What We Believe?

 

The Lutheran Distinction

As followers of Jesus who stand in the tradition of Martin Luther we express our faith in Christ as summarized in the three “Solas” (a Latin term meaing “alone”) of the Reformation:

 

Sola Gratia – Grace Alone

God loves us unconditionally – that’s the meaning of grace, undeserved love.    We believe there is nothing we have to do or even can do to earn God’s love.  It is a free gift given by God to us though Jesus Christ.  There are no strings attached.  It is this grace, freely given, that “saves” us.  Only God Himself can restore our relationship with Him through his Son, Jesus Christ. (Eph 1:3-8, Eph 2:8-9)

 

Sola Fide – Faith Alone

Those who hear this Good News of Jesus and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him.  Faith means the same thing as trust.  We must trust that we receive God’s grace through Jesus.  Faith/trust is confidence in the promise God makes to us — a confidence that can never be conjured up through emotions, but can come only from outside ourselves.  Faith is the Holy Spirit working in our hearts, empowering us to rely on God’s promise.  (Gal 3:6-11, Eph 2:8-9)

 

Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone

Through the Bible, God reveals His grace and builds our faith.  These sacred Words are, quite simply, all about Jesus and His victory for us on the cross.  More than just a book, it is the very Word of God in which he reveals Himself to us.  It is through these Words that our understanding and relationship with God are formed and the path that he designed for our lives is made clear.  Scripture alone is our only source and resource for discovering God’s infinite grace and the practice of our faith. (Psalm 119:18; Psalm 138:2; 2 Timothy 3:14-17)

 

Core Biblical Beliefs

The following are the core beliefs of the faith that we believe, teach and confess as taught by God in Holy Scripture:

 

The Bible is the true and inspired word of God 

The 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament are the Word of God.  Nothing else is.  We can discover things about God by looking at his creation, but The Bible tells us much more about Him than what we can gather through observing the world around us.  The Bible is the foundation of what we teach and it is the cornerstone of our doctrine.  We believe that, through the Bible, the Holy Spirit makes Himself known and speaks the truth of God and creation to humankind.  It is not a book of rules.  Rather, it gives us direction for our lives by showing us our sinfulness and giving us hope in our salvation through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21)

 

There is one true God who reveals Himself to us in three persons:

We believe in a Trinitarian God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We have one God in three persons.  Each person is co-equal God, and they are inseparable.  We get this doctrine from the Bible.  Each person is mentioned in Scripture with Godly titles (i.e. “God” or “Lord”) as well as Godly attributes (i.e. omnipotent, omniscient, etc.), and each carries out divine works (forgiving, creating, judging, preserving).  There is much about God that we don’t understand, but we know that this is how He has revealed Himself to humanity, so this is the God that we have a relationship with. (Genesis 1:26; Deuteronomy 6:4; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Matthew 11:26-28; John 4:24)

  

Man is seperated from God and is need of salvation

God created each human being - male and female - in His image, that we might have fellowship with Him.  Humankind fell into a broken relationship with our Creator as a result of the temptation of Satan.  Estranged from the Creator, yet still responsible to Him, humanity became subject God’s divine wrath.  Man was removed from paradise and left inwardly spirutally dead and incapable of returning to God without a special work of Grace.  As a result of this, all of humankind is at enmity with and rebellious towards his loving Will.  We are all lost and without hope apart from the grace of God given in the life and work of His Son Jesus Christ. (Genesis 1:26-28, 3; John 3: 5-7; Romans 3:22-23, 5:12; Ephesians 3:12)

 

There is only one way to salvation - Jesus

Jesus told His disciples that He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Nobody comes to the Father except through me.”  The greatest misconception of our culture is that there are many different ways to be saved and live eternally and that Jesus is just one of those ways.  Jesus lets us know very clearly that it is only through faith in Him that we can obtain salvation.  It is not about how good of a person we are, how much stuff we have, or how nice we are to others.  It’s about faith in Him. (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16-18, 14:6)

 

The Means of Grace: The Word, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper 

God works through means.  The primary means by which He produces life and salvation in our lives is through His Word – especially that Word of Jesus and His love.  Yet, God has also connected this Word to visible means that we call Sacraments so that we might know His grace in our lives.  The word Sacrament literally means something that is kept as sacred.  In both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper the “doer” is God himself and not man.  Baptism comes from the Greek word that means “wash."  God washes us in our baptism with water and His Word.  In our baptisms God washes us with water and His Word so that our Old Adam might be drowned and that we might be raised up with Christ to a new life.  In the Lord’s Supper God also works the forgiveness of sins and strengthens us for our days and weeks by us partaking in His body and His blood.  (Romans 10:17, Acts 2:42; Matthew 28:16-20; Ephesians 4:3-6; John 3:7; Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34; Romans 6:3-7)

 

Everyone is a missionary

God has equipped all believers with the same Holy Spirit, and, therefore, the same power to bring the love of Christ to all of creation.  We have all been given the command to preach the gospel to all of creation.  This does not mean that we stand on a corner beating our 40 pound Bible over peoples’ heads.  It means that we are each called to love our neighbor as Christ has loved us and empowered us to do so.  We have also all been put into different contexts...surrounded by different people.  God has placed us there to be Christ in that place. (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:16-20)

 

The church exists to equip and encourage

The church exists to equip and encourage people to live out and share their faith in Jesus Christ.  The church is not a building...rather, it is a community of people.  The church is made up of people who have faith in Christ, and have been made into His body.  Jesus is the head of the church, and not any human being.  The purpose of the church is that there might be an earthly manifestation of Christ’s work.  Any local congregation is there to encourage you in your faith, as well as teach and be an example of sharing the love of Christ with the world.  We know that each person is created uniquely with different God-given gifts.  That is why the “church as body” analogy is so great.  We are all different, but all needed.  The church needs diversity just like our body needs diversity (after all...we’d look pretty strange if we were just made up of hands). (John 21:17, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Colossians 1:18)

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Casting Crowns "Living He Loved Me"

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