The adversaries condemn our statement that people obtain the forgiveness of sins by faith. Forgiveness of sins is received not by the outward deed because of contrition, but by faith that sins are pardoned for him. For this is the chief article that we regard is necessary to all Christians.
The adversaries say that faith comes before repentance. They understand faith this way: not that faith justifies, but that, in a general way, it believes that God exists, punishes the wicked, and so on. In addition to this faith, we require that each one believe that his sins are pardoned. We are arguing for this specific faith that asks us to trust in Christ's promise. This faith overcomes terrors and makes the conscience peaceful. We attribute justification and regeneration to this faith, since it frees from terrors and produces peace and joy, and also a new life in the heart.
We do not see what benefit Confession has without absolution. Paul teaches that the promise cannot be received except by faith (Romans 4:16). Absolution is the promise of the forgiveness of sins. If the heart doubts, it regards those things that God promises as uncertain and of no account. So, it is written, "Whoever does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning His Son" (1 John 5:10). (paragraphs 59-62)
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.