- THE BIBLE: The Bible and Lutherans teach that the Bible is the true word of God. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit. This means that God breathed into the writers the exact thoughts and words they were to write. (2 Timothy 3:16 & 2 Peter 1:20-21) As a result every statement in the Bible is the truth. (Colossians 1:5-6) One part of the Bible explains another part. It is the only guideline for the faith and life of Christians. We are to read and study it diligently. It clearly teaches all we need to know in order to obtain our eternal salvation.
- TRIUNE GOD: The Bible and Lutherans teach that there is only one true God. (Isaiah 45:22) This God is invisible, holy, eternal, and has all power and wisdom. In the Bible God reveals himself as three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19) This is why he is called “Triune.” These three persons in one God are all God. They are equal in power, glory, and in every other quality. To deny or ignore one person is to deny all of them. It is God who created, redeemed, and sanctified us.
- MAN & WOMAN: The Bible and Lutherans teach that men and women are a special creation of God. The first man was created from the dust of the earth. The first woman was made from the rib of man. They were created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:26-27) This means that they were without sin and had a perfect knowledge of God. (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:9-10) That image was destroyed when Adam and Eve first sinned and is being renewed in men and women through the working of the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament. (See previous passages). People have a soul which no other creature has. God gave us rule over all of his creation. Human beings only have a free will in external matters – i.e. to eat or not eat, to drink or not drink. But an unconverted human being cannot choose or do anything good in God’s eyes. (1 Corinthians 2:14, Hebrews 11:6, Genesis 8:21) Only the Holy Spirit, working through God’s Wordand Sacraments, can lead a person to trust,love, and please God.
- GOD THE FATHER: The Bible and Lutherans teach that God the Father is one of the three persons who are the Triune God. God is spirit. This means that he cannot be seen or confined to one place. He is called Father because he is the Father of Jesus Christ and of all who believe in Jesus. (John 20:17) He has created all things. He is holy, loving, and just. He continues to take care of all creation and all human beings.
- CREATION: The Bible and Lutherans teach that at the beginning of time God created heaven and earth and all creatures. He did this in six, normal 24-hour, days. He spoke his almighty word to create all things. He made everything out of nothing. Man and woman are God’s special creation. (Genesis 1 & 2)
- GOD'S LAW: The Bible and Lutherans teach that God wrote his law in people’s hearts at creation. The human conscience bears witness to that law. (Romans 2:14-15) The knowledge of the law was blurred in people’s hearts by sin. God repeated his law in the Ten Commandments. God’s law demands obedience in our thoughts, speech, and actions. It condemns all who sin. Therefore no one can be saved by keeping the law. (Romans 3:9-20) God’s law serves to show us our sins, to warn us of God’s anger against sin, and to guide us in our Christian life.
- SIN: The Bible and Lutherans teach that the first man and woman lost the image of God when they gave in to the temptation of Satan and disobeyed God’s command. This brought on them the judgment of God. (Genesis 3) Since that time all people inherit that sin. (Romans 5:12, 18-19) All people are conceived and born in sin(Psalm 51:5), desire to do what is evil(Genesis 6:5), and are dead spiritually (Ephesians 2:1-3). Therefore, we are unable to reconcile ourselves to God by our own efforts and deeds.
- THE GOSPEL: The Bible and Lutherans teach the gospel. The message of the gospel is the good news that a loving God sent Jesus Christ to take away the sins of all people. (John 3:16) This gospel freely offers to all sinners the righteousness that is found in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-24) God offers and gives eternal life and salvation to all those who believe in the gospel promises. (Romans 1:16-17)
- JESUS CHRIST: The Bible and Lutherans teach that Jesus Christ is the Savior of everyone. (Romans 5:18-19)He is the eternal Son of God, equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit. (John 10:30) He is also the son of the Virgin Mary. He became man to redeem all people. Taking our place, he lived a perfect life keeping the law of God for us. (Galatians 4:4) He also died as our innocent substitute on the cross to pay a price sufficient for everyone’s sin. (1 John 2:2) Jesus rose from the dead. (John 20) By doing so, Jesus showed that, our sin has been paid for (Romans 4:25), our death has been defeated (1 Corinthians 15:54-56), and we have eternal life in him (1 Corinthians 15:22-23). Jesus ascended into heaven. On the Last Day he will judge all the people who are still living and those whom he will raise from the dead. (Matthew 25:31-46 & 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
- REDEMPTION: The Bible and Lutherans teach that Jesus, who is both God and man, humbled himself by becoming a man and dying on the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)He did this toredeem all people from the judgment for sin, the fear of death, and thepower of the devil. (Galatians 3:13)He fulfilled the law perfectly and took on himselfthe guilt of all our sins. (2 Corinthians 5:21) He ransomed us by the sacrifice of his lifeon the cross. (Matthew 20:28) God has looked on Jesus’ death as our death for sin. The resurrection of Jesus is proof that God has accepted what Jesus did as payment for the sins of all people. (Romans 4:25)
- JUSTIFICATION: The Bible and Lutherans teach that God judged all sinners righteous in his sight when Jesus Christ died on the cross for us. God declared everyone free from the guilt and punishment owed for our sins. (Romans 5:18-19) The sinner receives this free gift of forgiveness, not by doing good deeds, but only by faith. A person is justified when he or she believes in Christ and his redemptive work. It is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8-9 & Romans 3:28)
- THE HOLY SPIRIT: The Bible and Lutherans teach that the Holy Spirit is true God equal to God the Father and God the Son. (Acts 5:3-4) He has names and characteristics which belong only to God. The Holy Spirit creates faith in our hearts through the gospel. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) He also keeps us in the faith and motivates us to do good works.
- CONVERSION: The Bible and Lutherans teach that conversion is the work of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God, through the gospel, calls us out of the darkness of sin into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9) He makes us alive, we do not. (John 3:3,6 and 1 Peter 1:23) We are completely powerless to save ourselves. We are completely unable to decide to follow God or reach out to him. He does the work of converting us according to his loving and gracious will. (Ephesians 2:1-10)
- SAVED THROUGH GRACE: The Bible and Lutherans teach that already before the world was created, God chose those individuals whom he would in time convert through the gospel and preserve in the faith to eternal life. (Ephesians 1:3-14 & Romans 8:29-30)This choosing is in no way caused by qualities or actions God had foreseen in the people whom he chose. This shows how completely salvation is ours by God’s grace alone. Grace is God’s undeserved love and mercy that he shows to all mankind through Jesus Christ.
- SAVED THROUGH FAITH: The Bible and Lutherans teach that faith is a repentant sinner’s Spirit-worked acceptance of Jesus Christ as his only Savior and full trust in the forgiveness of sins and salvationJesus won. (Hebrews 11:1 & Romans 4:21) Such faith is not a personal achievement or an act of human worthiness. The Holy Spirit creates faiththrough God’s Word and Sacraments. (Romans 10:17 & John 3:5-6) Whoever remains in this faith to the end of life will be saved eternally. (Revelation 14:13)Salvation is not possible without faith. (Mark 16:16)
- REPENTANCE: The Bible and Lutherans teach that repentance is an acknowledgment of sin and sincere regret for it. (Job 42:6) A repentant sinner also trusts that God will forgive sin for Jesus’ sake.(Luke 15:10) Repentance is God’s work in the sinner (Acts 5:31) through God’s Word and Sacraments. (Matthew 3:11 & Luke 24:47) Repentance is a condition of the heart without which no one can hope to be saved. (Revelation 2:16) Every truly repentant sinner is assured of God’s free and full pardon. Therefore, he or she will seek to forsake a sinful life and to live a holy life for God. (Acts 26:20)
- SANTIFICATION: The Bible and Lutherans teach that faith in Jesus Christ is living and active. (James 2:17) Therefore faith produces good deeds that are pleasing to God. (John 15:5) True faith, nourished by God’s Word, delights to do the holy will of God. In this sinful world, however, even the best works of a Christian are still dirtied with sin. (Isaiah 64:6) We will never be perfect in this life.(Romans 7:18-21) For Jesus’ sake, the imperfect efforts of a Christian are graciously considered acceptable by our Father in heaven. (Titus 2:13-14)
- PRAYER: The Bible and Lutherans teach that believers pray. In the name of Jesus, that is, trusting in his salvation, a believer confidently speaks to God. (Romans 5:1-2) We present to God our needs, praising him, thanking him, or interceding for others. (1 Timothy 2:1) Prayer is not a way to earn salvation. Christians pray because God commands us to pray and promises to answer our prayersaccording to his wisdom, will and timetable.(Matthew 7:7-11 & 1 John 5:14)
- THE CHURCH: The Bible and Lutherans teach that there is one holy, Christian Church. (Ephesians 4:4-6) It is made up of all who believe in Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)Since faith is a matter of the heart it is invisible. Only God knows who has faith and therefore is a member of the Holy, Christian Church. (1 Samuel 16:7)This invisible church is found wherever the gospel is proclaimed. (Isaiah 55:10-11) We call groups of people who come together to hear God’s Word the visible church. Unfortunately, such groups, because of sinfulness, also include hypocrites and defenders of false teachings. Religious association is to be practiced only with those who faithfully adhere to all of God’s Word. (Romans 16:17)
- BAPTISM: The Bible and Lutherans teach that baptism is a Sacrament. A Sacrament is something that is instituted by God, has a visible element, and offers the forgiveness of sins, new life, and salvation. Using water and God’s Word, Baptism offers and gives the forgiveness of sins, new life, and salvation. (Acts 22:16, Romans 6:3-4, 1 Peter 3:21)It is meant for sinners, young and old, including children. Infants also are sinful and therefore need the spiritual rebirth brought about through baptism. (Psalm 51:5 & Acts 22:16) See also: Ephesians 5:25-27, Titus 3:5, John 3:5, Galatians 3:26-27, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
- HOLY COMMUNION: The Bible and Lutherans teach that Holy Communion is Sacrament. A Sacrament is something that is instituted by God, has a visible element, and offers the forgiveness of sins, new life, and salvation. In Holy Communion we receive Jesus’ true body and bloodin, with, and under bread and wine (Matthew 26:26-28 & 1 Corinthians 10:16). In this special meal Jesus gives the forgiveness of sins, strengthens our faith, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe. (Matthew 26:28) Only people who repent of their sins and receive proper instruction in the Christian faith should be admitted to this sacrament. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
- ANGELS & HEAVEN: The Bible and Lutherans teach that to be in heaven is to be in the presence of God. In heaven are the holy angels, who are messengers of God, together with the souls of all who have died as believers. On Judgment Day all the dead shall rise. Then the souls of all believers will be reunited with a glorified body and live forever in heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44) This is a place of eternal joy where there will be no more tears or sorrow. (Revelation 21 & 22)
- THE DEVIL & HELL: The Bible and Lutherans teach that many of God’s angels sinned and became powerful evil spirits, called demons. They are enemies of God and believers. The devil (Satan) is their leader. Although God threw them down into hell, they tempt everyone to sin and seek to destroy a believer’s faith. On the Last Day all who have died without faith in Jesus Christ, will also be condemned to hell. (Matthew 25:41) Hell is a place of eternal torment and separation from God. (Mark 9:47-48)
- CREEDS: A creed is a statement of what a group of people believes and teaches. There are three statements of faith that are used throughout the Christian world--the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. The teachings in these creeds are taken from the Bible. These statements of faith distinguish Christians from all false teachers.
- UNITY OF THE CHURCH: The Bible and Lutherans teach that true unity of the church is evident when Christians agree in their confession to the doctrine revealed in Scripture. It is not necessary that all agree in matters of church ritual or organization. (Romans 14:17) The New Testament gives no commands about such matters. Those united in faith and doctrine will express their unity by joining in worship, communion, prayer, and church work. We cannot engage in religious association with those whose confession reveals that error is allowed, taught, or defended. (2 John 10-11)
- RELIGIOUS EDUCATION: The Bible and Lutherans teach that the religious education of children is the primary duty of parents and especially of the fathers. (Ephesians 6:4) The church may assist the parents by establishing schools and other organizations to teach Christian doctrine. Young people and adults should continue to read and study the Bible privately and through Bible classes offered by the congregation. We all will want to nurture and strengthen the faith that is in us and our children. Such study of the Scriptures also strengthens the family, the church, and the nation.
- CHRISTIANS & GOVERNMENT: The Bible and Lutherans teach that not only the Church, but also all governmental authority, is instituted by God. (Romans 13:1) Therefore Christians will be obedient to the government that rules over them unless the government commands them to disobey God. (Romans 13:5 & Acts 5:29) God gives the government the task of keeping good order and peace so that its citizens may live quiet and godly lives. (Romans 13:3-4)
- ABORTION & SUICIDE: The Bible and Lutherans teach that human life is the gift of a gracious God. Our life is a time of grace during which we have opportunity to learn the way of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Only God has the right to take the life he has given. (Deuteronomy 32:39)
- MARRIAGE & DIVORCE: The Bible and Lutherans teach that marriage is the life-long union of one man and one woman. (Matthew 19:4-6) It is a partnership in which the man is the loving head “as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:21-33). Marriage is established by God. (Genesis 2:24) A married person sins if he or she divorces without a biblical reason. (Malachi 2:14-16) Before God, no divorce is valid except in cases of fornication or desertion. (Matthew 19:9) The tendency to consider marriage as unimportant results in great harm to the family, the church, and the nation.