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Luther Taught Me to Have Faith Again Today

October 21, 2019

These present days of Christian life can feel disjointed—I have been reborn, but am not glorified. Or, I have been made alive to the things of God, but am not without the sin He hates.

How Can I Relate with God, Though I Still Sin?

I have received the grace of Christ in justification—I trust that God credits Christ’s righteousness to me. I trust too that God will make me perfect in future glory, and that He is making me more like Christ by the power of the Spirit on this earth. But even while knowing Christ’s beauty, love, and hope, I have sorrowfully sinned this day.

So, though having been reborn and having hope in eternity, I have found a question concerning my day-to-day fellowship with God percolating within me: How do I relate with God at this present time, amidst the reality of my present sin that is incompatible with my new and future life in Christ?

Luther’s Answer Is Daily Faith

Reformer Martin Luther explains how living in constant fellowship with God on this earth depends upon ongoing faith. He writes that God “deals with us according to our belief in Christ until sin is killed.”[1]

Though my basis for approaching God cannot be that I have refrained from selfishness or that I have loved God will all of my being this day, I can approach God with faith in Christ. I can commune with him through faith that my burden of sins is removed from me—not strictly my burden of past sins, but the ones that would have just this day earned damnation for me, if not for Christ.

Daily Faith in God’s Grace

The gospel was not only true at the point of my conversion, and will not only be evident at the time of my glorification, but is in effect this minute. My Christ-purchased fellowship with God is preserved and available, though I am not without sin. This in-between time seems designed to continually remind me of God’s kindness anew—as I continually must acknowledge my need for this grace.

I require a sustaining, presently-saving work of God—a work no less necessary to keep me from wrath than my initial rebirth. And, I can never be without the gospel because I am saved again every day. I am not suggesting that I must be re-justified, or born again again. My one-time justification instantly ushered me into the realm of peace with God (Romans 5:1).

But, as Paul teaches, Christians are presently “being saved” by the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:18, 15:2), and are presently “being guarded” in a state of peace with God by his power, which takes place through the continual relationship with Christ of faith (1 Peter 1:5).

God knows I am not perfect; I am not to approach Him as if I were. He knows I am not made to stand independently of Christ; I am never to approach Him as if I could. I come before the Father in Christ with faith—yesterday, today, and until faith becomes sight.

Daily Faith with Full Assurance

Luther describes faith as ongoing in the Christian life: “Faith is a living, unshakeable confidence in God’s grace.”[2] And this is how God would have me approach Him, with full assurance of pardon and certainty of salvation—for I do know Christ, and this is true to how I know my Lord to be.

Luther continues: “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.”[3] Not only are my questions of practical fellowship with God met with God’s daily grace, these questions are spun through Christ into new praises of the present day’s preservation.

In this practice of imperfectly coming before Him, God impresses upon me a glad, bold, happy certitude that none of this salvation stems from me. I could not earn it at first, and I cannot sustain it at present. But nevertheless, it is sustained! Salvation for today is delivered by the God whose mercies are new toward me every morning (Lamentations 3:23).

Daily Faith That Sustains Good Works

When I do come before this kind God, then, I desire that I might bring to Him not only the confessions of how His grace has been needed, but my thanks too—offerings of glad, good works that his grace has wholly enabled and inspired.

Luther describes how faith is connected to a willing spirit:

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.[4]

Doing good works—this aspect of my fellowship with God—is sustained through daily faith as well. For faith is completed—it finds its fitting outlet—by works (James 2:22); if faith in God’s assurance of grace is not continual, neither will works be. But as faith is exercised, works flow.

I think the Christian life will continue to feel disjointed—for, I am declared righteous, but do not live fully righteously. But God’s grace is laced through each phase of the pilgrimage to support it all—not only justification and glorification, but also this present day’s salvation. Luther has taught me to exercise faith in the Lord again today—that this present, imperfect moment in time meets a grace perfect and preserving.

Every day until sin is no more, God communes with me once again through faith in my Lord.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

____________________

[1] Martin Luther, Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, n.d.), 5, https://www.ccel.org/ccel/luther/prefacetoromans.pdf.

[2] Ibid., 6.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.


The Author
Lianna Davis

Lianna (@liannadavis) is wed to Tyler and mother of two dear daughters, one who lives in heaven and one who lives on earth. She is author of Made for a Different Land: Eternal Hope for Baby Loss and Keeping the Faith: A Study in Jude. More of her writing can be found at her website.



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