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 make you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship with 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, loving and praising the God who has shown you such grace.
The leader of the Reformation, which took place 500 years ago, Martin Luther offers these timeless pearls of wisdom regarding faith and action:
“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.” An excerpt from “An Introduction to St Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Luther’s German Bible of 1522 by Martin Luther, 1483-1546.
Faith. That word can conjure up a conversation with anyone regardless of their spiritual condition or church affiliation or, lack of it.
Since we are removed by several hundred years from the 1st Century Christians and the time of Jesus Christ, there really is the element of faith or believing the message about the Early Church and the life of Christ.
We are all faced with choices every day of our lives. We must choose the clothes we will wear for the day, choose what to eat, choose our responses to people. Life is full of choices and I choose to believe in what I was taught as a child about the Church and why it exists.
For others, they may choose to not believe in Jesus Christ or in God. Of course, that is a choice they have a right to exercise. I like to feel that I can have a conversation with anyone about their religion or, lack of it, and walk away knowing that I have generated a conversation to help both of us think.
Faith Requires Action
I have heard this since I was a child; “Faith without works is dead.” This is what Luther is saying in the above passage from St Paul’s letter to the Romans. Faith is a pro-active exercise that helps us do good for others.
It seems that some have a misconceived notion, and it has become a doctrine, that the act of liturgical worship is a form of “works” while others see “works” as not a part of our Christian journey. What I am saying is this, if we say we are a people of faith and we truly believe in God’s grace then action must follow, otherwise we become powerless in our daily walk by not doing something for the Kingdom of our Lord.
To be clear, there is no way, nor can we ever do enough, to merit His saving grace. Grace was provided for us on the Cross of Calvary but, that doesn’t mean we sit on our hands and do nothing unless of course you care to practice dead faith and that just isn’t the call of the Christian.
It has been said, “The only Bible many people will read is your life.” How true. How do you reflect your Christian life and values in this world? We are human and, for many of us, we try to live as we believe we should, but sometimes we fail. That’s part of being a human. Life is not perfect.
The important thing about faith is, when we fail, we have a belief system that allows us to ask for forgiveness and believe that we have received that forgiveness.
Maybe you have been carrying guilt around for a long time. Why do you feel guilty? Have you surveyed those emotions to know whether you really did something wrong or did someone tell you, that you were wrong and it has caused you to have a feeling of guilt?
If there is something to clear up and get rid of the guilt, that is a process that can begin for you right now. Faith says that God loves you and really cares. Give Him an opportunity. Sit down and talk to someone you trust that can help you with this five-letter word: FAITH.
This article was written by Dr Michael Layne who serves as an Archbishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and is pastor of FaithPoints Lutheran Church in Greensburg, IN.