I had occasion to write to a friend recently about this topic, so I thought: why not blog it?
This past year I read Eduard Preuss' little book on justification from cover to cover. VERY good read - first recommended to me by Pastor Robert Schaibley. Why had I never read it in seminary? Let alone heard of it, and it's famous story? You see, it was shortly after writing this masterpiece on justification that Eduard left his position at Concordia Seminary and swum the Tiber. What a scandal that caused! Especially since his work on justification is really without par.
But his personal history aside, one thing he spoke of that I very much appreciated was "continuous justification." His point was that we shouldn't say or think "faith justifIED" me before God but that "faith justifIES" me. Certainty of salvation can be spoken of, he would argue, but only in the present, because that's where the faith lives that holds to the glorious promises of God in Christ. It doesn't hold onto them as an act that was once for all time, but clings to them daily for dear life. He clearly allows for the reality of the fall from faith - for those in our Lord's parable "who believed for a while"- and yet Preuss' presentation succeeds in not robbing the Christian of comfort, while at the same time not providing an iota of comfort to our rebellious flesh.
I bring the whole thing up because I think it is an area that Lutherans could very profitably recover in their teaching. The book is so worth reading - if you can get your hands on a copy. Fort Wayne has reprints of it, I believe.