23. If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.
Luther was objecting to indulgences because as he argued, the purchase of an indulgence would not change the character of the person who bought it. If anyone was to earn a true relationship with God, they would need to be perfect. As Luther stated the possession of indulgences does not make someone perfect. If someone was perfect they would not need the pope’s release from the penalty of sin. In fact no one can be perfect and therefore no one can earn a relationship with God.
God realized that mankind could not live the life they were created for, a perfect existence with God here on earth. So He came down to earth and was born a man so that He could create a way back to God for mankind. Salvation for the people of this earth comes from God’s gift in Jesus Christ, not from the pope’s release of penalties.
The system for the forgiveness of sin in the church at the time of Luther had become a completely “manmade” system. The church measured the depth of a person’s sin and then calculated the amount of Repentance needed to atone. The church then assigned what they felt was the correct penance activities. If these were carried out then the church, through the pope and priests, granted forgiveness and the hope of salvation. In fact none of this can be found in scripture.
As Luther was working with the 95 Theses he was coming to the realization that the problems with the Catholic Church ran to its very core. He was dealing with a mostly “manmade” religion.
Dear God in heaven I come to You today through the merits of Jesus and not through my own merit. Please help me to always remember that it is Your gift of salvation that gives me a hope or heaven, not my own actions here on earth. In Jesus name, Amen.