Thursday, November 17, 2011

Object of Faith vs. the Act of Faith

I came across this quote (below) by Martin Luther a while back. Unfortunately I don't remember where I found it. Luther succinctly explains the difference between the object of our faith - Christ Jesus our Saviour - and the strength of that faith which holds as its object Christ alone. We are called to look away from ourselves and the vain focus on our faith - strong or weak, our many sins and weaknesses, our efforts at moral self-improvement, our successes, our failures, our pride. We are to look solely to the One of peerless worth who, for our salvation, lived a perfect life, learning obedience through the things he suffered (Heb 2:10); who bore the penalty of our sins through his death upon the cross, fully satisfying the justice of God.  This One who was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven as both Lord and Saviour is now given to believers as their righteousness and sanctification... their full salvation... through simple faith in him.

Martin Luther wrote:
In this Christian brotherhood no man possesses more than another. St. Peter and St. Paul have no more than Mary Magdalene or you or I. To sum up: Taking them all together, they are brothers, and there is no difference between the persons. Mary, the Mother of the Lord, and John the Baptist, and the thief on the cross, they all possess the selfsame good which you and I possess, and all who are baptised and do the Father’s Will. And what have all the saints? They have comfort and help promised them through Christ in every kind of need, against sin, death, and the devil. And I have the same, and you, and all believers have.

But this also is true, that you and I do not believe it so firmly as John the Baptist and St. Paul; and yet it is the one and only treasure. It is the same as when two men hold a glass of wine, one with a trembling, the other with a steady hand. Or when two men hold a bag of money, one in a weak, the other in a strong hand. Whether the hand be strong, or weak, as God wills, it neither adds to the contents of the bag, nor takes away. In the same way there is no other difference here between the Apostles and me, than that they hold the treasure firmer. Nevertheless, I should and must know that I possess the same treasure as all holy Prophets, Apostles, and all saints have possessed.