“Just as our opponents refuse to concede to us the freedom that faith in Christ alone justifies, so we refuse to concede to them, in turn, that faith formed by love justifies. Here we intend and are obliged to be rebellious and stubborn with them, for otherwise we would lose the truth of the Gospel.
We would lose that freedom which we have, not in the emperor or in kings and princes or in the pope or in the world or in the flesh, but in Christ Jesus.
We would lose faith in Christ, which, as I have said, takes hold of nothing but Christ, the Jewel. If our opponents will let us keep intact this faith by which we are born again, justified, and incorporated into Christ, we are willing to do anything for them that is not contrary to this faith.
But because we cannot obtain this concession from them, we for our part will not budge the least little bit. For the issue before us is grave and vital; it involves the death of the Son of God, who, by the will and commandment of the Father, became flesh, was crucified, and died for the sins of the world.
If faith yields on this point, the death of the Son of God will be in vain. Then it is only a fable that Christ is the Savior of the world. Then God is a liar, for He has not lived up to His promises.
Therefore our stubbornness on this issue is pious and holy; for by it we are striving to preserve the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to keep the truth of the Gospel.
If we lose this, we lose God, Christ, all the promises, faith, righteousness, and eternal life.
But here someone will say: ‘But the Law is divine and holy.’ Let the Law have its glory. But no Law, no matter how divine or holy, has the right to tell me that I obtain justification and life through it.
I will grant that it can teach me that I should love God and my neighbor, and live in chastity, patience, etc.; but it is in no position to show me how to be delivered from sin, the devil, death, and hell.
For this I must consult the Gospel and listen to the Gospel, which does not teach me what I should do—for that is the proper function of the Law—but what someone else has done for me, namely, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death.
The Gospel commands me to accept and believe this, and this is what is called ‘the truth of the Gospel.’ It is also the main doctrine of Christianity, in which the knowledge of all godliness is comprehended.
It is, therefore, extremely necessary that we should know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.”
–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4 (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 26; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 90–91. Luther is commenting on Galatians 2:5.