What Does It Mean to Be Lutheran?
Belief and Practice
With the universal Christian Church, the Lutheran Church teaches and responds 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.
Our congregation accepts and preaches 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.
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.
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.
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.
Who is Jesus?
For more than 2,000 years, people have asked this question. We were not present when Jesus lived on this earth, but in the Bible we have the record of His birth, life, death on the cross, and resurrection. Through the study of the Bible, you can seek the answer to this age-old question: “Who is Jesus?”
Means of Grace
Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead, but how does He deliver that life and forgiveness of His cross and resurrection to YOU today? Lutherans hold to the Bible based teaching that Baptism, the Lord's Supper, Confession & Absolution, and Preaching the Word are the Lord's "Means of Grace". God is at work through these means of grace to deliver all the work and benefits of Christ's death and resurrection to you today in a concrete way.
The Bible is God's written Word. It is the sole infallible rule and source for all teaching and practice. The bible, because it is God's word, is true in every word, chapter, verse, and syllable. Jesus Christ and His work as Savior is the central topic of the whole bible. In the bible we hear both God's Law and God's Gospel. The teaching and preaching of God's Word from the bible is the sole source of faith in Christ for salvation. This very same Word of God is at work in Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution.
Through Baptism you are united to Jesus Christ's death and resurrection (Romans 6:1-11), you are born again for God's kingdom and made His disciple (John 3:5; Matthew 28:18-20), and you are washed clean of sin and guilt (Ephesians 5:25; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21). Baptism is not our work or declaration of faith. Baptism is God's work for us. Baptism in not an "add on" to the work Jesus did on the cross. Baptism brings Jesus' cross and resurrection to you today. Baptism is done with water and in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:25; Matthew 28:18-20).
The Lord's Supper
The Lord's Supper is not a sacrifice we offer to God. The Lord's Supper is also not a mere symbol. The Lord's Supper is a meal in which Jesus Christ gives Himself to us as our true Bread. The Lord's Supper is Christ's true Body and true Blood given to us sinners to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 26:26ff). How this can be is a heavenly mystery beyond our understanding, but we believe it firmly because our Lord said it in plain language (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The Lord's Supper is one more way that our Lord graciously pours out His forgiveness and life to us from the cross to strengthen and sustain our faith in Him from week to week.
Confession & Absolution
To "absolve" means to release, pardon, and declare free from guilt. God commands His ministers to declare God's forgiveness, release, and pardon to all who repent and confess their sins and sinfulness to Him. When we confess our sins (either specifically or in general), the called ministers of Christ (pastors) speak forgiveness in the place of Jesus Christ and on behalf of the whole congregation. All sin was forgiven on the cross. Confession & Absolution gives an audible voice to Christ's forgiveness. Confession and Absolution is a free gift, not an obligation. We believe in Confession & Absolution because our Lord Himself taught it in the bible (John 20:20-21; see also, Matthew 18:18; Matthew 16:19).
Worship is not about what we can do for God but about what God is doing for sinners in the worship service. As Lutherans, we often call our worship service "The Divine Service" because the service is first and foremost God's work. In worship, God works through His Word and through the Lord's Supper to forgive, strengthen, and preserve us. Therefore, worship is not about entertaining us or about giving us an emotional experience. Worship at St. Matthew uses the Word of God, traditional Lutheran liturgy (liturgy: prayers and scripture readings spoken and sung back and forth), and hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal.
Luther's Small Catechism
The bible alone is the source and authority for our beliefs and practices. Martin Luther's Small Catechism is meant to be a short, simple summary of the core and most important parts of biblical faith. For nearly 500 years, Lutheran's have used the Small Catechism to train up children in the biblical faith and to introduce new members to this same faith. The Small Catechism is also a life-long tool for daily prayer and devotion.
The confessions of the Lutheran Church are found in the Book of Concord. Holy Scripture is the only authority of belief and practice for the Church. We hold to the Book of Concord as an accurate, time-tested exposition of the teachings of Scripture.
For additional information about what Lutherans believe visit lcms.org