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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 43

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Matthew 16:24–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

But our opponents object, insisting that vengeance or punishment is necessary for repentance, because Augustine says that “repentance is vengeance punishing,” and so forth. We grant that vengeance or punishment is necessarily a part of repentance, but not as a merit or price like the adversaries imagine satisfactions are. Vengeance is part of repentance in a formal sense because regeneration itself occurs through an ongoing mortification of the old nature. The saying of Scotus may be quite beautiful, that poenitentia, penitence, is so called because it is, as it were, poenae tenentia, it holds punishment. But of what punishment, of what vengeance does Augustine speak? He certainly speaks of true punishment and vengeance, namely, contrition and real terrors. Nor do we exclude here the outward mortification of the flesh which follows true sorrow of the heart.

Pulling It Together

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ involves taking up one’s cross and following him. That means one is willing to die rather than stop trusting God. It also entails denying the old nature, a continual death to the old person. All of this takes place through ongoing repentance, or turning to Jesus and following him. This is what one who is reborn does, but it is not the cause of rebirth, or salvation. Nor is it the grounds for justification and forgiveness. One can only follow Jesus with faith. Our human natures cannot do this, either through reason or working at religion. Faith is the only response to Jesus’ invitation to, “Follow me.” 

Prayer: Give me the faith, Lord Jesus, to follow you. Amen. 

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