Daily Luther: Faith is Entirely Beyond Man’s Power, but By Grace Alone!
In this article [the Resurrection] we are asked to believe in the resurrection of the dead, to believe that all men will be revived again on one day, that our body and soul will be united as they are united today. To believe that is surely not man’s competence and power. For reason does no more than merely to observe the facts as they appear to the eye, namely, that the world has stood so long, that one person dies after another, remains dead, decomposes, and crumbles to dust in the grave, from which no one has ever returned; in addition, that man dies and perishes so miserably, worse and more wretchedly than any beast or carcass; also, that he is burned to ashes or turns to dust, with a leg resting in England, an arm in Germany, the skull in France, and is thus dismembered into a thousand pieces, as the bones of the saints are usually shown. When reason approaches this article of faith and reflects on it, it is entirely at a loss. Here so many odd, peculiar, and absurd ideas present themselves that reason must necessarily judge that there is nothing to it. It judges in the same manner as in everything else; for instance, when misfortune strikes and we permit reason to cogitate and to measure what it finds in God’s Word with its own understanding. Or when man feels his sin and his conscience and fails to hold exclusively to the words of grace and forgiveness through Christ but only surveys his sin and reflects on the Law and on works and tries to scourge and torment himself with these, he surely removes himself from forgiveness and has lost the grace which he should apprehend through faith.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 28: 1 Corinthians 7, 1 Corinthians 15, Lectures on 1 Timothy, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, 1 Co 15:1–2 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999).