What We Believe
Above all, our faith as Lutheran Christians is centered on Jesus Christ! We trust what He has done for us as our Savior, we listen to His Word, we receive His blessings in the Sacraments, and we live our lives in love for Him and our neighbors. Here are some main points about what we believe, teach, and confess as Lutherans:
The Triune God - As revealed in Scripture and as taught by the Christian Church since its inception, we believe in One God in Three Divine Persons. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, yet One True God, and so we call Him "triune" or "The Holy Trinity." The three historic Christian Creeds which we adhere to (the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds) express this faith in the Three Persons of the Trinity.
Christ Alone - Jesus Christ is the focus of our faith. He alone came to be our Savior by living a holy life, dying a sacrificial death on the cross, and rising again to destroy sin and death for us. "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Grace Alone - We are saved by the grace (undeserved love and kindness) of God. We cannot contribute anything to our salvation. Forgiveness, new life, and eternal salvation are all gifts from God! "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).
Faith Alone - We receive these blessings by faith - trusting Christ and what He has accomplished for us at the cross and empty tomb. This is the Gospel, which means the "Good News" of Jesus, through which God the Holy Spirit calls people to faith. "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).
Scripture Alone - God's inspired Word, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, is the sole source and standard for what we believe, teach, and practice. Both the message and ministry of the Church must always be evaluated on the basis of God's Word. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).
Law and Gospel - Lutheran Christians summarize the two main themes and messages of the Bible as "Law and Gospel." In the Law, God shows us what we are meant to do and not do. The Law reveals our sin and our great need for a Savior. The Ten Commandments are a great example of God's Law. The Gospel shows that Jesus is our Savior from sin, from God's righteous wrath, from hell, from hopelessness, and much more. The Gospel is all about God's initiative and all the blessings He graciously pours out on us. A great example of the Gospel is the beloved Bible verse, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
Holy Baptism - Christian Baptism was instituted by Jesus Himself. Lutherans describe Baptism as a "Sacrament," meaning a sacred act combining tangible elements with God's promise of forgiveness. (God's Word and Sacraments can also be called His "means of grace.") Baptism is commanded by Jesus: "Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). The Greek term, baptize, means "to wash." Baptism is a washing which combines God's Word with ordinary water to "wash away your sins" (Acts 22:16). The Apostle Paul teaches, "Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word" (Ephesians 5:25-26). Lutherans baptize individuals of all ages, including infants and young children, because we trust Jesus' Word that Baptism is His gift for "all nations," regardless of age or intellectual ability.
Holy Communion - Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion (also known as the Lord's Supper, the Sacrament of the Altar, or the Holy Eucharist) on the night before He suffered and died on the cross. Trusting Christ's own words, we believe that in Holy Communion, we receive both the bread and wine and Christ's true body and blood, given and shed for our forgiveness. Because participating in Holy Communion is a confession of faith, and because Communion can be received both one's good or harm (1 Corinthians 11:23-29) those who are members of another church or denomination or who have not yet been instructed in the Lutheran faith, are asked to visit with the pastor prior to communing at St. Matthew.
The Lutheran Church - please visit the "Lutherans" page of our website to learn a little more about the background of Martin Luther and the origin of Lutheran churches.
Interested in learning more? If you have other questions or are interested in taking an instruction class at St. Matthew, please contact our pastor. Luther's Small Catechism is another simple resource for getting to know our faith. You can also visit the The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod homepage, or check out some of the Frequently Asked Questions on the LCMS FAQ page.