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34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.

“Sacramental satisfaction” is a term that bears a little thought. To many the quick definition of a “sacrament” is “an earthly action that promotes heavenly reactions”. The Catholic Church at the time of Luther counted seven sacraments. Each of these sacramental actions brought forgiveness.

It was still understood that the sacraments were God’s gift to man not man’s gift to God. However the church had come to believe that each of these “sacraments” had certain things that man must do in order to be “ready to receive the gifts that the sacrament bestowed.”

The point of this Thesis for Luther was that the indulgences that were being sold could only help with the actions that led up to the bestowing of forgiveness. They could not actually bestow forgiveness. That is because the indulgences were made up by man and the requirements for the sacraments were also made up by man. Forgiveness was something that God had to do and you can’t buy that!

As Lutherans today we count only two sacraments, the Lord’s Supper and Holy Baptism. We know that both of these are gifts of God to His church and they are truly gifts, we do nothing to deserve them, God loves us enough to let us have these great gifts of forgiveness.


Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you that you have loved me enough to grant me forgiveness. Help me to live as someone who has been forgiven. Guard me against my own pride that would tell me that I have done something to “deserve” your forgiveness. I humbly come before you today to receive your most holy forgiveness. I the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.