Do We Live by Faith?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
17 For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous by faith will live.” Romans 1:17 (NAB)
1 As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. 2 For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (NLT)
No. 3232c: Description of Luther’s “Tower Experience”
Between June 9 and July 21, 1532
“The words ‘righteous’ and ‘righteousness of God’ struck my conscience like lightning. When I heard them I was exceedingly terrified. If God is righteous64 [I thought], he must punish. But when by God’s grace I pondered, in the tower and heated room of this building,65 over the words, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live’ [Rom. 1:17] and ‘the righteousness of God’ [Rom. 3:21], I soon came to the conclusion that if we, as righteous men, ought to live from faith and if the righteousness of God contribute to the salvation of all who believe, then salvation won’t be our merit but God’s mercy. My spirit was thereby cheered. For it’s by the righteousness of God that we’re justified and saved through Christ. These words [which had before terrified me] now became more pleasing to me. The Holy Spirit unveiled the Scriptures for me in this tower.” (1)
578 It is Saint Paul who tells you, apostolic soul: Iustus ex fide vivit—“He who is just lives by faith.” How is it that you’re letting that fire die down? (2)
For five centuries, the impact of Luther’s transformation described above in green have been a blessing to those haunted by trying to live perfectly. It is the core doctrine of my branch of Christianity. We do not earn or merit our position as being justified before God, but instead we recognize that we are found righteous as we trust in Christ’s work. We are counted righteous, just, because He did the work, and all we do is stand amazed by this work.
I firmly believe that, and it is for that reason I “became” Lutheran going on fifteen years ago. There is a great relief in our realizing our failures can’t separate us from God.
But there is more to this passage than our justification. There is what could be called our vivification, or our quickening, our being brought to life by the Holy Spirit, who gives us faith, The Spirit who causes our transformation, our repentance.
And then, trusting in God, having faith in Him, we live.
I am not sure we understand this all that well, at least in our minds. We might understand it in our soul, in our heart of hearts, but how hard is it to explain the difference that happens, when we know what God has done to us. When we recognize the love He has for each one of us.
It enables us to live, to live.
That life is often beyond our words, beyond our thoughts, it is the relationship with God that we can sort of describe, but the description never is better than the reality of what it is. It is as we get distracted from this work of God that our light seems to fade, our living seems to become more oppressed, more complicated, more stifling. Less free… less like life. Yet. just remembering our baptism, and the promises there, or seeing a chalice and being reminded of the gift we are given in the Lord’s Supper, we know there is something different about life… about living.
The righteous shall live.. by trusting in God……knowing His mercy, His presence, His love.
The righteous live… breath, move… in Christ.
That is who we are… for He loves us.
W(1) Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 54: Table Talk. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 54, pp. 193–194). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 1381-1383). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.