Martin Luther understood that faith is by “its very nature a power and a life,” and described it like this:
“O, this faith is a living, busy, active, powerful thing! It is impossible that it should not be ceaselessly doing that which is good. It does not even ask whether good works should be done; but before the question can be asked, it has done them, and it is constantly engaged in doing them. But he who does not do such works, is a man without faith. He gropes and casts about him to find faith and good works, not knowing what either of them is, and yet prattles and idly multiplies words about faith and good works.”
Commenting on the interior character of faith, Luther adds:
“[Faith] is a living well-founded confidence in the grace of God, so perfectly certain that it would die a thousand times rather than surrender its conviction. Such confidence and personal knowledge of divine grace makes its possessor joyful, bold, and full of warm affection toward God and all created things—all of which the Holy Spirit works in faith. Hence, such a man becomes without constraint willing and eager to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer all manner of ills, in order to please and glorify God, who has shown toward him such grace.”
Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wry observation on how history has “twisted Luther’s teaching” of salvation by expresses deep insight into the situation that the modern church faces. He observed “there is always a certain worldliness that desires to seem Christian, but as cheaply as possible.”
Dallas Willard in The Spirit of the Disciplines notes that once we come to understand that “faith is the powerful life force described by Luther, we can then recognize it as it displays itself on the pages of the New Testament in three major dimensions:”
1. The presence of a new power within the individual, erupting into a break with the past through turning in repentance and the release of forgiveness. The old leaf automatically falls from the branch as the new leaf emerges. Thus we have the biblical representation of repentance, as well as of forgiveness, as something given to us by God in Psalms 80:3; 85:4; Acts 5:31; Romans 2:4; and 2 Timothy 2:25.
2. An immediate but also developing transformation of the individual character and personality (2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 5:1–5, 2 Pet. 1:4–11).
3. A significant, extrahuman power over the evils of this present age and world, exercised both by individuals and by the collective church (“All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore…” Matt. 28:18).
To enjoy this three-dimensional life is just what it means to be “translated” into the Kingdom of God’s dear son, as Colossians 1:13 explains, or to “have our citizenship in heaven.” (Phil. 3:20).
Adopted from Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines