FOR FAITH, salvation is a present reality. Luther strongly emphasizes this fact. “Where there is forgiveness of sins there are also life and salvation,” now, in this present moment Salvation is no longer only a future event. In this life, however, the Christian has it only in faith and not yet in experience, not in complete, unbroken, uninterrupted, constant, and uncontradictable experience. Faith is continually attacked by the temptations arising from the contradiction between the reality it sees and the salvation that is present but hidden from sight. “We do not wait for forgiveness and all graces as though we would not receive them until the life to come; rather, they are now present for us in faith, even though they are hidden and will be revealed only in the life to come.”1 Christians therefore wait for the final revelation. We have repeatedly discussed this eschatological dimension of various topics of Luther's theology, for example, in the doctrines of Christ's work and of righteousness through faith. To be a Christian is both to have and at the same time not to have, to be and at the same time not yet to be. We are in the process of becoming Christians. Therefore those things which faith has already received point it forward to the eschaton. This is true not only of the life of the individual Christian but equally of the situation of the church in the world and of the lordship of Christ in history. The church must yet endure the bitter suffering brought upon it by the pressure and resistance of the world and of Satan. Theology is and remains theology of the cross; therefore it necessarily becomes eschatology. Faith eagerly waits and hopes for the future when Christ's lordship will be revealed. Luther's theology is thoroughly eschatological in the strict sense of expecting the end of the world. His thoughts about the eschaton are not a conventional appendix but a section of his theology which is rooted in, indispensable to, and
1WA 171, 229.