What Do Lutherans Believe?
A Brief History
Missouri can rightfully claim an important role in the beginning of Lutheranism in America. In 1847 a group of Saxon immigrants settled in Perry County on the Mississippi River and helped form what has become known as The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). Today there are more than 300 congregations in the state of Missouri alone that are members of the LCMS. The international headquarters of the church and a seminary for training pastors are also located in the city of St. Louis.
However, the history goes back much farther than this. Actually, Lutherans were the original Protestant Christians. Their heritage is more than 450 years old and can be traced to a time of great reform and a man named Martin Luther.
Luther could legitimately be called the forefather of all Protestant churches. His leadership reintroduced people to the Bible and its vital teachings.
The Lutheran Church bears the name of Martin Luther solely because it stands firmly on God’s word as the only source and norm for Christian faith and life. This was the foundation upon which Luther lived and taught.
The entire Bible is the inerrant word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and completely truthful and reliable. Other writings are valid only when they accurately reflect and teach in accordance with the Holy Scriptures.
The central message of the Bible is free and complete forgiveness of all sin by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The central purpose of the Bible is to bring people to faith in Him.
What do Lutherans Believe, Teach, and Confess?
Three (3) main points summarize clearly:
1. GRACE ALONE
By His grace you are saved through faith. It is not your own doing; it is God’s gift. It is not the result of anything you have done, and so no one may boast.
There is no difference, for all have sinned and are without the praise that God gives. They are justified[declared righteous] freely by His grace, through the ransom Christ Jesus paid.
Grace alone is the biblical teaching that our salvation has been won for us completely and solely by God’s grace through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
2. FAITH ALONE
For we conclude that a person is justified [declared righteous] by faith – apart from the works of the Law.
Yes, I would even say that I consider everything as a loss because it is so much better to know Christ Jesus my Lord . . . and to be found in Him, not having a righteousness which comes from keeping the Law but having the righteousness which is through faith in Christ and which comes from God on the basis of faith.
Faith alone is the biblical teaching that proclaims a person is justified before God, and therefore saved, solely through faith in Jesus Christ.
3. SCRIPTURE ALONE
Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Proverbs 30:5 (NIV)
[Jesus said] “If you remain in My word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for pointing out error, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the person who belongs to God is ready, equipped for every good work.
II Timothy 3:16,17
Scripture alone is the principle that declares the Bible to be the true standard by which all teachings are evaluated and ultimately judged.
EVERY OTHER TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE IS RELATED TO THESE THREE. THEREFORE, LUTHERANS ALSO BELIEVE, TEACH, AND CONFESS:
The God of the Bible is the only true God. He reveals Himself as Triune; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Three persons, one God. We agree with the ancient creeds of the Christian Church, which profess the Trinity.
God created everything that exists. His creating acts were accomplished in six (6) days as recorded in Genesis chapter one. He not only created all things, but also continues to sustain and provide for every living creature.
The human race is the crown of God’s creation. Originally people were pure, holy, and righteous. Mankind was created in the image of God, that is, with knowledge and belief in God, and living a life that was completely God pleasing.
The parents of all humanity (Adam & Eve) rebelled against God and brought sin into the world. Since then, all people are conceived and born sinful, daily sin, and cannot save themselves.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Psalm 51:5 (NIV)
This original sin manifests itself through disobedience against God, actual sin, and is daily evident through our thoughts, words, and actions.
If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
Psalm 130:3 (NIV)
5. JESUS CHRIST
By rebelling against God all people deserve eternal punishment. But, God is love. In His love He sent His only-begotten Son to die for the sin of the world. Jesus fulfilled God’s Law perfectly and then died on the cross as the atoning sacrifice for all sin. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. People can only be saved through faith in Him.
For God loved the world so much that He gave His one-and-only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. You see, God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world would be saved through Him.
Jesus bodily rose from the dead. His resurrection is our guarantee that complete victory has been won for us over sin, death, and the power of the devil. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again at the end of time to judge both those living and those who have died. Believers will go with Him to heaven. Unbelievers will be separated from Him forever.
[Jesus said] “I am the Resurrection and the Life. The person who believes in Me will live even though he dies. Yes, everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.
7. HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is truly God. It is the power of the Holy Spirit working in people that makes it possible for them to believe in Christ Jesus and love as He has first loved. The Holy Spirit works through specific means to fill the hearts of people with the presence, power, and gifts of God.
8. MEANS OF GRACE
The specific means through which the Holy Spirit works are Word (Bible) and Sacraments (Baptism & the Lord’s Supper).
I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is God’s power to save everyone who believes it . . .
All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.
Colossians 1:6 (NIV)
The Sacraments are not merely symbols, but they truly offer and bestow spiritual blessings to those who receive them in faith.
Baptism is water connected with God’s word that promises, offers, and bestows forgiveness.
Baptism now saves us, not by washing dirt from the body, but by guaranteeing us a good conscience before God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . .
I Peter 3:21
Because Baptism is a means of grace, even infants and little children can receive the benefits God bestows.
Lutherans accept all modes of baptism as valid, when water is applied in the name of the Triune God.
The Lord’s Supper not only remembers all that Jesus has done for our salvation, but it is the reception of Christ’s true body and blood, in with, and under the bread and wine.
Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
Matthew 26:26-28 (NKJ)
Lutherans also believe that reception of the Lord’s Supper not only implies but is a confession of unity and faith.
Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body; for all of us partake of one loaf.
I Corinthians 10:17
Worship is defined as gathering to receive the means of grace and respond with acts of praise (narrow) and activities that directly strengthen Christian faith and give honor and obedience to God (broad).
Worship (narrow) includes confession and forgiveness, reading and proclaiming God’s Word, prayer and praise, and often the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Typically, Lutheran worship follows historic traditions. These tried and true liturgies not only give order to worship, but more importantly keep the church faithful to the word of God with the primary focus on Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
Worship (broad) includes devotions, Bible Study, prayer, service opportunities, special dress, etc.
The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
Congregations joining hands together as part of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) are found throughout The United States and in several foreign countries. Saint Paul Lutheran High School is a Recognized Service Organization of the LCMS.
The LCMS operates a university system of 10 campuses around the nation, and two seminaries to prepare pastors and missionaries. The LCMS presently does missionary work in about 60 different nations.
Many of the congregations of the synod operate day schools, preschools, and day care centers.
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod is also the church of the Lutheran Hour, broadcasting over 1,500 radio stations in many different languages.
Our Mission Statement
To provide curricular and co-curricular experiences in a Christian environment that equip students for joyful, faithful service to Christ and His world.
To be the school of choice for all Lutherans in the world.
Collectively be in the Word applying Law and Gospel daily in the lives of students, faculty and staff so that together, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are growing in our ministry and in our walk of faith with Christ Jesus our Lord.
Maintain academic excellence so that our students achieve their academic potential fully equipped for Christian living.
Maintain and improve the aesthetic appeal and the physical integrity of our campus, utilizing modern technologies to enhance our living and learning environment.
Be devoted to spiritual growth and the pursuit of academic excellence through continuing education and professional development.
Secure adequate financial resources to position Saint Paul Lutheran High to be the standard of excellence in Lutheran secondary education.
To be the school of choice for all the world.
All Scripture references are taken from; Holy Bible, New Evangelical Translation (NET). Copyright 1992, God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society, unless otherwise noted.
In 1883 St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Concordia, Missouri, and two sister congregations in the area offered a resolution at the Western District convention of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod to establish a school. The district accepted the offer.
St. Paul’s congregation immediately thereafter called Rev. A. Baepler as the first professor.
Formal instruction began on January 3, 1884 in the two-story white frame house now located on the southern edge of campus. The inaugural class had three students.
Hail, Saint Paul Our Alma Mater,
Hail, to thee, our Blue and White!
Gathered here to do the honor
Are thy gallant sons this night.
Sons who do the Master’s bidding
In true faith and loyalty;
Unto thee we sing this greeting,
Alma Mater, Hail to thee!