Due to traveling between Houston and Dallas every week and the demands of school, my blog activity has suffered as of late! Things are going well, though, and I hope to begin posting more regularly soon.
I ran across an excerpt from Luther’s “Preface to the Epistle to the Romans” this week in one of my classes. This passage discusses what real faith looks like in the life of a Christian. Mere profession of belief does not necessarily an experience of the heart, and yet we are always quick to point friends and family back to their moment of “belief” when they are looking for security of salvation.
While the initial moment is exciting and important, if the believer never matures, bears the fruits of the Spirit, or produces good works, it might be a grave sin on our part to give them assurance that they are saved. Rather than needing to hear how to be a good Christian, they may need to hear the Gospel and to ask God to give them faith!
An excerpt from Luther’s “Preface” is below, and it can be read in full here. How does this compare to your faith? How does this compare to how you explain faith to others?
Faith is not that human illusion and dream that some people think it is. When they hear and talk a lot about faith and yet see that no moral improvement and no good works result from it, they fall into error and say, “Faith is not enough. You must do works if you want to be virtuous and get to heaven.” The result is that, when they hear the Gospel, they stumble and make for themselves with their own powers a concept in their hearts which says, “I believe.” This concept they hold to be true faith. But since it is a human fabrication and thought and not an experience of the heart, it accomplishes nothing, and there follows no improvement.
Faith is a work of God in us, which changes us and brings us to birth anew from God (cf. John 1). It kills the old Adam, makes us completely different people in heart, mind, senses, and all our powers, and brings the Holy Spirit with it. What a living, creative, active powerful thing is faith! It is impossible that faith ever stop doing good. Faith doesn’t ask whether good works are to be done, but, before it is asked, it has done them. It is always active. Whoever doesn’t do such works is without faith; he gropes and searches about him for faith and good works but doesn’t know what faith or good works are. Even so, he chatters on with a great many words about faith and good works.
Faith is a living, unshakable confidence in God’s grace; it is so certain, that someone would die a thousand times for it. This kind of trust in and knowledge of God’s grace makes a person joyful, confident, and happy with regard to God and all creatures. This is what the Holy Spirit does by faith. Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily; he will serve everyone, suffer everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown him such grace. It is as impossible to separate works from faith as burning and shining from fire. Therefore be on guard against your own false ideas and against the chatterers who think they are clever enough to make judgments about faith and good works but who are in reality the biggest fools. Ask God to work faith in you; otherwise you will remain eternally without faith, no matter what you try to do or fabricate.
Thanks for reading!