Our Statement of Faith:
God and His Revelation
We believe that there is only one true God (Isaiah 44:6). He has made himself known as the Triune God, one God in three persons. This is evident from Jesus' command to his disciples to baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). Whoever does not worship this God worships an idol, a god who does not exist (John 5:23).
We believe that God has revealed himself partially in nature (Psalm 19:1) and in conscience (Romans 1:20).
We believe that God has given the full revelation of himself in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:18). In Jesus, God has revealed himself as the Savior God (John 3:16).
We believe that God has given the Holy Scriptures to proclaim his grace in Christ to all people. Jesus himself says of the Bible that it testifies of him (John 5:39).
We believe that God gave the Scriptures through men whom he chose, using the language they knew and the style of writing they had. At the same time, we believe that in a way that goes beyond all human investigation God the Holy Spirit moved these men to write his Word (2 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 2:13), so that every thought they expressed and every word they used were given them by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, we believe that Scripture is a unified whole, true and without error in everything it says (John 10:35), and we believe that it is the infallible authority and guide for everything we believe and do. We believe that it is fully sufficient, clearly teaching people all they need to know to get to heaven (2 Timothy 3:15), and that Scripture equips them for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17).
We believe and accept the Bible on its own terms, accepting as factual history what it presents as history and recognizing as figurative speech what is evident as such.
We believe the three ecumenical creeds, the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian, as well as the Lutheran Confessions as contained in the Book of Concord of 1580 express the true doctrine of Scripture. Therefore all preaching and teaching in our churches and schools must be in harmony with these confessions, and we reject all the errors they reject.
Creation, Humankind, and Sin
We believe that the universe, the world, and the human race came into existence in the beginning when God created heaven and earth and all creatures (Genesis 1 and 2). This happened in the course of six consecutive 24 hour days by the power of God's almighty word.
We, therefore, reject all theories of evolution as an explanation of the origin of the universe and the human race, and all attempts to harmonize the scriptural account of creation with such theories.
We believe that God created Adam and Eve in his own image (Genesis 1:26-27), that is, holy and righteous. Their thoughts, desires, and will were in full harmony with God (Colossians 3:10).
We believe that Adam and Eve lost their divine imagine when they yielded to the temptation of Satan and disobeyed God's command. This brought upon them the judgment of God: "You will surely die" (Genesis 2:17). Since that time all people are conceived and born in a sinful condition (Psalm 51:5) and are inclined only to evil (Genesis 8:21). Since that is so, the human race is not basically good by nature; its natural tendency toward self-centerdness and selfishness is sin, not a mere character flaw or weakness; all people are born spiritually dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), and so, are incapable of pleasing God on their own and unable to reconcile themselves to God by their own efforts, good intentions, and deeds.
Christ and Redemption
We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, one with the Father from all eternity (John 1:1,2). In the course of time he took a true and complete, yet sinless, human nature to himself (Galatians 4:4) when he was conceived as a holy child in the virgin Mary through a miracle of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). And so, from his conception into eternity Jesus is 100% God and 100% human being in one person.
We believe that Jesus, the God-man, lived for a time on earth, endured suffering, and humbled himself to the shameful death on the cross (Philippians 2:7,8). We believe that he rose again from the grave, ascended to heaven, and is exalted on high to rule with power over the world, with grace in his church, and with glory in eternity (Philippians 2:9-11).
We believe that Jesus Christ was sent by the Father to buy back the fallen human race from the guilt and punishment of sin. Jesus came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17), so that by his perfect obedience all people should be declared holy (Romans 5:18,19). We believe that he is the God appointed substitute for all people. His righteousness is accepted by the Father as our righteousness, his death for sin as our death for sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). We believe that his resurrection gives full assurance that God has accepted this atonement for all (Romans 4:25).
We believe that God actually reconciled the world to himself in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19). We believe, therefore, that the forgiveness of sins has been gained as an accomplished fact for all people. Because of the substitutionary work of Christ, God has justified all people, that is, God has declared them to be not guilty. This forms the firm, objective basis for the sinner's assurance of salvation.
We reject any teaching that limits the work of Christ in any way; we also reject the views which see the Gospel accounts recording the events of Jesus' life and the miracles surrounding his life as mere myth or the church's interpretation rather than a true account of what actually happened in history.
Justification by Grace through Faith
We believe, as stated above, that God has justified, that is, declared all sinners righteous for the sake of Christ (Romans 5:18).
We believe that individuals receive this free gift of forgiveness, not by their own works, but only by trusting what Jesus did for them in their place (Ephesians 2:8,9). This trust in Jesus' redemptive work puts his work into the sinner's personal possession, not because faith is a good work on the part of the sinner or because trust has an inherent redemptive quality about it, but because faith in Jesus takes hold of his redemptive work. Those who reject Christ forfeit the gift that is theirs, remain in their guilt, and are, therefore, condemned to eternal death in hell (Mark 16:16). In short, saving faith is the hand in the following illustration: a king prepares extravagant gifts for all the subjects in his kingdom. Those subjects who take hold of his gift with their hands (faith) receive, possess, and enjoy the gift; those who don't, fail to possess and enjoy the gift that could be theirs.
We believe that, since people are born spiritually dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), they do not have the natural power to "make a decision for Christ," and come to faith in Jesus as their Savior, or even desire to (1 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:7). We believe, as the Bible proclaims, that completely apart from human decision and cooperation, the Holy Spirit gives people faith to recognize and receive Jesus as their Savior (1 Corinthians 12:3), and keeps them in the saving faith. The Holy Spirit creates and sustains faith in Jesus by means of the good news of him (Romans 10:17). We believe, therefore, that a person's conversion and preservation in the faith is entirely the work of God's underserved love through the good news of Christ. Rejection of the gospel is, however, entirely the unbeliever's fault (Matthew 23:37).
Good Works and Prayer
We believe that faith in Jesus always leads a believer to produce works which are pleasing to God (John 15:5).
We believe that works which are pleasing to God are (a) works of goodness and love, as defined by God's holy will in his commands, and (b) are prompted by gratitude and love for God for his gift of salvation in Christ, and for all of his mercies and kindnesses.
We believe that good works, which are the fruit of a believer's faith in Jesus, are to be distinguished from acts of civic righteousness performed by unbelievers. Although unbelievers may do much that is good and upright in the eyes of society and the world, they are not good in God's sight, for "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6).
We believe that in this world even the best works of Christians are tainted with sin. A sinful nature still afflicts every Christian. Therefore Christians often fail to do the good they want to do, but keep on doing the evil they do not want to do (Romans 7:18-21).
We believe, however, that these imperfect efforts of Christians are sprinkled with the cleansing blood of Christ, through faith in him, so that for Jesus' sake God considers their works holy and pleasing in his sight.
We believe that a life of prayer is a fruit of faith. Confidently, through faith in their Savior, Christians address God as their Father, and come to him with praise and petitions, presenting their needs, the needs of others, and giving thanks (1 Timothy 2:1). Such prayers are a delight to God, and he grants their requests according to his loving wisdom (Matthew 7:7,8).
The Means of Grace
We believe that God bestows all spiritual blessings upon sinners by special means (vessels and instruments), established by him. God's vessel and instrument to create and strengthen saving faith in Jesus is the good news of him in his word and in the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper.
We believe that through the good news of Christ's atoning sacrifice for sinners (the gospel), the Holy Spirit works faith in people, whose hearts are by nature hostile to God (1 Peter 1:23; Romans 10:17). This Spirit-worked faith brings about a renewal in sinners and makes them heirs of eternal life in heaven.
We believe that through the sacrament of Baptism the Holy Spirit applies the gospel to sinners, giving them new life (Titus 3:5) and cleansing them from all sin (Acts 2:38). We believe that the blessing of Baptism is meant for all people (Matthew 28:19), including infants. Infants are born sinful (Psalm 51:5) and therefore need to be born again, that is, brought to faith, through Baptism (John 3:5).
We believe that in his Supper the Lord Jesus unites his true body with the bread and his true blood with the wine, so that all who receive the bread and wine of the sacrament are receiving the true body and blood of Jesus that paid for their sin. This means that those who are sorry for their sin, know and trust that Jesus died to take away their sin, understand and believe that Jesus gives them his true body and blood in the Lord's Supper, and take the forgiveness they receive in the Supper seriously by using the power it gives them to lead a God-pleasing life, receive Jesus' body and blood to their spiritual benefit and salvation. This also means, however, that those not troubled by their sins, those who do not understand or believe that Jesus redeemed them from their sins, those who do not believe that Jesus' true body and blood is present in the Supper, and those who do not take their forgiveness seriously by using God's mercy as a license to sin receive Jesus' true body and blood to their judgment.
We believe, further, that the Lord's Supper is an expression of our unity in what we believe and teach (1 Co 10:17). Therefore, we invite to the Lord's Supper only those who have expressed their unity in what we believe and teach by their membership in our church or other churches in fellowship with ours.
Jesus' Return and the Judgment
We believe that Jesus, true God and true man, who rose from death and ascended to the right hand of the Father, will return visibly in the same way as his disciples saw him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).
We believe that no one can know the exact time of Jesus' return. This knowledge is hidden even from the angels in heaven (Matthew 24:36). Nevertheless, our Lord has given signs to his believers to keep them in constant spiritual alertness and expectation of his return (Matthew 24:4-14).
We believe that at Jesus' return this present world will come to an end. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness (2 Peter 3:10-13).
We believe that when Jesus returns, all the dead will rise, that is, their souls will be reunited with their bodies (John 5:28,29). Together with those still living the resurrected will appear before his throne of judgment. The unbelievers will be condemned to an eternity in hell. Those who by faith have been cleansed in the blood of Christ will be glorified and will live with Jesus forever in the blessed presence of God in heaven (Philippians 3:21).
We reject the end times teaching of the rapture, an invisible return of Jesus where he snatches up to him true believers before the final end; we reject the end times teaching of the millennium, Christ returning to earth to rule for a literal thousand years in a physical, earthly kingdom. These teachings have no valid scriptural basis and falsely dupe people into thinking they will have a "second chance" to convert and wrongly lead them to set their hopes on an earthly kingdom.