Regardless of where you are in your journey of faith, questions come up concerning the faith as well as other real and difficult issues. While we cannot anticipate all of your questions, we can provide you with a brief overview of the beliefs we hold that shape and mold us. These teachings guide us in all our thinking, speaking and doing, even in answering the difficult questions of life.
WHY we believe what we believe:
Everything we believe as Lutherans is shaped by the Bible. We believe that the Bible is the Word of God. It is authored by God and written by people. As fully authored by God, the Bible is entirely trustworthy and the sole authority for our teaching. As fully written by people, we recognize that the Bible has been written in human language, genre, and historical settings. The Bible teaches us everything we need to know about God, ourselves, and the love God has shown for us in Jesus Christ. (John 10:35; Mark 8:38; John 14:26; Acts 24:14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21)
WHAT does the Bible teach:
There is only one God—the Triune God. The Bible teaches us that God is one and that there are three distinct persons within the Triune God, namely God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three are all equally God, united as God, but three distinct persons. While this teaching is beyond human understanding, it is made known to us in how God acts. God the Father has created us and all things. God the Son has become human to live the perfect life, suffer and die, and be raised again so that our self-inflicted separation from God would be ended. God the Holy Spirit brings us to faith that we might take hold of what God the Son has done and receive the gifts that are thereby ours. Yet these three distinct persons act together in total unity; they are one God. (Genesis 1:1-3; Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 3:16-17; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14)
But this relationship did not last. The Devil deceived Adam and Eve and they fell into temptation. They disobeyed God and broke their relationship with Him. Much as relationships today are broken by people’s actions, we, all humanity, broke relationship with God by our sin. This betrayal left the whole of humanity separated from God and sentenced to an eternally broken relationship.In the beginning, God made people in His image. He made people to be in special relationship to Him. God provided for them all their needs and loved them. People freely loved God and lived according to His good and gracious will.
Yet while we were enemies of God, God still loved us. He loved us so much that he sent His only Son to be our substitute. God’s Son was born and given the name Jesus because He came to save us from the consequences of our sin. Jesus did this by living a perfect life in relationship to God. But rather than receiving the benefit of that relationship, he took the punishment that we deserved upon himself. Jesus was crucified, dying on a cross. On the third day, his sacrifice was confirmed as sufficient when he was raised him from the dead. Now because of this loving act, all those who believe in what Jesus did for them have a new relationship with God. (Genesis 3:8-10; Genesis 6:5; Romans 8:7-8; Ephesians 2:1-10; Romans 3:21-26)
About “BEING SAVED”
Salvation is entirely a gift from God. Only by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are people delivered from their sentence of separation from God and declared innocent. Because of his work, everyone who believes in him has been restored to the relationship God intended from the beginning. There are no hoops to jump through, no special prayers we have to say, and no works we have to do. Jesus, in his work on the cross has done it all. (Galatians 3:13; Colossians 1:21-23; Hebrews 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19)
Even when we believe in Him, our faith is the work of God. We cannot reason our way to understanding God and what he has done for us; it is beyond comprehension to the person who does not believe. We need to be told and brought to the faith by something outside of us. The Holy Spirit does just that by bringing us to faith, making us grow in it, and sustaining us in the same. The Holy Spirit has promised to do this work through the means of grace: the Word of God, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Genesis 15:6; Romans 1:16-17; Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 6:11)
About GRACE and MEANS OF GRACE
Lutherans like the term grace. Grace is a free gift; it is given without any merit of the recipient. The greatest example of grace in the Christian faith is the act of Christ. Jesus died for us even though we were his enemies. His death was an act of sheer love.
The Means of Grace are the ways by which God brings that free gift to us. Lutherans talk about three means: the Word, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. The Word communicates God’s good news of forgiveness to us through the Bible, through individuals sharing their faith, through preaching, and through any other verbal form. Baptism conveys the grace of God through water and the word. In baptism God claims the person being baptized as his own and gives his Holy Spirit; it is the entry point into the Christian family. (John 3:5-6; Romans 6:4-14; Galatians 3:26-29; Colossians 2:11-14) The Lord’s Supper is another means by which Christians are strengthened in the good news. Our Lord Jesus gives himself, his own body and blood in a mysterious way, in the Supper to provide forgiveness of sins to those eating and drinking. This eating and drinking strengthens us for our journey of faith much as our daily meals strengthen us for our daily lives. In addition, the Lord’s Supper, also called Holy Communion, provides our closest connection to God as we await the perfect continual connection that we will have with him on the last day. In a similar way, it also strengthens our unity as a body of believers as we are gathered around him and the forgiveness he provides. (Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:14-21; 1 Corinthians 11:17-32; Hebrews 10:19-24)
About GOOD WORKS
As God fills the Christian with His gifts, Christians do good works. These works are not of benefit to our relationship with God but rather are the result of the relationship God has made with them. Confident that God takes care of all our needs and emboldened by God’s love for all people, Christians selflessly serve God through service in the world around them. (Galatians 5:22-24; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Hebrews 11:6; Titus 2:11-14)
About LIFE AFTER DEATH
At the end of all time, Jesus will return and judge the living and the dead. For believers this judgment will mean eternal life. For unbelievers this judgment will mean eternal death. This contrast encourages Christians to share with whomever we can the saving work of Jesus Christ. We want all people to rejoice in the gift of eternal life. (Matthew 24:44; Matthew 25:31-32; Mark 13:32; Titus 2:13; Revelation 1:7)
For a more thorough look at our beliefs, we invite you to contact Pastor Michael with your questions or participate in our next adult instruction class. You may also look at the Lutheran Confessions. Further information is also available at the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s website www.lcms.org. Thank you for your interest in our Christian faith. We hope to hear from you!