The Difference Between Faith and Hope – Luther

49-29588_Tin_Plaques_Faith_HopeIs there any difference between faith and hope?  At first glance, this question looks like a no-brainer.  But when you stop and think about it, you begin scratching your head and you go “Hmm, yes and no?”  Well, let’s let Martin Luther help us out here.  Here is what he had to say in response to this question in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians:

The question occurs to us, What difference is there between faith and hope? We find it difficult to see any difference. Faith and hope are so closely linked that they cannot be separated. Still there is a difference between them.

First, hope and faith differ in regard to their sources. Faith originates in the understanding, while hope rises in the will.

Secondly, they differ in regard to their functions. Faith says what is to be done. Faith teaches, describes, directs. Hope exhorts the mind to be strong and courageous.

Thirdly, they differ in regard to their objectives. Faith concentrates on the truth. Hope looks to the goodness of God.

Fourthly, they differ in sequence. Faith is the beginning of life before tribulation. (Hebrews 11.) Hope comes later and is born of tribulation. (Romans 5.)

Fifthly, they differ in regard to their effects. Faith is a judge. It judges errors. Hope is a soldier. It fights against tribulations, the Cross, despondency, despair, and waits for better things to come in the midst of evil.

Without hope, faith cannot endure. On the other hand, hope without faith is blind rashness and arrogance because it lacks knowledge. Before anything else a Christian must have the insight of faith, so that the intellect may know its directions in the day of trouble and the heart may hope for better things. By faith we begin, by hope we continue.

Would you like to interact with Martin Luther?  Please post your comments below.  Blessings in Christ!

Is There Any Difference Between Faith and Hope?

Now, that’s a good question!  At first glance, this question looks like a no-brainer.  But when you stop and think about it, you begin scratching your head and you go “Hmm, yes and no?”  Well, let’s let Martin Luther help us out here.  Here is what he had to say in response to this question in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians:

The question occurs to us, What difference is there between faith and hope? We find it difficult to see any difference. Faith and hope are so closely linked that they cannot be separated. Still there is a difference between them.

First, hope and faith differ in regard to their sources. Faith originates in the understanding, while hope rises in the will.

Secondly, they differ in regard to their functions. Faith says what is to be done. Faith teaches, describes, directs. Hope exhorts the mind to be strong and courageous.

Thirdly, they differ in regard to their objectives. Faith concentrates on the truth. Hope looks to the goodness of God.

Fourthly, they differ in sequence. Faith is the beginning of life before tribulation. (Hebrews 11.) Hope comes later and is born of tribulation. (Romans 5.)

Fifthly, they differ in regard to their effects. Faith is a judge. It judges errors. Hope is a soldier. It fights against tribulations, the Cross, despondency, despair, and waits for better things to come in the midst of evil.

Without hope faith cannot endure. On the other hand, hope without faith is blind rashness and arrogance because it lacks knowledge. Before anything else a Christian must have the insight of faith, so that the intellect may know its directions in the day of trouble and the heart may hope for better things. By faith we begin, by hope we continue.

Would you like to interact with Martin Luther?  Please post your comments below.  Blessings in Christ!

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners[1] – A Book Review

John Bunyan is best known around the globe for his classic work, Pilgrim’s Progress ($0.99 on Amazon Kindle) which is deservingly the most popular and influential book in Christendom (aside from the Bible).  However, a sad consequence of this, is the fact that Bunyan’s other works have been greatly eclipsed by the popularity that Pilgrim’s Progress has enjoyed over the centuries.  Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (Bunyan’s spiritual autobiography) is one such work.  In my view this book (just like Pilgrim’s Progress) is a must-read for all Christians.

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (FREE on Amazon Kindle) gives the reader some insight into the life abandoned to the saving and sanctifying grace of God.  One is impressed by the graciousness of the grace of God and how He relentlessly pursues His children.  In this autobiography, Bunyan does what should be natural for every child of God.  He sincerely diminishes himself and gratefully magnifies the grace of God reminiscent of John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  One cannot help but see 1 Timothy 1:15 written all over his life.

Bunyan is not ashamed to talk of his former life of sin and rebellion against God, but he does not celebrate it.  On the contrary, he mourns and grieves over that and reaches for grace of God for his soul’s salvation, sanctification and solace.  He clings to the LORD even as He clings to him.  I personally find Bunyan’s view of sin very convicting.  I am ashamed that I do not loathe my sin as I should.  Bunyan saw sin for what it really is, “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the Law of God” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q & A 14).  Sin is a direct offense against the holy God!  I wonder if this is your view of sin.  May the Lord be merciful to us!

Another thing that stands out in Bunyan’s life after he became a Christian is the account of his spiritual struggles.  He struggled so much with getting assurance of his salvation.  While some have dismissed this as merely a result of too much introspection, I think it is an indictment on all of us in the Church of Jesus Christ today.  While we may have a high view of God and of the efficacy and sufficiency of His grace, we have a low view of sin.  As a result, our thoughts and lives are often in danger of gravitating towards and bordering on antinominianism.

However, the Lord graciously minister’s to Bunyan’s need for assurance through His holy Word as He always does.  In Bunyan’s life, this came through the instrumentation of Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians.  Regarding this, Bunyan writes:

The God in whose hands are all our days and ways one day brought into my possession a book by Martin Luther.  It was his commentary on Galatians.  It was so old that, if so much as turned it over, it was ready to fall to pieces.  I was so pleased that such an old book had fallen into my hands that when just a few pages into it, I found my condition so comprehensively described by Luther’s experience, it was as if his book had been written from my own heart (p. 72-73).

He further writes, “apart from the Holy Bible, I consider this commentary on Galatians by Martin Luther to be the best of all the books that I have ever seen for a wounded conscience” (p. 73).

Reading Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners will truly open your eyes to the depth of your sin and the immeasurable greatness and abundance of the saving, sanctifying and comforting grace of God through Jesus Christ.  You will better understand what Paul understood when he wrote, “It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).  I am yet to come across another autobiography of the soul-searching, soul-nourishing candor and stature as Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.  I hope that you will get your own copy soon (if you don’t already have one) and that you will read and re-read this wonderful story of the abounding grace of God in the life of John Bunyan.

For those who may be interested to delve into Bunyan’s other writings, I recommend The Complete Works of John Bunyan, published by the Banner of Truth Trust (ASIN:  B0007F9CPM).  Soli deo Gloria!


[1] Bunyan, John, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, Evangelical Press, Auburn, 2000

The Best Book for a Wounded Conscience

John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, the second most popular book in Christendom (second from the Bible) wrote the following in his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners:

…Apart from the Holy Bible, I consider this commentary on Galatians by Martin Luther to be the best of all the books that I have ever seen for a wounded conscience.

Of his own experience with Luther’s commentary on Galatians, Bunyan writes:

…The God in whose hands are all our days and ways one day brought into my possession a book by Martin Luther.  It was his commentary on Galatians.  It was so old that, if I so much as turned it over, it was ready to fall to pieces.  I was so pleased that such an old book had fallen into my hands that when, just a few pages into it, I found my condition so comprehensively described by Luther’s experience, it was as if his book had been written from my own heart.

I highly recommend to you both:

Of course, if you have never read Pilgrim’s Progress, I highly recommend that too.

Is There Any Difference Between Faith and Hope?

Now, that’s a good question!  At first glance, this question looks like a no-brainer.  But when you stop and think about it, you begin scratching your head and you go “Hmm, yes and no?”  Well, let’s let Martin Luther help us out here.  Here is what he had to say in response to this question in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians:

The question occurs to us, What difference is there between faith and hope? We find it difficult to see any difference. Faith and hope are so closely linked that they cannot be separated. Still there is a difference between them.

First, hope and faith differ in regard to their sources. Faith originates in the understanding, while hope rises in the will.

Secondly, they differ in regard to their functions. Faith says what is to be done. Faith teaches, describes, directs. Hope exhorts the mind to be strong and courageous.

Thirdly, they differ in regard to their objectives. Faith concentrates on the truth. Hope looks to the goodness of God.

Fourthly, they differ in sequence. Faith is the beginning of life before tribulation. (Hebrews 11.) Hope comes later and is born of tribulation. (Romans 5.)

Fifthly, they differ in regard to their effects. Faith is a judge. It judges errors. Hope is a soldier. It fights against tribulations, the Cross, despondency, despair, and waits for better things to come in the midst of evil.

Without hope faith cannot endure. On the other hand, hope without faith is blind rashness and arrogance because it lacks knowledge. Before anything else a Christian must have the insight of faith, so that the intellect may know its directions in the day of trouble and the heart may hope for better things. By faith we begin, by hope we continue.

Would you like to interact with Martin Luther?  Please post your comments below.  Blessings in Christ!

Is God Calling You to the Gospel Ministry?

This post is specifically targeting any young men who may be considering the gospel ministry.  I simply want to ask the question:  “Is God calling you to the Gospel ministry?”  I am intentionally asking this question because I suspect that there may be some young men who are feeling the internal urge of the Spirit leading them in this direction, but are not willing to make the commitment and say, “Yes, Lord!”  Such men need to be pressed until they yield to God’s will.  Yes, it’s ultimately the Lord who calls people into the ministry (the internal call), but there is such a thing as the “external call” whereby the same Lord calls people to the ministry through others (particularly the church).  So, I hope that the older men and the women reading this will be seeking opportunities to encourage any young men around, praying for and challenging them to consider the gospel ministry.

For the rest of this post, I would like to share with you a brief article by Dr. Albert Mohler who serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

In his article entitled, Consider Your Calling: The Call to the Ministry, this is what he had to say:

Has God called you to ministry? Though all Christians are called to serve the cause of Christ, God calls certain persons to serve the Church as pastors and other ministers. Writing to young Timothy, the Apostle Paul confirmed that if a man aspires to be a pastor, “it is a fine work he aspires to do.” [I Timothy 3:1, NASB] Likewise, it is a high honor to be called of God into the ministry of the Church. How do you know if God is calling you?

First, there is an inward call. Through His Spirit, God speaks to those persons He has called to serve as pastors and ministers of His Church. The great Reformer Martin Luther described this inward call as “God’s voice heard by faith.” Those whom God has called know this call by a sense of leading, purpose, and growing commitment.

Charles Spurgeon identified the first sign of God’s call to the ministry as “an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.” Those called by God sense a growing compulsion to preach and teach the Word, and to minister to the people of God.

This sense of compulsion should prompt the believer to consider whether God may be calling to the ministry. Has God gifted you with the fervent desire to preach? Has He equipped you with the gifts necessary for ministry? Do you love God’s Word and feel called to teach? As Spurgeon warned those who sought his counsel not to preach if they could help it. “But,” Spurgeon continued, “if he cannot help it, and he must preach or die, then he is the man.” That sense of urgent commission is one of the central marks of an authentic call.

Second, there is the external call…God uses the congregation to “call out the called” to ministry. The congregation must evaluate and affirm the calling and gifts of the believer who feels called to the ministry.. As a family of faith, the congregation should recognize and celebrate the gifts of ministry given to its members, and take responsibility to encourage those whom God has called to respond to that call with joy and submission.

These days, many persons think of careers rather than callings. The biblical challenge to “consider your call” should be extended from the call to salvation to the call to the ministry.

John Newton, famous for writing “Amazing Grace,” once remarked that “None but He who made the world can make a Minister of the Gospel.” Only God can call a true minister, and only He can grant the minister the gifts necessary for service. But the great promise of Scripture is that God does call ministers, and presents these servants as gifts to the Church.

Consider your calling. Do you sense that God is calling you to ministry, whether as pastor or another servant of the Church? Do you burn with a compulsion to proclaim the Word, share the Gospel, and care for God’s flock? Has this call been confirmed and encouraged by those Christians who know you best?

God still calls . . . has He called you?

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