What we believe -
Jesus is Lord.
That just about says it all. It's the first Christian creed (1 Cor 12:3), and everything we do and say follows from this. The Christian life is one big lesson in learning to believe and walk in this truth more deeply. But, in case you're interested, here are some things we believe because Jesus is Lord:
He's Lord, of course. But to be more specific, he is Lord because he is God's Son, fully God and Mary's Son, fully man. This mystery is called the "Incarnation", and it teaches that a first century Jew named Jesus of Nazareth is the eternal Son of God made man. As such, He is the only hope of reconciling humanity to God. He was born to a virgin mother by the power of the Holy Spirit. He lived a life of perfect and complete obedience, fulfilling the just law of God and restoring the life-giving image of God on earth. Though he perfectly kept God's Law, he willingly suffered a degrading death on the cross, in which the just judgment of God that we deserved was placed on him (Galatians 3:13). This is the mystery called "atonement". Three days later, he was resurrected from the dead, conquering death and hell, and winning forever God's good creation back from our rebellion. He is now with God the Father, ruling over all things as Lord and is awaiting the day when he will return to consummate his work: the redemption of all creation (Eph. 1:10). But in the meantime, he is gathering his Church from every nation by sending his Holy Spirit through his gifts of grace.
Gifts of grace sound nice. What are those?
Here's the really great part. Jesus is Lord, right? So what he says goes. And he says that everything he has done and earned and won (see question above) is a gift to you, free of charge. That's what grace means: gatis, gratuitous, free. His perfect life of selfless love, it's yours. His victory over death, it's yours too. His right relationship with God. Yours. For free. You don't have to earn it. You can't buy it. You can only believe it. (And you should because he said it, and he's Lord, remember?) This is the mystery that we call "Justification by grace through faith". It is the Gospel--the good news that we are reconciled to our Creator through faith in Jesus alone. That is, when you take Jesus at his word.
So, where is Jesus Word?
I'm so glad you asked. Since Jesus is Lord, we trust his words, in whatever form they come. He has said that his word comes to us in several ways.
The Scriptures- We believe that the Old and New Testament are God's inspired, inerrant word that point us to Jesus with one beautiful message: Jesus is Lord.
The Sacraments - We believe that Christ speaks today through the mission of his church as it administers his mysterious gifts of:
Baptism - We believe that Jesus promises new birth, forgiveness, life and salvation are given to those who are baptized into the name of the Triune God. (See John 3: 5, and Romans 6:4)
The Lord's Supper - We believe that Jesus meant what he said when he took bread and said, Take, Eat, this is my body...(Mt. 26:26). That when we gather for Holy Communion, we really share together the very body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins (1 Cor. 10:16-17)
Absolution - We believe that Jesus himself forgives our sins when his word of forgiveness is proclaimed (John 20:23).
In all these ways, Jesus speaks and walks with us through his Word, giving the gift of his Holy Spirit, who creates in our (and your) sin-enslaved hearts the faith to trust him.
What does the Holy Spirit do?
Loads of stuff, all of which involve pointing at Jesus (because He is Lord and He sent the Spirit, see Acts 2:33). In the first place, he gives us the faith to call Jesus Lord (1 Cor. 12:3). Without him, we wouldn't even be able to hear Jesus (yep, even our ears are enslaved to sin, Mark 4:9). Through this faith, the Spirit sculpts the image of Jesus onto our hearts, words, and actions. This is the mystery we call "Sanctification", and it is the journey of loving God and neighbor for which Jesus has set us free. It doesn't earn us anything (Jesus already gave us everything we need already). It won't be finished until Jesus returns. We daily fail and sin much. Yet, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we do walk with our Lord Jesus, trusting his promises and following his call to love of God and neighbor.
So, what's LCMS all about?
Jesus. Because he is Lord.
We know we’re not the first disciples to walk together with Jesus. Throughout the centuries, Jesus' disciples have eagerly sought Scriptures for the truth about Jesus, and not all have done so with equal results. As a member congregation of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), we joyfully walk together with those Lutheran Christians past and present whose faithful teaching of Christ is expressed in the confessional writings of the Book of Concord. We believe these confessions of the Lutheran tradition faithfully unfold from the Scriptures the many implications of our confession that Jesus is Lord. A simple summary of these beliefs can be found in the Augsburg Confession, which you can find here.
Have questions? Great! We love talking about this stuff. Stop by for a visit and bring your questions to Pastor Nathan. Or drop by the website www.lcms.org to learn more about Christ centered, bible-believing, gospel focused, Lutheran Christianity.
Who is God?
Jesus is Lord, so God is exactly who Jesus said He is. That means that there is only one God (Deut 6:4), who exists eternally as three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:20). The early church called this mystery the "Trinity", and explained it more fully in the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed--which we believe faithfully restate what Jesus taught about God.
Who are we?
Jesus is Lord, so all human beings (including you) are God's beloved human creatures, created in the image of the Triune God to reflect His own life-giving rule to creation. Yet, all humans (including you) are more deeply broken by sin and rebellion than we can possibly realize. Jesus calls our state "slavery to sin" (John 8:34). Theologians have referred to it as "Original Sin", since it is the natural state of all human beings after the rebellion of our first parents, Adam and Eve (who were real people, by the way). Through our rebellion, sin and death entered creation and are working always to destroy it (and you). Because we brought this upon God's good world, we are born under the just judgment of God, who is deeply grieved and angered by our rebellion and the devastation it has wrought in his good creation. We have no hope in ourselves to fix our situation, but that's where Jesus comes in.