When I was a monk, I didn’t accomplish anything through fasting and prayer. This is because neither I nor any of the other monks acknowledged our sin and lack of reverence for God. We didn’t understand original sin, and we didn’t realize that unbelief is also sin. We believed and taught that no matter what people do, they can never be certain of God’s kindness and mercy. As a result, the more I ran after and looked for Christ, the more he eluded me.
When I realized that it was only through God’s grace that I would be enlightened and receive eternal life, I worked diligently to understand what Paul said in Romans 1:17—the righteousness of God is revealed. I searched a long time and tried to understand it again and again. All the teachers except Augustine interpreted God’s righteousness as God’s anger. So every time I read it, I wished that God had never revealed the gospel. Who could love a God who is angry and who judges and condemns us?
Finally, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I took a closer look at what the prophet Habakkuk said: “The righteous person will live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). From this I concluded that life must come from faith. I therefore took the abstract to the concrete level. I related the concept of righteousness to a person becoming righteous. In other words, a person becomes righteous by faith. That opened the whole Bible—even heaven itself—to me!
Dr. Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483 and died on February 18, 1546 at the age of 62. He was Doctor of Bible at the University of Wittenberg.
Luther, Martin, By Faith Alone. Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, 1998.