Faith is conceived and strengthened through Absolution, through the hearing of the Gospel, through the use of the Sacraments, so that it may not give in to the terrors of sin and death. This method of repentance is plain and clear. It increases the worth of the Power of the Keys and of the Sacraments. It illumines Christ's benefit and teaches us to make use of Christ as Mediator and the Atoning Sacrifice.
Christ says, "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Here there are two parts. The "labor" and the burden signify the contrition, anxiety, and terrors of sin and death. To "come to" Christ is to believe that sins are forgiven for Christ's sake. When we believe, our hearts are brought to life by the Holy Spirit through Christ's Word. Here, therefore, are these two chief parts: contrition and faith. In Mark 1:15, Christ says, "Repent and believe in the gospel." In the first clause He convicts of sins, and in the second He comforts us and shows the forgiveness of sins. Believing the Gospel is in the proper sense is believing that the forgiveness of sins has been granted for Christ's sake. This is revealed in the Gospel. Here the two parts are joined: contrition when sins are rebuked; and faith when it is said, "Believe in the gospel." For this satisfies us, that contrition and faith are named as the chief parts. (paragraphs 42-45)
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.