hypocrisy of an entire nation. In fact, he revealed the truth everyone else had been unwilling to admit, including the king—the emperor had no clothes.[1]

Thus far in our study through the first two chapters of Romans, the apostle Paul has effectively revealed the nakedness of unbelievers. They are trying to cover the bareness of their sinful hearts. But no matter how people applaud them, no matter how sophisticated they try to appear, the blunt truth is this: they stand exposed before the holiness of the living God. As the writer of Hebrews says, “No [one] is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him [God] to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

In Romans 1 Paul exposed the guilt of the unbelieving, immoral person who has ignored creation’s witness to the existence and power of God. In chapter 2 Paul exposed the moral person who has ignored his God-given conscience. Paul also exposed the spiritual nakedness of religious Jews who were trying to wear the clothing of their own righteousness. But they too are shown for who they are—spiritually unclothed as it were, exposed and without excuse.

This would have been terribly shocking to these Jewish people. If any group felt they had a right to go to heaven, it was the descendants of Abraham, God’s chosen people. Yet, Paul, in effect, says to them, “Your family relationship with Abraham does not automatically put you into the family of God.”

Now we come to Romans 3, and Paul is continuing to address the self-righteous, religious Jewish people. He anticipates their argument that they have an advantage with God. So, Paul brings their objection out in the open in order to answer it, saying in verse 1, “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?”

Paul anticipates the Jewish religious leaders saying, “We are following what God’s law tells us. We are practicing circumcision. But Paul, you are telling us there is no advantage to this—that this is not going to make us acceptable to God. So, if what you are saying is true, why did God give us His law? Why would we bother obeying it if does not guarantee us a place in heaven?”

Besides that, to accept what Paul is saying is to acknowledge that there is no purpose behind their suffering as God’s chosen people. They could look back at 400 years of slavery in Egypt, followed by 40 years wandering in the wilderness. They were eventually taken into captivity to foreign lands like Babylon and Assyria. Later they came under control of the Greek Empire and suffered terribly. And now, as Paul is writing this letter, they are being mistreated by the Roman Empire.

No wonder they would now say to Paul, “What good is it to be a Jew if our connection to Abraham, our obedience to the law, our sacrifices, and our mistreatment at the hands of enemies does not get us into heaven? What is the purpose of going through all that? What advantage is there to being a Jew? We don’t have security socially, politically, or physically, and now you are telling us we don’t have security spiritually!”

The basic problem here in their thinking: they do not understand the gospel. Getting into heaven is not a matter of what you have done; it is a matter of what Christ has done for you. It is not who you descended from—what family tree you came from—that matters. It is your relationship to Jesus Christ that matters.

Paul had asked what advantage there is to being a Jew, and his Jewish readers probably expected him to say, “Everything about the nation of Israel is worthless.” Instead, Paul actually gives a rather surprising answer in verse 2: “Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.”

So, there are blessings related to being a part of the nation of Israel, and Paul now brings them forward. First, the Jewish people were entrusted with the oracles—the very words—of God. They were given the Holy Scriptures. And what are the Scriptures? They are nothing less than the written revelation of who God is, what God is like, what God has done, and what God expects from us. The Jewish nation was given this priceless, inspired, infallible record of God’s word. It tells us our own purpose—who we are, where we came from, how we got lost, and how we can be saved.

What an incredible blessing! The Jewish nation—from Moses to the prophets and the apostles—has been honored by being entrusted with the revelation of God. And let me tell you, having learned the Hebrew language in seminary, I can assure you that the Hebrew scribes were incredibly careful in their stewardship of the Old Testament as they recorded and copied and preserved the Scriptures. We owe a tremendous debt to the Jewish nation for receiving and protecting this infallible, unchanging, eternal, inspired Word of God.

Do you own a copy of the Bible? Do you use it as your manual for life, or is it sitting under your car seat, or on a shelf in the closet? Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16 that the Bible is “profitable for [doctrine/teaching], for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” Doctrine tells you what is right, reproof tells you where you’re wrong, correction helps you stand upright, and training equips you to keep doing what’s right. Do not ever take the Bible for granted.

Years ago, Robert Chapman pastored in England. He was a single man his entire life. He loved people, and he faithfully led his small congregation. At the same time, Charles Spurgeon pastored the large Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. Spurgeon knew Robert Chapman; in fact, he called Chapman the godliest man he knew.

I want to close by reading what Robert Chapman wrote about the privilege of having a Bible—not only for the Jewish people of the first century, but for every believer in any century!

This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. … Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass and the soldier’s sword. It should fill the memory, test the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. … It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor and it condemns all who will trifle with its sacred contents. Christ is its grand subject, our good is its [great] design, and the glory of God is its [final conclusion].[2]

[1] Hans Christian Andersen, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The idea for this illustration comes from R. Kent Hughes, who cites the story in his commentary, Romans: Righteousness from Heaven (Crossway, 1991), 67-74.

[2] Cited in Erwin W. Lutzer, Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust The Bible (Moody Press, 1998), 31.

Add a Comment

We hope this resource blessed you. Our ministry is EMPOWERED by your prayer and ENABLED by your financial support.