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Concerning Repentance – part 47
Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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Matthew 11:28–30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

As the adversaries expressly condemn our statement that people obtain the remission of sins by faith, we shall add a few proofs from which it will be understood that the forgiveness of sins is not obtained ex opere operato because of contrition, but through that special faith by which people believe that sins are forgiven. For this is the main subject which we contend over with our adversaries, and which we believe all Christians must understand. Since it is clear that we have spoken sufficiently already about this topic, we shall now be briefer. For the doctrines of repentance and justification are very closely related.

Pulling It Together: Being sorry for our sin does not merit forgiveness. You probably heard a retort something like this at some point in your life: “Sorry doesn’t fix what you broke.” Sin breaks our relationship with God and being sorry about it is not enough to effect repairs. It is a good start but it is insufficient. So, the typical response is to try to placate God through offerings, changed lives, or other forms of devotion. We soon see the error of our ways. The harder we try to change, be good, and make God happy with us, the more we see that we cannot accomplish our goals. We continue to sin in thought, word, and deed; and we do so by those things we have done as well as things we should have done.

So, the sooner we give up our religious scruples, the better our chances of not driving ourselves crazy, along with everyone around us. Instead of working so hard to be good enough for God, carrying on our shoulders the burdens of sin, contrition, and a variety of religious anxieties and fears, let us trust Christ to satisfy God. His yoke is so easy: believe in him instead of yourself and your fastidious religious practices. Have faith in Christ, and you will find rest for your soul.

Prayer: Teach me the way of faith, Lord. Amen. 

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