More Luther on Repentance

I was really impressed with some of the evangelical truth that is contained in some of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. Consider the first four theses, in which Luther introduces the doctrine of repentance. If he were alive today, I think I could guess which side of the Lordship debate Luther would come down on, couldn’t you?

1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.

3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.

4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

Now, let us consider how he elaborates on repentance in the Smalcald Articles:

Article III: Repentance
This office [of the Law] the New Testament retains and urges, as St. Paul, Rom. 1, 18 does, saying: The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.Again, 3, 19: All the world is guilty before God. No man is righteous before Him. And Christ says, John 16, 8: The Holy Ghost will reprove the world of sin.This, then, is the thunderbolt of God by which He strikes in a heap [hurls to the ground] both manifest sinners and false saints [hypocrites], and suffers no one to be in the right [declares no one righteous], but drives them all together to terror and despair.This is the hammer, as Jeremiah says, 23, 29: Is not My Word like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

This is not activa contritio or manufactured repentance, but passiva contritio [torture of conscience], true sorrow of heart, suffering and sensation of death.This, then, is what it means to begin true repentance; and here man must hear such a sentence as this: You are all of no account, whether you be manifest sinners or saints [in your own opinion]; you all must become different and do otherwise than you now are and are doing [no matter what sort of people you are], whether you are as great, wise, powerful, and holy as you may. Here no one is [righteous, holy], godly, etc.

But to this office the New Testament immediately adds the consolatory promise of grace through the Gospel, which must be believed, as Christ declares, Mark 1,15: Repent and believe the Gospel, i.e., become different and do otherwise, and believe My promise. And John, preceding Him, is called a preacher of repentance, however, for the remission of sins, i.e., John was to accuse all, and convict them of being sinners, that they might know what they were before God, and might acknowledge that they were lost men, and might thus be prepared for the Lord, to receive grace, and to expect and accept from Him the remission of sins.

Thus also Christ Himself says, Luke 24, 47: Repentance and remission of sins must be preached in My name among all nations. But whenever the Law alone, without the Gospel being added exercises this its office there is [nothing else than] death and hell, and man must despair, like Saul and Judas; as St. Paul, Rom. 7, 10, says: Through sin the Law killeth. On the other hand, the Gospel brings consolation and remission not only in one way, but through the word and Sacraments, and the like, as we shall hear afterward in order that [thus] there is with the Lord plenteous redemption, as Ps. 130, 7 says against the dreadful captivity of sin.

However, we must now contrast the false repentance of the sophists with true repentance, in order that both may be the better understood.

Of the False Repentance of the Papists.
It was impossible that they should teach correctly concerning repentance, since they did not [rightly] know the real sins [the real sin]. For, as has been shown above, they do not believe aright concerning original sin, but say that the natural powers of man have remained [entirely] unimpaired and incorrupt; that reason can teach aright, and the will can in accordance therewith do aright [perform those things which are taught], that God certainly bestows His grace when a man does as much as is in him, according to his free will.
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3 responses

  1. Head

    this is tail, humbly wagging hereon!

    so please don’t convert to Dobberman, ok?

    Me thinks you are gaining the Mind of Christ?

    I was just pondering David the King and Paul the Apostle. [YES, WE HAVE LIBERTY TO PONDER, JUST READ “CHRISTIAN LIBERTY” BY BROTHER MARTIN THEN]

    Might I push Him/them forward for my replies?

    Oh, ok, thanks, I will::::>

    2 Samuel 22

    “22:1 ¶ AND David spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies and out of the hand of Saul;”


    2 Samuel 23

    “23:1 ¶ NOW these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse, the anointed one whose rule has been established, the one whom the God of Jacob has made the sweet psalmist of Israel said,

    When you read Psalm 18, 2 Samuel 22 and then those famous all inspiring WORDS OF KING DAVID of 2 Samuel 23:1-7 and PAUL THE APOSTLE’s last words to the Ehpesian elders, Acts 20:17-35

    Acts 20:17 ¶ And from Miletus he sent and called the elders of the church of Ephesus.


    What in the jolly green giant is the Lord up to these days?

    Well, I think, I believe and so I type hereon, that the Lord is ruling from His High and Holy Place, that place of Eternal Glory where we too are seated, conjoined to Him by the Hand of God Almighty! [Ephesians 2]

    Both these men during their reign, the King, the Apostle, wrote about the same conflicts of repentance and total restoration and reformation from the OLD SELF.

    Each of them were bloody men.
    Each of them in service to God went grossly astray!

    Each of them seemed to struggle with their own mortality; that same sin nature as me, that I just can’t get out of my FLESH, no matter how many prayer meetings I pray under the anointed One’s breath, [He doesn’t have bad breath! noticed?] or how many revivals and spiritual enlightenment conferences I attend.

    They both still have a purpose and a service to the Church and to the World today.

    The world can find realization and revelation as Brother Martin did too:::> you can be forgiven and your sins will not be held over to condemn you to the lake of Fire when you die and pass away out of this earthly life.

    I got a revelation one day about the Devil and where he will spend eternity. He will go to Hell, that place called the Lake of Fire.

    God does not forgive ANGELS.


    He does forgive me though!

    I know and you are free to ask my wife and my pastors if I need forgiveness continually!



  2. Oh my, waxing eloquent today, are we?

    Fear not, Tail, I’m no Doberman, but a mere Dachsund! : )

    Those readings on Paul and David in conjunction with Luther’s writing on repentance sound like they’ll be very edifying and beneficial. I’ll get to it ASAP. Thanks for the references.

  3. Well at least you are not a BOBCAT!

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