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Wow. If you ever had any doubt that Luther really believed, taught, preached and wrote about the doctrine that a person is declared right before God (born-again, regenerated, converted, made a Christian, etc) by faith alone, apart from works, I’d recommend you read his treatise by the name of “Concerning Christian Liberty“.  I’m currently making my way through it and it’s bubbling over with gem after gem of sola fide!  Here are some excerpts for your reading pleasure:

“One thing, and one alone, is necessary for life, justification, and Christian liberty: and that is the most holy word of God, the Gospel of Christ…”

“For the word of God cannot be recevied and honoured by any works, but by faith alone.”

“Therefore the first care of every Christian ought to be to lay aside all reliance on works, and strengthen his faith alone more and more, and by it grow in the knowledge, not of works, but of Christ Jesus, who has suffered and risen again for him…”

“Before all things bear in mind what I have said: that faith alone without works justifies, sets free, and saves…”

“In this way therefore the soul, through faith alone, without works, is from the word of God justified…”

“It is clear then that to a Christian man his faith suffices for everything, and that he has no need of works for justification.”

“…so much importance is attributed to faith, so that it alone can fulfil the law and justify without any works.”

“Works, since they are irrational things, cannot glorify God, although they may be done to the glory of God, if faith be present.”

“…one may clearly see how a Christian man is free from all things; so that he needs no works in order to be justified and saved, but receives these gifts in abundance from faith alone.”

“Let it suffice to say this concerning the inner man and its liberty, and concerning that righteousness of faith which needs neither law nor good works; nay, they are even hurtful to it, if any one pretends to be justified by them.”

Do you see how careful Luther is to distinguish between the (un-biblical) belief that works actually justify and the (biblical) belief that works are a result of already being justified by faith alone, in Christ alone?  Think of the difference in equation form:

  • WRONG: Faith + Works = Justification (salvation, regeneration, becoming a Christian)
  • RIGHT: Faith = Justification + Works (done to the glory of God in RESPONSE to what God has done to us in Christ)