Salvation Is Not For Sale
The 500th anniversary of the Reformation offers us a fresh opportunity to examine people’s longing for wholeness, their aspirations for a dignified life.
While focus has shifted from the critique that Luther expressed in the 16th century about the church selling indulgences, a practice which gave believers an impression that they could “buy their way to heaven,” today we still see religion pushed into the marketplace as would-be believers are told that it is only through miracles that they can secure their prosperity.
We Lutherans understand that Luther’s key message on justification by faith alone (rather than through our good works or indulgences we can purchase) should not be taken for granted in the 21st century. Salvation and wholeness, healed relationships, life in dignity, the longing for prosperity: none of these are for sale.
As we mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, we say that there is no value in stirring up the old 16th century disputes with Roman Catholics. Instead we will mark this occasion alongside Roman Catholic sisters and brothers, and those of other traditions and we declare in a new age and in a new way that “Salvation is not for sale.”
When a certain Simon, a magician from Samaria heard the gospel and believed in the preaching of Peter and John, he got baptized and continued to follow them (Act 8:14-23). He however felt compelled to pay them some money so that he could participate fully into the life of salvation; “he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” To this Peter answered harshly, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”