An anonymous participant left this comment: "Luther believed justification is an ongoing process and not a one-time-event like most Protestants today hold to as part of their interpretation of faith alone." In support of this claim, the following citations were provided:
Luther said: “We perceive that a man who is justified is not yet a righteous man, but is in the very movement or journey toward righteousness,” - Disputation on Justification, thesis 23, in Luther’s Works 34:152.With these citations, Luther is put forth as an advocate of the process of justification... which is notoriously a Roman Catholic theological construct. Let's take a closer look at these quotes and see where they come from and what they are actually saying. We'll discover that the lines between what Luther and Rome are saying about Justification and the final judgment are being obfuscated.
“Our justification is not yet complete.... It is still under construction. It shall, however, be completed in the resurrection of the dead.” - D. Martin Luthers Werke. Kritische Gesamtausabe (Weimar, 1883), 39I:252 (cited in Althaus, 237 n. 63).
Quote #1 "We perceive that a man who is justified is not yet a righteous man, but is in the very movement or journey toward righteousness"
[T]he ultimate and final courtroom declaration concerning the believer does not occur until he stands before God (at his death and at the end of the world). So we may infer that the ultimate and final pronouncement of the believer as righteous does not lie in this life.
By faith we are justified and by faith we receive forgiveness of sins and the beginning of obedience, as Erasmus also argues. He distinguishes between faith and works in this way. Faith alone begins the forgiveness of sins, but works obtain salvation or merit and the kingdom of heaven or eternal life. He says that faith in this life removes sins and gives remission of sins, afterward he ascribes salvation to works. This is most excellent and plausible, and this argument pleases reason. For reason rushes in blindly and thinks thus: Eternal salvation is something else than Christian righteousness. It concludes that it can by its own works merit eternal salvation, as if we obtained justification through faith and salvation through works. So it seems plausible enough, since the text clearly said, “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” [Rom. 10:10]. But this is absurd in the first place, because then Christ must be an incomplete and not a perfect savior. They wish thereby to make us more perfect than our Savior, because they attribute that which is the greatest to works and that which is least to Christ and faith. Even if Christ merits forgiveness of sins for us, we must still save ourselves. Likewise, we need Christ for justification, as if for the least important reason, afterward we need obedience for our salvation, as if for the most important reason. Who says such things? Beware of these arguments and of such men, since this now makes Christ less highly esteemed a savior, but detracts from his honor, that he has made us righteous by his death, since we ourselves can obtain eternal life by our works. These absurdities bring darkness into the minds of men. For they assume that Christ must not be the Savior, that he made us safe from original sin, and that we must later become perfect by ourselves. [LW 34:163]
Works only reveal faith, just as fruits only show the tree, whether it is a good tree. I say, therefore, that works justify, that is, they show that we have been justified, just as his fruits show that a man is a Christian and believes in Christ, since he does not have a feigned faith and life before men. For the works indicate whether I have faith. I conclude, therefore, that he is righteous, when I see that he does good works. In God’s eyes that distinction is not necessary, for he is not deceived by hypocrisy. But it is necessary among men, so that they may correctly understand where faith is and where it is not. [LW 34:161].