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Concerning Repentance – part 46
Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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Matthew 3:4–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

From all these verses, godly readers will easily see that we assign to repentance those parts which properly belong to it in conversion, or regeneration, and the remission of sin. Worthy fruits and punishments follow regeneration and the remission of sin. We have mentioned these two parts, so that the faith which we require in repentance will be better seen. The faith that the gospel proclaims can be better understood when it is contrasted with contrition and mortification.

Pulling It Together: Repentance, as has been stated here multiple times, is in two parts: sorrow about sin, and faith in the one who forgives sin. Sometimes, there is punishment for sin even though there has been forgiveness. Yet this punishment is not part of repentance; it is simply, either a consequence of sin or a blessed gift from God to aid one in not sinning. There should also be fruit of repentance, as John the Baptizer said to the Pharisees. “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” Again, this fruit is not repentance, otherwise John would have said, “Bear fruit so that you may repent,” or even “Bear the fruit of repentance.” Instead, we are to bear fruit that is an indication that we have truly repented.

These are important distinctions. Faith is different than sorrow or contrition. It is also different from devotion or works of penance. Faith stands apart, believing in the Redeemer whether there is an abundance or a scarcity of fruit. Yet there should be fruit in keeping with repentance nonetheless. This fruit follows repentance. It is not a third part of repentance for the understandable reason that God wants us to have faith in him, not in ourselves (Rom 3:27).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for redeeming me, a poor sinner. Amen. 

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