The Gospel for my messy life …

Posts tagged ‘faith’


Martin Luther’s Definition of Faith

Martin Luther’s Definition of Faith

“Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. “Faith is not enough,” they say, “You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.” They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, “I believe.” That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn’t come from this `faith,’ either.

Instead, faith is God’s work in us, that changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it. Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.

Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures. The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of it, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire! Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.”

– An excerpt from “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Luther’s German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

-Translated by Rev. Robert E. Smith from DR. MARTIN LUTHER’S VERMISCHTE DEUTSCHE SCHRIFTEN. Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63 Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp.124-125. [EA 63:124-125]


Christ is victorious over the devil, sin & death …

If I believe in Christ, regardless of how sin may trouble me to the point of despair, I shall rely on the liberty I have in Christ and say: “I admit that I have sinned. But my sin (which is a sin that is damned) is in Christ (who is a sin that damns). This sin that damns is stronger than the sin that is damned; for it is justifying grace, righteousness, life, and salvation.” And so when I feel the terrors of death, I say: “Death, you have nothing on me. For I have another death, one that kills you, my death. And the death that kills is stronger than the death that is killed.” Thus the believer can raise himself up through faith alone and gain a comfort that is sure and firm; and he need not grow pale at the sight of sin, death, the devil, or any evil. The more the devil attacks him with all his force and tries to overwhelm him with all the terrors of the world, the more hope he acquires in the very midst of all these terrors and says: “Mr. Devil, 80 do not rage so. Just take it easy! For there is One who is called Christ. In Him I believe. He has abrogated the Law, damned sin, abolished death, and destroyed hell. And He is your devil, you devil, because He has captured and conquered you, so that you cannot harm me any longer or anyone else who believes in Him.” The devil cannot overcome this faith, but he is overcome by it. For “this,” says John (1 John 5:4-5), “is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

What Biblical Faith Is


Biblical faith is not about me, is about Christ who is the Author and Perfecter of my  faith. Faith is a gift from GOD, given to me through the Biblical Gospel, and through the Means of Grace.

I need the Gospel everyday, in my real life, in my messy spirituality, in my dark room, in the streets, in my relationships, in my humanity, in my sinfulness, and in my world.

Therefore, I look not to my faith as my anchor, because often my faith is weak. I do not focus on the size of my faith, but my focus is on Christ Himself who is my anchor of my soul.

Christ the Faithful One continues to strengthen and increases my faith in Him, because I am still a great sinner saved and kept by His Grace and Mercy through His perfect work on the Cross for me; so therefore, I continue to look to Christ    who is the Object of my faith.

Biblical faith is not about formulas,or principles or steps, or mental positive attitude, or so-called “deeper truths” in order to use or manipulate “faith” as a force, which rests and depends upon me. Instead Biblical faith must always be directed Upward and Outward rather than inward – not faith in faith; but faith in Christ who is the Author and Perfecter of my faith, which always leads me back to Christ, and not to myself!

Biblical faith is looking to Christ, beholding Christ, trusting Christ, pondering upon Christ, is feeding upon Christ by faith in the midst of my life challenges, struggles, sufferings, sinfulness, and in our enjoyments and recreations as well. My greatest need always remains the same to embrace Christ by faith in my heart and mind. Christ who is the object of my faith, enables and empowers me to continue to walk by faith in Christ, and not by sight. In the midst of my daily life, to acknowledge, which I do imperfectly, and affirm in my heart and mind the Sovereign Lordship of Christ over my life.

Biblical faith embraces the value and mystery of sufferings as a means of growing in Christ; to grow in faith as I look unto Him. As I look upon Christ by faith who suffered for me on the Cross. I remember the words of Scripture,

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, author and perfecter of our faith who for the set before him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. “- Hebrews12:2.

Biblical faith teaches and embraces the reality of my humanity, my humanness which is created in God’s Image in a fallen world and with a sinfulness condition (as a result of Original Sin, Genesis Chapter 3). In other words, through the Grace and Mercy of God upon my life, Biblical faith grants me the freedom to be human, to be fully human, to be real, to be a sinner, to be sinful, to be honest about my many sins, to live an imperfect lifestyle of repentance, my on-going fight with many sins, honest about my emotional and mental conflicts, such as fears, depression, loneliness, anger, discouragement, lust, and dishonesty.

Biblical faith through the written word of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit convicts and leads me to confession, repentance, and obedience (grace-motivated obedience) on the basis of what Christ did for me on the Cross. I do not rest upon my progress, or any good performance on my part; or on my theological creeds, but I only rest upon Christ Himself. I am not a perfect man, or a perfect Christian, I do not have it all together, and I do not have all the answers to life issues and conflicts; and I am okay with that, because real Biblical faith embraces mystery and paradoxical truths. I am what I am by the Grace of God through Christ Himself. Religion is not my anchor, it has never been my anchor. Christ is the anchor of my soul. Christ is my great Savior and Lord, therefore; I look to HIM for everything. Because everything that I do have is because of Him ( Colossians 1:1-23 – Supremacy of Christ in all things!)

I have learned throughout the years, that Biblical faith embraces both spirituality and humanity at the same time. It embraces both the reality that I am a saint and a sinner at the same time; in other words, I am a mess, and always in great need for the Gospel; again the Gospel, not necessarily a religion. I always live in the reality of living in Chapter 6,7, 8 of Romans all at the same time. I tend to forget, or be distracted, or just complacent in reminding me the need to preach the Gospel to my soul on a daily basis. Why? Because I am a mess, I am a great sinner!

I do not need necessarily religion itself, but I do need the GOSPEL.  By the Grace of God I live under the Cross; I ponder and reflect upon my Savior. My Savior on that Cross. I learning to live by faith and not by sight, because of the Cross. I live today with a desire (an imperfect desire) to grow in Christ. I am saved and kept by His Grace and Mercy – because of the Cross; and I rejoice because of the power of the Cross. I am able to touch lives – to minister, counsel, mentor others because of what my Savior did for me on the Cross, and I continue to experience in the midst of my messy spirituality forgiveness, love, mercy, grace, peace, joy and freedom because of the Centrality of the Cross, the Message of the Cross of Jesus Christ is my anchor  of my soul.

Several years ago in my life, I was deeply struggling with so many mental and emotional conflicts – while the Lord was teaching me through the Book of Psalms. Through late nights, I would literally write hundreds of Psalms on a notepad and reflect upon them over and over again – literally throughout the whole night without sleeping. The Lord was teaching me true Biblical faith embraces the value and mystery of sufferings, trials and tribulations including those that are a result of my sinful nature, sinful attitudes and actions; nevertheless these are truly lessons of faith and godly character development in my life. And, no I am not getting better, or stronger, or more spiritual; but instead I still remain a sinner, messy, weak and ungodly in need of the Gospel that is outside of myself that is the Power of God that continuously saves, restores and heals me spiritually.

The Lord was also teaching me the value of embracing my humanity, acknowledging my true feelings and deep emotions just like King David often did in the Psalm,and the Apostle Paul as well. When Paul was sick, he said, “I’m sick” (Gal.4:13), when  he was afraid, he said, “I am afraid” (2Cor.7:5) , when he was weak, he said, “I’m weak” (1Cor.2:3) when he was depressed, he didn’t hide that either (2Cor. 7:6); Paul even confessed to encountering a despair so deep that he wanted to die (2Cor.1:8). Paul wasn’t giving ground to the devil or canceling out God’s power by the honest admission of his true emotions. God is a lot bigger than that anyway. God is faithful and He knows our humanity, emotions and sinfulness. No, Paul was just being real. King David was also being real in the book of Psalms.

By the Grace of God, I need to be real, we need to be real and is okay to be real regarding our humanity and sinfulness; real life challenges, about our daily struggles with many sins or mental and emotional conflicts. True Biblical Spirituality that is Christ-centered, gives me the freedom again to be real, to be human, to be weak, to be honest my struggles, to be able to cry or to laugh, to be honest about the pains, sorrows, fears, questions, doubts, confusion and disorientation, to feel, to think, to be a real messy Christian who is very messy in his spirituality while still learning to live by faith and not by sight. My Biblical faith is not about me, is about the Giver and the Gift  – The Lord Jesus Christ.



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