toward righteousness" obviously includes a foretaste of new life and thevictory over sin and death in the here-and-now. Indeed, this justificationwon by Christ alone sustains and heals us throughout life until finalrighteousness is achieved beyond this earthly life. As Luther wrote, "Dailywe sin, daily we are continually justified, just as a doctor is forced to healsickness day by day until it is cured."
As the Finnish interpretation of Luther has shown us, the living Christ in union with the believer by faithis the cause of justification as an eschatological reality in which wepresently participate by the grace of God.
Luther himself stated, "SoChrist, living and abiding in me, takes away and swallows up all evilswhich vex and afflict
This union or conjunction, then, is the cause thatI am delivered from the terror of
law and sin, am separate from
and translated into Christ and his kingdom."
In Christ, we are slain in order to be reborn with his righteousness byfaith. In Luther's words from Articles 29 and 30 of the
Christ's ultimate and perfect righteousness"slays the whole world," which means that it is "too great to allow anyreckoning or consideration of our work."
Faith must therefore involveGod's act of imputing Christ's righteousness to us, "for, after faith, thereremain yet certain remnants of sin in our flesh."
In faith, "we have thefirst fruits of the Spirit, but, because faith is weak, it is not made perfectwithout God's imputation."
In other words, the imputation of Christ'srighteousness is required to bring about justification because the downpayment of the Spirit and the corresponding act of faith are penultimateand fall short of Christ's ultimate perfection and glory. Christ's righteousness imputed to us serves as a bridge for Luther between participation inChrist through the life of faith, which is still weak and imperfect, and theultimate justice and perfection as an eschatological reality. This finalrighteousness, which Christ has won for us and which is imputed to us, isconnected implicitly for Luther with the final, new creation "in whichrighteousness shall dwell." He stated concerning our eschatological existence
justified sinners, "In the meantime, as long as we live here, we arecarried and nourished in the bosom of the mercy and long-sufferance of God, until the great day. Then shall there be new heavens and new earth,in which righteousness shall dwell."
See the essays in Carl E. Braaten and Robert
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998). See also Veli-MattiKärkkäinen, "Deification and a Pneumatological Concept of Grace: Unprecedented Convergences between Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Pentecostal-Holiness Soteriologies"(paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Springfield,
Luther, "Disputation," 156.
ed. Hilton C. Oswald, in
ed.Helmut T. Layman (St. Louis: Concordia, 1972), 25:263.