Martin Luther sounds positively Van Tillian when he says a “lack of faith is in itself an active thing, for there can be no neutrality between faith and unbelief, between God and the devil” in the last chapter of Luther on Vocation by Gustaf Wingren. “The vacuum, where there is no faith, is filled by unbelief.” “Where faith is present, God takes possession of an area which the devil once controlled.”
What to do then when the cross that is vocation is too much to bear? Exercise faith. “This faith creates rest, satisfaction, and peace and dispels weariness.” If faith is lacking, and a “man judges according to his own feelings, ideas, and perceptions,” then “weariness arises.” Worse still, “because he feels only his own misery and not that of his neighbor, he does not see his own privileges nor how unfortunate his neighbor is.” And thus he fails to serve his neighbor through his vocation.
What happens then when we exercise faith? “Something new” happens: “Through faith God is what he is in the heart of man…. [W]hen I apply the Word to my sin, my suffering, my death, all the power of the Word flows into me and assumes a reality it did not have when faith was not present.”
But faith in what? “On a fact which is affirmed by the Word of God,” that “after death comes a new kingdom free from the cross [that is vocation]; heaven has taken the place of earth, God has conquered the devil, and man has been raised from the dead. Then man’s struggle [in his vocation] is at an end.”