The bottom line: A classic work of the Reformation that proclaims in order to be free, one must submit.
Many people tend to think that the Christian walk is filled with endless and burdensome rules and regulations that enslave its disciples to the tyranny of God. Yet it becomes quite clear for anyone that has studied the Scriptures and developed a close relationship with God that the Lord intends to burden no one and desires to set everyone free.
It is from this bold stance that Martin Luther develops his central thesis in On Christian Liberty: that true freedom is only found in submission to Christ, not to rules, institutions or ideology.
He declares his purpose for the book when he writes, “To make the way smoother for the unlearned—for only them do I serve—I shall set down the following two propositions concerning the freedom and the bondage of the spirit: A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”
On Christian Liberty has no chapters and proceeds along a logical train of thought complete with many Scripture references. Liberty in a Christian sense is described as our faith which simultaneously compels us forward to live fruitful, productive lives while liberating us from the Law, works, or any other burdens that unnecessarily hinder us. In essence, Luther extends upon the Augustinian axiom to “Love God and do as you please.”
Again as Luther writes, “Yes, since faith alone suffices for salvation, I need nothing except faith exercising the power and dominion of its own liberty. Lo, this is the inestimable power and liberty of Christians.”
On Christian Liberty is very short (less than 80 pages) and is fairly easy to read. Potential readers should be aware, however, that buying either a written or electronic version of this book will be a matter of preference because this text is widely available for free on the internet in a variety of formats.