Luther was a master communicator and a prophetic voice that took no prisoners
in his theological assertions. The following excerpts from his commentary
on Galatians exemplify his zeal for the doctrine of Christian righteousness:
- There is a clear
and present danger that the devil may take away from us the pure doctrine
of faith and may substitute for it the doctrines of works and of human
traditions. It is very necessary, therefore, that this doctrine of
faith be continually read and heard in public…. This doctrine can
never be discussed and taught enough. If it is lost and perishes,
the whole knowledge of truth, life, and salvation is lost and perishes at
the same time. But if it flourishes, everything good flourishes.
- If the doctrine
of justification is lost, the whole of Christian doctrine is lost….
For between these two kinds of righteousness, the active righteousness of
the Law and the passive righteousness of Christ, there is no middle
ground. Therefore he who has strayed away from this Christian
righteousness will necessarily relapse into the active righteousness; that
is, when he has lost Christ, he must fall into a trust in his own works.
- Therefore we
always repeat, urge, and inculcate this doctrine of faith or Christian
righteousness, so that it may be observed by continuous use and may be
precisely distinguished from the active righteousness of the Law.
(For by this doctrine alone and through it alone is the church built, and
in this it consists).
- The second kind
of righteousness is our proper righteousness, not because we alone work
it, but because we work with that first and alien righteousness.
This is that matter of life spent profitably in good works, in the first
place, in slaying the flesh and crucifying the desires with respect to the
Luther, eternal joy and eternal punishment were at stake in this
doctrine. To him, the minister of the Word ought to be fervent and
constant in teaching this doctrine. One cannot be casual and
lackadaisical in proclaiming Christian righteousness. As Luther said,
there is no middle ground. This doctrine is absolutely essential for
 Timothy Lull. Martin Luther’s Basic
Theological Writings, 2nd ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press,