It's All About the Solas!
Confessional Lutherans are all about not going “beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6). What does this mean? Simply that our most important principle (the Bible is the infallible and inspired Word of God) governs all our teaching. This means that we are a church which confesses “Sola Scriptura” or Scripture Alone.
Because of this, we are forced to boldly confess that our salvation and forgiveness and gift of eternal life comes to us by God’s “Sola Gratia” through “Sola Fide”, that is, by God’s grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-10).
All of this is true, solely because of the atoning sacrifice of Sola Christus, or Christ alone, who suffered and died and rose again.
Add it all up, and you have a Confessional Lutheran Church!
A Man Named Martin Luther (not King Jr.)
First, please understand that the Lutheran Reformation was all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the same still today, because the reformation never ends for any of us. We are always being turned from sin and death to salvation and eternal life.
January 1, 1400
Darkness in Christendom
Slavery was on the rise. 75 million people died of Black Death, leaving a third of Europe’s population dead and leading to revolts and skirmishes. Eastern trade had all but stopped due to Ottoman occupation and the fall of Constantinople.
January 1, 1450
New Hope, New Invention
Johannes Gutenberg began printing from his newly invented press in 1450. The first Bible was mass printed in 1455. Scholars began to study and take delight in ancient Latin and Greek theological texts. This was the beginning of the era we call The Enlightenment.
At the same time, courageous explorers began to cross the western ocean (Atlantic) to look for alternative trade routs, since the Ottomans controlled the east.
November 10, 1483
Martin Luther is Born
Luther was born in Eisleben, Germany. His father wanted him to pursue law. But that all changed one fateful day…
July 2, 1505
Luther Joins the Monastery
As he returned from Erfurt after visiting family, Luther was caught in a severe storm. After being knocked to the ground by a nearby strike of lightening, Luther prayed to St. Anne and made a vow to become a monk if he be rescued.
At the disappointment of his father, Luther joined the Monastery in Erfurt on July 17.
October 31, 1517
Luther Discovers the Gospel
While at the Monastery, Luther struggled with God. He read the heavy law and commandments and was taught that he must keep the commandments to appease God’s wrath. After years of struggle, and because of the opportunity afforded him to teach in Wittenberg, Luther reads the Book of Romans and discovers God’s grace and forgiveness given through faith.
On October 31, 1517, Luther makes his concerns with Roman Catholic teaching and practice known by nailing a list of 95 Theses on the doors of the castle church in Wittenberg.
May 1, 1521
Luther is Exiled
After he nails the Theses to the church, Luther’s problems begin. He continues to teach in Wittenberg, and he continues to write. The more he teaches and the more he writes, the angrier the Roman Catholic Pope becomes, not to mention the Emperor, Charles V.
By May of 1521, after Luther is called to Worms to defend his writings, Luther is excommunicated by the church and his life is in danger. He is taken in secret to Castle Wartburg where, for nearly a year, Luther translates the Bible into German.
April 1, 1522
Luther Marries and Writes
After leaving Wartburg Castle and returning to public life, Luther spends the rest of his life writing, defending the faith, teaching, and preaching. Because of the printing press, Luther is able to mass produce Bibles, Catechisms, and many of his writings, commentaries, sermons and other texts and distribute throughout Germany and Europe.
Feb 18, 1546
Luther died on February 18th, 1546 at Eisleben and is buried at the Castle Church in Wittenberg. His death did not end the Reformation. Since his time, many faithful teachers, preachers and laypeople have carried the torch of the reformation from generation to generation and throughout the world.
The Reformation Continues
The Evangelical Lutheran Church is a movement of faithful men and women throughout the world who believe, teach, and confess the inerrancy of the Scripture, justification by God’s grace through faith, who confess the ancient Christian creeds, and who believe that salvation is in no one else but Christ Jesus the Lord. You can find faithful, confessional Lutheran churches throughout the United States. Check out the LCMS Locator page:
locator.lcms.org to find a church near you, or visit St. Paul’s and discover what Confessional Lutheranism is all about!
God using means to deliver His gifts to His people.
A “sacrament” or “sacred mystery” is that which God uses to deliver His gifts to us. Sacraments are therefore a “Means of Grace”.
The two (or three) Sacraments in the Lutheran church are: Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, and Holy Absolution. Actually, Lutherans do not get all caught up in the numbers. We let the Scripture do the talking here.
Not just plain water!
In Baptism, water is combined with the powerful Word of God and this accomplishes wonderful things in a person.
Jesus mandates that we baptize. We read His mandate in Matthew 28:19. Part of making disciples is baptizing. By definition, baptism necessitates water, unless the context of a passage says otherwise. The word literally means “to wash, dip, immerse, cleanse with water.”
Since there is no restriction on who to baptize, and since our Lord welcomes “little children” (infants, as we read in Matthew 19:14), then it is clear that baptism is for people of all ages, including infants. This is because God’s salvation is for all people and not just for the intelligent or mature.
the lord's supper
True Food for the Body and Soul
In the Lord’s Supper we receive the true body and blood of our Lord given in, with, and under simple bread and wine. This meal gives us forgiveness of sins and strengthening of faith.
We use grape wine because this is what our Lord used (there was no grape juice back then that could be kept for long periods as there was no refrigeration). We also use unleavened bread since it was the kind of bread our Lord would have used.
Since this is a meal where we “commune” with God and with one another, we are instructed in the Scripture as to who and how we offer this meal. All who desire to partake must “prepare”.
All who desire to receive the Lord’s body and blood must first repent of their sins and trust in the Lord’s mercy. They must fully acknowledge our teaching, what we call the “Real Presence” and believe that this isn’t merely bread and wine but the TRUE body and blood of Christ.
Since we live in a time where everyone seems to believe as they please and since there are so many varied beliefs about the Lord’s Supper and other doctrines of the Church, St. Paul’s practices Closed Communion, a historic and biblical practice for sure.
My Forgiveness is God's Forgiveness
At the beginning of the Service you will hear the pastor say, “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins…”
If you have never attended a church where the Absolution is spoken, this may be unsettling for you. After all, only God can forgive sins, right?
Well, yes, it is true that only God can forgive sins. BUT, God chooses to use means. In John 20:23, Jesus literally instructs His apostles to forgive sins (and withhold forgiveness)! This mandate of our Lord is for the Church, for the sure comfort of souls who struggle with sin and temptation.
And understand that the Christian Church has ALWAYS said “I forgive you”. It’s only very recently that objections made their way into the minds of many.
Bottom line. Jesus mandates that we forgive sins in His name. This is fundamental to the Christian faith!