The term repentance is not used in the Holy Scriptures in one and the same sense. In some passages of Holy Scripture it is used and taken to mean a person's entire conversion. For example, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:5). And, "There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:7). But in Mark 1:15 and elsewhere, when repentance and faith in Christ (Acts 20:21), or repentance and forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:46-47), are mentioned as distinct, to repent means nothing other than to truly acknowledge sins, to be heartily sorry for them, and to stop doing them. This knowledge comes from the Law. It is not enough for saving conversion to God if faith in Christ is not added. The comforting preaching of the Holy Gospel offers His merits to all penitent sinners who are terrified by the preaching of the Law. The Gospel proclaims the forgiveness of sins, not to coarse and self-secure hearts, but to the bruised or penitent. The preaching of the Gospel must be added so that the repentance may lead to salvation and not to the Law's contrition or terrors.
Merely preaching the Law, without Christ, either makes proud people, who imagine that they can fulfill the Law by outward works, or forces them utterly to despair. Therefore, Christ reveals His wrath from heaven on all sinners and shows how great it is. (paragraphs 7-10)
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.