By Faith Alone


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By Faith Alone: Week Twenty-One: Day One

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today Luther writes about people who twist Scripture to suit their own purposes. They place their reason over and above Scripture. They use grammar rules and logic in their pursuit which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But they pull verses out of their context and deal with them individually. They don’t let Scripture interpret Scripture. They don’t look at the verses before or after. They don’t look at the whole context or parallel passages to help direct their understanding. Applied to the whole context and parallel passages, the use of grammar and logic to understand can be very useful. Applied to individual verses divorced from their context, that same pursuit will almost always lead to the twisting of Scripture.

Luther writes: “They find fault with everything. They aren’t godly enough to take the time to compare these verses with others. Instead, they take a verse here and a verse there. They pounce on a couple of words and distort them in order to obscure what the Bible means. If it were valid to tear one or two words from the text and forget about the rest, then I could also twist Scripture any way that I wanted.

But this is the correct way to approach Scripture: Look at the entire passage; look at what comes before and after the verse.” Such application is the only way to let God speak to us. It’s the only way that we can hear the whole counsel of God. It may not always be easy to receive or understand. But we keep reading. We keep listening. We keep asking for His aid in helping us to understand what He says to us about who He is and who we are as His children.

By Faith Alone: Week Twenty-One: Day Two

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today Luther writes about the courage to face death – where it comes from. He writes that in some ways Jesus is not a good example for people with weak faith. Even though Jesus struggled in the garden with His own impending death, even though, after praying in the garden that His Father’s will be done, He faced that death with a bold confidence, Luther writes that people with weak faith would say, “If I were like Christ, I could do the same. But I’m not.”

He thinks that better examples are other people of faith – people like Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob. To read how they lived their lives trusting in God and His promises – seeing how their trust was not always strong but wavered at times – provides a better example for those who are weak in faith.

They are better examples because their stories always point us to God’s promises and His faithfulness. Ultimately they always point us to Christ – to Jesus and His saving work done for us. They point us to Jesus who, by His strength and faithfulness, is the solution for our struggles. Where we are weak, He was and is strong.

United with Him in His death and resurrection, our future is secure. We are joined together with Him and in that union we receive all the benefits of His saving work. He is our hope. He is our confidence. May we grow in that confidence as we trust our days – our life and our death – to His care.
By Faith Alone: Week Twenty-One: Day Three
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luther begins with this from Matthew: “Stop storing up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. Instead, store up treasures for yourselves in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20).

He goes on to write: “When Christ says, ‘Store up treasures for yourselves in heaven,’ he is saying, ‘Let the world have the earthly treasures, which deteriorate, rust, and are easily stolen. The pleasures these things provide is the only happiness the world knows. You, however, aren’t citizens of this world. You are citizens of heaven bought by my blood. You are destined to receive eternal treasures, which have been prepared and reserved for you. Don’t let your heart get caught up in material possessions. If you must work with earthly treasures in your job, then guard against their appeal and don’t become a slave to them. Instead, set your sights on the treasures that are waiting for you in heaven. Those are real treasures that moths and rust can’t touch. They can’t be destroyed or stolen.’”

This isn’t a word against earthly treasures. Such things are necessary for sustaining us in this world. The warning is that we don’t let them become our gods – that we don’t turn to those treasures for comfort and peace when troubles come. In that regard, they are vapors like the morning mist that disappears. They don’t last. They are no anchor in the midst of the storms of life that come our way.

So put your trust in those treasures in heaven because the chief treasure that is yours is Christ the Lord. In Him all the promises of God are fulfilled. In Him – by faith in Him – life and salvation belong to us. The treasures of heaven are ours. Keep your eyes fixed on Him.
By Faith Alone: Week Twenty-One: Day Four
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today Luther has some interesting things to say about the connection between faith and works. He begins with this from Peter’s first letter: “So if you call God your Father, live your time as temporary residents on earth in fear. He is the God who judges all people by what they have done, and he doesn’t play favorites” (1 Peter 1:17). He goes on to write:

“We teach that God saves us only by faith, apart from our works. Why then does Peter say that God judges all people by what they have done? Here is why: What we have taught – how faith alone justifies us before God – is unquestionably true because it is so clear in Scripture that no one can deny it. What the apostle says here, that God judges according to works, is also true. We should always remember that where there is no faith, there can be no good works, and on the other hand, where there are no good works, there is no faith. Therefore, keep faith and good works connected. The entire Christian life is embodied by both. The way you live is important because God will judge you accordingly. Even though God judges us according to works, it’s still true that works are only the fruits of faith. This is how we know whether or not we have faith. So God will judge you on the basis of whether you have believed or not believed. Likewise, the only way to judge a liar is by his words. Yet it’s still obvious that he doesn’t become a liar through his words but that he was already a liar before he ever told a lie. For the lie comes into the mouth from the heart.

Works are the fruits and signs of faith. God judges people according to these fruits. These fruits spring from faith in a way that publicly indicates whether or not someone has faith in his heart. God will not judge you by asking whether you are called a Christian or whether you have been baptized. He will ask you, ‘If you are a Christian, then tell me, where are the fruits that demonstrate your faith?’”

At that point, our Advocate, Jesus Christ, speaks up and says, “For this one’s sin I died. I know him and he knows Me.” And He says to us, “Don’t be afraid. You are Mine.”

By Faith Alone: Week Twenty-One: Day Five
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today Luther talks about our life with God. We have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is God’s free gift to us. And while that gift is ours right now in all of its fullness, Luther writes about the process that should and must continue as we unwrap the gift – as we grow in understanding the gift. Because God and this gift is without limits, this unwrapping is a process that continues through out this life and for all of eternity.

Luther writes, “People don’t earn God’s approval or receive life and salvation because of anything they’ve done. Rather, the only reason they receive life and salvation is because of God’s kindness through Christ. There is no other way.

Many Christians are tired of hearing this teaching over and over. They think that they learned it all long ago. However, they barely understand how important it really is. If it continues to be taught as truth, the Christian church will remain united and pure – free from decay. This truth alone makes and sustains Christianity. You might hear an immature Christian brag about how well he knows that we receive God’s approval through God’s kindness and not because of anything we do to earn it. But if he goes on to say that this is easy to put into practice, then have no doubt he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he probably never will. We can never learn this truth completely or brag that we understand it fully. Learning this truth is an art. We will always remain students of it, and it will always be our teacher.”


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