Martin Luther

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Ch. 18 Question 2: What did Luther mean by justification by faith? How did he come to this idea?
Martin Luther, a Protestant reformer and possibly one of the most influential theologians ever, developed the idea of justification by faith through grace. Martin Luther had been searching for salvation, but had no luck. He had become a monk in trying to guarantee his salvation. He seemed dedicated living his life as a monk, but the holy life of a monk did not bring him the assurance of salvation he was seeking. After teaching and lecturing at the University of Wittenberg, Luther gradually started to understand God and God’s relationship to humanity. From this gradual understanding Luther created the statement of justification by grace through faith. What Luther meant by justification by grace through faith is the process of God justifying sinners through the faith of Christ. Luther had a central question: “How can miserable, sinful humans ‘be put with’ a holy, righteous God?” At first he seemed terrified by the thought of the righteousness of God because “he understood it to refer to the holiness and perfection of God, and he hated this righteous of God who punishes unrighteous sinners.” The origin of justification by grace through faith can be traced by as far as the Apostles. Paul was the main apostle that first introduced this idea. Luther studied Paul’s letters and discovered many new ideas of justification through the faith of God. From Paul’s letters he learned: “We stand guilty and condemned before the throne of God, as Apostle Paul said, "There is no one righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10) "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)  "Now we know that what ever the law says, it is to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." (Romans 3:19).” According to the Ten Commandments it requires us to be perfect, but Paul came to the conclusion that it’s simply impossible to be perfect and there is no hope in being able to stand before God. It came to conclusion that “We need to be justified, in order to be justified, a person must have a righteousness equivalent to Gods perfect righteousness.” What it means to be justified is to be totally free of guilt and blame, and in a biblical sense: to be able to stand before God pure and clean. Justification is the process of justice. “Justification deals with past, present and future sins. Justification does not bring innocence, but a state of righteousness before God. Justification is more than forgiveness, as it removes the guilt.” In order to find justification we must praise to God through gospel, not by “observing the law or by good work before the Lord.” Justification and forgiveness are sometimes presented in the same kind of context, but are not the same. “An innocent man may be acquitted, but an innocent man is not the subject of forgiveness. But it is different with the sinner. He needs forgiveness as well as justification. His justification, on the ground of the righteousness of another, includes the forgiveness of the transgressions on account of which he had been under condemnation.” God doesn’t simply forgive the sinners and let them go without punishment; he’ll let the sinner go without punishment if they believe in Christ. Instead of punishing the sinner for their wrongdoing God punishes Christ so he wouldn’t have to punish the sinner. Just as long as one believes in Christ, Christ endures all of the pain and sacrifice the sinner deserves. When Luther was preaching as a monk he viewed the gospel as an extension of the law, not a pathway to find freedom of its curse. He then later discovered that a person is saved from sin through faith, rather than having works of the law have an influence. “He always saw that faith produced many works, but not allowing those works to take part in the subject of justification, where we 'passively receive' righteousness as a gift,...
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