Our Statement of Faith

Lutheran Christians are Confessional Christians. Confessions are summary statements of Christian doctrine drawn from the Scriptures. We believe that the Universal Christian Creeds composed by the early church are accurate summaries of the Apostolic faith found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testmanents. Every Christian is bound to adhere to them. The universal creeds are the Apostle's Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. We also believe that the Lutheran Confessions of the sixteenth century found in the Book of Concord are accurate presentations of the Apostolic faith. In them we find the pure teaching and explanation of the Word of God. The Central confession of the Lutheran Church is the Augsburg Confession, written in 1530 as a defense of the Evangelical churches to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.

The summary of our teaching below is taken from the first 21 articles of the Augsburg Confession. In the Augsburg Confession there is no article on the nature of the Scriptures. This is because at the time of the Reformation all parties believed that the Scriptures were the divinely inspired and inerrant Word of God. Along with the articles of Christian doctrine found in the Confession, Gethsemane Lutheran Church believes that Scripture is the inerrant Word of God and the only source, rule, and guide of the Christian faith.

The Doctrinal Articles of the Augsburg Confession

God

There is one divine essence, which is called and which is God, eternal, incorporeal, indivisible, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the maker and preserver of all things, visible and invisible. Yet there are three persons of the same divine essence and power who are also coeternal; The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the term person is used to signify not a part or a quality in another but that which subsists by itself.

Original Sin

Since the fall of Adam all men who are born according to nature are born in sin. That is to say, they are without fear of God, are without trust in God, and are born with a polluted, perverted nature. And this disease or vice of origin is truly sin, which even now damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born again through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.

Christ

Christ, the Son of God took on man's nature in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary. So there are two natures, divine and human, inseparably cojoined in the unity of His person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and was buried that He might reconcile the Father to us and be a sacrifice not only for original guilt but also for all actual sins of men. He also descended into hell and on the third day truly rose again. Afterward, He ascended into heaven to sit on the right hand of the Father forever to reign and have dominion over all creatures and sanctify those who believe in Him by sending the Holy Spirit into their hearts to rule, comfort, and quicken them and defend them against the devil and the power of sin. The same Christ will openly come again to judge the living and the dead, etc, according to the Apostle's Creed.

Justification

Men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works but are freely justified for Christ's sake through faith when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven on account of Christ, who by His death has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight.

The Ministry

In order that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and the Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given; and the Holy Spirit produces faith where and when it pleases God, in those who hear the Gospel.

Good Works

This faith is bound to bring forth good fruits and it is necessary to do the good works commanded by God. We must do so because it is God's will and not because we rely on such works to merit justification before God. For forgiveness of sins and justification are apprehended by faith, as Christ Himself also testifies, "When you have done all these things, say, 'We are unprofitable servants.'"

The Church

One holy church is to continue forever. The Church is the assembly of saints in which the Gospel is taught purely and the sacraments are administered rightly. For the true unity of the church it is enough to agree concerning the teaching of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions or rites and ceremonies instituted by men, should be alike everywhere. It is as Paul says, "One faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all," etc.

The Efficacy of the Sacraments in the Church

The church is the assembly of saints and true believers. However, since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled with believers, it is allowable to use the sacraments even when they are administered by evil men, according to the say of Christ, "The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses seat," etc. Both the Sacraments and the Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ even if they are administered by evil men.

Baptism

Baptism is necessary for salvation, the grace of God is offered through Baptism, and children (infants) should be baptized, for being offered to God through Baptism they are received into His grace.

The Lord's Supper

The body and blood of Christ are truly present and are distributed to those who eat the Supper of the Lord.

Absolution

Private absolution should be retained in the churches. However, in confession an enumeration of all sins is not necessary, for this is not possible according to the Psalm, "Who can discern his errors."

Repentance

Those who have fallen after Baptism can receive forgiveness of sins whenever they are converted, and the church ought to impart absolution to those who return to repentance. Properly speaking, repentance consists of these two parts: one is contrition, that is, terror smiting the conscience with a knowledge of sin, and the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, believes that sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terror. Then good works, which are the fruits of repentance, are bound to follow.

The Use of the Sacraments

The Sacraments were instituted not merely to be marks of profession among men but especially to be signs and testimonies of the will of God toward us, intended to awaken and confirm faith in those who use them. Consequently, the sacraments should be used so that faith, which believes the promises that are set forth and offered, is added.

Church Administration

Nobody should preach publicly in the church or administer the Sacraments unless he is properly called.

Church Rites

Those rites should be observed which can be observed without sin and which contribute to peace and good order in the church. Such are certain holy days, festivals, and the like.

Secular Order

Lawful civil ordinances are good works of God and it is right for Christians to hold civil office, to sit as judges, to decide matters of… existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to swear oaths when required by rulers, to marry, and to be given in marriage.

The Return of Christ

At the consummation of the world Christ will appear for judgment and will raise up all the dead. To the godly and elect He will give eternal life and endless joy, but ungodly men and devils He will condemn to be tormented without end.

Free Will

Man's will has some liberty for the attainment of civil righteousness and for the choice of things subject to reason. However, it does not have the power, without the Holy Spirit, to attain the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness, because natural man does not perceive the gifts of the Spirit of God; but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy Spirit is received through the Word.

The Cause of Sin

Although God creates and preserves nature, the cause of sin is the will of the wicked, that is, of the devil and ungodly men. If not aided by God, the will of the wicked turns away from God, as Christ says in John 8:44, "When the devil lies, he speaks according to his own nature."”

Faith and Good Works

Our works cannot reconcile God or merit forgiveness of sins and grace, but we obtain forgiveness and grace only by faith when we believe that we are received into favor for Christ's sake, who alone has been ordained to be the mediator and propitiation through whom the Father is reconciled, but it is necessary to do good works, not that we should trust to merit grace by them but because it is the will of God. It is only by faith that forgiveness of sins and grace are apprehended, and because through faith the Holy Spirit is received, hearts are so renewed and endowed with new affections as to be able to bring forth good works.

The Saints

The remembrance of saints may be commended to us so that we imitate their faith and good works according to our calling. However, the Scriptures do not teach us to pray to the saints or seek their help, for the only mediator, propitiation, high priest, and intercessor whom the Scriptures set before us is Christ. He is to be prayed to, and He has promised to hear our prayers

For a copy of the full confession go to http://www.bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.html