Ellen G. White Writings

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Love Under Fire, Page 57

the Word of God, they would not have been deceived. But the church had kept the Bible from them.8See John C. L. Giesler, A Compendium of Ecclesiastical History, period 4, section 1, paragraph 5.

As Tetzel entered a town, a messenger went ahead, announcing, “The grace of God and of the holy father is at your gates.”9D'Aubigné, book 3, chapter 1. The people welcomed the blasphemous deceiver as if he were God Himself. From the pulpit in the church, Tetzel glorified indulgences as the most precious gift of God. He declared that by means of his certificates of pardon, all the sins that the buyer would afterward desire to commit would be forgiven him, and “not even repentance is necessary.”10D'Aubigné, book 3, chapter 1. He assured his hearers that his indulgences had power to save the dead; the very moment the money would clink against the bottom of his case, the soul for whom it had been paid would escape from purgatory and make its way to heaven.11See K. R. Hagenbach, History of the Reformation, volume 1, page 96.

Gold and silver flowed into Tetzel's treasury. A salvation bought with money was easier to get than one that requires repentance, faith, and diligent effort to resist and overcome sin. (See Appendix.)

Luther was horrified. Many of his own congregation had bought certificates of pardon. They soon began to come to their pastor, confessing sins and expecting forgiveness, not because they were sorry and wanted to reform, but on the basis of the indulgence. Luther refused, and he warned them that unless they repented and reformed, they must die in their sins. They went back to Tetzel complaining that their confessor had refused his certificates, and some boldly demanded their money back. In a rage, the friar uttered terrible curses, caused fires to be lighted in the public squares, and declared that he “had received an order from the pope to burn all heretics who dared to oppose his most holy indulgences.”12D'Aubigné, book 3, chapter 4.

Luther's Work Begins

Luther spoke from the pulpit in solemn warning. He told the people how offensive sin is to God and how impossible it is for anyone by his own works to reduce its guilt or avoid its punishment. Nothing but repentance toward God and faith in Christ can save the sinner. The grace of Christ cannot be purchased—it is a free gift. He counseled the people not to buy indulgences but to look in faith to a crucified Redeemer. He told about his own painful experience and assured his hearers that it was by believing in Christ that he found peace and joy.

As Tetzel continued making his ungodly claims, Luther decided on a more effective protest. The castle church of Wittenberg possessed relics that were exhibited to the people on certain holy days. All who visited the church on those days and made confession were granted full remission of sins. On the day before one of the most important of these occasions, the festival of All Saints, Luther joined the crowds already making their way to the church and on its door posted ninety-five propositions against the doctrine of indulgences.

His challenges attracted everyone's attention. They were read and repeated in every direction, creating great excitement in the whole city. These theses showed that God had never committed to the pope or any

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