From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles
The fourth are fraternities. Monasteries, chapters, and vicars have contracted and conveyed (by legal contract and sale) all Masses, good works, and so forth, both for the living and the dead. This is not only sheer human rubbish, without the Word of God, entirely unnecessary, and not commanded, but also contrary to the chief article, “Concerning Redemption.” Therefore it is in no way to be tolerated.
Pulling It Together: The Mass had become property, something to be bought and sold. Huge sums were brought into the churches through the sale of the forgiveness of sins. We should continue to teach against this in our churches, since it is all too easy to slip back into this disgraceful practice. It is easy because we innately believe the old saying: nothing in this world is free. So, we naturally think we must pay for anything of value, and that anything free is not worth having. Nonetheless, there is one thing of immense value that is entirely free. God freely gives eternal life to all who have faith in Christ (Rom 6:23). Nothing may be paid for this free gift—not a deed, nor a rite, nor indeed, a payment for someone else to perform them.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for your abounding grace. Amen.
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