Summary: Starting the series on Romans, this sermon focuses on Romans 1:16-17 and how these verses launched the Reformation, which changed the world.
The Verse That Changed Everything!
CCCAG March 8th 2020
Scripture- Romans 1:1-17
I’ve been really looking forward to beginning this series. Even though I know that for me anyway, it will be a lot of work, I know it has the potential to grow us, to equip us, and to prepare us for the next chapter of our church families life and destiny in this community.
Roman’s is that important of a book, and having this taught and explained to you will help you not only in your day to day lives, but in being a witness for Jesus in this world.
How many people here have heard of the dark ages? A little history lesson this morning to put our central verses into context.
The Dark Ages were a period during the middle ages where there was a cultural and spiritual decline, especially in Europe and Western Asia. It started around 600 to 700 AD and lasted until the 1500’s.
Although Religion and religious life were very common, true spirituality in seeking and living for God was very suppressed, ironically by the religious elite that wouldn’t even permit a person to own a bible. The printing press had not been invented yet, so everything was copied by hand, and if there was a bible around, it was written in Latin which no one outside of that elite class could read or speak.
During this time, there was a great amount of deception, and even spiritual abuse going on. One of the greatest examples of this was the practice of indulgences. Let me take a moment to explain what those were.
The practice of granting indulgences started in the 11th century by Pope Urban II to reward anyone to signed up to fight in the crusades. They were slips of paper issued by the church, that guaranteed the person receiving it, or their relatives, freedom from purgatory.
If you don’t know what purgatory is- It is not an idea found in the bible.
Purgatory is a belief that came from a tradition that developed in the Roman Catholic Church that everyone needed to serve time in spiritual prison as punishment for their non-serious sins before going to heaven. Purgatory is not the nicest place to be, and you can be there for a while. It was a place of isolation where a soul could spend time in prayer and repentance, but not as bad as hell.
Fast forward to 1347. A mysterious illness begins to spread throughout the Christian world. People who become sick with this disease become ill, bloat up, turn black and died.
The Black Death wipes out 60% of the population of Eurasia, or 200 million people in 3 years.
It is by far the most horrible pandemic ever. The social, political, and religious upheaval shook the Western world to it’s core.
With the church, that meant that 60% of the people who regularly came to church and gave in the offering, died, and those who did come were even more impoverished. A rough guess, but 80-90% of the money disappeared from offering plates.
Throughout Europe, various areas that might have had leaders of questionable integrity began the practice of demanding money for indulgences, or for the forgiveness of sins at all because most church’s, including the Vatican, were still in the middle of huge building projects that needed to be finished.
To show how bad this practice of indulgences got, a saying arose as the priests would call for the offering-
“As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs into heaven”
Why is this bad?
Think about the word indulgence. If you indulge in something, it’s giving yourself permission to do something that is pleasurable. By itself, that’s not a bad thing. God gave us things on this earth to take pleasure in.
Chocolate is an indulgence
For me, hunting is an indulgence
Vacations are an indulgence.
Indulging in God permitted pleasure is not the problem, the problem is indulgences were a system in which you can indulge in forbidden pleasure and then just pay a penalty, and you can do whatever you want.
That’s why we in the Protestant church consider the practice of indulgences heresy, because only the cross of Jesus Christ can pay for your sins. Only through repentance, which means to turn away and admit that God is right to call that action sin can you receive forgiveness.
This practice was largely unchallenged for centuries until the year 1517.
In 1517, a there was a monk who had been assigned to teach theology at the University of Wittenberg Germany was giving the assignment to translate the Latin Bible into German so that the local priests in training could start their studies without have to take 2 years to learn Latin.