1 November 2019

The True Treasure of the Church

One of Martin Luther's 95 theses that he posted to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517, read, “The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.”

Yet the church at that time was contented with many other treasures! It had wealth, lands, gold, palaces, statues, rituals, churches and cathedrals. The pope, the cardinals and the clergy enjoyed immense power and prestige. The church had spiritual and temporal dominion over the European continent. At her disposal, the church had the treasury of the merits of Christ, Mary and the Saints, and the authority to distribute indulgences to the faithful in their efforts to obtain salvation and to avoid the horrors of purgatory.

The modern Catholic Church still has all these treasures - material wealth, religious dominion over millions of souls, and global political influence.

Evangelical Christians too have their cherished treasures. Multitudes follow ‘Jesus’ for what they can get for themselves – health, wealth and prosperity. Many go to church for entertainment and to hear motivational speeches to boost their self-esteem.

All these ‘treasures’ are completely worthless in God's eyes. They are miserable substitutes for the true treasure of the church, the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For only the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. The gospel is God’s light shining in this dark and evil world. Through the gospel, we discard our puny efforts to merit grace, and joyfully receive the free gift of salvation by faith alone from Jesus’ pierced hands. The gospel teaches us how to glorify God and how to live a godly and useful life by the power of the Spirit during our short pilgrimage on earth. In the gospel we have a living hope that sustains us in our sorrows and trials, convinced that our resurrected Saviour will bring us safely home.

May God strip us of everything, and yet, we will still be the richest people on earth if we embrace the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God. For in the gospel we have Christ, and if we have Christ our hearts are fully satisfied.