“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 a divine work in us which 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 faith, 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.”
–Martin Luther, “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, Ed. Timothy Lull (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005), 101.
“If we would know Christ, we must seek Him in the Scriptures” by John Calvin
“This passage teaches us that if we would know Christ, we must seek Him in the Scriptures. Anyone who imagines Christ as he will, gets nothing but a mere blur.
So, we must first hold that Christ is known rightly nowhere but in Scripture. If this be so, our chief purpose in reading the Scriptures must be to arrive at a right knowledge of Christ.
Whoever turns aside from this aim, even though he wear himself out with learning all his life, will never arrive at truth; for what wisdom can we attain apart from the wisdom of God?
Moreover, since we are commanded to seek Christ in the Scriptures, He declares that our zeal in this matter shall not be in vain; for the Father Himself testifies that in them He shall certainly reveal His Son to us.
Many are deprived of this blessing, because they neglect reading the Scriptures, or do it cursorily and superficially. But it deserves utmost attention that Christ Himself commands us to probe deeply into this hidden treasure.
It was sheer apathy that led the Jews, who had the law in their very hands, to abhor Christ. The glory of God shone brightly in Moses, but they put up a veil and darkened it.
In this place, Scripture means obviously the Old Testament. It is not true that Christ appears first in the gospel.
It is rather that after the witness of the Law and the Prophets, He appeared in the gospel for everyone to see.”
–John Calvin, Calvin: Commentaries, Ed. Joseph Haroutunian (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 105. Commenting on John 5:39.
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