Pope Leo X (1513-1521) needed great sums of money to continue the building of St. Peter's Church, and to gratify his own extravagant tastes. To secure the money, he resolved to extend the sale of Indulgences (a payment of a debt that a sinner owes to God). Such sales had produced grave abuses in the past and the new drive for money brought matters to a climax.

One seller of Indulgences, a monk named Tetzel, shamefully offered his wares near Wittenberg, declaring that, 'No sooner will the money chink in the box, than the soul of the departed will be free [from Purgatory]!' The spirit of Martin Luther was stirred to the depths! On the 31st of October 1517, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door at Wittenberg. In this famous document it was emphatically laid down, among other things, (1) that an Indulgence can never take away guilt; (2) an Indulgence can never take away divine punishment for sin; and (3) the Christian who has truly repented has already received pardon from God, and needs no Indulgence.

Copies were made of the Ninety-Five Theses and printed off by friends for circulation in tens of thousands all over Germany. The conflict which was to usher in the Reformation had begun.

The issues raised were far greater than even Luther himself knew. The pope soon summoned Luther to Rome. To have gone would have meant certain death, and he therefore refused. Up until now Luther had accepted the pope's supremacy; but not any more...

...to be continued

Updated: Mar 13

As part of my Crosslands study I've been reading a book called The Story of the Church by Renwick and Harman. In light of a recent sermon on justification through faith alone here is the first of three lightly edited excerpts from the book about Martin Luther, the great German Reformer...

Martin Luther was a man of intense spiritual conviction, on fire with zeal for the gospel, and possessed with great ability and great courage. Martin Luther was the originator of the Reformation in Germany.

Born on the 10th of November 1483, the son of a poor miner, he knew the struggles and the outlook of the working classes. Having obtained a free school education he entered university in 1501. Luther was a brilliant student, fond of music and philosophy. Suddenly, however, and to the surprise of all his friends, he entered a convent. From boyhood he had had a keen sense of the reality of the spiritual world. His teachers now taught him to save himself through prayers, fasting and penance. The Bible was withheld from him, but he wearied his superiors with his constant confession. But he still found no rest. Then, when he was twenty, he discovered a Latin Bible. His supervisor encouraged him to read it, and pointed him to Jesus Christ, who alone takes away sin and gives us fellowship with God. While reading Romans the peace of God came into Luther's heart. Through studying he came to see even more clearly that men are saved by God through Jesus Christ and not by their own good works, and that this salvation depends on God's grace alone. The monastic life and external observances in religion became of less importance to him. He began carefully to study the Bible, especially Paul's letters.

...to be continued

Sunday at 10:30am

Mangotsfield Primary School

Emersons Green

Church Farm Road 

BS16 7EY

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