October 29, 2023

The 506th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation

The Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity 

The Twenty-third Sunday of the Pentecost Season




   Martin Luther’s 95 Theses (selected)


“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.


*           When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said,  ‘Repent’ (Mt 4:17), He willed the entire life of believers to be             one of repentance.   Thesis 1


*           They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.           Thesis 27


*           Those who believe they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.   Thesis 32


*           Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.      Thesis 36


*           Any true Christian, whether living or dead,  participates in all the blessings of Christ and the Church;  and this is granted by God, even without indulgence letters.        Thesis 37


*           Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences, but God’s wrath. Thesis 45


*           The true treasure of the Church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.      Thesis 62


*           Away with those prophets who say to the people of Christ, ‘Peace, peace,’ and There is no peace!  (Jer 6:14)”        Thesis92



Martin Luther’s SEAL


            Martin Luther never compiled a comprehensive theological textbook (called a “Loci” in his day, namely, a “dogmatics” (doctrine) textbook, in which he spelled out the truths and implications of the doctrine of justification,

along with Scripture’s other teachings, as he learned them from his study of God’s Word.  However he did produce what he called “my compendium of theology.”   It was a visual, rather than a verbal, compendium.   It was Luther’s personal  seal, which he designed to symbolize that which was the essential foundation of the theology he confessed, namely, the teaching that sinners are justified –– forgiven fully and freely     through the grace of God, by faith in Jesus Christ alone.   In a letter to a friend, Lazarus Spengler, Luther explained the meaning of this emblem:


“There is first to be a cross, black and placed in a heart, which should be in its natural [red] color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us.  For if one believes from the heart, he will be justified.   Even though it is a black cross, which mortifies and which also should hurt us, yet it leaves the heart in its natural color and does not ruin its nature;   that is, the cross does not  kill but keeps alive.   For the just man lives by faith in the

Crucified One.   (Galatians 6:14)


“Such a heart is to be in the midst of a white rose, to symbolize that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace; in a word, it places the believer into a joyful white rose;   for this faith does not give peace and joy as the world gives and, therefore, the rose is to be white and not red, for white is the color of spirits and of all the angels.

                                                                                                                              (Romans 5:9; Romans 10:10)


“Such a rose is to be in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that such joy in the Spirit and in faith is a beginning of the future heavenly joy;  it is already a part of faith and is grasped through Hope, even though not yet manifest.

                                                                                                                                                        (Isaiah 1:18)


“And around this field is a golden ring, symbolizing that in heaven such blessedness lasts forever and has no end, and in addition is precious beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.”

                                                                                                        (John 14:1-3;    Revelation 21:18-19, 21-27)



Serving Us Today

Elders:    Tim Pfortmiller, John Johnson     Organist:   Debbie Huebner

Ushers:   John Luedtke, Pat Quinlan, Ben Quinlan

Altar Guild:    Linda Winnat     Video:    Tim Huebner           

Custodian:    Lesa Roe        Secretary:   Marilyn Outlaw

Fellowship:     Tom Otto, Linda and Jim Winnat



PRE-SERVICE PRAYER   In the name of God  the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.  My Heavenly Father,  I thank You through Jesus Christ,  Your dear Son, for keeping me through the night from all harm and danger.   Keep me through this day also, from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You.  Into Your hands I commend my body and soul and all things.  Let Your holy angel be with me, so that the Devil may have no power over me.   Amen.



The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version   Copyright 2019,   The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.  Used with permission.    

Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via OneLicense.net #A712831





The Order of Worship for the Festival of the Reformation



Period For Silent Prayer                                                                                                        Pre-Service Music


We Praise Our God


The Greeting and Invitation to Worship


After which, at the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise for


The Invocation

We begin this service in the name

of the Father,

and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.



The Psalm for Reformation Sunday                                                                                           Psalm 46


P:  God is our refuge and strength,   a Helper Who can always be found in times of trouble.

C: That is why we will not fear when the earth dissolves + and when the mountains tumble into the heart of the sea.   +   Its waters roar and foam.    +   The mountains quake when it rises.


P:  There is a river – its streams bring joy to the city of God, to the holy dwelling of the Most High.

C: God is in her.   She will not fall;    +   God will help her at daybreak.


P:  Nations are in turmoil.   Kingdoms fall.   God raises His voice.  The earth melts.

C: Come, look at the works of the LORD.   +   What a wasteland He has made of the earth.


P:  He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;   

C: He shatters the bow.   +   He cuts up the spear.    + He burns the  shields with fire.


P:  Be still, and know that I am God;  I will be exalted among the nations,  I will be exalted on the earth.

C: The Lord of Armies is with us;    +   the God of Jacob is a Fortress to us.


The Opening Hymn                                                                                    “Your Hand, O God, Has Guided”

                                                                                                                           to the tune of Thornbury 7676 D


Your hand, O God, has guided   Your flock from age to age;

The wond’rous tale is written,    Full clear, on every page;

Our fathers owned Your goodness,    And we their deeds record;

And both of this bear witness,   One Church, one Faith, one Lord.


Through many a day of darkness,   Through many a scene of strife,

The faithful few fought bravely    To guard the Church’s life.

Their Gospel of redemption,   Sin pardoned, man restored,

Was all in this enfolded,    One Church, one Faith, one Lord.

Your mercy will not fail us,   Nor leave Your work undone;

With Your right hand to help us,   The victory shall be won;

And then by men and angels    Your name shall be adored,

And this shall be their anthem,   One Church, one Faith, one Lord.   AMEN.


after which the Congregation will rise as


We Make Confession Of Our Sins To God


P:  Brothers and sisters in Christ, in preparation for confessing our sins together, please join me in examining our lives according to God’s Ten Commandments, along with Martin Luther’s explanations for each of those commandments:


C: You shall have no other gods.

P:  We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.


C: You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God.

P:  We should fear and love God that we do not use His name to curse, swear, lie or deceive, or use witchcraft, but call upon God’s name in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.


C: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

P:  We should fear and love God that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but regard it as holy, and gladly hear and learn it.


C: Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

P:  We should fear and love God that we do not dishonor or anger our parents and others in authority, but honor, serve, and obey them, and give them love and respect.


C: You shall not murder.

P:  We should fear and love God that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need.


C: You shall not commit adultery.

P:  We should fear and love God that we lead a pure and decent life in words and actions, and that husband and wife love and honor each other.


C: You shall not steal.

P:  We should fear and love God that we do not take our neighbor’s money or property or get it by dishonest dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and means of income.


C: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

P:  We should fear and love God that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, or give him a bad name, but defend him, speak well of him, and take his words and actions in the kindest possible way.


C: You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

P:  We should fear and love God that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house or obtain it by a show of right, but do all we can to help him keep it.


C: You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, workers, animals, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

P:  We should fear and love God that we do not force or entice away our neighbor’s spouse, workers, or animals, but urge them to stay and do their duty.


Pastor:                 Beloved in the Lord, let us draw near to the Lord with sincere hearts and confess our sins to God, our Father, pleading that He might, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant us the forgiveness of all our sins.


Congregation:      Miserable person that I am, I confess and lament to You, O most holy God, that I am a weak and sinful  creature, guilty of every sin, of unbelief, and of blasphemy.  I also confess that Your Word

 has not brought forth good fruit in me.  I hear it, but do not receive it earnestly.  I do not show works of love toward my neighbor.  I am full of anger, hate, and envy.  I am impatient, greedy, and bent on every evil.  Therefore my heart and conscience are heavy.  Lord, I ask You, free me from my sins, strengthen my faith, and comfort my weak conscience by Your divine Word, that I may obtain Your promised grace.



The Assurance of God’s Forgiveness                                                                                                   


Having just heard your sincere confession of sins and plea for pardon may these words of our Savior in Matthew 8:31 comfort and encourage you:  “It will be done for you as you believe.”  And now, in the place of and according to the command of my Lord, Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sin, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  God be gracious unto you and strengthen your faith.  Go in peace.  Amen.


We Respond To God’s Forgiveness                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ….. verses 1 & 6 of Hymn 390

                                                                                                                        “Salvation Unto Us Has Come”


Salvation unto us has come   By God’s free grace and favor

Good works cannot avert our doom,  They help and save us never.

Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone,   Who did for all the world atone

He is the one Redeemer.


All blessing, honor, thanks, and praise   To Father, Son, and Spirit,

The God that saved us by His grace —  All glory to His merit!

O Triune God in heaven above,  Who has revealed Your saving love,

Your blessed name be hallowed.   AMEN.


The Prayer For Today


O Lord God, heavenly Father, we pray that You would pour Your Holy Spirit into our hearts;   enable us to remain steadfast in our faith in Your grace and truth;   protect and comfort us in all temptation;  defend us against all the enemies of Your Word and Your name;  and grant to all the Church militant Your saving peace;   through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, as the One true God,   forever and ever.   Amen.

After which the Congregation may be seated


We Hear God’s Word


The Old Testament Lesson                                                                                                   2 Kings 22:1-23:3


22 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he ruled for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He walked in all the ways of his father David. He did not turn aside to the right or to the left.


3 In King Josiah’s eighteenth year, the king sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah son of Meshullam, to the House of the Lord, saying, 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him weigh out the entire amount of silver which has been brought to the House of the Lord, which the gatekeepers have received from the people. 5 It is to be given to those who are appointed to supervise the work on the House of the Lord. They are to give it to those who are working in the House of the Lord to repair the damage to the temple. 6 Give it to the craftsmen, builders, and stonemasons so they can buy wood and quarried stone to repair the damage. 7 But no accounting is to be demanded for the silver which is given to them, because they are acting honestly.”


8 Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the House of the Lord.” Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, and he read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported: “Your servants have paid out the silver which was found in the temple, and they have given it to those who are appointed to supervise the work on the Lord’s house.”


10 Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” Then Shaphan read it in the presence of the king.


11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the servant of the king:  13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all of Judah concerning the words of this book, which has been found. For the Lord’s wrath which is burning against us is great, because our fathers did not listen to the words of this book and do everything which was recorded for us.”


14 Then Hilkiah the priest, with Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah, went and spoke to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum, who was the son of Tikvah, who was the son of Harhas, the keeper of the vestments.   She was living in Jerusalem in the Second District.


15 She gave them this message:


This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says. Tell the man who sent you to me that 16 this is what the Lord says.


Look! I am bringing disaster on this place and on its inhabitants, everything written in the book which they read before the king of Judah, 17 because they have forsaken me and have burned incense and offerings to other gods, so that they provoked me to anger with all the works of their hands. My anger will be poured out on this place. It will not be quenched.


18 This is what you will say to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord:


The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken the words which you have heard. 19 But because your heart was repentant and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants—that it would be desolate and cursed—and you have torn your clothes and have wept before me, I, even I, have heard you, says the Lord.


20 Therefore, be aware of this! I will gather you to your fathers. You will be gathered to your grave in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I will bring upon this place and its inhabitants.


They brought this message back to the king.


23 Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 The king went up to the House of the Lord, and every man of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets and all the people from the least to the greatest, went with him. In their hearing he read all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the House of the Lord.


3 Then the king stood before the pillar and made a covenant in the presence of the Lord to follow the Lord, to keep his commandments, his testimony, and his statutes with all his heart, and with all his soul to uphold the words of this covenant, which were written in this book.


Then all the people affirmed this covenant.



The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                             Galatians 2:11-3:14


11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly wrong. 12 For before some people came from James, he ate with the Gentiles. But when those people came, he drew back and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision group. 13 And the rest of the Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not acting according to the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all of them, “If you, a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, why do you compel the Gentiles to live like the Jews?”


15 “We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners. 16 We know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. So we also believed in Christ Jesus that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because no one[b] will be justified by the works of the law. 17 But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were also found to be sinners, then is Christ a servant of sin? Certainly not!


18 “In fact, if I build up again those things that I destroyed, I bring on myself the judgment of being a lawbreaker. 19 Indeed, through the law I died to the law that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I am now living in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not regard the grace of God as nothing. As a matter of fact, if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nothing!”


3 O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I just want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?


3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now trying to reach the goal by the flesh? 4 Did you experience so many things for nothing, if it were indeed for nothing? 5 So then, does the one who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the law? Or does he do it by your believing what you hear— 6 in the same way as Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness”?


7 Understand, then, that those who believe are the children of Abraham. 8 Foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, Scripture proclaimed the gospel in advance to Abraham, saying, “In you, all nations will be blessed.”  9 So then, those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.


10 In fact, those who rely on the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the law.”   11 Clearly no one is declared righteous before God by the law, because “The righteous will live by faith.”  12 The law does not say “by faith.” Instead it says, “The one who does these things will live by them.”


13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. As it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.”  14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we would receive the promised Spirit through faith.

after which the Congregation will rise out of respect for Christ’s words for


The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                                       Luke 7:36-50


36 A certain one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him. Jesus entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 Just then a sinful woman from that town learned that he was reclining in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of perfume, 38 stood behind him near his feet weeping, and began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she began to wipe them with her hair while also kissing his feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would realize who is touching him and what kind of woman she is, because she is a sinner.”


40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”


He said, “Teacher, say it.”


41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. The one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he forgave them both. So, which of them will love him more?”


43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the larger debt forgiven.”


Then he told him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 Turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, but you did not give me water for my feet. Yet she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but she, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfume. 47 Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that is why she loved so much. But the one who is forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”


49 Those reclining at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”


50 He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”



The Confession Of Our Christian Faith                                                                      “The Apostles’ Creed”


I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  +  And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;   +   Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;   +   Born of the Virgin Mary;   +   Suffered under Pontius Pilate;   +   Was crucified, dead and buried;   +   He descended into hell;   +   The third day He rose again from the dead;   +   He ascended into heaven   +   And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;   +   From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.   +   I believe in the Holy Ghost;   +   The Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints;  +   The forgiveness of sins;   +   The resurrection of the body;   +   And the life everlasting.  Amen.



after which the Congregation may be seated


The Sermon Hymn                                                                                     Hymn 384   “By Grace I’m Saved”


1 By grace I’m saved, grace free and boundless;   My soul, believe and doubt it not.

Why waver at this word of promise?    Has Scripture ever falsehood taught?

So then this word must true remain: By grace you, too, shall heav’n obtain.


2 By grace God’s Son, our only Savior, Came down to earth to bear our sin.

Was it because of your own merit That Jesus died, your soul to win?

No, it was grace, and grace alone, That brought him from his heav’nly throne.


3 By grace! Oh, mark this word of promise When you are by your sins oppressed,

When Satan plagues your troubled conscience, And when your heart is seeking rest.

What reason cannot comprehend God by his grace to you did send.


4 By grace to timid hearts that tremble, In tribulation’s furnace tried —

By grace, despite all fear and trouble, The Father’s heart is open wide.

Where could I help and strength secure If grace were not my anchor sure?


5 By grace! On this I’ll rest when dying; In Jesus’ promise I rejoice.

For though I know my heart’s condition, I also know my Savior’s voice.

My heart is glad; all grief has flown Since I am saved by grace alone.



The Pre-Sermon Greeting


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.



The Sermon Text                                                                                                      based on Romans 3:19-28


19 Now we know that whatever the law says is addressed to those who are under the law, so that every mouth will be silenced and the whole world will be subject to God’s judgment. 20 For this reason, no one will be declared righteous in his sight by works of the law, for through the law we become aware of sin.   21 But now, completely apart from the law, a righteousness from God has been made known. The Law and the Prophets testify to it. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all and over all who believe.


In fact, there is no difference, 23 because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God publicly displayed as the atonement seat through faith in his blood. God did this to demonstrate his justice, since, in his divine restraint, he had left the sins that were committed earlier unpunished. 26 He did this to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so that he would be both just and the one who justifies the person who has faith in Jesus.   27 What happens to boasting then? It has been eliminated. By what principle—by the principle of works? No, but by the principle of faith. 28 For we conclude that a person is justified by faith without the works of the law.


Who Gets The Credit?

Man for His Work….Or God For His Grace?


The Post-Sermon Blessing


And now, to Him Who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom of priests to serve His God and Father — to Him be glory for ever and ever.  Amen!          


after which the Congregation will be seated as


We Offer Our to the Lord


Our Offerings of Love to our Lord


Offerings will be received this morning through offering plates passed among those who have gathered here for worship.     However, for those viewing this service online,  we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:     

1) You can mail a check (no cash, please) to our church address:    (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745); or

2) You can donate through our website:  www.gracelutherannwa.com


at the Pastor’s invitation the Congregation will then rise as

  • We Offer Our Prayers To the Lord


    Included in our prayers is a Prayer of Thanksgiving for: Dale and Rachel Johannes,

    whose wedding anniversary is this coming Wednesday


    Reformation Sunday Litany Prayer for the Church


    P:  God, our Refuge and Strength,

    C: in Your mercy, hear our prayer.


    P  Rejoicing in the eternal Gospel of salvation and its message of life and salvation, let us pray for ourselves, for the Church in every place, and for the confession of the truth of God’s Word throughout the world.


    God of grace and glory, we give You thanks for the comfort of the Gospel restored to Your Church on earth through the work of Martin Luther and other faithful pastors and leaders during the Reformation era. We praise You that by Your rich grace we have come to the sure knowledge that we stand justified before You, not by what we have done, but rather by faith in what Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord has done on our behalf. We ask that You would defend Your Church from all enemies of Your saving Word. Cause the good news of the Gospel to be proclaimed in this time to every nation and tribe and language and people on earth, and graciously preserve the fruits of the Gospel for generations to come. God, our refuge and strength,

    C   in Your mercy, hear our prayer.


    P  Almighty, everlasting God our heavenly Father, Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We thank You for opening and enlightening the minds of all worshipers here today. As You have helped us to understand Your pure Word clearly, so also empower us by the Holy Sprit to devotedly live our lives in faithfulness to it.   God, our refuge and strength,

    C in Your mercy, hear our prayer.


    P   Lord God, we ask Your blessing upon those who maintain commerce and the financial institutions of our land. Bring to an end the efforts of those who deal dishonestly and all who seek to gain unjustly at the expense of others. Bless all those who conduct their business honestly that they may enjoy the fruits of their integrity and good reputation.   God, our refuge and strength,

    C in Your mercy, hear our prayer.


    P   Healer of our every ill, touch the minds, bodies and hearts of those broken by sickness and injury and all those recovering from surgery, that they may be restored to health and life according to Your good and gracious will and as You best see fit. Let Your face shine upon them that they may trust confidently in Your support and presence as their strength and mobility improve. God, our refuge and strength,

    C in Your mercy, hear our prayer.


    P   O Lord God, our Sun and our Shield, sustain and comfort all those who mourn the death of loved ones so that they may never lose sight of Your sure promises of heaven. Set our minds on heavenly things instead of earthly things so that our souls long for Your eternal courts. Bring us by Your grace to that promised dwelling place prepared in love by You for all the saints. God, our refuge and strength,

    C in Your mercy, hear our prayer.


    P   Holding fast to our faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ, as our one and only Savior, and confident in our own resurrection one day because of His victories for us over sin, death, Satan and the grave, we entrust ourselves and all for whom we pray to Your loving care, through the Jesus Christ, our Lord, in Whose name we offer this prayer and continue now by praying:


    C: Our Father,  Who art in heaven    +    Hallowed be Thy name.    +    Thy Kingdom come.  +    Thy will be done,  on earth as it is in heaven.   +    Give us this day our daily bread.  +  And forgive us our trespasses     +    as we forgive those who trespass against us.     +  And lead us not into temptation.     +     But deliver us from evil.    +    For Thine is the kingdom  +    And the power     +  And the glory    +   Forever and ever.   Amen.



    We Leave With The Lord’s Blessing


    The LORD bless you and keep you.

    The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

    The LORD look with favor upon you, and give you His peace.   Amen.



    The Closing Hymn                                                                                        “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”


    A Mighty Fortress is our God,   a trusty Shield and Weapon;

    He helps us free from ev’ry need    That hath us now o’ertaken.

    The old evil Foe   now means deadly woe;

    Deep guile and great might    Are his dread arms in fight;       On earth is not his equal.


    With might of ours can naught be done    Soon were our loss effected.

    But for us fights the Valiant One,   Whom God, Himself, elected.

    Ask ye, Who is this?   Jesus Christ it is,

    Of Sab-a-oth Lord,   And there’s none other God;   He holds the field forever.


    Tho’ devils all the world should fill    All eager to devour us.

    We tremble not, we fear no ill.   They shall not overpower us.

    This world’s prince may still   Scowl fierce as He will,

    He can harm us none,   He’s judged;   the deed is done;       One little word    Can fell him.


    The Word they still shall let remain    Nor any thanks have for it.

    He’s by our side upon the plain   With His good gifts and spirit.

    And take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife,

    Let these all be gone.   They yet have nothing won.   The Kingdom ours remaineth.     AMEN

    Silent Prayer, Announcements, Post-worship Music                                                                                       


    “After we have learned to know God in His Son

     and have received the forgiveness of sins

    and the Holy Spirit, Who endues hearts with joy and with the peace of soul

    by which we look with contempt on sin and death, what remains to be done?

    Go, and do not be silent.  You are not the only one to be saved;

    the remaining multitude of men should also be preserved.”       Martin Luther




    Last Week At Grace                                                                                 Worship Attendance: 57   (18 views)

    Bible Class: 25  (16 views)     Budget Offerings:  $1697      Online: $80.90

    Capital Improvement: $10    Gift for Sign:  $425         Benevolence: $20   

    Tuesday Bible Class: 11       Wednesday Bible Classes:   4 women, 4 men


    Serving Us Next Sunday                              Elders:   Vic Walker, Steve Stone

    Altar Guild: Tina Wambold, Harriet Johnson          Video:   Tim Huebner

    Ushers: Fred Cusanelli, Chris Roberts, Trent Schroeder


    Getting Into God’s Work This Week

    Today:    Genesis 12-13 (Abram in Egypt;   Lot and Abram Part)

    Tuesday (10:30 am):  Formula of Concord, doctrine of Good Works

    Wednesday (6-7 p.m):    Women (Spiritual Gifts)

    Men:   (Lives and Ministries of the Apostles…..Matthew and Matthias)


    This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church


    Today            Morning Worship, 9:30 a.m.         Fellowship, 10:40a.m.            

                           Sunday School – 11:05 a.m.      Bible Class, 11:05 a.m.

                           Youth Confirmation, 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.

    Tuesday        Morning Bible Study, 10:30 to 11:30

    Wednesday   Women’s and Men’s Bible Studies, 6 to 7 p.m.

    Saturday        Outreach Calling/Visitation, meet at church at 10:00 a.m.

                           TIME CHANGE…..SET YOUR CLOCKS BACK 1 HR

    Sunday         Morning Worship at 9:30 a.m including the Lord’s Supper

                            Fellowship, 10:45                                                          Bible Class/Sunday School, 11:05 a.m.


    Birthdays/Anniversaries        Oct 30 – Christopher Huebner;    

    Nov 01 – Dale & Rachel Johannes;            Nov 03 – Roger Kattestad    


    Looking Ahead:   Thanksgiving Day Worship, November 21st, at 9:30 a.m.   Followed by a fellowship dinner/potluck.     Please invite and bring your family and Friends!


    Special Reformation Service THIS AFTERNOON   Our sisters and brothers at Beautiful Savior Lutheran in Bella Vista invite us to join them later today (October 29th) at 4:30 p.m. for a special worship service celebrating the the 506th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.   A fellowship dinner will follow the worship service.



    A Time Line of the Lutheran Reformation


    1436 — Johannes Gutenberg invents movable-type printing press.

    1455    Gutenberg Bible printed.

    1483    Martin Luther born in Eisleben, Nov. 10; baptized Nov. 11.

    1492    Columbus reaches the Americas.

    1499    Katharina von Bora (Luther’s wife) born in Lippendorf, Jan. 29.

    1501   Luther enters University of Erfurt (receives master of arts in philosophy, 1505).

    1502   Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, founds University of Wittenberg.

    1505   Luther’s experience and promise made during a thunderstorm, July 2; 

               He enters the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, July 17.

    1506   Pope Julius II lays cornerstone of St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome;

               Luther takes final vows as Augustinian Monk, autumn.

    1507   Luther ordained priest at Erfurt Cathedral, April 3;   Luther begins study of theology.

    1511   Luther sent to Wittenberg University to serve as professor of theology.

    1512   Luther awarded doctor of theology degree, Oct. 18–19.

    1517   Pope Leo X declares indulgence for rebuilding of St. Peter’s;

               Luther nails 95 Theses to Castle Church door, Wittenberg, Oct. 31

    1518   Disciplinary action against Luther begins in Rome.

    1521   Luther excommunicated by papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem, Jan. 3;

    Luther appears before Diet of Worms and refuses to recant, April 17–18;

    Charles V issues Edict of Worms, declaring Luther a public outlaw and criminal and making it illegal to have Luther’s books, May 25;

    Frederick the Wise hides Luther at the Wartburg Castle for eleven months;

    Luther translates New Testament into German, from December to March 1522.

    1523   Escaped nuns from Nimbschen, including Katharina von Bora (Luther’s future wife), arrive in Wittenberg, April 7.

    1525   Luther marries Katharina von Bora, June 13;

               Luther’s German Mass first used, Dec. 25.

    1526   Hans Luther born (first child of six to Luther and Katharina), June 7.

    The German Mass (Deutsche Messe) is introduced…..worship in the language of the people, not Latin

    1528   Luther undertakes the Saxon Visitation (visiting the churches of Saxony)

    1529                                                                                                                                                                               Second Diet of Speyer, April, results in the issue of the Protestio, hence giving rise to the label “Protestant,”                                      

               which the Romanists applied to all who agreed with Luther;

    Luther publishes Large Catechism, April, and Small Catechism, May.

    October, Luther and Zwingli meet for the Marburg Colloquy; full doctrinal agreement cannot be reached due to Zwingli’s rejection of the Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper

    1530   June 25 Lutherans present to the Emperor at the Diet of Augsburg, their Augsburg Confession as a declaration

               of what they believe and reject on the basis of God’s Word.

    1534   Luther completes the Old Testament;   the entire Bible is now available in German

    1537   Luther prepares his Smalcald Articles (which would not be adopted as a Lutheran Confession until the Book

               of Concord was produced in 1580)

    1539   Catholic counter-reformation begins in earnest.

    1540   Melanchthon modifies the Augsburg Confession into the Variata

    1543   Spanish Catholics begin to burn Protestants at the stake.

    1545   Council of Trent’s first sessions take place between 1545 and 1547.

    1546   Luther dies at Eisleben, Feb. 18; He is buried at Castle Church in Wittenberg, Feb. 22.

    1547   The Smalcald League (Lutheran forces) is defeated by forces of the Emperor supporting the Catholic Church

    1548   In December the Leipzig Interim (in which Melanchthon was instrumental) is imposed on Lutherans

               (replacing the more hated Augsburg Interim).   While retaining freedom to preach and teach the doctrine of Justification by Grace, through Faith, concessions are made to the Church of Rome on many other points….both matters of adiaphora and doctrine.   It causes a division within Lutheranism and results in the banishment of many faithful Lutheran pastors.

    1551   Council of Trent holds more sessions, 1551–1552.

    1555   Peace of Augsburg allows Lutherans equal rights and religious freedom within the Holy Roman Empire;

    1563   Council of Trent ends, officially codifying Roman Catholic doctrine (for the first time in history) and

               establishing Roman Catholic Church.

    1580   The Book of Concord is Produced



    The Lutheran Reformation, through the Gospel, moved people…


    …….From Spiritual uncertainty and insecurity to certainty and security in Christ. The Church no longer could intentionally cause people to waver between hope and fear.  Instead, through faith in the Gospel people could now live in hope and joy.   When he died, the Christian was now certain eternal life in heaven was his destination.

    …….From a self-centered life hopelessly devoted to trying to save oneself by works to a Christ-centered life, gratefully devoted to serving and loving the Savior and others.   Prior to the Reformation, people were taught that they could enter heaven only through their good works.   Once it became clear, from Scripture, that Christ had already done everything necessary to save them, and so that they were saved, Christians were set free to do works to serve God and benefit others.

    …….From a view of the Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper) which wrongly regards them as good works that man does to satisfy God,  to a proper, Biblical view that sees them as vehicles through which God conveys His forgiving, saving grace to humans.

    …….From a very negative view of marriage and the family (which suggested that celibacy was far superior to marriage) to a very positive and Biblically based view of the family as the earthly foundation of society and as a great blessing from God for the church.


    The Lutheran Reformation Restored:


    …….The proper distinction between the Law and Gospel as the Scripture’s chief teachings which show us both (the Law) God’s perfect will which also affirms our sinfulness and what that merits for man (damnation), as well as God’s undeserved grace for sinners in Christ (the Gospel), by which He unilaterally forgives our sins and assures us of eternal life in heaven, through faith in Christ.    Through his study of the Bible Luther came to realize that one of the major reasons that the Gospel had been obscured, was because the Catholic Church had incorrectly interpreted many of the beautiful Gospel sections of Scripture as Law.


    …….The distinction between what is essential for faith (Scripture alone), and what is nonessential – the former being necessary, while the latter is – at best – a matter of Christian freedom.   The Catholic Church of Luther’s day wrongly had turned every decree and pronouncement it made into an essential doctrine necessary for salvation.


    …….The Biblical teaching that all Christians are priests before God, namely, “the priesthood of all believers,” and so that every believer has direct access to God through Christ.   In Luther’s day those who served as priests in the church were viewed almost as a special caste, high above the common man.  


    …….An emphasis on the theology of the cross instead of the theology of glory. The theology of the cross means that a reconciled relationship with God and ones salvation are found in Christ alone – Who suffered, died and rose for us.  The theology of glory attempts to find God’s favor in an individual’s good works, prosperity, and strength.   The theology of glory focuses on man’s achievements and efforts to elevate himself before God.   The theology of the cross focuses on man’s damnable sinfulness (through proper preaching of the Law), but on God’s redemptive work for sinners through the redeeming work of Christ.


    Key Doctrines Returned Through the Lutheran Reformation


    *   Justification by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone apart from works


    *   Sola Scriptura….that the Bible — as the inerrant, inspired, infallible Word of God – is the only source of doctrine for Christians (not tradition, the decrees of the church, or pronouncements of a Pope)


    *   Permitting the Laity to own and read the Scriptures


    *   The Priesthood of All Believers (that all believers have direct access to God without the need for a priest as an intermediary)


    *   The Theology of the Cross, vs a “Theology of Glory”


    *   The Papacy as the very Anti-Christ


    *   The Doctrine of the Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper (vs Catholicism’s false doctrine of Transubstantiation; as well as the Reformed Churches’ error of Representationism)


    *   Reform of the Mass/Public Worship Service into the thoroughly Biblical liturgy retained by Lutherans to this day…..Worship, also, in the language of the people (not the Church’s Latin language)


    *   Congregational Singing as an integral part of public worship


    *   An absolute rejection of the unBiblical, false doctrines of:  

               *    Purgatory; 

               *    Enforced Celibacy for clergy; 

               *    Infused Grace;  

               *    Communion in only one kind (the wafer, without the cup);  

               *    The Mass (with its re-sacrificing of Christ as payment for sin);

               *    Worship of Mary

               *    Prayers to the Saints

               *    Mandatory, oral Confession to a Priest, along with Penance

               *    Indulgences (whether for earthly or eternal remission of sin)

               *    earning extraordinary merit by being a priest, monk or nun

The 95 Theses:

The Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power

and Efficacy of Indulgences

by Dr. Martin Luther, 1517

Published in:  Works of Martin Luther:
Adolph Spaeth, L.D. Reed, Henry Eyster Jacobs, et Al., Trans. & Eds.

(Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Company, 1915), Vol.1, pp. 29-38

Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.   In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

  1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said “Repent,” willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
  2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.
  3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.
  4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
  5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons.
  6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.
  7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.
  8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
  9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
  10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penances for purgatory.
  11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.
  12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
  13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.
  14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.
  15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
  16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.
  17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.
  18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.
  19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.
  20. Therefore by “full remission of all penalties” the pope means not actually “of all,” but only of those imposed by himself.
  21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope’s indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;
  22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.
  23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.
  24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.
  25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.
  26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.
  27. They preach man who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory].
  28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.
  29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.
  30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.
  31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.
  32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.
  33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;
  34. For these “graces of pardon” concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.
  35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.
  36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.
  37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.
  38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.
  39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.
  40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].
  41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.
  42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.
  43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;
  44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.
  45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.
  46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.
  47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.
  48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.
  49. Christians are to be taught that the pope’s pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God.
  50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter’s church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
  51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope’s wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.
  52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.
  53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.
  54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.
  55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
  56. The “treasures of the Church,” out of which the pope. grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.
  57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.
  58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.
  59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church’s poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
  60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ’s merit, are that treasure;
  61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.
  62. The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
  63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.
  64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
  65. Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.
  66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.
  67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the “greatest graces” are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.
  68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.
  69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.
  70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.
  71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!
  72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!
  73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.
  74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.
  75. To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God — this is madness.
  76. We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.
  77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.
  78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.
  79. To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.
  80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.
  81. This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.
  82. To wit: — “Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial.”
  83. Again: — “Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”
  84. Again: — “What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul’s own need, free it for pure love’s sake?”
  85. Again: — “Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?”
  86. Again: — “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?”
  87. Again: — “What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?”
  88. Again: — “What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?”
  89. “Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?”
  90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.
  91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.
  92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace!
  93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!
  94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;
  95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.


Background Information on the 95 Theses


(1) On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther mailed the 95 Theses to local bishops that they might take action against indulgences. According to Luther’s co-worker, Philip Melanchthon, Luther also posted the Theses to the Castle church door on this same day, though Melanchthon is the only source or witness that mentions it.   Posting such a disputation would not have been out-of-the-ordinary in that age.  It was customary to  post public notices on the church door – since parish members daily attended church services.

(2) Inside the Castle church at this time were seven aisles full of relics (the bones of saints and other supposedly “holy” items) to be adored the next day, which was All Saints’ Day.  Duke Frederick the Wise highly valued (was almost obsessed with?) his collection of relics. His Castle Church housed 19,000 pieces – by far the largest collection in northern Europe.   According to the Catholic church’s (false) teaching, viewing and venerating all those relics were worth the relief of more than 1,900,000 years’ punishment in Purgatory.  The relic collection supposedly included a piece of Moses’ burning bush, soot from the fiery furnace of Daniel 3, milk from Jesus’ mother Mary, and a piece of Jesus’ crib, just to name a few.

(3) Luther’s initial purpose in writing the 95 Theses was to invite local theologians to participate in a debate over indulgences.   His intent was to initiate a theological discussion on the subject of indulgences which eventually might lead to changes in connection with the obviously corrupt jubilee indulgence practice, among other issues.   The subtitle for the 95 Theses read:   “Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.    In the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”  That disputation took place in Wittenberg two weeks later. Luther did not intend the Theses to initiate a church-wide reformation, let alone to serve as an attack on the Pope, etc.    He was simply raising questions about the corruptions associated with the sale of indulgences, something he had done ever since his first lectures on the Psalms (1513-14).

(4) Luther was not the only one to question indulgences. Many throughout Europe had complained and were complaining about them. This explains in part why the Theses spread so rapidly and found such enthusiastic support.  However, Luther was the first to think through a Scriptural response to indulgences so thoroughly and present it publicly.

(5) Indulgences were part of the Church’s teaching of penance.  By Luther’s time it was taught that there were three parts to penance: (a) confession and sorrow for sin, (b) absolution/forgiveness spoken by the priest, and (c) satisfaction, some good work done to pay for the temporal punishment of sin.  Visiting relics, pilgrimages to holy places, the praying of the rosary, and the purchasing of indulgences were all examples of “satisfaction,” the third part of penance.   An indulgence, incidentally, was a device, which when purchased, and when confession was made, assured the holder of the remission of temporal punishment (not eternal punishment in hell, but punishments in this life and in purgatory for sins already forgiven).   Originally and customarily it was not taught that indulgences forgave sin or eternal punishment for sin.

(6) What prompted Luther to write the 95 Theses was a special jubilee indulgence instituted by Pope Leo X. The purpose of this indulgence was to build St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. (Actually 50% of the proceeds was to go to the building of St. Peter’s; the other 50% was to go to Albrecht, who had recently bought his position as archbishop of Mainz – he needed the money to pay off the loan he had taken to buy that office). This special jubilee indulgence was a plenary(full/complete) indulgence, which meant that all sin and eternal punishment, along with any temporal punishment/satisfaction would be forgiven to those who purchased them.

(7) This jubilee indulgence was claimed to guarantee four chief graces:   a) the complete forgiveness of all sin;   b) the possibility for the purchaser to receive a “confessional letter” which would grant him the right to twice receive absolution for all sins;    c) purchasers of the indulgence and their dead relatives would participate in all the pious works and merits of the church;    and   d) the full forgiveness of punishment for those already in purgatory was assured when one bought an indulgence for someone already there.

(8) Though Luther’s prince, Duke Frederick the Wise, had prohibited the sale of the jubilee indulgence in his Saxon territory, they were being sold across the river and his subjects traveled across the river to purchase them.   John Tetzel, a Dominican monk, was the chief indulgence salesman and preacher in Germany.   He had been hired by Archbishop Albrecht.

(9) When indulgence salesmen came to town, they would set up inside the local church. While they were there, regular preaching was suspended and forbidden. Actual drafts of indulgence sermons from this time exist. One sermon reads:   “You should know….whoever has confessed and is contrite and put alms into the box, as his confessor counsels him, will have all of his sins forgiven, and even after confession and after the jubilee year will acquire an indulgence on every day that he visits the cross and the altars, as if he were visiting the seven altars in the Church of St. Peter, where the perfect indulgence is granted. So why are you standing about idly? Run, all of you, for the salvation of your souls . . . Do you not hear the voices of your dead parents and other people, screaming and saying: ‘Have pity on me, have pity on me . . . for the hand of God has touched me (Job 19:21)? We are suffering severe punishments and pain [in purgatory], from which you could rescue us with a few alms, if only you would.’  Open you ears, because the father is calling to the son and the mother to the daughter.” (Oberman: 1992, 188).

(10) How much did this indulgence cost?   It depended on a person’s station in life. Kings and Queens: 25 gulden; high counts and prelates: 10 gulden; low counts and prelates: 6 gulden; merchants and townspeople: 3 gulden;   artisans: 1 gulden; others: ½ a gulden; the indigent were to fast and pray.  (In that age a gulden was worth approximately one day’s pay.)

(11) The main topics of the 95 Theses are repentance and good works. However, Luther makes several startling statements about the Pope, which later brought him into conflict with the Roman Church. Many viewed this document as an attack on the papacy, which was not Luther’s intent.

(12) Within two weeks of their posting, the 95 Theses had been translated from Latin into German and spread throughout Germany. Within a month, the 95 Theses had been carried throughout Europe. They became the talk of the continent and the church.   Prior to this Luther was only known locally. The Theses catapulted him to international fame.
(13) John Tetzel died in 1519, a disgraced and broken man.   Luther died in 1546, at peace with God, confident of his place in heaven through faith in Christ Jesus his Savior.

Sources:     Martin Brecht, Martin Luther: His Road to Reformation, 1483-1521, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1985; Heiko A. Oberman, Luther, Man Between God and the Devil, New York: Image, 1992;   Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther;   New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1951;     Ernest. G. Schwiebert,   Luther, His Life and Times, St. Louis:   Concordia Publishing House, 1950.