As Lutherans, We Inherit A Rich And Comprehensive Confession As Expressed In The Book Of Concord Of 1580. Below Is A Brief Treatment Of A Few Key Areas Of Our Beliefs.
The Bible is simply an old document like any other and thus fundamentally flawed and in need of constant reinterpretation.
The Bible was verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16), is perfect and unified in every way, and is entirely sufficient for every spiritual need (2 Tim. 3:17). This Bible contains two fundamental messages that both revolve around Christ: Law and Gospel. The Law is the message of what God demands from us (and what we know we can’t do), and the Gospel is God’s revelation of what Jesus Christ has done for us (John 5:39).
The Christian God is simply one in a million, and all religions have equally valid ways of getting to know Him. This Christian God in particular is an outdated social construct.
From nature and our consciences, we learn only that there is a higher power that demands we be perfect (Rom. 1:20). But from the Bible, we learn that there is one, Triune God (Father, Son and Spirit) fully revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Isa. 44:6, Matt. 28:19). In the past two-thousand years since Christ, the church has produced several short statements to help distinguish true teaching about Jesus from distortions. Three of these “creeds” – the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian – are recognized by Christians as accurate summaries of basic truths about Jesus. Besides this, the Lutheran Confessions, collected during the 1500s, are also reliable expositions of true Christian teaching.
Although maybe wise or an inspiring moral teacher, Jesus was just a human being who ultimately died a death like any other person.
When our imperfect natures made us unable to keep God’s law, Jesus was sent by the Father to fulfill the Law for us (Matt. 5:17). Since God is Jesus’ father, Jesus is one-hundred percent God and completely sinless. At the same time, being born by the virgin Mary, He became one-hundred percent human at the same time as he was and always has been 100% God. Even though completely God, Jesus took on the form of a servant and laid aside His full godly powers. Therefore, He endured suffering, temptation, and humbled Himself to a shameful death (Phil. 2:7,8). By suffering and dying, Jesus took the punishment that should have been ours. Through His perfect obedience He became a ransom for us (Isa. 53:6, Matt. 20:28). For this reason, Christians proclaim that the forgiveness of sins has been gained entirely through Jesus – that God has literally justified all people (2 Cor. 5:21). On the third day after His death, He rose from the dead and ascended, assuring us that He was who He claimed to be and that our sins were certainly forgiven (Rom. 4:25).
If there is, in fact, something wrong with people, we need to save ourselves; and people have the ability to save themselves. If there is a God, deep down there is enough good in each one of us to dig ourselves out of our problems or at least contribute something to save ourselves, even if that means at least committing our lives to Him.
Because Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, God now looks on us as His innocent children. Although we continue to struggle with sin, in God’s eyes we are completely justified. This forgiveness of sins that Christ won for us on the cross is completely and totally a free gift from God (Eph. 2:8,9). In no way, shape, or form do we deserve the gift; there is nothing we can do to accept the gift; and we cannot even cooperate with God in the reception of the gift (Eph. 2:8-9). Instead, God the Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts to receive this gift of justification (1 Cor. 2:14). Paul solidifies this fact when he says that we have been saved “by grace” (Eph. 2:8). Christ teaches that believers were chosen for salvation before creation (Eph. 1:4-6), but Christ does not teach that unbelievers were chosen for damnation before creation. Rather, the rejection of this gift is entirely the result of each person’s own will and has nothing to do with God’s will. Christ wishes all to be saved and gave His life for every person in the entire world (John 3:16).
The purpose of doing good in the world is to improve our own situation, to earn favor with others (even God), or because it simply makes us feel better about ourselves. What is in fact the right thing to do, though, is for each of us to decide on our own. No one person knows for sure what’s right and wrong, so no one should impose their morality on anyone else.
Christ’s life of love and His death on the cross moves us in love and gratitude to seek out a life pleasing to Him (John 15:5). The law that condemned us as unbelievers now becomes our guide in life, and, because of the working of the Holy Spirit on our hearts, we strive to take pleasure in living the way He originally designed us to live. The Ten Commandments remains for us a summary of the moral laws God wants us to live by, and they shape how we interact with God, each other, and society (Matt. 22:38-40). For example, one of the commandments teaches that all life is a gift of God. So we celebrate and cherish all life in whatever form it comes and reject abortion, suicide, and euthanasia. But God does not give us specific commands for every situation in life; instead, individuals are free to make decisions over many things that are neither forbidden nor commanded. In the end, though, no matter how well we think we pattern our lives after God’s Law, we realize that our works are still tainted by sin and that it’s only through Christ’s cross that God looks on us as His children and considers our works good (Rom. 7:18-21). The Holy Spirit enables us for this life of love, as well as equips us with all the spiritual gifts needed for spreading His Word and preserving our faith (1 Cor. 12:4-11). In the early church, the Spirit provided charismatic gifts (like healing and speaking in tongues), but these gifts functioned for the sole purpose of pointing people to Christ. It was recognized that these charismatic gifts were for establishing churches and were to be replaced in Christian maturity with faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 13:1-13)
If there is a God, He would not hide but always be out in the open. He would sustain His church with huge displays of power and authority coming to us in visions and direct intervention.
The message of salvation faith in God is given to us by the Holy Spirit simply, quietly, and mysteriously through what are called the Means of Grace: God’s Word, baptism, and communion. It is through the Word (the speaking of the gospel message) that people come to know Christ (Rom. 10:17), through baptism (the application of water with the word) that the Holy Spirit miraculously applies the gospel to sinners giving them new life (Tit. 3:5, Acts 2:38), and through communion (the Lord’s Supper) that Christ’s body and blood (present along with the bread and wine) is given for real forgiveness, comfort, and assurance in Christ’s work on the cross (1 Cor. 10:16). Through God’s Word and these two sacraments, God preserves and extends the Christian church throughout the world. These are the only means through which people can be brought to faith and to life in heaven (Matt. 28:19,20). These are not merely signs or symbols but powerful spiritual acts, directly commanded by Christ to spread and strengthen His church.
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