Title: “Concerning Christian Liberty”
Author: Martin Luther (1483 - 1546)
Publisher: New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14.
Page Count: 35
According to the author, the Bible is divided into precepts (Old Testament) and promises (New Testament). The precepts are the Law, which shows us what we need to do in order to be perfect under the law, but we do not have the power on our own to do it. Then the New Testament comes along which contains the promises of God, which declare the glory of God. “If you wish to fulfill the law, and, as the law requires, not to covet, lo! believe in Christ, in whom are promised to you grace, justification, peace and liberty.” I have often heard it said that the Law is a looking glass that shows us what needs to be cleaned, but the Blood of Christ is the soap to clean it.
Luther discusses three great “virtues” of faith. First of all, faith gives us true Christian liberty. We are free from the law and works which regards our justification and salvation. Second, faith honors God because in believing His promise it ascribes truth and righteousness to Him. Therefore, to not believe the Word of the Gospel would be to make God a liar. Third, faith unites our soul to Christ. Believing in Christ is compared simply and surprisingly to the marriage of a king and a prostitute, where both share equally what each brings to the union. “Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation; the soul is full of sin, death and condemnation. Let faith step in, and then sin, death and hell will belong to Christ, and grace, life, and salvation to the soul.”
Positives: Even though this book was written by a man who the Lutheran denomination claims to have gotten its start, this book is good for Baptists as well because it is a book based on salvation by faith alone.
Negatives: This book is certainly not for light reading. However, on a positive note, if given the time and energy required, this book would really be a great book to study and learn more about our freedom through Jesus.
Other Books by the author: Freedom of a Christian Man; Bondage of the Will; Thesis on Scholastic Theology from 1517
Final Words: It is easy to understand why faith has such great power, and why good works can never compare with it, since no earthly work can become part of the soul. Faith alone and the Word reign in it, just as iron exposed to fire glows like fire, on account of its union with fire. It’s clear then to a Christian man that his faith is everything, and that he has no need of works for justification. However, if he doesn’t need works, neither does he need the law, and if that be the case, then he is free from the law and this saying is true, “the law is not made for a righteous man…” (1 Timothy 1:9). This is that Christian liberty, our faith, the effect of which is, not that we should be carefree about our actions or lead a bad life, but just the fact that we do not need the law or works for justification and salvation.
After reading this book I’ve discovered more about the Lutheran church. I don’t normally try to learn very much about other faiths because I have been taught that getting too involved in the doctrines of other faiths can be dangerous so I just normally don’t study other denomination’s beliefs. One should know what he/she believes and when something comes along that is different, it will be obvious that it’s not what he/she has been taught. However, apparently the Lutheran church is a faith-based religion because the author did not believe that good works or baptism saves a person, only their faith in Jesus Christ. On the other hand, I am sure, there are many other differences between Lutherans and Baptists. This one likeness just proves that even false doctrines have a little bit of the truth.