Staff Corner – Greg Spires – Teaching Pastor
A story is told about a toothpaste manufacturing company with a problem. In their factory, the machines that placed the tube of toothpaste in the carton would occasionally send an empty carton through. The stores that purchased this company’s products began to complain. They didn’t like that they were paying for empty toothpaste cartons. The problem wasn’t happening all the time, but frequently enough that the toothpaste company knew they had to fix the problem.
The solution was to place a scale at the end of the assembly line. When an empty carton went over the scale, it would sound an alarm. An employee would then go and find the empty carton and discard it. The employees at the various factories soon hated that annoying alarm.
The company soon learned the alarm never sounded at one of their factories. They were curious to find out why the equipment at this one factory never produced an empty toothpaste carton. When they arrived, they discovered the factory was no different than the others; it also occasionally left cartons empty. However, the employee at the end of the line had become so annoyed with the alarm that he took matters into his own hands: He placed a fan pointing at the line just before the scale. The wind from the fan would blow the empty cartons onto the floor, so the alarm never sounded.
It is impossible to know if this story is legendary or not. However, the story is compelling because you have a group of highly paid experts baffled by the insight of a lowly line employee. They may not have said it out loud, but they were certainly thinking it, “Why didn’t we think of that?”
The reaction of the Apostle Paul was similar as he reflected on the message of the gospel. Romans 11:33-34 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
When Paul considered the truth that God’s purpose was to save rebellious humankind by sending Jesus to die and rise from the dead, he was moved to worshipful astonishment. Who would have thought that the solution to our problem would be that God would simply take care of it through sacrificing His Son, Jesus? How did God come up with this plan? How is it that God is so kind, merciful, and gracious that He would do such a thing?
The plan of the gospel is so simple yet so counterintuitive. People have been devising other strategies to know God for all human history.
Some people try to know God by earning His favor through religion, good works, or working hard not to do anything evil.
Others try to know God by simply working to do more good deeds than bad.
Still, others seek to know God by redefining who He is. Instead of trying to do good and not do evil, these simply have decided God isn’t that worried about what we do.
None of these other plans work because God thought of the only plan that restores our relationship with Him: through faith, bad people are made righteous in Jesus. This plan is simple, it reflects who God is, and it is available to anyone.
When was the last time we were astonished at the message of the gospel? Has it become too familiar that we have forgotten its riches? When Paul penned these verses of worship, we should remember he had been following Jesus many years. Despite all the years of familiarity with the gospel, he was still moved at the wonder of it.
Romans 11:35-36 might give us some insight into how Paul kept the wonder of the gospel in his heart. It reads, “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
Paul never lost sight of the grace of God. We can never repay Him for the salvation He has given us. The reason we have salvation is the grace of God alone. The reason our salvation lasts is God’s grace alone. The reason we have hope of a future with God forever is His grace alone.
To Him be the glory forever!
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Romans 11:25-36.
Praying with you,