On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther posted his “95 Theses” on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany which sparked the Great Reformation. He hoped these original “tweets” would start a theological discussion on issues that greatly troubled him concerning the state of the Church. As it turns out, Luther’s biblical insights actually led to ground-shaking discussions that spawned Protestant churches and redefined what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
One passage that particularly inspired Luther was Romans 1:17 which quotes the prophet Habakkuk: “the righteous shall live by faith.” Living by faith sounds like a worthy goal, but life is often really hard, filled with suffering and disappointments. So how do we learn to live by faith in the midst of a fearful and uncertain world?
Fear of circumstances and people leads to a life shackled to one fear after another. When one problem is resolved, another quickly takes its place. Sometimes we are hit relentlessly with wave after wave. Such times drive us to our knees, looking up to God for strength and trusting him to provide a way.
Christian faith progresses on three levels. We begin by gaining knowledge of what the Bible says about Jesus, his life, death and resurrection. Then second we need intellectual assent, accepting that the claims of Jesus are historically true, that he really died on the cross and arose from the dead. Finally and most importantly, faith involves trust, cultivating a relationship with God through prayer, worship and fellowship with other believers, trusting in him not only for salvation but for the daily rigors of life.
We were not created to live in isolation but in relationships with God and with people. We all need encouragement and support from others. Attending church provides ample opportunities for worship and joining a small group or serving with others provides much needed fellowship that may turn into long-lasting friendships.
Living by faith is also what Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 5:7 where he says “we walk by faith, not by sight.” His use of the metaphor “walk” indicates a dynamic faith, a journey. It is living each moment by faith, walking with Jesus, looking up to the One who knows all thing and is ever with us.
Luther learned that faith in the saving work of God through Christ needs to be an ongoing, living faith that motivates us to step out into the world and do great things for God’s Kingdom. Such faith frees us to be all that we were created to be!
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