According to Roman Catholic Church theology, in the early days of the Church, the great saints died and went to heaven before they had used up all their accumulated merits, which are earned by all Catholics while doing good work on Earth. The Church had possession of these extra merits and could, in the Church's teaching, sell them back to the people over time in the form of Indulgences, thus allowing one to buy merits, rather than having to do the good works required to earn them.

Treasure House of Merit (or treasure of merit) was one of the core complaints of Martin Luther at the start of the Reformation in his Ninety-Five Theses (see #56-60). While Luther did not question that the Treasure House of Merit existed, he rejected the belief that the Church had sole possession of it. He believed instead that God had given merits equally to everyone, and thus merits could not be sold by the Božje milosti

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