What a living, creative, active powerful thing is faith!

Martin Luther

This quote is from one of my favorite pieces of writing by Martin Luther, his Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans. Here is a little more from this great work:

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, unshakeable 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.

I love Luther’s reflection on faith as being something so active! Yes, we are justified by grace through faith apart from our works, but our faith draws us into a life-giving relationship that is always active, always doing good works, always responding to the gift of grace with our good works. This and more is “what the Holy Spirit does by faith.”

You can read Luther’s whole preface here: Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.

11 thoughts on “Favorite Quotes – Martin Luther

  1. Beautiful words.
    I understand that faith is God’s gift, so that no one should boast, but I am often tempted to wonder why God does not give the gift of faith to everyone.
    It seems that if everyone had the gift of faith , then life on earth would be so much more beautiful.

    Perhaps this is another of God’s mysteries that He chooses not to reveal…⚘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s a good question. Faith is a gift, but one that God asks us to share. I don’t know why everyone does not yet have this gift, but I know that our work as Christians is not finished until all the world knows of the beautiful truth of the gospel and shares our gift of faith. Thanks, always, for your comments, and blessings to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shared this to my personal Facebook page. You probably know this but it was at a Prayer Meeting at Aldersgate that John Wesley’s conversation happened, while he was listening to someone read from Martin Luther’s Preface to the Romans. A wonderful connection to be sure!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is pretty special. I was going to e=mail you with a related question, but don’t think we had exchanged emails. But the question really fits. A really good friend of mine wants to do a Bible Study, book study on the Holy Spirit. I offered to do it, we live about 150 miles apart, but thought it would add richness to our phone conversations. She was United Methodist but now is Lutheran. I was disappointed at the limited resources (imo) at Cokesbury. People often say they don’t hear sermons about the Holy Spirit, (are they not listening???) But I thought the book study selections were dismal. I have got some things here I can put together for our conversations, but thought it would be great to offer her something from a Lutheran perspective. Any suggestions? Thanks. Michele

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s a great question. We Lutherans haven’t produced many good resources on the Holy Spirit, either, in my opinion. If you want to go back to Luther himself, his Large Catechism offers some thoughts on the Holy Spirit when he tackles the third article of the Apostles’ Creed. Here is an old translation that’s available on the internet: https://bookofconcord.org/large-catechism/part-ii/article-iii/

        My email, by the way, is jelaurence at gmail.com. Feel free to reach out anytime.

        Blessings to you, James

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I did go there and printed the pages on the Holy Spirit and bookmarked the site. You inspired me in a couple of ways. One is, starting with the Nicene Creed especially, along with soliciting questions and insights from my friend is a good place to start. I can use both Luther and Wesley, so I feel like I have a sense of structure and foundation. And second, you have provided me with a good resource. Do I sound excited? I love teaching and Bible Study. My appointment however is only 20 hours a week. I probably run over it some, but I try to be faithful. Thanks again, have a blesse day in worship. Michele


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