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Page 1

Study Guide – Martin Luther, How to Live a Christian Life? 1

Study Guide for
Martin Luther, How to Live a Christian Life?

(Minneapolis: Lutheran Press, 2003)


Chapter 1: Christian Faith

1. Who can and will talk about faith (see 2 Corinthians 4:13)?

2. Which two statements summarize best the Christian life?

3. Why is there a seeming contradiction?

4. What are the “two natures” of a Christian? Can they be found in all humans alike?

5. Do these two live in peaceful coexistence?

6. In what sense could this biblical view of a Christian be called realistic?

The Soul: The Spiritual, Inner, or New Man

Chapter 2: Living in Faith

1. Why is it that “absolutely no situation in life has any power to produce Christian
righteousness or freedom” or any “power to produce unrighteousness or subservience”?

2. About what should Christians therefore be concerned first of all?

3. How does this compute with the modern idea that political and religious freedom
(“civil liberties”) are essential for human life to be human?

4. How do Luther’s assertions put the concept of “psycho-somatic disease,” that is, the
notion that there exists a close link between the health of soul and body, into context?

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Study Guide – Martin Luther, How to Live a Christian Life? 2

5. Why are theological speculation and various spiritual practices ultimately fruitless for
the soul’s liberty?

6. Who alone can free the soul? What is the one thing on which the soul thrives?

7. What does the sheer existence of the Savior tell about the natural state of the soul?
Along these lines, why is speaking about God’s forgiving our sin a stronger statement
than speaking about God’s loving everybody?

8. What is the sign of God’s wrath? What is the sign of God’s favor? Is this view shared
by the majority of people today?

9. What is the work of Christ? How does this give focus to the mission of the church and
her ministers today?

10. Which Word of God are we talking about here? Would a person be saved if they
“believed the bible”?

11. Why is salvation by faith, and not by works (or by faith and works)? Why this harsh
distinction? Isn’t faith also a “work,” something we do? (Read John 17:20; Romans 3:28;
Galatians 2:21; 5:2; Philippians 1:29.) Do all “Christians” today (at Luther’s time) share
this view?

12. What does Luther mean when he states that we first come to faith, then see the
abysmal nature of our sin, and first then realize how necessary Christ is for us?

13. How do Christians strengthen their faith in Christ?

14. In what sense are all the following four statements true, in what sense are they all
wrong? “We are saved by God’s grace alone. We are saved by Christ alone. We are saved
by faith alone. We are saved by baptism alone.”

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Study Guide – Martin Luther, How to Live a Christian Life? 7

“testimonials” about their faith like people would give enthusiastic testimonials about this
or that great product they purchased. In what sense can testimonials be said to be
destructive of faith in Christ, both in the person giving the testimonial and in the person
hearing it? How does true preaching promote and strengthen faith? How does this inform
your understanding of “witnessing” to unbelievers?

8. What does “proper preaching” do?

9. What is lacking when people get bored when they hear the gospel over and over again?
In other words: who rejoices in the gospel? For whom is the old gospel of Jesus always
new and always good?

10. In what sense have we already conquered sin, death, and the devil? In what sense
have we not yet overcome these most serious enemies of men?

The Body: The Flesh, Outer, or Old Man

Chapter 8: An Internal Struggle

1. What is the current spiritual state of the Christian? When will we be completely “inner
and spiritual” again?

2. What does Luther actually mean by “body – soul;” “outer – inner;” and “flesh –
Spirit”? Is this something that’s in every person, Christian and unbeliever alike?

3. How does the following quote from Luther’s 1519 Lectures on Galatians (AE 27:363-
364) help us understand which two “men” Luther has in view here? What three “stages”
of spiritual “development” can we discern here?

By spirit and flesh, moreover, I understand the whole man, especially the soul itself. Briefly, to
give a very crude comparison, just as I may call flesh that is injured or ill both healthy and ill (for
no flesh is altogether illness), because, to the extent that it begins to be healed and is healthy, it is
called health, but where injury or illness is left, it is called illness; and just as illness or injury
hinders the rest of the flesh, healthy though it is, from doing perfectly that which healthy flesh
would do—so the same man, the same soul, the same spirit of a man, because he is associated with
and tainted by the disposition of the flesh, is spirit insofar as he savors the things that are of God
(Matt. 16:23), but is flesh insofar as he is influenced by the enticements of the flesh; and if he
consents to these, he is altogether flesh, as is stated in Gen. 6:3. On the other hand, if he consents
entirely to the Law, he is altogether spirit; and this will take place when the body becomes
spiritual. Accordingly, one must not imagine that these are two distinct human beings. But it is
like a morning twilight, which is neither day nor night yet can be called either one. Nevertheless,
day, as that toward which it is tending after the darkness of night, is more appropriate. By far the
most beautiful illustration of both truths is that half-alive man in Luke (10:30 ff.) who, on being

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