The Just Shall Live by Faith

Jesus transforms lives. He did so for a most unlikely candidate.  A brilliant though belligerent young attorney who was the apple of the judiciary eye in Jerusalem was assigned the role of special prosecutor to investigate rumors of the resurrection of Jesus. His evidence turned on him and convinced him of the reality of the resurrection. He who gathered more facts than anyone about the resurrection was a skeptic. His material evidence and the collaborated testimony of eyewitnesses changed his life.  Thereafter, the life of Paul was filled with joy so that it overflowed. That elation over salvation thrilled him so that he wanted to happily share it with others. The natural result of the infilling is the outpouring. 

This transforming experience was later chronicled as follows.

In the Convent Library at Erfurt is a renowned painting. It depicts Martin Luther as a young monk 24 years of age reading a portion of Scripture in the early morning light. On the page he is reading can be seen the words, “The just shall live by faith.” Centuries before the prophet Habakkuk had penned these words and later the Apostle Paul repeated them.

In the Library of Rudolstadt is a handwritten letter penned by Paul Luther, the son of Martin. In it he relates a family insight as follows, “In the year 1544, my late dearest father, in the presence of us all, narrated the whole story of his journey to Rome. He acknowledged with great joy that, in that city, through the Spirit of Jesus Christ, he had come to the knowledge of the truth of the everlasting Gospel.”

Following is a summary of that moment in the life of Martin Luther.

Still today in Rome you will find the Cathedral Church of St. John of Lateran. There are three parallel staircases in it. People walk up the stairs on the left and right, but the center one is considered special. On some of the steps of the center case there are coverings of plate glass through which red stains can be seen on the stairs. These steps are still climbed by anguishing would-be worshipers who stoop to kiss the glass covered stains. A late tradition says these were the stairs in Pilate’s Hall in Jerusalem, and these are the blood stains from Christ’s wounds.

As the devout young monk, Luther climbed these steps on his knees seeking thereby to gain the favor of God, the text which he had read in that early morning light came to his mind: “The just shall live by faith.” He jumped to his feet and went on his way rejoicing.

Now back to the Library of Rudolstadt and the handwritten letter by the son of Martin Luther: “Thereupon, he ceased his prayers, returned to Wittenberg, and took this as the chief foundation of his doctrine.” It is the basis of Christianity.

That experience resulted in a changed lifestyle. Thereafter, Luther sought to obey and serve the Lord. The Lord intends the same in the life of each of us. It is not incumbent that each should serve in the same way as Luther, but that we should obey Him and live a lifestyle becoming of a Jesus follower. 

For the joy inherent pause now and evaluate your loyalty in keeping with His Word. How is it done? By remembering “The just shall live by faith.”