Thursday, February 23, 2006

On Faith - Martin Luther


Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. ``Faith is not enough,''they say, ``You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.'' They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, ``I believe.'' That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn't come from this `faith,' either.

Instead, faith is God's work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn't stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.

Faith is a living, bold trust in God's grace, so certain of God's favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God's grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they're smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.

Martin Luther - An Introduction to St. Paul's Letter to the Romans,"

18 Comments:

At Thursday, February 23, 2006 10:20:00 PM, Blogger Puritan Belief said...

Martin Luther pin points the difference here.

I liked this bit.
It doesn't stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing.

When people focus so much on the side of good works to prove salvation they deny that Good works proceed forth from faith centered in Jesus.

Thanks for bringing out this beauty from luther doug.

 
At Friday, February 24, 2006 6:01:00 PM, Blogger Hattigrace said...

Do a complete study on Martin Luther's life, not as a legend, but the whole man.

You know he wanted to slice the book of James out, b/c James says FAITH W/O WORKS IS DEAD. We are saved through faith, but our works are the proof and fruit of our faith. "Let your good works so shine before men. . ." "Even a child is known by his doings"

Luther also said, "Sin and therefore prove the grace of God".

Protestants make the error of skipping from NT to Reformation. Did God really make a mistake the first 1500 years of the Church that Martin Luther was needed to provide a truer revelation of faith?

How can we so dishonor all the saints up to his time and therefore dishonor the work of the Holy Spirit in them?

 
At Friday, February 24, 2006 8:27:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Hatti,

Thanks for the comments.

There was no doubt that Luther was not a perfect man. When he made those statements about James, he was wrong in assuming that James should not be included in the canon. But most of the reason he disliked it was because what was being taught from it was that works somehow merited salvation.

As far as God making a mistake in the first 1500 years of the Church, God makes no mistakes, but that does not mean anybody who says they are of the Church is in any way infallible. There are many who say they are part of the Church who have never really been part of it or have become apostate. In fact to attribute everything some of these men and women did to God would be a great disservice to Him. All we have to do is think about the crusades or pope Alexander the VI and his illegitimate children. What we must do is look to see what they did that was good and what they did that was not honorable. The way we do this is to hold them up to the light of Scripture.

We would be in error to look at the all saints in the previous 1500 years as a perfect representation of Christianity just as we would be in error to look at Martin Luther in the same light. To agree with Luther on an issue is in no way to dishonor all the saints that preceded him. In fact St. Augustine had a similar view on this topic.

With that being said, Luther's argument here is quite sound Biblically. The church of that time would have disagreed because they said that faith was not sufficient for salvation, but that works must be added onto faith. Luther's words here state that works cannot be added or taken away from faith because true faith produces works.

I hope that helped clarify why I posted it.

Doug

 
At Friday, February 24, 2006 10:29:00 PM, Blogger Hattigrace said...

I have to say, study his whole life, not just from Protestant teachings, but from all sites. He taught some very scary things.

The church never said that works was the way of salvation, but the fruit of salvation. Because Luther saw the Church teaching works as a way of salvation, that was his perception. So, he wanted to invalidate a canonized book b/c of his own woundedness.

Martin Luther came from a father who never recieved him and a mother who was very legalistic. When he decided to be a monk instead of a lawyer, his father nearly disowned him, as his choice would not support his parents. ML experienced extreme rejection from his parents.

While he anguished his lack of acceptance from God (mirroring his lack of acceptance from his parents) other saints in the Church were easily recieving the grace of God. Studying his WHOLE life sheds much light on his theology, which shaped the Protestant Reformation. He even said later that he realized his theology turned every man into his "own Pope" and thus brought a mayhem into the Church.

His theology on Sola Scriptura is full of holes. First of all 1st Tim 3:14-15 says the church of the living God, (is)the pillar and foundation of truth. . . The first couple hundred years of the Church, they did not have the Bible. The Church was lead by the oral tradtion, not the Written Word.

So, who had the authority to cannonize the Bible? And why should we not honor the ongoing magistrate of the Living Church?

Luther wanted to make the Bible the only authority and to make each man accountable to only the Bible and his interpretation of the Bible. This has been the way of the apostate and the heretic.

The Apostle's Creed was written to clarify the true belief in Christ against the heretical views of many, from the very beginning. It took our Church fathers over 100 years to clarify issues, such as the Trinity in the Apostle's Creed.

Luther's views are in alignment, in some areas, not in all, with the apostates of the first several centuries.

A closer study of the Crusades are very integral in understanding the true fight for faith. They (the Crusaders) were the first fight against Muslim expansion. To label them as a sin of the Church is to not understand true Church history.

While Alexander 6 had his errors, as the seat of Christ, he did not change the doctrine or dogma of the Church.

I would have to say the last Hp is argumentative, as they both say what James says, FAITH W/O WORKS IS DEAD.

I say again. If you study deep into the WHOLE of Luther's life and works, you will see his influence was a dividing, and sometimes (not always) dark turn.

The Bible itself says, "A house divided will not stand." Since the Protestant Reformation, there has been an ongoing protest and division in the Church. We now have over 22,000 denominations. We are so splintered we no longer have a powerful voice in society. There is no final voice or head over the church. So, we say Christ is the head of the church. He certainly is head of our own hearts. But as on earth, He said Peter was the rock and on that Rock, He would build His Church, he knew this world would need a final earthly spokesman for His Church.

Just as Israel wanted an earthly King and chose first Saul, then God chose David, the Israelites wanted Jesus to be their new King, yet Jesus chose Peter to be earthly head to speak for Him. The Popes of the past had great earthly power for the Kingdom of God. Some greater than others. Pope Johh 2 had a powerful and possitive influence for 25 years.


I was raised atheist. When I became a born-again Christian at age 22, my number one question of the church at at large was, how can so many different preachers, who all love God say that they have heard the voice of God and yet so vehemently disagree? Is God confused? yet the Bible says He is not a God of confusion. So, where is the FINAL ANSWER on the beliefs of our faith.

Twenty two years later, after much prayer and reading (two books influenced me: 1. The Story of Christian Theology - by a Baptist theologian and 2. Rome Sweet Home, by Dr. Scott Hahn, a Protestant theologian turned Catholic after five years of debate with God), I became Catholic. The Catechism of the Church became such a comfort, b/c finally, there was a final, unifying word of faith that dated back to the first century.

 
At Saturday, February 25, 2006 12:13:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Hattie,

Many of the things you said are correct but ad hominem arguments against Luther don’t prove that what he taught here was incorrect. I agree with much of what you said. As I mentioned Luther had his problems, but my point was that so did many of the Saints and Popes. There are also aspects of the crusades that are honorable such as Charles Martel’s stand against the Muslims. But to make a blanket statement supporting all of them seems to be a bit suspect.

Regarding 1 Tim 3:14-15 which says, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

The thrust of this passage is that Paul had been teaching them how to live, specifically in relation to the church. In this passage when he uses the word "church" he is not speaking of a group of men in authority but a place of worship. This is why he calls it the house of God. He then calls it the church of the living God, and the pillar and ground of truth to let them know that they were part of the true church, not of an idolatrous church or false church that worships a false god. This verse in no way states that Rome has infallible authority.

You also asked who had the authority to canonize the scriptures, my answer is no one. The Church did not get together make up their own mind on what they were going to put in the cannon. What they did is they got together to decide what would be rejected. By the work of the Holy Spirit the Church knew what books were true scripture. The reason they gathered together was a result of strange teachers coming in with strange books. An interesting note is that they rejected the Apocrypha as infallible. It wasn’t until after the reformation that they added it.

As far as the doctrines of the church go, the only authority they have is if what they teach aligns with scripture. If scripture can be demonstrated to teach something other than Rome, then Rome is wrong.

You then stated that “A house divided will not stand.” My question is, are you Vatican II catholic or a Pre-Vatican II Catholic. Then we could ask are you a Charismatic Catholic, Ethnic or cultural Catholic, or a Modernist, liberal Catholic. Now the typical response to this is that if they diverge from the Pope then they are not real Catholics, but how do you know you are following the right pope. How can we tell that during the eastern and western split of the church the Eastern Church was not the one we should of have gone with. The answer is scripture. Scripture judges the Church; the Church does not judge Scripture.

Now if you can’t understand scripture for yourself, then you are in a pretty difficult spot because now you can’t tell if whether the eastern or western church was correct. If only the heads of the church can interpret them correctly then now all you can do is guess, and hope you picked the right one. But scripture tells us that we all have the mind of Christ.


1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

1Co 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

“We” in this context means all believers not a select few.

As far as the oral tradition goes, Scripture is Scripture whether spoken or written. Just because God maintained His Word orally does not in any way prove that the Pope is now infallible or has the right to tell us what is true and what is not. He too is to be judged by scripture.

Please take all this in a tone of respect. I can see that you are a very intelligent woman and if any of this came across a demeaning, I did not intend it in that way. I believe many Catholics are Christians and I too believe that faith without works is dead. So did Luther and Augustine and many in the Church. In fact that is what this entire post is about.

I am glad you found a place to worship, and that there is unity there, but are they united under scripture or under a man. They both could be true if the man lines up with scripture. But we must remember that unity is never a test for truth. The majority of this country was once united under the idea that slavery was a good thing, but that didn't make it true.

God Bless,

Doug

 
At Saturday, February 25, 2006 4:49:00 AM, Blogger Puritan Belief said...

Hattigrace:
From what you say it appears as if you like the idea of a Pope. Is Christ not sufficient to be your high priest?

As this post is on Martin Luther can you please answer this question:

How do you see yourself Justified before God?

 
At Saturday, February 25, 2006 5:10:00 AM, Blogger Puritan Belief said...

Hattigrace:

Also You wrote
He said Peter was the rock and on that Rock, He would build His Church, he knew this world would need a final earthly spokesman for His Church.

Jesus never was going to build his church on the man Peter but on the revelation that Peter had of Jesus namely "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." The rock was the revelation.

1 Corinthians 10:4 "for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ

Not only that Hebrews 1:1-2
"Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Never mentions Peter here.

Although in Gods plan to have a King of Israel. God told Israel how horrible it would be for them to have a King and when the king was appointed it was to their detriment.

 
At Saturday, February 25, 2006 9:09:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Doug, great post. I am going to paste the quote and link you over at the Moor, if you don't mind.

BTW, there is a good post on Luther's view of sin and temptation that Hatti mentions at Joe Thorn’s “Word of Grace”

 
At Saturday, February 25, 2006 10:52:00 AM, Blogger Hattigrace said...

Though I would love to go deep with a response, I must actually get something done today(!!), so I will only answer a couple of points.

First of all, I find you very respectful and this is good for me to be questioned as it sends me flying to study more. A good thing.

I am a Catholic, only for about 3 years. I am no theologian and certainly not as well read as you.
I was a Protestant from 22 to 47. I had no intention of leaving my 22,000-denomitation-fractured-part-of-the-body of Christ. I just could never stop that question in my heart, "how is it there are so many conflicting, devisive interpretations of the Scripture, defended by sincere and godly men who claim God had spoken to them?"

No one had a satisifying answer.

A friend of mine, who had traveled my similar path of non-denom churches, AOG, etc, told me one day she was studying the Catholic Church. I thought she had lost her mind and was about to say so when I clearly heard the voice of Holy Spirit say, "You trust her with Me." I gulped, felt very chastised and held my tongue.

Long story short, I was compelled to examine my heart and why I was so angrily anti-Cath. I soon divorced myself of the issues I had adopted from my atheist parents, who particularily loathed the Catholic sector of Christianity and my husband, who had become "born again" outside of the CC, in which he was raised. (He has returned to CC and said if he had ever understood the Sacraments of the CC, he never would have left. They were taught. He did not have an ear to hear until later.)

So, I asked the Lord to show me what He found beautiful about the CC. I began with reading the two books I mentioned in first comment. I attended Masses in many different churches.

I thought I was on a journey to be cleansed from angry judgements. I still was not even thinking about becoming Catholic.

I say all of this to tell you I am C b/c I know, as surely as He brought me to Jesus, the Cross at age 22, so He brought me to the CC.

I would love to hermit in my home and study theology and the Church at large for months and years. If you have read my blog, you know that is not my life.

I wish I could answer you with the intelligent replies your questions deserve. But my conversion is a testimony as much as my salvation. . . it has been a heart change that has freed me and brought me into a deeper communion with Christ.

The teaching on the Trinity is a perfect example of some thing that is not specifically in scripture, yet taught by the Church. It was the labor of the forming of the Creeds that defined this previously unknown attribute of the Lord. He had been known in OT as the One True God. There was so much division over the three aspects, mostly was Christ divine and was the Holy Spirit equal in divinity?

So, no, the very foundation of our belief system today was defined by the Church magistrate as the Scriptures did not bring enough clarity on their own.

On the outside looking in, it is hard to clearly see anything. As much as a family has many members with different interests and life ambitions, those do not make them any less a family member. So it is w/i the CC.

All of the different expressions of faith you described have a home within the CC. They all (those with a heart for worship- every ch has its wolves, not a reflection on the dogma/doctrine)honor the Word of God through the Scripture and His presence in the Sacraments and His earthly voice through the Pope. They don't leave the Church and start another one just because they feel called to a different expression of worship.

Of course I can interpret scripture for myself. That is the point. I can let scripture wash and cleanse ME, guide MY steps, purify MY heart, examine MY motives, all for the end of having a closer walk with the Lord, to be more obediant to Him, to help ME hear His direction for MY life. The danger in Protest Ch is when men decide they can come up with their own strange doctrines to lead OTHER people. And so, many get lead astray, Jim Jones, Jesus Only church, on and on. (Now the argument of judgement is to assign blame to the ones who get lead astray, but I believe the Word is clear about the grave responsibility of teachers and leaders influencing the weaker or younger in the faith.) The Father knew His children, sons and daughters, well enough to know we would need an earthly final voice for Him as a FATHER figure.

The animosity many have against the Pope I think reveals the woundedness many of us have from crumby earthly fathers, and also, our defiant, rebellious nature that says, "NO ONE is going to tell ME what to do. I can hear God for MYSELF." Yes, we can.

And if we have heard Him, then our response is humility and submissiveness to Him and to those He has carefully placed to watch over us. (1Tim5:17 Elders who rule. . 1 Pet5:1-5 Shepherd the flock. . .until the Chief Shepherd returns)

In response to Puritan Belief, my great High Priest Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is Lord and King, had mercy and died on the cross, shedding His blood for the forgiveness of my sins, that I would be able to stand before the Father, cleansed and whole and made righteous by Him.

Jesus is the way to the Father. The child needs his father. Needs the voice. Our Father knows our human weakness, knows we will struggle, knows our needs. He is our everything and our sufficiency because He looks at us with mercy and provides us all our needs. One of His great provisions is the Church.

Yes, we can confess our sins to God alone and yes, He is faithful to forgive. But He knew what would happen in our hearts if we would chose to humble ourselves to confess before an earthly priest. Just the act of humility is a door of great grace. And hearing the priest state that b/c we have confessed our sin, that our FATHER has forgiven us, hearing live words in our own ears silences that voice of the enemy that frequents us with doubts as to whether we have really been forgiven.

Saul was to their detriment. David was not, in many ways. The kings were also a mirror of their own hearts. The unrighteous king would drive them to repentance (isn't that what hard times does to us today?) and then God would bring forth a godly king. The people had wayward hearts before Saul. The cry of our Father is that we would willingly yield to His love. The entirety of the OT reveals that we won't, we don't. So, our great need for the Living Blood covering, our great Savior and King.

Before you finalize your stand, prayerfully read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You may be surprised by the depth and grace it contains.

And JonMorhead, thankyou for the link.

 
At Saturday, February 25, 2006 11:44:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Hattie,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Though we disagree on certain issues and it would take much more to go into depth on each one. I hope you will continue to stop by. I too like a good discussion if it is in kindness, and you have shown that.

For now we will agree to disagree, and maybe in the future we can discuss certain aspects.

Doug

 
At Saturday, February 25, 2006 1:27:00 PM, Blogger bluecollar said...

Doug,

I stole your post and put it on my blog. I hope you don't mind.

Mark Pierson

 
At Saturday, February 25, 2006 7:47:00 PM, Blogger Todd said...

Doug,
I find it hard to believe that from John 1:12-13(the only scripture in your whole post with which you are apparently relying on to make all of these assertions about faith/belief), just after John gets done telling of how Jesus gave the right to become children of God to those who recieve Him and believe in His name, someone decided to snip the end off of the verse and create doctrine that claims the idea of believing is for fools. Isn't that misrepresenting the passage? Are you sure your own 'human dream' is not really the delusion. Since you cite no scripture how in the world would you know. Luther's words are tired and flawed.

These people you are referring to who have these foolish notions, who are they? They are not like any of the Christians I know who believe that "As many as recieved Him He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,..."

If you are going to be waving slanderous speculations around like that on behalf of God then I would expect you to at least use His own words to at least give yourself some support. What a bunch of odd characterization, name calling and scriptureless conclusions you have here. The word delusion comes to my mind. Todd

 
At Saturday, February 25, 2006 9:10:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Todd,

My intention with this post was not to give a scriptural exegesis of this theology nor to call anyone delusional. This is Luther's view on faith and works. One with which I agree.

You said,

"If you are going to be waving slanderous speculations around like that on behalf of God then I would expect you to at least use His own words to at least give yourself some support. What a bunch of odd characterization, name calling and scriptureless conclusions you have here. The word delusion comes to my mind. Todd"

Maybe this is something we could both learn from. I will try to be more careful in the future.

With respect,

Doug

 
At Sunday, February 26, 2006 6:57:00 AM, Blogger Todd said...

Doug,
I appreciate you considering my comment and agree that this is all done in the spirit of learning.

With respect,
Todd

 
At Sunday, February 26, 2006 9:39:00 AM, Blogger Jada's Gigi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Sunday, February 26, 2006 9:49:00 AM, Blogger Jada's Gigi said...

Calvin and Luther brought much needed light into the Church but neither held the complete truth as can be said for all the history of the church...but "God has always had a people...people who cannot be bought, myrtered, battered or stilled". The lineage of Christ has always survived thorugh all the heresy's of time and will no doubt continue to survive even through our modern day society. There are pieces of light everywhere.

 
At Sunday, February 26, 2006 12:24:00 PM, Blogger Hattigrace said...

I have not been able to get this out of my mind that you stated in an above comment:

"But we must remember that unity is never a test for truth. The majority of this country was once united under the idea that slavery was a good thing, but that didn't make it true."

You are so right when you are talking about the things/kingdoms of this world. But the Church has a different calling.

"Behold how good and how pleasant it is
For the brethren to dwell together in UNITY! (Emphasis mine)
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments." Ps 133:1-2

Jesus' prayer for his disciples in John 17:
". . .keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be ONE in You, as We are. . I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they ALL MAY BE ONE in Us, THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE that You sent Me. . .I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in ONE, and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me. . ."

Ephesians 4
". . . endeavoring to keep the UNITY of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is ONE body, and ONE Spirit, just as you were called in ONE hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism; ONE God and Father of all, and in you all... till we all come to the UNITY of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature and fullness of Christ;
that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine (22,000 denominations?)by the trickery of men. . . the whole body, JOINED and KNIT together. . ."

"The Church is one b/c of her 'soul'. It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that He is the principle of the Church's unity." CCC

How can we argue with His Word?

 
At Sunday, February 26, 2006 3:08:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Hattie,

I agree with you, and with these verses, but I don't think those verses were speaking of organizational unity.

I am in unity will all believers even if they are in a different denomination. If someone says that they are saved by the work of Christ on the cross then we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

When it comes to secondary matters such as church government or what style of music we sing in church there is great freedom. These passages do not mean that we will agree on everything.

If we read papal authority into these verses then there is no way for you have unity under Christ with anyone outside of the Catholic church, which I doubt you would agree with. I'm sure there are many non-Catholics you are united with under Christ.

My main point was this, that truth determines Godly unity, but unity does not determine Godly truth. Unity should be strived for but I don't think it means we all have to align ourselves under one Pope. That seems to be giving a much broader reading to the word "unity" than I believe scripture intended.

Doug

P.S. I like the old reformation saying..

In the essentials, Unity
In the non-essentials, freedom
In all things, Charity.

I doubt that belief in purgatory is an essential Christian doctrine (if it is one at all) but if I don't align myself with it am I making the Church a "divided House?" I don't think I would be.

 

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