What is Repentance? (What do Lutherans Believe?: Part 5)

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This is a seven-week devotion by Pastor Ricky Jacob, of Winnebago, Nebraska.
(Read the full series here)

It is still all about Jesus.

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. Some of you may wonder, just what do we Lutherans believe?

Today, I will attempt to summarize just one of the chief articles of faith that we Lutherans believe and teach, based solely on the sacred Word of God.

Today's chief article of faith: What is Repentance?

Our Lutheran churches teach that those who have fallen after baptism can receive forgiveness of sins whenever they are converted and that the church ought to impart absolution to those who return to repentance.

Properly speaking, repentance consists of these two parts. One is contrition, that is terror, submitting the conscience with the knowledge of sin. The other is faith, which is born of the Gospel or of absolution. Belief that sins are forgiven, for Christ's sake, conforts the conscience and delivers it from terror. Then, good works, which are the fruits of repentance, are bound to follow.

Repentance, in other words, is not about paying God off or making some satisfaction for our sins. Repentance is recognizing the reality of our sin and turning to God, in faith, for his mercy. 

God reveals our sin through his law. He forgives our sin and restores us to the right relationship with Him through his Gospel.

While we affirm that there is fruit of repentance, the focus of the Gospel must be clear. Our sins are forgiven only because of Christ. Our lives in Christ are lives of repentance, returning again and again to the source of that mercy, our Savior.

Repentance should produce good fruit. These good fruit are what the commandments teach: prayer, thanksgiving, the confession of the Gospel, teaching the Gospel, obeying parents and rulers, and being obedient to one's calling. We should also speak the truth. These fruit are God's command and should be produced for the sake of God's glory. 

Pastor Ricky Jacob
Winnebago, Nebraska