Believing the Gospel would be, in truth, an immeasurably great and difficult task for us if God were not to accomplish it in us. But suppose it were not so exceedingly great and difficult; even if it were an easy condition that God had proposed to us for our salvation, our salvation would not be a gift; God would not have given us His Son, but merely offered Him to us with a certain stipulation. That has not been God’s way. The Apostle Paul says: “Being justified freely (δωρεάν) by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Rom. 3, 24. We are justified δωρεάν, that is gratuitously, without anything, even the least thing, being required of us. Accordingly, we poor sinners praise God for the place of refuge He has prepared for us, where we can flee even when we have to come to Him as utterly lost, insolvent beggars, who have not the least ability to offer to God something that they have achieved. All that we can offer Him is our sins, nothing else. But for that very reason Jesus regards us as His proper clients. We honor Him as our faithful Savior by making His Gospel our refuge; but we deny Him if we come to Him offering Him something for what He gives us. In view of the statement of Peter: “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4, 12, you must regard it as an awful perversion of the Gospel to treat the command to believe as a condition of man’s justification and salvation.
All that we can offer God is our sins. Anything, especially our good works, are an affront to the cross of Jesus. THIS is the good news. No spiritual discipline, no good work, not even the act of believing, is required for the free gift of salvation that Jesus gave to us from His work on the cross. Again... I repeat... THIS is the good news.
Luther was once asked what our part in salvation is. He replied, 'Sin and resistance!'
Thank you God for your free and unmerited gift of Your love and salvation!