The central truth of the Christian religion is justification by faith. This means God declares sinners "not guilty" because Jesus Christ has atoned for our sin. Justifying faith is not mere head knowledge, but trust from the heart that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again for me so that I might have comfort and peace in spite of the fact that I am a terrible sinner. God's justifying decree to all who have such faith in Jesus Christ, is not the quality of one's moral living, but is the standard by which one is truly a Christian. (Romans 5:1-2; Galatians 3:6-7)

Good works are not necessary for salvation, but are necessary as fruits of our faith. God has created us to honor Him with good works done toward Him and toward others. Such works are not our own doing, but proceed from a changed heart and are empowered by God Himself. (Ephesians 2:8-10; II Corinthians 5:15 and 17; Philippians 2: 13)

The Bible is the inerrant, true Word of God in which God reveals Himiself to mankind for our salvation. The Word of God, not the tradition and teaching of men, is our only source of our teaching and our guide for living. (John 20:30-31; John 17:17; Psalm 119:105)

Lutherans do not call the Bible the rule book, but believe all it says related to two major teachings. They are the Law and the Gospel. The Law tells us how to live in accordance to His will. It also shows us our sin and the condemned state in which we stand. The Gospel tells us what God has done and still does for our help and salvation. While the Law describes what pleases God, only the Gospel can motivate us to do good works of love. When the Law rather than the Gospel is used to impel good works, two tragic results can occur. Peole will either despair, feeling they can never do what is expected; or they will become smug, feeling they are righteous of their own accord. In both cases people are led away from trust in Christ and robbed of the consolation He offers. Both Law and the Gospel have their place, but must be kept in balance if Christian preaching is to have a truly Christian character. (Romans 8:3-4; Romans 7:7; Galatians 3:24; 1John 4:19)

Saving faith in Christ is created in people by God. The Holy Spirit turns our hearts to faith in Christ by means of the Gospel. Left to ourselves we would not choose God. Man has the power to reject God's invitation, but cannot accept by his own power. (1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 10:17, Romans 8:6-8)

Baptism, like faith, is a gracious working of God. It brings the forgiveness of sins, salvation, the gift of the Holy Spirit, incorporation into God's family, and new birth. Baptism is not just something which happens once, but is a continuing power in our Christian life. Through it, God calls us back to Himself on a daily basis and empowers us to live as His children. (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21; 1 Corinthians 12:13, Titus 3:5-7)

Infants, too, are baptized even though they cannot answer for themselves. This is because baptism is God's work alone. The Scriptures nowhere forbids baptism to infants, and the following reasons support baptizing infants. First, the story of John before His birth shows us the Holy Spirit can be active in infants. Second, God received infants in a covenant of grace in the Old Testament by means of circumcision. The New Testament says baptism replaces circumcision. Third, the language used to describe the "household baptisms" specifically includes very young infants in other contexts. Fourth, infants are born under the curse of original sin and need the saving benefit of baptism. In addition, early church history shows us that infant baptism was practiced continuously from the time of Christ's apostles. (Luke 1:15 and 41-44; Genesis 17:9-14 and Colossians 2:11-12; Romans 5:12; Acts 15:33) (Compare 1 Samuel 22:9 and 22)

The Lord's Supper is what Jesus says: "This is my body" and "This is my blood." God is a God who demonstrates what He promises with signs. These signs are more than just symbols. In the Lord's Supper we eat Christ's body and drink His blood together with the bread and wine as tangible assurance of what God promises. Lutherans ask those who do not share this belief defer partaking of the Lord's Supper until they have been instructed and given a declaration of unity in faith, and because it is to our benefit to believe what God promises before partaking. (Matthew 26:26-29; I Corinthians 10:16; I Corinthians 11:17-34)

Christ will come again suddenly at the end of time. At the time the dead will be raised. The Last Judgment will begin. Christ will take all believers, living and dead, with Him to heaven. All who refused God's offer of salvation in this life will inherit a place in hell with devil and his angels. (Matthew 24 and 25, I Corinthians 15, II Corinthians 5)

For more information, including FAQs about The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, please visit the LCMS web site.

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