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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Repentance part 48

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John 3:16–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance

When the adversaries speak of faith, and say that it precedes repentance, they do not mean that faith which justifies, but a general faith that believes God exists, that punishments threaten the wicked, etc. We require, in addition to that kind of faith, that each one believe his sins are forgiven. Concerning this special faith we are disputing, we place it in opposition to the opinion that bids us to trust in the opus operatum of contrition, confession, satisfactions, and so forth, instead of in the promise of Christ. That faith follows terrors in such a way as to overcome them and pacify the conscience. We ascribe justification and regeneration to this faith because it frees from terrors, and brings not only peace and joy to the heart, but also new life. We maintain that this faith is truly necessary for the forgiveness of sins, and accordingly place it among the parts of repentance. The Church of Christ believes as we do, though our adversaries contradict us.

Pulling It Together

We cannot place our trust in works wrought (opus operatum) by ourselves. Surely, this is evident to everyone. Who among us has been found faithful—even to his own intentions? We fail ourselves time and time again. We know this to be true about ourselves, though we may try to hide the fact. When we are so incapable of keeping our own resolutions, how should we expect to find ourselves capable of keeping the commandments? Yet, even if we could, this is not God’s answer to the problem of sin. Our religious and moral aptitude is not the solution; Christ is.

So we must do more than believe in the existence of God. We must believe that God loved us to such a great extent that he sent his only Son into the world to give us eternal life. Christ did not come to condemn us, but instead, to save us. Believe; have faith in him.

Prayer: Give me ever-increasing faith in you, Lord. Amen. 

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