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Gateway Church gathers
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at 10:30 a.m.

Location: 6425 Jefferson Rd.
(Hwy. 129) in Athens, Georgia.

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Faith is God's work in us
It is an unshakable confidence in God's grace
Martin Luther
On May 24, 1738, John Wesley, who became the founder of the Methodist movement, had a life-changing experience of God's grace while listening to someone read from Martin Luther's Preface to the Book of Romans.

Until that time, Mr. Wesley, a young Anglican priest, had been trying to earn God's favor by various works of piety.

This experience, during a prayer gathering on a meeting house on Aldersgate Street in London, radically altered his thinking and transformed Wesley from a largely ineffective clergyman into a modern-day apostle.

Below is an excerpt from Luther's preface.

To understand Paul's letter, we have understand what he means by the words law and faith.

When he writes of "law," he does not mean a regulation about what sort of works must be done or must not be done. That's the way it is with human laws: you satisfy the demands of the law with works, whether your heart is in it or not.

But God judges what is in the depths of the heart. Therefore his law also makes demands on the depths of the heart and doesn't let the heart rest content in works; rather it punishes as hypocrisy and lies all works not from the depths of the heart.

In chapter 7, St. Paul says, "The law is spiritual." What does that mean? If the law were physical, then it could be satisfied by works, but since it is spiritual, no one can satisfy it unless everything he does springs from the depths of the heart.

Only the God can do this

No one can give such a heart except the Spirit of God, who makes the person be like the law, so that he actually conceives a heartfelt longing for the law and henceforward does everything, not through fear or coercion, but from a free heart.

It is the Holy Spirit, who puts such eagerness of unconstrained love into the heart, as Paul says in chapter 5. But the Spirit is given only in, with, and through faith in Jesus Christ, as Paul says in his introduction.

That is why faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law; faith it is that brings the Holy Spirit through the merits of Christ. The Spirit, in turn, renders the heart glad and free, as the law demands. Then good works proceed from faith itself.

Faith is a work of God in us, which changes us and brings us to birth anew from God (cf. John 1). It kills the old Adam, makes us completely different people in heart, mind, senses, and all our powers, and brings the Holy Spirit with it. What a living, creative, active powerful thing is faith!

Faith is a living, unshakable confidence in God's grace; it is so certain, that someone would die a thousand times for it. This kind of trust in and knowledge of God's grace makes a person joyful, confident, and happy with regard to God and all creatures. This is what the Holy Spirit does by faith.

Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily; he will serve everyone, suffer everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown him such grace. Ask God to work faith in you; otherwise you will remain eternally without faith, no matter what you try to do or fabricate.   

Abridged from a translation by Andrew Thornton, OSB, for the Saint Anselm College Humanities Program. Translation © 1983 by Saint Anselm Abbey.

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