Beliefs

Core Beliefs

Summary

The statements below are based on the teachings found in the Lutheran Book of Concord. The Book of Concord is not a collection of contrived doctrines of men, but instead is a thorough and accurate representation of what Scripture itself says on many issues, including the ones following.  This webpage covers only a portion topics covered in its pages.  If there is something you want to know about which you do not see here, we strongly encourage you to search out the answers you seek from the Book of Concord itself and compare them to Scripture. We pray it would be a blessing to those of you that read it.

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The Revealed Nature of God
  • We believe, as the Bible has revealed to us, that there is one Divine Essence which is called God. This God is not only one in essence but yet is also eternal, without a body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. While there is one God, He is also three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is a divine mystery which can only be believed by faith. God is thus a Trinity that cannot be separated from one another or combined into one in any way that would mix the persons or make one superior or subservient to another.
The Fallen and Corrupt Nature of Man (Original Sin)
  • We believe that man was originally created by the hand of God and the breath of life was breathed into his nostrils. His wife was formed from his rib by the hand of God and when all was complete with creation, all was declared by God to be very good.  (Genesis 1:26-27)
  • Yet, while all was without sin and death, both sin and death were brought into the world by the sin of man. When Adam disobeyed the commands of God, as head of all creation, all of creation (humanity included) was cursed to die for the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)
  • This curse passed through our very bodies from Adam to the present day. It is a disease that corrupts us from our conception and leaves us unable to come into God’s kingdom without divine aid. (Psalm 51:5, John 3:5)
  • Further, our very flesh fights against us and drags us down into sin on top of sin, as we are powerless to stop it. (Romans 7:18-20)
The Work of the Law
  • The Law was given to man for three reasons. First, as an active curb, to maintain external discipline in society against wild and disobedient men. Second, as a mirror, it leads us to a knowledge and recognition of our sin.  Third, to guide the regenerate (Christians specifically) to know that, even though our sinful flesh still clings to us, we have a guide by which to regulate and direct our life in order to resist the flesh and the sin we are tempted to perform.
  • As a curb, the Law is what punishes us in this earthly existence when we live in opposition to God and his Law.  This is demonstrated in the punishments doled out by government when someone murders, steals, etc.
  • Second, it acts as a mirror of the righteousness of God. It is through the Law of God that we can even comprehend what is right and good versus what is evil and wrong.  Without the Law we can neither understand God’s complete righteousness, nor comprehend our utter sinfulness. (Romans 3:10-20, Psalm 143:2)
  • Last, the Law functions as a guide.  While the Law did bring a curse upon us because of our sinfulness (Galatians 3:10), we Christians are liberated from that curse. Our sin is covered by Christ’s perfect obedience to the Law and the Holy Spirit aids us in our daily fight against our flesh (Romans 6:1-14, Romans 7:15,18,23). However, we still live in a sinful world in our sinful flesh. We use the Law for daily instruction and as a rebuke against our sinful desires. Remembered and meditated on, God’s Law can aid in the spiritual discipline of living as best we can in this fallen world. (Psalm 1:1-2, 119:71, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Hebrews 12:8) Having the Commandments close to the heart aids in not only seeing the sin in our lives but also in resisting it.  It is a reminder of what is right in God’s eyes so that we may be strengthened to resist the temptations of the devil and our flesh and our own sinful desires. (Galatians 5:17, Romans 8:13, 1 Peter 5:8-9, Ephesians 4:27, 6:11-12)
  • It is important to note, the Law as a guide is the ues we think of most frequently on a day to day basis as Christians. However, we must be careful to understand the guidance given by the Law on how we are to act must not become our sole focus.  If we begin to judge ourselves based on our adherence or failure to keep the Laws of God, we are placing ourselves back under the Law and rejecting the Gospel of the grace of God without realizing it.  A Christian will either despair because they realize they aren’t keeping the Law as they should or their heart will be hardened by arrogance when they deceive themselves into thinking they are actually keeping the Law. Either result is perilous to the soul.  The Law as guide should not just guide us in our decision-making but also into thinking more deeply about the first and second use, as a mirror and curb.  It should remind us that we are indeed sinners.  Even when trying to do the right things we cannot measure up.  It should also remind us there are real punishments for ungodly behavior, even for us Christians who are forgiven of those sins.  In summary, the Law should show us our need for the Son of God and the saving work that Christ Jesus did for us.
The Son of God
  • The Son of God is the Word.  The Word assumed human nature and took on human flesh, becoming incarnate through the womb of the Virgin Mary. (John 1:1, 14)  As such, He possesses two natures; one divine, one human. These two natures are inseparably joined in one person, the second Person of the Holy Trinity.  There is one Christ, both true God and true man.  He truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried that through these mighty works He might reconcile the us to the Father and be a sacrifice not only for our actual sins, but to redeem us from the Original Sin of Adam and its consequences. (John 1:29)
  • Furthermore, He descended into hell and rose again from the dead on the third day.  He then ascended into heaven that he might sit and the right hand of the Father, taking up all authority in heaven and on earth.  He is to reign forever over all of creation.  He sanctifies all those that believe in Him by sending the Holy Spirit into their hearts to rule, comfort, make them alive, and defend them from the devil and the power of sin.  This same Christ Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead.
Christ and His wholly sufficient work for us (Justification)
  • This is the entire reason for which Jesus did everything in the previous statement.  His actions outlined above enabled Him to not only be just by ensuring the sins of the world were punished, but also to be merciful to the sinners that fell from righteousness.  He did this by paying the price himself.  Christ took on the entirety of the wrath of God while on the cross and as He was also God Himself, it did not utterly destroy Him.  In so doing, His redemptive work was completed as he declared “It is finished.”  By dying He paid the penalty of death that sin demands, yet death could not hold Him.  He broke the chains of death and returned to life, proving His is what He claimed, Jesus Christ our God.  Our God took all the punishment so that He may declare those who believe in Him righteous on the day of judgement because there are no punishments left to be doled out. (Romans 3:21-26, 4:5)  Instead He will place the robe of righteousness upon us and declare to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant. (Isaiah 61:10, Matthew 25:21,23)
Repentance
  • God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18) and all of the world has to answer to God for the ungodliness that is ours. (Romans 3:19-20)  Luther called this God’s Thunderbolt.  With the Law He strikes down all unrighteousness. (Jeremiah 23:29)  Note the actor in these verses.  The actor is not us; it is God.  We do not repent, God drives us to repentance.  It is passive rather than active contrition.  He confronts us with our sins, breaks our pride, and we experience the torture of a burdened conscience.  It brings a true sorrow of the heart, suffering, and the sensation of death.
  • Through this contrition we are prepared by God to receive the healing balm of the Gospel, which the Holy Spirit applies to us through the hearing of the Word and the receipt of His promises through the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Baptism. (Mark 1:15, Luke 24:27, Matthew 26:28, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21)
  • Simply put, repentance is where the Law and the Gospel meet.  The Law first does its work to create contrition in the heart of the sinner.  The reveals our sin and drives us to cling to Christ alone.  Then the Gospel, imparted to us by means of Word and Sacrament, comforts and soothes our consciences.
Free Will
  • We believe that a person does have freedom of the will to choose civil righteousness and to act in this world according to our own choices and reason.
  • However, we reject on Scriptural grounds that we have any capability acting of choosing anything that is spiritually righteous “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)  Instead, all righteousness worked in us is done so by the Holy Spirit alone and is simply received by us through Word and Sacrament. (Galatians 3:2-6)  Original Sin lives in us and it is the Holy Spirit that enables us to choose the spiritually good. (Romans 3:11, Psalm 14:3, 53:3)
Good Works
  • We believe that in God’s eyes, only the Christian can perform spiritually good works and an unbeliever can only perform spiritually corrupt works. (Matthew 7:18)  This is not because of the inherent quality of the works performed but instead because no work is holy in the eyes of God unless it is performed as a redeemed and forgiven child of God. (Romans 14:23)
  • We believe no work we do can reconcile us to God and that reconciliation is found only through the saving work of Christ. (Ephesians 2:8)
  • Yet we also believe “that is it God’s will, order, and Command that believers should walk in good works.” (Book of Concord: Solid Declaration IV 7) (Ephesians 2:10)
  • We believe that a faith that does not wish to do good for his neighbor is no faith at all. (James 2:14)
  • We believe that faith in Christ compels us to love our neighbor as ourselves. (John 4:21, 15:12, Matthew 22:39)
The Sacraments
  • A sacrament is nothing more than the Word of God combined with a physical element through which the promises of God are delivered.  Namely faith in Christ and the forgiveness of sins.
  • The Sacraments are The Lord’s Supper and Holy Baptism.
  • They were instituted by Christ to awaken and confirm faith in those who use them.
  • We believe they should be used rightly for they have meaning, purpose, show unity among though who participate, and are a work of the Holy Spirit for our salvation and edification. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
The Church
  • The Church is the Bride of Christ. (Revelation 19:7)  It is the congregation of the saints (Psalm 149:1) in which the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments rightly administered.  These are the essentials.  Traditions such as rituals, rites, or ceremonies that are instituted by humans are not by any means required for inclusion among the Bride.
The Return of Christ