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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Smalcald Articles – part 95

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Acts 8:20–22

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Here the Holy See in Rome came to the aid of the poor Church by inventing indulgences. Through these, it forgave and canceled satisfaction, first for seven years for a single instance, then for a hundred years. These indulgences were distributed among the cardinals and bishops so that they could grant indulgences for a hundred years, and for a hundred days. However, the pope reserved for himself alone the power to remit the entire satisfaction.

Pulling It Together: No one can earn the forgiveness of sin, either in whole or in part. Nor may it be bought—or sold. Further, it is not within the purview of the Church to grant partial forgiveness of sin, let alone lessen someone’s time in purgatory (as if such a place existed). God freely gives eternal life to all who believe in Christ Jesus. This is his promise, and one that he will not renege on by claiming some sin has not been indulged. Ironically, Scripture declares that those who insist this gift of God is for sale are the very ones who stand in need of repentance.

Prayer: I am grateful to you, Lord, that your righteousness covers all my sin. Amen.

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