So what is a Lutheran, anyway?
Lutherans are Christians. With the universal Christian Church, we teach and respond to the love of the Triune God: the Father, creator of all that exists; Jesus Christ, the Son, who became human to suffer and die for the sins of all human beings and to rise to life again in the ultimate victory over death and Satan; and the Holy Spirit, who creates faith through God’s Word and Sacraments. The three persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal, one God.
A little more specifically: Lutherans accept and preach the Bible-based teachings of Martin Luther that inspired the reformation of the Christian Church in the 16th century. The teaching of Luther and the reformers can be summarized in three phrases: Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone.
Grace Alone: 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.
Faith Alone: 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.
Scripture Alone: The Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the sole rule and norm for Christian doctrine.
Click the links to the right to
learn more about what we believe
The only true God is one in essence, three in persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. [Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 6:4; St Matthew 28:19-21]
God created all things out of nothing in six days. [Genesis 1,2]
Mankind was created perfect in the image and likeness of God. This means that Adam and Eve had perfect fear, love and trust in God alone. [Genesis 1:26,27] But this image and likeness was lost in the fall, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. [Genesis 3] From this point onward, every person is born in sin [Psalm 51:5], that is without fear, love and trust in God, and is guilty before God [Romans 3:9-18]. This inherited sin is called “original sin.” The punishment for this sin is death and damnation [Romans 3:23; 5:12].
For us and for our salvation, the Son of God took on man’s nature in the womb of the virgin Mary, and became man. [St John 1:14] His name is Jesus. [St Matthew 1:21] Jesus is God, coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. [St John 1:1; 20:28] Jesus has two natures: divine and human, which are forever united in the one person. He was truly born, suffered, was crucified and buried that He might be a sacrifice for all sin and reconcile us to the Father. [See Romans 4:25; St John 1:29; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23-25] On the third day He was resurrected from the dead, and, after appearing to His disciples, ascended in to heaven where He sits at the right Hand of God. [1 Corinthians 15:3-6; St Mark 16:19] Jesus is the only Savior of mankind. [St John 14:6; Acts 4:12]
We cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God by our own strength, merits, or works, but we receive forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith, when we believe that Christ suffered for us and that for His sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us. For God will regard and reckon this faith as righteousness. [Romans 3:21-26; 4:5; 5:1; Genesis 15:6; 2 Corinthians 5:19]
That we may obtain such faith, the Lord has instituted the office of the ministry, that is, provided the Gospel and the sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper). Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit, who works faith, when and where He pleases, in those who hear the Gospel. [St John 3:5-8; 17:17-20; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Acts 11:14; Romans 10:17]
Faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, so that it is impossible for faith not to be constantly doing what is good. So good works are necessary, not for salvation, but because God has commanded them. [1 Corinthians 9:9; Acts 5:29; St John 15:12; 1 John 4:11]
The church consists of holy believers and “sheep who hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.” [St John 10:3] Said another way, the church is the assembly of saints in which the Gospel is taught purely and the sacraments are administered rightly. [Ephesians 4:4,5; 1 Timothy 3:15]
Baptism is the work of the Lord Jesus [Ephesians 5:25,26] in which He gives the forgiveness of sins, rebirth, and salvation. [St Mark 16:16; St John 3:5; Acts 2:38,39; 22:16; Roman 6:3,4; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21] In baptism He puts His name on us, graciously making us His children. [St Matthew 28:19; Galatians 3:26,27] Following the Lord’s Word, we baptize infants. [St Matthew 28:19, ‘all the nations’; Acts 2:39, ‘and to your children’]
In the Lord’s Supper (or Holy Communion, or the Sacrament of the Altar) the Lord Jesus Himself serves us His true Body and Blood in the bread and wine for the forgiveness of our sins. [St Matthew 26:26-28; St Mark 14:22-24; St Luke 22:19,20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26] We practice closed communion, the teaching that unity in doctrine is necessary before unity in communion.
The Lord Jesus has given His church on earth the unique authority to bind or loose sins. [St Matthew 16:19; 18:18; St John 20:22,23] The Absolution is the loosing and forgiving of sins. We practice both public and private absolution. [See 2 Samuel 12:14]
Repentance consists of two parts: (1) sorrow over our sin and (2) faith in the promise of forgiveness. [St Matthew 11:28; St Mark 1:15; Colossians 2:11,12; Psalm 119:28; 1 Samuel 2:6] Repentance is not a choice or decision of man, but a gift granted by God. [1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:8,9; Acts 11:18; Lamentations 5:21; Psalm 80]
Jesus will suddenly come again to the earth, call all the death forth (the resurrection) and judge the quick and the dead. [1 Corinthians 15; St John 14:1-4; St Mark 13:32; St Matthew 24; 2 Peter 3:10] All false notions of an earthly kingdom (called millennialism) are rejected. [St John 18:36]