What is a Lutheran?
A Lutheran is a Christian who holds everything in the Bible to be true. Because it is the very Word of God, it cannot lie (Numbers 23:19). That means that when God says the world was made in six 24-hour days (Genesis 1:5), He is telling the truth. It means that when He says He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to bear our sin and be our Savior, it is the truth. When He tells us that we are saved by His grace, through faith and not works, it is the truth (Ephesians 2:1-9). While we may not fully understand God’s Word—how Jesus was born of a virgin, how He is both God and Man, and what the nature of the Trinity is, we take God at His Word. In the example of Mary when the angel Gabriel told her she would conceive by the Holy Spirit, she replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
Lutherans are named after the 16th century monk, Martin Luther, who questioned the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and led the Reformation of the Christian Church, restoring the authority of the Word of God over the traditions of man.
The Missouri Synod is a group of churches, including Bethlehem, who “walk together” in this confession and faith (‘synod’ from Greek means to walk together on the road).
What do Lutherans believe?
Throughout the history of the Christian Church, Christians have found it necessary to have short summaries of what they believe. These brief statements are called creeds (From the Latin credo, “I believe”). Three of these creeds are universally accepted by Christians because they confess the Biblical truth—the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds. These creeds date back to the first centuries after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. At Bethlehem, these creeds are used in every service, connecting us with the whole Christian Church, past and present.
The Apostles’ Creed (circa 180 AD), is so named not because they wrote it but because it summarizes their teachings. Since the second century, it has been used at baptisms and confirmations at a short statement of faith.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Where can I read everything you believe?
All our beliefs come directly from the Holy Bible, which is God’s Word. The foundational teachings of the Bible have been condensed into a Small Catechism, which Martin Luther wrote for families to learn and teach the faith. The Small Catechism explains the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Holy Baptism, the Office of the Keys (Confession and Absolution), and the Sacrament of the Altar.
The Book of Concord contains documents which Christians from the fourth to the 16th century A.D. explained what they believed and taught on the basis of the Holy Scriptures. It includes, first, the three creeds which originated in the ancient church, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. It contains, secondly, the Reformation writings known as the Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms, and the Formula of Concord.
The Catechisms and the Smalcald Articles came from the pen of Martin Luther; the Augsburg Confession, its Apology, and the Treatise were written by Luther’s co-worker, the scholarly Phillip Melanchthon; the Formula of Concord was given its final form chiefly by Jacob Andreae, Martin Chemnitz, and Nickolaus Selnecker.