#29- The Proof of Faith is the Desire to Receive the Help of the Gospel

“First, since Satan through the ordinance of the pope has thrown the sacrament before swine [Matt. 7:6] by compelling everybody to partake of the sacrament at Easter, whether they believe or not, whether they love or not, and since he has also concealed from them the words of the sacrament, on which faith must depend and nourish itself, let us therefore labor first to raise the sacrament above the level of the swine. We do this, however, only as we dissuade and keep the people from it by teaching and exhortation, so that no one goes to the sacrament out of compulsion by, or obedience to, the pope’s ordinance. For the sacrament does not admit of people being compelled or driven to it. Rather, instructed by the gospel, people should request and insist upon it of their own accord, because they are driven by the hunger of their believing hearts.

Second. Now anyone who thinks he has this kind of hunger should see to it that he does not deceive himself. He should make sure that it is no mere desire of the human flesh that prompts him. He should examine his faith and determine whether it is genuine, as St. Paul admonishes in I Cor. 11[:28]: ‘Let a man examine himself.’ This examination, however, covers your whole life. You must find within yourself a smiting conscience which is weighed down with a sense of sin and longs for the grace of God, a conscience that stands in dread of death or hell and longs for strength, a conscience that seeks and takes the sacrament, firmly relying on Christ’s word, in order to receive such grace and strength and help. For as I have said, this sacrament requires a hungry, thirsty, oppressed, and anxious soul, that comes of its own accord, conscious of its own need and thirst, with utter confidence, and without regard to the pope’s laws or lawlessness. That is the proof of faith; it is an inward matter” (Luther’s Works, v.36 p.263-264).

Posted in 2017 Reformation Quotes.