What do Lutherans believe about creation?
Lutherans believe that God is Creator of the universe. Its dimensions of space and time are not something God made and then left alone. God is, rather, continually creating, calling into being each moment of each day.
Human beings have a unique position in the order of creation. We are given the capacity and freedom to know and respond to our Creator. Freedom implies that we can choose either positively or negatively to respond to God. Doubtlessly, this is God’s most generous gift to humankind.
Where do Lutherans stand on the question of sin?
Lutherans believe that all people live in a condition which is the result of misused freedom. “Sin” describes not so much individual acts of wrongdoing as a fractured relationship between the persons of creation and God. Our every attempt to please God falls short of the mark. By the standard of the Law, of which the Ten Commandments are a classic summary, God expresses his just and loving expectations for his creation. And our failure to live up to those expectations reveals only our need for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Who is Jesus Christ?
Jesus is God’s Son, chosen by God to become human like us. In his life and being he broke through the prison of sinfulness and thus restored the relationship of love and trust that God intended to exist between himself and his children.
The man, Jesus of Nazareth, lived and died in Palestine during the governorship of the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate; and we believe him to be the Messiah chosen by God to show his love for the world. He is God, yet with all the limitations of being human. His relationship to God, however, was not one of sin but rather of perfect obedience to the Father’s will. For the sake of a sinful world, Jesus was condemned on the cross.
But death could not contain him. On the third day after his execution, the day Christians observe as Easter, Jesus appeared among his followers as the risen, living Lord. By this great victory, God has declared himself to be the good news of reconciliation. The gap between all that separates us from our Creator has been bridged. Thus, he lives today, wherever there are persons who faithfully believe in him, and wherever the good news of reconciliation is preached and the sacraments administered.
Why do Lutherans talk about justification by grace through faith?
The New Testament clearly affirms that our reconciliation with our Creator can only be thought of as a free gift from God. It is not to be earned, and certainly it is not deserved. God in love and mercy offers to everyone a new life, one that begins at baptism and continues beyond death.
This discovery of a gracious God who seeks those who are lost, was the turning point in Martin Luther’s understanding of the Christian faith. For him the matter was clear; we cannot climb to God, we cannot even meet him halfway.
Rather, God comes to us in the person of Jesus, the Lord. We only need in faith to receive God’s acceptance of us.
During the Reformation of the sixteenth century this became known as the doctrine of Justification by Grace through Faith, an affirmation of most churches. Lutherans recognize the ease with which Christians tend to forget this central affirmation. We persist in trying to justify ourselves by our own works, by our own accomplishments. Lutheranism as a Christian movement, however, stands or falls with its faith that reconciliation with God is wholly God’s act through faith in Christ.
How do Lutherans look upon the Bible?
To borrow a phrase from Luther, the Bible is “the manger in which the Word of God is laid.” While Lutherans recognize differences in the way the Bible should be studied and interpreted, it is accepted as the primary and authoritative witness to the church’s faith. Written and transcribed by many authors over a period of many centuries, the Bible bears remarkable testimony to the mighty acts of God in the lives of people and nations. In the Old Testament we hear the story of creation and God’s love and faithfulness to God’s people.
The New Testament is the first-hand proclamation of those who lived through the events of Jesus’ life, teachings, death, and resurrection. As such, it is the authority for Christian faith and practice. The Bible is thus not a definitive record of history or science. Rather it is the record of God’s saving care for his creation throughout the course of history.
What is the Church?
The Christian church is made up of those who have been baptized and thus have received Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world. Lutherans believe that they are a part of the community of faith that began with the gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence with his people, on the day of Pentecost. The church, regardless of the external form it takes, is the fellowship of those who have been restored to God by Christ. Indeed, to be called into fellowship with Christ is also to be called into fellowship with other believers.
The church is essential to Christian life and growth. Its members are all sinners in need of God’s grace. It has no claim on human perfection. The church exists only for the hearing and doing of the living Word of Christ, administers the sacraments, and gives itself to the world in deeds of service and love. Most Lutherans recognize a wider fellowship of churches and are eager to work alongside them in ecumenical ministries and projects.
What sacraments do Lutherans accept?
Lutherans accept two sacraments. Although they are not the only means of God’s self-revelation, Baptism and Holy Communion are visible acts of God’s love.
In Baptism, God freely offers his grace and lovingly establishes a new community. In Holy Communion—often called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist—those who come to the table receive in bread and wine the body and blood of their Lord. This gift is the real presence of God’s forgiveness and mercy, nourishing persons in fellowship with their Lord and with each other.
Do Lutherans believe in life after death?
While there is much we do not and cannot know about life beyond the grave, Lutherans do believe that fellowship with God persists even after death. Judgement is both a present and future reality, and history moves steadily towards God’s ultimate fulfillment. This, of course, is a great mystery and no description of what life may be like in any dimension beyond history is possible. Anxiety for the future is not a mark of faith. Christians should go about their daily tasks, trusting in God’s grace, and living a life of service in his name.
What must a person do to become a Lutheran?
To become a Lutheran, only baptism and instruction in the Christian faith is required. If you are already baptized, we invite you to attend a New Member Workshop in a Lutheran congregation and thus signify your desire to become a part of its fellowship. Active members of other Lutheran congregations usually need only to transfer their membership.