Item description for On Christian Liberty (Facets) by Martin Luther...
Overview Relying heavily on Paul's epistles, this is a classic statement about the Christian life. We should not fall back into legalism, says Luther, but conduct ourselves in ways which are becoming of a disciple, taking every opportunity we can to love and serve our neighbor.
Publishers Description Written in a down-to-earth, accessible style, this timeless classic communicates the essential teachings of Martin Luther.
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Studio: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.1" Width: 4.28" Height: 0.29" Weight: 0.22 lbs.
Release Date Apr 25, 2003
Publisher AUGSBURG FORTRESS PUB. #99
ISBN 0800636074 ISBN13 9780800636074
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More About Martin Luther
Martin Luther (1483-1546) was the Father of the Reformation. Most famous possibly for his 95 theses, he wrote many works which sparked debate and helped shape thinking - not only in his own time, but ours as well.
Martin Luther was born in 1483 and died in 1546.
Martin Luther has published or released items in the following series...
Anchor Library of Religion
Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought
Reviews - What do customers think about On Christian Liberty (Facets)?
A great ONE-TWO punch against the abuses by the Catholic Church in Luther's time Mar 21, 2006
This powerful little book is a solid, one-two punch from Luther about the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church at the time. It is an excellent synopsis of grace and the freedom of Christians. Where we were once enslaved by sin and could do nothing good, when saved by Grace, God is able to work good through us. That is, when saved, we are then truly free.
The second punch, if you will, is the letter Luther sent to Pope Leo X wherein he tells the pope that Luther is a friend of the church but speaks out against the sacreligious and sinful Indulgences being sold to masses by those around the Pope. Luther debunks the notion that we can buy our own salvation.
I'd recommend that you read the introduction, then the letter, then the actual essay, and THEN reread the letter to the Pope because it will speak so much louder.
The Fire and Hammer of the Word of God (Jeremiah 23:29) Feb 8, 2005
Martin Luther's treatise "Christian Liberty" (or "The Freedom of a Christian") is perhaps the most powerful and concise presentation of the Christian life ever written. I cannot recommend this work highly enough. I rank this among the very best of Luther's works (and that is really saying something). If an inexpensive copy were still in publication I would buy every copy to give as gifts to friends and family. The power, discernment, brevity and readability of this work make a true gem among Reformation writings (and Christian writings in general). Here you will find the essence of the spirit of the Reformation distilled into a guide for practical, biblical living.
With the clarity and bold authority of a true prophet, Luther sets forth the whole of the Christian life in two theses: "A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all." We are free from sin and the law (subject to none) but slaves to Christ in love (subject to all). As Paul writes in Romans 6:22, "But now...you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God."
Luther writes as a shepherd of the common people and the tone and content differ greatly from his better-known debate-oriented works (ie. Bondage of the Will, 95 Theses). The doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is the heart and soul of Luther's message, founded upon a firm conviction in the authority of scripture alone.
He writes, "One thing, and only one thing, is necessary for Christian life, righteousness, and freedom. That one thing is the most holy Word of God, the gospel of Christ."
And again, "It ought to be the first concern of every Christian to lay aside all confidence in works and increasingly to strengthen faith alone and through faith to grow in the knowledge, not of works, but of Christ Jesus, who suffered and rose for him.... No other work makes a Christian.... 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent' (John 6:29)."
And regarding our service to God, "...In this way the stronger member may serve the weaker, and we may be sons of God, each caring for and working for the other, bearing one another's burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ. This is a truly Christian life. Here faith is truly active through love. That is, it finds expression in works of the freest service, cheerfully and lovingly done, with which a man willingly serves another without hope of reward; and for himself he is satisfied with the fullness and wealth of his faith."
I cannot vouch for the quality of this particular volume (the actual work is only 30 standard pages long), but the treatise has been published in a number of other individual volumes and in at least one very worthy compilation entitled "Martin Luther's Basic Theological Writings" (ed. Timothy F. Lull, 1989) which also contains a number of other infinitely worthy works such as Luther's "Small Catechism," the stirring "Meditation of Christ's Passion," and the thesis chapters of the foundational "Bondage of the Will." Any version of this monumental treatise is bound to bless you. It is the fire and the hammer of the Word of God to consume the adversaries and break apart the stone hearts of impenitant men.
Freedom through Enslavement Apr 10, 2004
Before being set free by the reading of Romans 1:17, Martin Luther was enslaved to the bondage of works righteousness. He was acutely aware of his need for salvation but sought it through the means of works instead of finding it through faith in Christ. Upon discovering the "righteousness of God" Luther was set free from his bondage and was able to become a slave to Christ. It is this freedom of the gospel, which Luther sets forth as being the freedom for the Christian. Through faith alone a believer is justified in Christ and set free to live a life of obedience compelled by the love of Christ. Thus freedom to service through the gospel of Christ is at the heart of Luther's treatise The Freedom of a Christian.
He begins the work by summarizing the Christian life in paradoxical fashion. He writes, "A Christian is a perfectly free Lord of all, subject to none." And he continues by stating, "A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to none." Luther correctly believed that these two assertions, although seemingly contradictory, are nonetheless biblical and he seeks to show how they work together in the rest of this treatise.
It is only through faith alone in the gospel of Jesus Christ whereby one is saved and is given the free gift of Christ's righteousness and the perfect freedom found in being united with Christ. Thus the only thing necessary for Christian life, righteousness, and freedom is the Word of God, which is the gospel. Without the Word of God there is no help for the soul. Yet a soul that has the Word of God is found lacking nothing.
Luther's work asserts the underlining truth of the Christian life: that we are freed through the death of Christ to service. We are freed from the bondage and slavery of the law, sin and Satan and we are now chained in freedom to obedience toward Christ. Freedom for the Christian is escape from the bondage of sin and submission to the bondage of Christ. It is only in submission and service to Christ where one is found truly free.
One of the most evident features of Luther's work is that justification is through faith alone. He makes it clear that there is no work, which can accompany faith to bring about justification. Works cannot, and never will justify. Only faith in Christ as a gift of God will justify a sinner. The importance of sola fidei for Luther is that if works can justify then there is no need for the gospel. Therefore Luther's insistence upon faith alone is foundational to upholding the biblical gospel. If works are added then the gospel is bunk.
The law-gospel distinction, which comes out in this treatise, is most significant for the Christian life. The law truly kills, but thankfully it is not an end in itself but points to the gospel, which is life. The chains of the law steer to the unbound grace in the gospel of Christ. While Luther seems to place a dichotomy between the two testaments as one being of commandments (OT) and the other being of promises (NT) it would be safer to say that there is both law and gospel, commandments and promises, in both testaments.
Luther's teaching on union with Christ most helpfully highlights the very foundational nature of this doctrine to the whole of salvation. It is by virtue of this union with Christ whereby a sinner is found righteous. By faith alone one is united with Christ and made a partaker of the perfect life and the perfect death of Christ. That sinner is then buried, and raised up with Christ. Indeed Christ's righteousness swallows up our sinfulness. It is by this glorious uniting symbolized in a wedding where Christ marries his bride the church. And for Luther it is the "wedding ring of faith" which unites believers to Christ.
Luther also hits an important note in writing, "So let him who wishes to do good works begin not with the doing of works, but with believing, which makes the person good, for nothing makes a man good except faith, or evil except unbelief." The only true works, which are good, are those works that are born out of faith. A good tree will produce good fruit and likewise a dead tree dead fruit. Faith alone produces a desire for righteous living, which produces good works compelled by the love of Christ.
Luther's The Freedom of a Christian is an important work in that it sets in bold relief the necessity of faith alone for justification. Works cannot justify and it is only through faith in Christ whereby one is saved. It is within the inner man having been justified where good works find their foundation and it is through the outer man where good works find their expression. Truly good works can only flow from a renewed heart. Such a renewed heart is freed from the bondage to sin and is now compelled to love Christ and others. A true Christian is freed from sin unto service toward Christ. This free servitude is at the heart of Christian freedom.