Ezekiel Elliott, Martin Luther, and your soul

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Halloween came early for Dallas Cowboys fans last night as a New York court upheld the suspension of their star running back, Ezekiel Elliott. Tonight, more than 179 million Americans will participate in Halloween celebrations, spending $9.1 billion on the holiday.

Meanwhile, nine hundred million Protestants the world over are remembering an event that was far more obscure at the time but soon changed the world.

On October 31, 1517, an unknown monk in a small village nailed a document to the door of the town church. I’ve seen stories on Martin Luther, the Catholic Church, and the Protestant Reformation. But I haven’t seen much coverage of the document that made history.

Luther’s Ninety-five Theses are a set of theological statements regarding the church of his day. Their central concern remains an issue of enormous significance to our culture and our souls today.

The promise of religion

The subject Luther wanted to address was the selling of “indulgences.” Church historian Michael Whiting explains:

“Indulgences had been available in the church since the Middle Ages. In exchange for the giving of alms towards a religious cause, penitent sinners could be remitted part or all of the acts of penance, or temporal discipline, required for their sins. . . . Now, following a papal bull promulgated in 1476, indulgences could even be purchased on behalf of loved ones suffering in purgatory.”

The slogan of the day was, “When a coin in the coffer clings, a soul from Purgatory springs.”

Luther became convinced that indulgences could not save a person’s soul. To the contrary, he noted, “Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences” (Thesis #43). He added: “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).

Luther meant to begin a…

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- We have all sinned and deserve God's judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord," you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

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