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Luther and Living Out of Grace

This past week my small group talked at length about the all-too-often unbelievable aspect of God’s grace, namely that God gives his riches to us based not upon our merit but the achievement of his Son for us in the gospel. This is the gospel-truth from which the Christian life is lived. It affects everything we do: work, marriage, parenting, etc. Yet, mindful of its centrality, I find myself regularly forgetting to operate from this essential truth.

However, in looking over some class notes from my doctoral studies this summer, I ran across this encouraging passage from Martin Luther’s The Sum of the Christian Life:

I myself have been preaching and cultivating [grace] through reading and writing for almost twenty years and still feel the old clinging dirt of wanting to deal so with God that I may contribute something so that He will give me His grace in exchange for my holiness. Still I cannot get it into my head that I should surrender myself completely to sheer grace, yet [I know that] this is what I should and must do.

Luther’s words remind me that even the more spiritually mature can derail themselves from living out of grace. Brother Martin gives me hope knowing that even one of the men God used to restore the church to the message of grace struggled in his head with living out that very grace in his life. It proves to me once again that grace really is that amazing!

Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

3 thoughts on “Luther and Living Out of Grace”

  1. Yancey,

    Thanks so much for this post! I have been thinking about the same thing lately (forgetting to live in God’s grace). When I do remind myself that I can give Him nothing in exchange for His grace, that He gives it freely, it is AMAZING! 🙂


  2. I do the same thing. I think its human nature to try to be good enough when that is so obviously impossible. Continual repentance is what I need not everyday but every nanosecond; which means I needs to gospel not everyday but every nanosecond as well.

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