I did warn you that we’d be back in Hebrews 10. But there’s something semicontinuous we have to deal with first.
Semicontinuous First Reading - 1 Samuel 2:1-10
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
— 1 Samuel 2:6
Verse 6 is quoted in Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 12: Repentance (AP 12.50) as one of many scriptural citations Melanchthon uses to show that repentance consists of the movement from contrition (being sorry for having sinned) to faith (believing God’s forgiveness in Jesus). This is as opposed to the Catholic teaching of the time that acts of penance were necessary before forgiveness would be given by God. Repentance begins, argues Melanchthon and others who agree with Luther, in being sorry for sinning.
Verse 6 is also quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 6: Third Use of the Law (SD 6.12). Here the argument is how the Spirit works both as reproof of sin and empowering good works. Stated another way, this verse shows that the Spirit kills the old person in us and raises up the new person in us. So, yes, there is a parallel between repentance and how the Spirit brings about good works (one of which might be repentance itself…).
Hebrews 10:11-14 [15-18] 19-25
Hebrews 10:5-16 is cited in a footnote to Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article 24: The Mass (AP 24.20, n. 500) as a place where scripture delineates the difference between offerings for the forgiveness of sin and offerings of thanksgiving and shows clearly that the first type does not forgive sin in the same way that Jesus’ sacrifice forgives sin. The blood of animals makes one forgives according to the law, but does not makes the sinner righteous.
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
— Hebrews 10:14
As I mentioned last week, we come back to Hebrews 10 as cited in The Augsburg Confession, Article 24: Mass (AC 24.26). There was a serious concern among those calling for reform that the Catholic church had misread scripture about what happens in the mass and on the cross. If Jesus’ death only covered original sin and not all sins, if communion could forgive the sins of the dead, if paying for a mass to be said for you counted, then God’s love is null and void because what matters is the work of doing a mass and not faith. The consistent refrain here is that faith makes the sacraments efficacious.
Anything that teaches or gives the impression that it’s “enough” to just go through the motions means that everything comes down to works, which just can’t be right. Belief that Jesus’ death is the reason your sins are forgiven is what makes communion powerful. Paying for a mass to be said for you or a loved one might be a good fundraising scheme, but it is not good news, and if it’s not good news, it shouldn’t be what the church is teaching or proclaiming.
Here’s the good news: God loves you and has proven that love in dying for you. You are saved from eternal condemnation by God’s love, freely given. Faith in this good news inspires repentance and brings about good works in believers.