God exists eternally in three persons- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three inseparably work together to create all that exists, redeem our lost and condemned world, and guide all people to live in faith toward Him. The three persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal. Together, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God. God is perfect and cannot tolerate rebellion- sin.
Adam and Eve, whom God created as the first human beings, rebelled against Him and corrupted their natures. As a result, we too are corrupted and are therefore completely dead in that sin. On our own, we have no hope for being made right with God.
Because of Jesus' death on a cross and his resurrection from the dead, we have been reconciled to God. By his death, He has paid the price for our sins, and by his rising to life, he offers His perfect life on our behalf.
Baptism is an act that we do at Jesus' command. It is water combined with God's word of promise to forgive our sins, rescue from death and the devil, and give eternal salvation. Through Baptism, God freely offers his gifts to us. Baptism is not something we do for God; it is something God does for us. Therefore, we encourage Baptism for all people, even infants and children.
The Lord's Supper (also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, or the Eucharist) is the special meal of bread and wine, instituted by Jesus. At this meal, he tells us that his body and blood are present as well. We resist trying to explain how this works, but simply take Jesus at his word. Because of the unique nature of this meal, we ask that those who have not been instructed in the meaning of the sacrament, those with a differing confession, or those who feel unprepared to receive Christ's body and blood refrain from sharing this meal with us for their own good. This can be a confusing topic for many, so feel free to ask Pastor Woell if you have any questions.
Lutherans follow the teachings of a man named Martin Luther, who lived in the 16th century. Our focus is on these three main ideas:
God is holy, set apart from this world; he cannot stand sin. We are completely sinful, even dead in our sins. Yet God loves all of his creation, so much so that he sent his Son, Jesus to die in our place, cancel the effects of sin, bring us back to life, and draw us back to him. This is a completely free gift of God that he has offered us, apart from any good or evil we do.
This free gift of God is applied to us by faith. When we hear of Jesus' death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead and believe it, we receive his gifts through faith. Faith is not something we do or work to get, but it too is a gift from God, connecting us to the benefits Christ has won for us.
The Bible is the written Word of God. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, various authors record and announce God's work in the world, centering on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. God continues to work through scripture to create and sustain faith. Our only authority for all we believe and how we live our lives rests on God's Word.
For more information about what we believe, feel free to explore our Synod's page here: http://www.lcms.org/belief-and-practice.