What Lutherans Believe
The Word of God
We believe, teach and confess that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God. In it the Low of God shows us to be sinners; the Gospel presents Christ to us as our Saviour and Lord and the only way to heaven.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that who-ever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
The Book of Concord
We hold that the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as contained in the Book of Concord of 1580 are the true exposition of God's Word because they are in agreement with the Holy Scriptures. These Confessions are:
-- The Apostles' Creed
-- The Nicene Creed
-- The Athanasian Creed
-- The Unaltered Augsburg Confession
-- The Apology of the Augsburg Confession
-- The Smalcald Articles
-- Luther's Small Catechism
-- Luther's Large Catechism
-- The Formula of Concord
The Lutheran Church holds Baptism to be a sacrament. Through Baptism the triune God delivers a person from sin, death and the devil. It offers forgiveness of sins and by faith brings the baptized into Christ's kingdom forever (Titus 3:5). The water of holy baptism is applied in the name and by the authority of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Lutheran Church practices infant baptism. Through baptism we become God's children and are incorpo-rated into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
"Concerning Baptism, our churches teach that Baptism is necessary for salvation and that God's grace is offered through Baptism. They teach that children are to be baptized. Being offered to God through Baptism, they are received into God's grace"
(Augsburg Confession, Article IX)
The Rite of Confession
Christians fall into sin daily in thought, word and deed and are constantly in need of forgiveness. On the one hand we can pray to the heavenly Father and ask for forgiveness. But the directly applied and openly declared forgiveness is the absolution pronounced by the pastor. Under the laying on of hands he ab-solves the penitent of their sins by the authority of the triune God. Also the Lutheran Church has always honoured the custom of private confession. In all these cases the emphasis is on the absolution pronounced and received. That is God's declaration of the justification of the sinner by grace though faith in the name of Christ.
"What is Confession?
Confession has two parts: the one is that we confess our sins; the other is that we receive Absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor, as from God Himself, and in no way doubt, but firmly believe that our sins are forgiven before God in heaven by this"
(Small Catechism, IV)
Holy Communion is also a sacrament in the Lutheran Church and we celebrate it every Sunday. We believe, teach and confess that Christ's holy body and his holy blood are truls and substantially present in, with and under the elements of the consecrated bread and wine. With their mouth the communicant belie-vers receive the true body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins. On the basis of Holy Scripture and with Dr. Martin Luther we confess:
"What is the Sacrament of the Altar?" – It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself"
(Small Catechism VI)
All who believe this real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the ele-ments distributed are invited to participate, especially when they are in full communion with SELK. Christians from other denominations are requested to speak with the pastor before communing at our altar.
A Statement of the Lutheran Faith
The Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. It is His message for all people. The Bible throughout points to Christ as the Saviour of mankind. God has revealed Himself in the holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
At the beginning people were created by God pure and holy; they lived accord-ing to God's will and did what was pleasing to Him.
Adam and Eve as the first created people transgressed God's will and thus brought sin into the world. Ever since people have been conceived and were born as sinners.
Sin is the deep disruption of our relationship with God: we do not live according to His will, we transgress His commandments in thought, word and deed.
People are unable to save themselves by their own works nor can they restore their disrupted relationship with God.
God sent His Son Jesus Christ into our world. He is truly divine and truly human, true God and true man. He lived to fulfil God's law for us, died on the cross for our sins, and rose from the dead so that we may have eternal life. Christ ascended into heaven, where He now is seated at the right hand of God the Father to intercede in our behalf.
Because of Christ's death and resurrection God forgives us our sins and de-clares us to be righteous and justified. This happens not on account of our own efforts, but rather because we are justified by faith in Christ, our Saviour.
Faith in Christ, too, is a gift of God, granted us in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The means of grace in the Lutheran Church are the Gospel, holy baptism and holy communion. Through these means God applies the merits of Christ's aton-ing death to all who put their faith in Jesus as their Saviour and Lord.
At the end of time Christ will come again in glory. At the Last Day all the dead will be raised and hear the final judgement: the followers of Christ will enter eternal bliss, the unbelievers to eternal damnation.
The true Christian Church is made up of all believers of all times and of all places who put their faith in the triune God and in Christ as their only Saviour.
The true visible church on earth is wherever God's Word is taught and pro-claimed according to the Scriptures and holy baptism and holy communion are administered according to their institution by Christ.
Christian are called upon to share their faith in Christ by telling others this Good News, and by giving evidence of their faith through works of love for others.
The teaching of Martin Luther and the Reformation can be summarized in four principal mottos:
Christ Alone: Jesus Christ is mankind's Saviour and Redeemer. He is the only way to heaven back to our heavenly Father.
Grace Alone: Salvation is ours by God's grace as an unearned gift because of Jesus Christ. Human deeds cannot earn God's favour. God's grace is bestowed on the believer because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. It is today bestowed through the proclamation of the Gospel, holy baptism and holy communion.
Scripture Alone: The Bible is God's inerrant and infallible Word. In it reveals to us His Law and His Gospel. The Bible is the sole rule and norm by which all doctrine and teachers in the church can be judged. No other writings hold the same place or are of equal dignity.
Faith Alone: Faith in Christ is means by which we receive our declaration or righteousness from God. When Christ suffered, died and rose again, he had become a substitute for all people at all times in every place and granted them forgiveness, life and salvation. Those who hear and believe this Good News have the eternal life which the Gospel offers. God the Holy Spirits creates such faith and points the believer to Christ.
"Our churches teach that people cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works. People are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favour and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake. By His death, Christ made satisfaction for our sins. God counts this faith for righteousness in His sight."
(Augsburg Confession, Article IV)