The adversaries say that sin is pardoned because a contrite person brings forth an act of love to God, and by this act deserves the forgiveness of sins. This is nothing but teaching the Law, the Gospel being blotted out, and the promise about Christ being abolished. For they require only our works because the Law demands love. Besides, they teach us to be confident that we obtain forgiveness of sins because of contrition and love. What else is this than to put confidence in our works, not in God's promise about Christ? But if the Law is enough for receiving the forgiveness of sins, what need is there of the Gospel? What need is there of Christ if we receive forgiveness of sins because of our own work? We, on the other hand, call consciences away from confidence in their own works to confidence in the promise and Christ. We do so because the Gospel presents Christ to us and freely promises the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake. In this promise it asks us to trust, namely, that we are reconciled to the Father for Christ's sake, not for the sake of our own contrition or love. For there is no other Mediator or Atoning Sacrifice than Christ. Neither can we do the works of the Law unless we have first been reconciled through Christ. We must believe that for Christ's sake, as Mediator and Atoning Sacrifice, we receive the forgiveness of sins. (paragraphs 75-76)
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.