From the Word
For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:40, RSV
With these words Christ declares the Father’s will, namely, that we come to Christ, see him and believe in him, that we may not be cast out and lost. It is the Father’s will that we attain unto eternal life. Therefore the will of the Father is that all who are given to Christ should be saved through Christ in eternity. These are significant words, since faith in Christ is sufficient for the attainment of eternal life. He does not say, Thou shalt fast and pray and do this and that, but, If thou wilt believe in the Son, thou shalt be saved; and this is the Father’s will.
But are we not to do any good works? Yes, they are to follow faith, for faith must have good works; but eternal life is not attained by good works, since it is impossible to keep the law. No saint was ever found on earth who has loved God with his whole heart and his fellow man as himself. Therefore God has not said, I should be the one to give life to myself or keep myself. To give life and keep it depends on two things, namely, seeing and believing. These words are easily said, but no one knows what faith means. It is a grand art and doctrine from which no saint has ever graduated or was able to fathom, unless he was steeped in despair, or cast into throes of external danger and death. The power and effect of faith are especially seen in temptations, when sin, death, devil, and hell are overcome. Nor are these weak enemies; they bring out perspiration, weaken our limbs, and make heaven and earth cramped. When the devil and death come, no one can help except only the person who has said, I am he who shall sustain thee. Under such conditions we learn what faith is.
He adds, “and I will raise him up at the last day,” to refute the foolish understanding of the flesh. That the carnal sense may not here be applied, as though eternal life would be given without physical death, he tells us before that they will indeed die, but will not lose eternal life, as they shall be raised again at the last day.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 101–02.
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