“The whole of the past is embraced by the word ‘forgiveness’; the whole of the future is preserved in the faithfulness of God. Past sin has been sunk in the depths of God’s love in Jesus Christ and overcome; the future will be, without sin, a life born of God (I John 3:9). This life knows itself stretched and sustained from one eternal foundation to another, from its election before the time of the world toward eternal salvation to come. This life knows itself as a member of a church and of a creation that sings the praises of the triune God. All this happens when Christ comes to each person. In Christ all this is truth and reality. Precisely because it is not a dream, the life of a person who has encountered Christ’s presence is no longer lost, but has become justified, by grace alone.
“However, not only by grace, alone, but also by faith alone. So scripture and the Reformation teach. Not love or hope, but only faith justifies a life. It is faith alone that sets life on a new foundation, and only on this new foundation can I live justified before God. This foundation is the living, dying, and rising of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without this foundation a life before God is unjustified; it is surrendered to death and damnation. The justification of my life before God is to live because of and toward the living, dying, and rising of Jesus Christ. Faith means to find, hold to, and cast my anchor on this foundation and so to be held by it. Faith means to base life on a foundation outside myself, on an eternal and holy foundation, on Christ. Faith means to be captivated by the gaze of Jesus Christ; one sees nothing but him. Faith means to be torn out of imprisonment in one’s own ego, liberated by Jesus Christ. Faith is letting something happen and only therein is it an activity. Yet both words together cannot adequately express its mystery. Faith alone is certainty; everything outside of faith is subject to doubt. Jesus Christ alone is the certainty of faith. I believe the Lord Jesus Christ who tells me that my life is justified. So there is no way toward the justification of my life other than faith alone.”—Bonhoeffer, Ethics, pages 147-148.