Our beliefs begin in and with God. We believe that all that God intends to tell us and instruct us is found in the Bible. It is the sole source of our knowledge of God and we reject all other pseudo-Scriptures. We believe that there is but one God and that as Creator of all things visible and invisible, we are not like Him and He is not like us. As God, he never was like us - immutability is an attribute of God. He does not change.
We also believe that God discloses Himself to us in the Bible as three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He does this to help us understand Him. The threeness of God was made manifest in the advent on earth of His only begotten Son, Jesus. In the Garden when mankind fell into sin, God promised to resolve the problem of sin in the world. Only God could restore creation, which He did by sending His sinless Son Jesus as an infant born to the virgin Mary. In His sinless existence our Lord Jesus fulfilled the Law as we sinners could never do. In His joy, He went to the cross, laying aside His life, and died the tortured, bloody death that we deserve because of our sin. Through faith, the resurrection He accomplished in His victory over the grave is ours in Baptism. We call Jesus the Christ because He was appointed by God the Father, that is, anointed to be the savior of all creation. We believe we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord, or come to Him but the Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel, enlightens us with His gifts, sanctifies us and keeps us in the one true faith.i In the three persons of God we find great comfort and the source of salvation.
God has not left us in this sinful world without help. We have the three Means of Grace that bring forgiveness and peace. The first Means is the Bible, Gods Word to us. We find the Bible to be correctly translated with few exceptions. We know this based on centuries of Biblical scholarship that has translated the Bible from fragments of ancient manuscripts. Although we have no original documents, there are New Testament manuscripts that originate in the second century after Jesus death. St. Paul wrote: I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the Gospel a righteousness is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. Romans 1:16-17NIV.
The other two Means of Grace are the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. We use the word Sacrament to designate a work of God as opposed to a work of man. In Baptism God comes to us through common water, not special water from a particular source or place. The power of Baptism is not in the water, or how it is administered, the power of Baptism is in the promises of God from His Word that are delivered along with the water in the Sacrament. In Baptism we find God at Work, bringing forgiveness of sins; deliverance from the power of sin, death and the devil; and everlasting salvation to all who believe in His Word and promises. Baptism is God's assurance of His daily presence and protection.
The third and final Means of Grace is the Sacrament of the Altar, Holy Communion. Again God comes to us in common earthly means of bread and wine as would have been used in the Passover meal celebrated by Jesus and His disciples the night when He was betrayed into the hands of sinners. At that Passover meal Jesus instituted the Sacrament. We believe that God comes to us in the Sacrament and that in, with, and under the elements of bread and wine we receive the true body and blood of the Savior. In such a meal Jesus promises us forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. For wherever there is forgiveness of sin, there is always life and salvation.ii
If these beliefs have stirred up questions in you, please feel free to contact Pastor Bob for a fuller Biblical explanation. Our Sunday worship service is a good opportunity to observe the work of God among us. Please consider joining our worship. There is almost always an opportunity for questions following the worship service.
i Luther's Small Catechism, The Apostles Creed, Explanation to the Third Article.
ii Luther's Small Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar, What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?