By the Law God 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 not manufactured repentance. It is true sorrow of heart, suffering, and the sensation of death.
This is what true repentance means. 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, whether you are as great, wise, powerful, and holy. No one is godly."
But to 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). Become different, act differently, and believe My promise. John the Baptist (preceding Christ) is called a preacher of repentance, but this is for the forgiveness of sins. John was to accuse all and convict them of being sinners, so they can know what they are before God and acknowledge that they are lost. So they can be prepared for the Lord to receive grace and to expect and accept from Him the forgiveness of sins. This is what Christ says, "Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in [My] name to all nations" (Luke 24:47). (paragraphs 2-6)
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