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What Luther Says

Faith: Put A Little Love In It?

While we already wrote about Luther's sermon on "Christian Love" earlier today, I remembered a daily devotion from back in January in my "Faith Alone: 365 Devotional Readings From Martin Luther Updated In Today's Language" book that points out what's wrong with the modern day teaching about love in a majority of Christian churches regardless of the denomination.

In that sense, it's the perfect rebuttal to the "Peace And Love At All Costs (Even At The Expense of Doctrine)!" proponents in Christianity today.

See, nowadays, most Christians go around saying things like "Hold Up, Wait A Minute, Put A Little Love In It!" which really means "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Doctrine Love! Deeds Not Creeds!" even though Martin Luther eloquently and simply pointed out that "Doctrine Is Heaven!" and, if we truly love the Lord, we will love His Word (a.k.a. His doctrine).

Anyway, it seems this problem is nothing new as Luther wrote against this tendency to elevate love to the point where we begin to think it's tied to our own justification and salvation if not also responsible for it (hey, maybe we missed the real #YOHBT !).

Galatians 2:16 (ESV) We receive God's approval through faith in Christ, not through our own efforts. 

You shouldn't let anyone confuse you by saying that faith only justifies people when love and good works are added to it.
If a person hears that he must believe in Christ and that faith alone doesn't justify unless love is added to it, he immediately falls from faith and thinks, "If faith without love doesn't justify, then faith is empty and useless. Love alone justifies. For if faith is not formed and enhanced by love, then it's nothing." In order to prove their damaging comments, my opponents point to 1 Corinthians 12:1-2: "I may speak in the languages of humans and of angels...But if I don't have love, I am nothing." They think these verses are an impenetrable wall. But they don't understand Paul's teachings. You should avoid these comments as if they were poison from hell. 
Instead, you should conclude with Paul that we are justified by faith alone, not through faith formed by love. So we shouldn't attribute the power of justification to something formed in us that makes us pleasing to God. We must attribute it to faith, which takes hold of Christ the Savior and keeps him in our hearts. This faith justifies us apart from love and prior to love. 
We concede that we must also teach about good works and love. But we only teach these at the proper time and place -- when the question deals with how we should live, not how we are justified. But the question here is: How do we become justified and receive eternal life? We answer with Paul that we receive God's approval through faith in Christ alone, not by our own efforts.

That's about as good a devotion as I've read from this little book of mine (and as good a devotion as I've read about this subject), especially when this misunderstanding is so prevalent within our churches nowadays.

It reminds me of a classic Worldview Everlasting video for emphasis...

I Don't Care about Doctrine Just Give Me Love (1 Timothy 1:3-17)

If you want to talk about love in connection with our faith (particularly in connection to our justification and salvation), then let's rely on God's Word and not our worldly wisdom.

Simply recall Romans 5:7-8 since it keeps love in its rightful place when discussing such things: "7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
As always, JESUS CHRIST does all the verbs when it comes to your/my/our justification and salvation, not YOU/ME/US because YOU/ME/WE have nothing to take credit for.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, God gives love and we receive it.

NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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