The pastor, like the apostles and prophets of old, is given a two-fold office for the sake of the salvation of souls. That is, he is to proclaim both God's wrath against sin, and His grace to deliver sinners from both sin and His wrath. St. John the Baptizer makes it clear this office is not always met with great joy and success, nor may the one called to serve in it diminish its message.
1 The New Testament keeps and urges this office ‹of the Law›, as St. Paul does when he says, "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" (Romans 1:18). Also, "the whole world may be accountable to God.… No human being will be justified in His sight" (Romans 3:19-20). And, Christ says, the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin (John 16:8).
2 This is God's thunderbolt. By the Law He strikes down both obvious sinners and false saints. He declares no one to be in the right, but drives them all together to terror and despair. This is the hammer. As Jeremiah says, "Is not My word like … a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" (23:29). This is not active contrition or manufactured repentance. It is passive contrition, true sorrow of heart, suffering, and the sensation of death.
3 This is what true repentance means. Here a person needs to hear something like this, "You are all of no account, whether you are obvious sinners or saints ‹in your own opinions›. You have to become different from what you are now. You have to act differently than you are now acting, whether you are as great, wise, powerful, and holy as you can be. Here no one is godly."
4 But to this office of the Law, the New Testament immediately adds the consoling promise of grace through the Gospel. This must be believed. As Christ declares, "Repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). That is, become different, act differently, and believe My promise. (paragraphs 1-4)
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.
Lord grant you faith in His grace alone for your salvation unto eternal life. Amen