by Stephen Whitney

Grace Alone
Stephen Whitney
Ephesians 2:8-9

In 1506 Pope Julius laid the foundations for an imposing church in Rome which he called St. Peter's Basilica because it was where they believed the apostle Peter was buried. The church was going to be built on almost 6 acres of land.

The church was going to be a very large structure in the shape of a cross. The most outstanding feature of the church would be a round dome 80 feet across supported by four large posts and 400 feet high. Today, the dome of St. Peter's Basilica still stands as the symbol of the Roman Catholic church in the Papal square.

To build such a large building cost a lot of money even back in the 1500's, so the pope needed to raise money for the project. The church decided to send monks throughout the countries in Europe to sell indulgences to help pay for the building of St. Peter's.

In Catholic theology an ''indulgence'' is the remission of temporal punishment for a sin that has already been forgiven. In other words, when you died you would not have to spend as much time in purgatory because you had already paid for your sin.

A indulgence is granted by the church when the sinner confesses and receives forgiveness. When an indulgence is given, the church is extending merit to a sinner from the accumulation of merits it has collected based on the good deeds of the saints. These merits could be bought and sold through the church for yourself or for a loved one who had died.

In 1516, Johann Tetzel was sent to Germany to sell indulgences.
In order to sell them to the common man he had a catchy saying,
As soon as a coin in the coffer rings,
the rescued soul from purgatory springs.

Martin Luther challenged the pope with his 95 thesis. Number 86
''Why does not the pope . . . build the basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers.''

Understanding Grace

The church was giving people hope they could earn their salvation and they could ...

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