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
Johann K. Irmischer, ed. Vol. 63 (Erlangen: Heyder and Zimmer, 1854), pp.124-125.
[EA 63:124-125] August 1994
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.
This text was translated for Project
Wittenberg by Rev. Robert E. Smith and is in the public domain. You may freely
distribute, copy or print this text. Please direct any comments or suggestions
Rev. Robert E. Smith
Concordia Theological Seminary
Surface Mail: 6600 N. Clinton St., Ft. Wayne, IN 46825 USA
Phone: (260) 481-2123
Fax: (260) 481-2126