What We Believe

We believe we are saved through Christ by...

Grace is something that is undeserved but given freely nonetheless. God loves the people of the world, even though they are sinful, rebel against Him and do not deserve His love.  He sent Jesus, His Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly through His death and resurrection.  Humans have always struggled with trying to earn their salvation. Every religion throughout history has told us that we must be "good enough" and earn favor with their divine entity by following certain rules. True Christianity is different. Though we recognize the Law of God as good since it shows us what God desires for His creation, it also acts as a mirror that shows that as long as we are in our earthly flesh we will always make mistakes and always struggle with sin. In this way, the Law shows our need for a Savior, someone who can perfectly follow the Law and then die as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. That person is Jesus Christ, true God and Man. He didn't have to come to earth to die and raise again. He did so out of love for us. That is Grace!

 

By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for them. Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him. We are not saved by meeting a quota of good works or acting "Holy enough". Good works simply flow naturally from a heart that is grateful for what Christ has done. They are the "fruit" on our tree but the "roots" are faith. Our neighbor needs our good works, not God. He simply desires that we believe the words of Scripture as they bear testimony to Jesus Christ. This is Faith alone!

 

The Bible is God's inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ.  All of scripture points us to Jesus Christ and His death and Resurrection. All Lutheran doctrine is based on Scripture alone.  Any teaching or idea is filtered through the Word of God and is only seen as true if it agrees with Scripture. Our Lutheran Confessions are held as true because they fit this criteria. If they opposed scripture, we would not confess them as true. 

 

With the above mentioned "Solas" in mind (Sola= Alone i.e Sola Gratia = Grace Alone, Sola Fide = Faith Alone, Sola Scriptura = Scripture Alone) Lutherans believe in what we call "the Means of Grace." These are simply the means by which God gives us His gifts of grace, which are received by faith and made known to us through Scripture. 

The Word

The Word of God itself is a Means of Grace. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tell us that 

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."

And Hebrews 4:12-13 states

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

Scripture is not merely words on a page or words spoken out loud. It is living and active. It is the power of God through Christ Jesus who Himself is the "Word made flesh." God created the heavens and the earth by simply speaking, and His Word still holds that same power. It can create and sustain faith, comfort, convict, give forgiveness, sanctify and more. It is this Word of God that, when combined with a visible element, gives power to the Sacraments:

Baptism (Word + Water = Grace!)

You may be familiar with language like "giving your heart to Jesus" or "choosing" Him. However, scripture makes clear that before faith we are dead in our trespasses.

"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience..." Ephesians 2:1-2

The dead can not choose nor give anything. God, in His grace, reaches down and pulls us from the grave in order to give us new life. Baptism is not a work we do for God, but something He does for us! When plain, simple water is combined with the Word of God "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"  it becomes a sacrament.  The visible water nor the person physically baptizing nor the one being baptized are doing the work. But God is doing the work through His Word. Baptism creates faith, raises a dead soul to life, and adopts the person as a child of God! It forgives all sins committed prior and all that will ever be committed again. It is the beginning of the Christian life!

"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:3-11

Because Baptism is God's Work and not ours, there is no requirement that a person reach a certain age or level of understanding before they can be baptized into Christ's family! We baptize everyone from infants to elderly and at all levels of cognition, trusting that the Holy Spirit will create faith in their heart. 

Holy Communion (Word + Bread and Wine = Grace!)

Communion isn't simply a symbol but is Christ's body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine. When received by faith, it gives forgiveness of sins and nourishes faith. The Word of God, when combined with the bread and wine, offers these things just as Christ promised in Matthew 26:26-28

"Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you,  for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

Lutherans believe Christ's words at face value. When He says the bread "is" His body and the wine "is" His blood, we believe Him. And we believe all He promises to deliver in His Body and Blood. See what Martin Luther wrote about the Words of Instituion:

"[Y]ou must above all else take heed to your heart, that you believe the words of Christ, and admit their truth, when he says to you and to all, “This is my blood, a new testament, by which I bequeath you forgiveness of all sins and eternal life. [. . .] Everything depends, therefore, as I have said, upon the words of this sacrament. These are the words of Christ. Truly we should set them in pure gold and precious stones, keeping nothing more diligently before the eyes of our heart, so that faith may thereby be exercised. [. . .] So if you would receive this sacrament and testament worthily, see to it that you give emphasis to these living words of Christ, rely on them with a strong faith, and desire what Christ has promised you in them.” [1]

Since we believe that Christ's body and blood are truly present in this Sacrament and since we also publicly confess our unity of faith and doctrine by participating in it, it is important that all who partake share in this unity. Visitors who are not members of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod are asked to speak with the Pastor before communing at our altar.  He will also answer any questions you may have about the sacrament.

 

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it [...]

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. " John 1:1-5 & 14

God is infinite, omnipotent and all powerful. When Adam and Eve first brought sin into the world, He could have stayed on His heavenly throne and watched from a distance as humanity lost all hope. But He didn't. He promised a savior. The Old Testament records God's people waiting for that savior and God continuously rescuing them even as the strayed from Him over and over. Finally in the New Testament, the Messiah arrives. But He didn't look like many of the Jewish people expected. Many expected a king in flowing robes and sparkling jewels. Many expected a political leader that would free them from the oppression they had suffered at the hands of other nations. Many expected a leader of armies who would wipe out their enemies. Yet God chose to become incarnate, in human flesh as Christ Jesus. He came as a baby, born to a virgin and adoptive father of humble origins. He grew up among the people, eating like us, drinking like us, walking like us, facing the pain and temptation that we face. Isaiah 53:2-3 prophesied this:

"For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not."

God chose to come to us in a physical form, just as He still comes to us, through His Word, in the physical elements of the Sacraments. And just like Jesus Himself, they don't look like we expect. They don't appear grand and magnificent. They are simple, humble, and lowly. But just as Jesus was both true God and true man, they hold the same divine power as the Word made flesh. Our faith sees beyond the mere physical to the one who Isaiah went on to describe: 

"Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all." -Isaiah 53:4-6

Jesus came for you! The God of the universe, took the form of a servant and was put to death FOR YOU! By His wounds, you are healed!

"He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption." Hebrews 9:12

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace..." Ephesians 1:7

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

For more information on what we believe, feel free to speak to our Pastor or browse the more in depth explanations of beliefs of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

[1] Luther, The German Mass and Order of Service, WA 12: 96, 20–27; LW 53:79–80. Emphasis added.

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