In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite ("Repent ye"- Matt. 3:2, Mark 1:15, repeated by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:38), willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.
3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.
4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven."
The thesis go on to explain why this puts the system of "indulgences" out of line with Scripture, because if Christians are going to be repenting daily until they reach Heaven, then they can't buy a pardon with money. Indulgences are supposed to be pardons bought by a believer to short-cut your penance time on earth after repenting to a priest, and/or to short-cut your time in purgatory. As important as that debate was, and still is (this all flows out of unBiblical doctrines of the need for penance and purgatory...the ways you can get indulgences are just as unBiblical, often having nothing to do with living a lifestyle of repentance, and, it's just not prescribed in Scripture, no matter how systemized it's become now, and it has), my favorite thesis are these first four.
They comfort me because they remind me that I'm supposed to have to keep repenting! I'm SUPPOSED to! I will always have sin in my life and heart to confess and of which to repent. The Lord's justification is complete, but His sanctification of me won't be until I wake up dead (woohoo!). This is so encouraging to this "Sad Moralist" (read Elyse Fitzpatrick's Because He Loves Me, chapter 7) because I tend to get depressed at how much sin I still see in myself!
They convict and spur me on because they remind me that I MUST be repenting and confessing, not just sliding along, doing what I've always been doing.
Praise God for His mercy and grace which chose ME before the foundations of the world to be adopted into His family, as His daughter!! Not because of anything good I'd done (because...I um,... really haven't done anything good. Anything good I've done has been since being converted, and well, that was all Him! Gal 2:20), but just because He's good. And praise God for His continued mercy and forgiveness, as I daily must and should repent, and daily am forgiven!! No penance or wallowing in guilt is needed... instead, as Luther pointed out, a repentant heart will overflow into changed actions! Lastly, praise God for His continued keeping and love for His Bride, the Church. He is committed to making her pure and spotless, by the washing of the Word and Spirit through all the ages until He comes to marry her (Eph 5:27). We sure have a lot of ground left to cover, but He has never abandoned us!!! Amen!