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Daily Luther: How Faith Does *Not* Make us Right With God

May 2nd, 2012
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Not even in this respect, namely, in so far as it is a gift of the Holy Ghost, does faith justify, but simply inasmuch as it stands in relation to Christ (quatenus habet se correlative ad Christum). Here the principal question is not whence, or what sort of work, faith is or in what respect it surpasses other works, since faith does not justify per se (on its own account) or by any intrinsic value (virtute aliqua intrinseca).” (Erl. 58, p. 353.)

Francis Pieper, vol. 2, Christian Dogmatics, electronic ed., 440 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).

Note: This is an important concept that we lose when we begin to regard “Faith” to be that one good work we do in order to be saved. Even Faith is a pure gift from God, a gracious gift, a loving, merciful gift from a loving, merciful God who eagerly desires our salvation. Dead men do not raise themselves. Dead men can not “believe” their way into God’s grace. Even faith is pure gift, from God!

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  1. Dave Likeness
    May 2nd, 2012 at 09:47 | #1

    Bo Giertz in his “To Live with Christ”. devotional for
    Wed, 3rd Sunday aft Easter, highlights John 15:5.
    Jesus says , “Apart from Me you can do nothing.”

    Giertz comments, “We depend upon Christ for our life
    and a living faith that creates an intimate fellowship,
    a constant relationship with Christ Himself.” Bo Giertz
    concludes with Galatians 2:20, “It is no longer I who live,
    but Christ who lives in me.”

    This devotional by Bo Giertz is one of CPH’s best.

  2. May 2nd, 2012 at 11:44 | #2

    To quote from a friend of mine:

    I have, over the years, talked to many Calvinists, in person and over the Internet. I always ask them, “Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are among God’s elect and are saved?” There are generally two reactions to that question: (1) A long and rather painful pause after which they say, “I hope I am. I do believe in Christ.” or (2) A quick, “Yes, I believe in Christ.” Now, let’s be honest here and admit that many Lutherans would answer in somewhat the same way. But here is the problem.

    If our confidence that we are saved is based on our feeling that we have faith, we will flounder. The answer we must always give to the question of “Do you know you are saved?” is not, “Yes, because I have faith” but rather, “Yes, because Christ Jesus died for me” and of course, in my opinion, the very best answer of all is simply to point people to Luther’s explanation of the Creed and say, “Here, this puts it very well.”

    Never look to your subjective feeling that there is faith in your heart. Always, always, always, look to Christ and what He has done for you and the whole world. Do not confuse faith in faith, with trust in Christ. There is a key difference.
    We are Christians, not Faith-ians.

    Rev. Paul T. McCain

  3. May 3rd, 2012 at 12:38 | #3

    I teach this again and again to my congregation. Faith does not save because it is great or sincere. Faith does not save because it is a work that God requires of us. Faith saves because its object (the person and work of Christ) is true. What a comfort that the content of our faith is not our faith–but the righteousness of Christ!

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