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52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.

Luther has come to believe that the Scripture teaches that salvation can come only from God Himself through Jesus merit by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore no man not even the Pope can give or convey salvation on another. So to trust the letters of indulgence for salvation is a misplaced trust.

It is a very human trait to want to have something that we can see or touch or a person that we can approach when we think of our salvation. Even today when we know that it is the work of the Holy Spirit that saves us, we tend to want to trust in our own works. Some people put their trust in a particular person who they believe has the key to their salvation. For this reason Luther is speaking directly to us today with this Theses.

This is once again a reminder that my salvation is a gift from God that is put in my life by the power of the Holy Spirit. The good works that I do are the result of that power of God that lives within me. Therefore we need to remember that I am saved “for good works” not saved “by good works”. That has not changed in the 500 years since Luther wrote these words.


Dear God, give me a renewal of Your Spirit that I may rely more fully on You and Your strength for my salvation. Through Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.