What Lutherans Believe and Teach
Some 400 hundred years ago the Christian church was restored to a new life of liberty, purity and fruitfulness after a long period of bondage, corruption, and inaction. The act of God by which this revival was brought about is known in history as the Reformation. The instrument through which it was affected was the Word of God; the chief human agency was Martin Luther. The teachings of the Reformation were not new, but were the eternal truths of God as revealed in the Bible. They have been preserved and are being presented to the world today in their entirety by the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. The Lutheran Church, founded as it is on the doctrines of the Bible, is not a new organization, not a mere sect, or denomination, but the ancient, original, apostolic Christian church in its present day form and appearance.
Triune God – Lutherans teach that God is triune, i.e., One God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; that these 3 persons are equal in all things; and that to ignore and/or deny one is to disavow the Trinity of God. He is Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. (References: Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19; John 5:23; 1 John 2:23; Genesis 1:1; 1 John 2: 1&2; Romans 15:13)
The Bible – Lutherans teach that the complete book of the Bible (Old & New Testament) is the Word of God; that, consequently, all the facts related in it are absolutely true; that it is without error; that it interprets itself; that it is the only divine truth known on earth; that it should be diligently heard and studied; and that it will save all who believe it.
(References: Deut. 8:3; 2 Sam. 22:31; Psalm 12:6, 119:105; Proverbs 30:5-6; John 6:68, 17:17; Matt. 24:35)
God’s Law – Lutherans teach that God’s Law demands perfection of heart, thought, word, and deed; that it wholly condemns all who transgress it; that it cannot save sinners; and that its chief function since the “Fall” is to lead man to the knowledge of his depraved condition. (References: Matt. 5:48; Leviticus 19:2; Deut. 27:26; Romans 3:20)
Sin – Lutherans teach that every thought, word and deed contrary to God’s Law is sin; that every human being is a sinner at birth; that all evil in the world is the consequence of man’s sinning; and that sin is wholly damnable. (References: 1 John 3:4; John 3:6; Genesis 8:21; Romans 5:12; Psalm 5:4)
Man – Lutherans teach that man is not the product of an alleged evolution, but was made by God through an act of direct creation; that he was given an immortal soul, endowed with perfect holiness and created for eternal life; that, however, he sinned, broke off loving communion with God, became wholly depraved and subject to eternal death; and that in his natural state he cannot, by any powers of his own, reestablish a right relationship with God.(References: Genesis 1:27; 2:7; 3:1-24; Psalm 14:3; Psalm 143:2; Romans 5:12; Isaiah 64:6; 1 Cor. 2:14)
The Savior – Lutherans teach that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and equal to the Father in every respect; that He is also the Son of the virgin Mary and was made man in order that He might redeem the world; that He satisfied the demands of the divine Law for all mankind by keeping God’s Commandments in our stead; that He bore the punishment of our sins by suffering and dying in our stead on the cross; that He rose bodily from the dead and lives today; and that He will come visibly for the second and last time at the world’s end to judge the living and the dead.
(References: John 5:20&23, 10:30, 14:9&19; Matt. 1:18-25; 1 Peter 2:22, 24; Galatians 3:13, 4:4-5; Romans 4:25; Acts 1:11, 10:42)
The Gospel – Lutherans teach that the Gospel is not a new or higher law, but the special revelation of that which a loving and merciful God has done through Christ, and still does, for the salvation of mankind; that it freely offers to all sinners the righteousness which is in Christ Jesus; and that it will save forever those who believe its promises. (References: Ezekiel 33:11; 1 Tim. 2:4; Luke 4:18, 19; John 3:16; Romans 1:16, 3:21-24)
Repentance – Lutherans teach that repentance, in the Biblical sense of the term, is acknowledgment of sin and sincere regret for it – together with a trustful appeal to God for forgiveness in Christ’s name; that it is a condition of the heart without which no man can hope to be saved; and that every truly repentant sinner is assured of God’s free and full pardon. (References: Isaiah 55:6; Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 18:13&14; Acts 2:38; 2 Cor. 7:10)
Faith – Lutherans teach that faith is a penitent sinner’s personal trust in Jesus Christ as his real and only Savior and full reliance on His merits for forgiveness of sins and salvation; that such faith is not a personal achievement or an act of human will or merit, but a work of the Holy Spirit; that he who endures in this faith to the end will be really, fully and eternally saved; and that without it no salvation is possible.
(References: John 1:12&16, 3:36; Acts 10:43, 16:31; Galatians 2:16; 1 Cor. 12:3; 1 Peter 1:5; Matt. 24:13)
Rebirth – Lutherans teach that rebirth/conversion is not a mere changing of habits, but a change of heart, a spiritual rebirth of man; that it is brought about by the power of God working through the Word; and that it takes place in and through faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.
(References: Joel 2:13; Ezekiel 11:19; Jeremiah 31:18; John 1:12&13; Romans 10:17; 1 John 5:1)
Sanctification – Lutherans teach that holiness of life and conduct follows rebirth/conversion and that it is the fruit and outcome of faith; that all true Christians must be and are active in good works; and that, though such sanctification is progressive, perfection therein will not be attained until man enters eternal life.
(References: John 3:3; 2 Cor. 7:1; Galatians 5:6&25; 1 Thess. 4:3; Ephesians 2:10; 1 Peter 1:15; Romans 7:15-25)
Justification – Lutherans teach that everything needed to reconcile the world to God was completed when Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross; that God has for Christ’s sake declared mankind free from the debt and guilt of sin; that this justification of all mankind is applied to an individual through faith; and that all who believe God’s gracious declaration of reconciliation are righteous in the sight of God – not by any merit of their own, but solely by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith. (References: 2 Cor. 5:19; Romans 3:22-24&28, 5:18&19; Acts 10:43; Ephesians 2:8)
Sacrament of Holy Baptism – Lutherans teach that Baptism is a divinely instituted washing of regeneration; that it is intended for old and young without exception and may be administered by sprinkling, pouring or immersing; and that by it all who in faith receive this sacrament are given the grace of God, forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. (References: Matt. 28:19; Titus 3:5; Mark 10:14, 16:16; Acts 16:15, 22:16; Hebrews 10:22)
Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper – Lutherans teach that the body and blood of Jesus Christ are truly present in and with the bread and wine in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, are taken by all who eat and drink at the Lord’s Table, are received by the believing Christian for the forgiveness of sin and the strengthening of their faith. This Sacrament should be given to those only who have professed their Christian faith. (References: Matt. 7:6, 26:26-28; 1 Cor. 10:16, 11:26-29)
Prayer – Lutherans teach that prayer is a Christian’s communion with God; that, though it is not an act by which merit or reward is won, it is divinely commanded, should be regularly practiced by every Christian for their own sake and for the benefit of others, and, if made in faith, has God’s definite and sure promises of gracious acceptance and ready answer. (References: Psalm 19:14, 50:15; Matt. 7:7&8, 21:22; 1 Tim. 2:1&8; 1 John 5:14; Isaiah 65:24
The Church – Lutherans teach that there is an INVISIBLE church, which consists of all such as in their hearts truly and sincerely accept Jesus Christ as their Savior; that this church is one; that Jesus Christ is its only Head and Lord; that all members thereof enjoy equal rights; that it may be found wherever the Gospel of Christ is known; and that it will endure forever.
Lutherans also teach that there is a VISIBLE Christian church, consisting of all such as profess the Christian faith and gather about God’s Word. Sad to say, because of man’s inherent inclination to sin, there always are, in the church as a whole, hypocrites and defenders of false teachings and unchristian practices. Therefore, it is the duty of every sincere Christian to search for and unite with that section of the visible church, which stands for pure preaching and right practice. Religious fellowship should be avoided with all who depart from the divine Word.
(References: John 8:31&32, 18:36; Luke 17:20&21; 1 Cor. 11:18, 12:13; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; Eph. 1:22&23, 2:19-22; Isaiah 55:10&11; Matt. 16:18, 13:47&48, 22:2-14, 15:9; Romans 16:17; 2 Thess. 3:6&14)
Death and Heaven – Lutherans teach that the body, which in death was separated from the soul, will be raised on the Last Day and reunited with the soul; that all people will be judged by Jesus Christ; that all believers in Christ will be given eternal bodies and life in heaven, while all unbelievers will be sent into eternal condemnation. (References: John 5:28&29; Matthew 25:31-46)
Satan and Hell – Lutherans teach that Satan leads a great host of powerful evil spirits (called devils in the Bible), who are the bitter enemies of God and His church, and who have been cast down to hell; and that at the Last Day all human beings who have died without faith in Christ will be consigned to the same hell of eternal torment and doom. (References: Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8&9; Jude 6; Matt. 25:41; Isaiah 66:24)
Creeds – Lutherans teach that a creed, as the word itself implies (credo – I believe), is simply a statement of what one believes; that every professing Christian has a creed whether they admit it or not; that a true creed is not an addition to the Bible, but only a necessary emphasis of the truth against those who misuse the Bible for the support of their false teachings; and that without a creed a church will be engulfed in a flood of errors. (References: 1 Peter 3:15; Matt. 10:32)
Church and State – Lutherans teach that the American principle providing for the separation of church and state is in harmony with the spirit and letter of the Bible; that, therefore, the enforcement of civil laws is the business of the state and not of the church; that the church addresses itself to the human heart and operates, not through compulsion, but by persuasion; and that interference of church and state in each other’s affairs cannot but result in religious persecution and the destruction of a free government.
(References: John 18:36; Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1-7)
Divorce – Lutherans teach that the marriage bond must be between one man and one woman and must be kept inviolate; that before God no divorce is valid except in cases of fornication or malicious desertion; and that the present tendency to make light of engagements and the marriage relation must result in immeasurable harm to the home, the children of the race, the church, the state – in fact, to the whole structure of human society.(References: Matthew 19:9; 1 Corinthians 7:15)
Religion and Science – Lutherans teach that since God, who has revealed Himself in the grandeur and complexity of the universe which He created, is the same God who has revealed Himself as a God of mercy and love in the redeeming work of Christ the Savior, there can be no lasting conflict between true science and the truths of the Bible. Evolutionary theories and philosophies denying God’s place in the universe or attempting to negate His saving and sanctifying revelation are rejected. Science can be and has been a means of God’s manifold blessing upon the human race. (References: Psalm 8:3&4, 19:1; Hebrews 1:10, 11:3; Genesis 1:28)
Religious Education – Lutherans teach that the religious education of the young is the task, not of the state, but of the home and of the church; that it is proper for the church to organize Christian Day Schools and devise such other agencies as will assist parents in bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and that Christian parents owe it to themselves, their children, their church and their country to cooperate in activities undertaken for the Christian education and training of children and young people. (References: Mark 10:14; John 21:15; Ephesians 6:4)
Church Union – Lutherans teach that the divided state of the visible Christian church is a deplorable condition, for which, however, not the supporters of divine truth, but the teachers and upholders of false doctrines are responsible; that there can be no true outward union without inward unity of faith; and that the hope for a united Christianity will become a reality when all professing Christians have become one in rejecting all error and accepting every doctrine as set forth in the Word of God. (References: Romans 16:17; Ephesians 4:3-6)