Martin Luther on Christian Living

Many have taken the Christian faith to be a simple and easy matter, and have even numbered it among the virtues. This is because they have not really experienced it, nor have they tested the great strength of faith.  ~ Martin Luther

I read this last night in Justo Gonzalez’ The Story of Christianity. Though I’m only gaining a skeletal understanding of church history thus far, I have repeatedly observed that contemporary issues—aren’t. At least not exclusively. Doesn’t Luther sound like he could be a 20th or 21st century Christian complaining about the peddling of a “soft gospel,” frustrated that any true believer would advertise following Christ as the easiest thing in the world? I’m not sure exactly what he was addressing when he made this comment, but apparently he wouldn’t have been too excited about quickie conversions and neglect of discipleship either.

The gospel is simple. But following Christ requires work and is often anything but easy. He would know this more intimately than I, but I’m with Luther on this one.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”    Matthew 16:24

…work out your salvation with fear and trembling.   Philippians 2:12

3 thoughts on “Martin Luther on Christian Living”

  1. Easy believism is probably one of the reasons why a lot of churches have so many unsaved people amongst their masses. Following Jesus is probably the toughest, yet most rewarding ways to live your life…but if you looking for simple you best look elsewhere.

    Speaking of Martin Luther: I hear that he used to experience such intense spiritual battles, that he once threw his inkwell at Satan! Now that’s my kind of guy:->


    1. Yes, our unwillingness to follow up and personally invest in the discipleship of new believers has had tragic consequences.

      I’ve heard a few different takes on the ink story, but any way you look at it, Luther was unquestionably a passionate fellow! 🙂

  2. Luther elaborated on the Christian life by saying that to become a theologian of the cross (not a professional but every Christian) requires three things: Oratio (prayer), Meditatio (study of the Word), and Tentatio (tribulation, angst). Most talk of Christian discipleship and what Luther addressed covered the first two items. But only in the fire anvil of tribulation does the Christian begin to understand and experience what is studied and prayed. And this Tentatio is not something we can choose or select among a variety of experiences, it involves whatever we encounter in life.

    Sometimes we hear “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Not true (that is actually a misunderstanding of 1 Cor. 10:13). Tentatio / Tribulation means that we experience life such that we feel unable to handle. And God seems to be furtherest away (“hidden God”). In reality God is close but the hiddenness causes us to search diligently his Word and cry out in desparation. Then we begin to learn what God means by being His faithfulness.

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