Belief and Practice
With the universal Christian Church, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod teaches and responds to the love of the Triune God:
the Father, creator of all that exists;
Jesus Christ, the Son, who became human to suffer and die for the sins of all human beings and to rise to life again in the ultimate victory over death and Satan; and
the Holy Spirit, who creates faith through God’s Word and Sacraments.
The three persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal, one God.
Our congregations accept and preach the Bible-based teachings of Martin Luther that inspired the reformation of the Christian Church in the 16th century. The teaching of Luther and the reformers can be summarized in three phrases: Grace alone, Faith alone, and Scripture alone.
- Grace Alone Sola Gratia
- God loves the people of the world, even though they are sinful, rebel against Him, and do not deserve His love. He sent Jesus, His Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly.
- Faith Alone Sola Fide
- By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for them. Those who hear this Good News and believe it has the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him.
- Scripture Alone Sola Scriptura
- The Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the sole rule and norm for Christian doctrine.
The Holy Scriptures
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God. The Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit and hence are inerrant (without error) and the only infallible guide to truth. (Jn.10:35; 2 Tim.3:16; 2 Pt.1:20-21). All of our teaching at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, therefore, is based upon the Holy Scriptures since we believe God has given them to us as a solid rock upon which to stand.
“And He [Jesus] said to them, ‘O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Lk.24:25-27)
God and Creation
We believe that God created the heavens and the earth, the sea and everything in them (Rev.10:6), that He loves His creation (Ps.145:9), and that He daily upholds the universe by His word of power. (Heb.1:3) We also believe that there is only one true God, but that in this one God there are three distinct Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is a great mystery and yet is clearly taught in Scripture (Jn.1:1; Acts 5:3-4; Mt.28:19).
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God!” (Jn.1:1)
Man and Sin
We believe that God created man in His own image (Gen.1:27), righteous and good (Gen.1:31). However, the first man, Adam, fell into sin at the suggestion of Satan (Gen.3:6) and since that time all descendants of Adam and Eve have been born with a sinful nature. As a result, all persons have sinned (Rom.3:9-12) and become subject to evil and death. (Rom.5:12) No one, therefore, can save himself or ransom his own soul from death (Ps.49:7-9); but rather, everyone is in dire need of a Savior from heaven, namely, Jesus. (Ps.49:15)
“Sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” (Rom.5:12)
Gospel and Salvation
The Scriptures teach that no one can by their own good works or efforts earn for themselves forgiveness of sins, eternal life, or a place in heaven. (Rom.3:22-24) But God in His tender mercy sent His only Son Jesus Christ to be born of a virgin, live among us as a man, die on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world, and be raised bodily from the dead on the third day. Jesus accomplished our salvation for us! All who believe in Him receive the forgiveness of sins and the promised gift of eternal life through faith in Him. (Acts 10:43; Jn.3:16)
“Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a free gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by His blood, to be received by faith.” (Rom.3:22-25)
We confess with Martin Luther: “Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word.” [Small Catechism] In baptism God bathes us in the “bath of regeneration” (Titus 3:3-8), and “cleanses us by the washing of water with the word” (Eph.5:25-27), “for the forgiveness of our sins” (Acts 2:37-38) so that we might be united with Christ in his death and resurrection (Rom.6:4-11; Col.2:12), and become children of God and heirs of the kingdom of heaven (Gal.3:27-29). Lutherans look at baptism not as a work which we do for God, but as God’s work in us and to us so that we might be united with Christ and sealed in the new covenant of grace, whose principle characteristic is the forgiveness of sins.
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
The Lord’s Supper
We confess with Martin Luther that the Lord’s Supper “is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and drink.” [Small Catechism] We know this because the words of scripture are plain and clear. Paul writes, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor.10:17) And Jesus says, “Take, eat, this is my body… This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt.26:26-28) In the Lord’s Supper, God seals to us the forgiveness of sins and confirms us in the new covenant (Mt.26:26-28), as we share together in the unity of a common confession, remember His death , and proclaim His resurrection until He comes again. (1 Cor.11:24-26)
“Take, eat; this is my body…Drink of it all of you, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt.26:26-28)
Confession and Absolution
We teach that God has given authority to His Church on earth to bind and lose sins. As Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn.20:22-23) This authority to forgive and retain sins is directly tied to the gospel. When a person comes confessing his sins and calling on the name of the Lord Jesus for salvation, his Christian brother, who is acting as an ambassador for Christ, can then audibly pronounce on behalf of the Lord the forgiveness of sins. This authority, therefore, is a precious gift God has given to His Church so that those who are feeling guilty over their wrongs may hear again the comforting words of the gospel spoken directly to them from a fellow Christian. If, however, a person hardens his heart and refuses to repent of his sins and come to Christ, the Church on earth also has the authority to declare that this person’s sins are not forgiven him.
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (Jn.20:22-23)
The End Times
As our Lord ascended into heaven in the presence of the Apostles, so we believe also that He will come again on the clouds of heaven at the end of the age. (Acts 1:11) On that Day there will be a Great Judgment. (Acts 17:31) Those who have believed in Christ will enter into the eternal joys of heaven while unbelievers will be sent away into everlasting condemnation. (Mt.25:34-46) God will make a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Pt.3:13; Rev.21:1) All sorrow, sadness, sickness, and death will be gone forever. (Rev.21:4) Everlasting joy will crown the heads of the saints. (Is.51:11) We will see God’s face. (Rev.22:4) God will dwell with His people forever and ever! (Rev.21:3)
And He who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new!” (Rev.21:5)
For more information on our beliefs, please visit https://www.lcms.org/about/beliefs