The First “Good News” Christians
Lutherans were the first Christians to be called “Evangelicals.” Evangelical comes from the Greek and Latin words for Gospel, or “Good News” (evangelion or evangelium). Lutherans are Gospel Christians because we believe in the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness won for us by the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ! The Lutheran movement in Christianity is named for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, a German monk and theology professor, who started the Protestant Reformation after he re-discovered the Gospel and championed its joyful message that we are saved (justified) from our sins by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone apart from good works (Romans 3:28; Ephesians 2:8-10).
What We Believe (Our Basic Theology)
- The Bible is God’s divinely inspired and inerrant Word, which means that every word of Scripture is reliable and true (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
- Lutherans believe in the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20; Genesis 1:1-3; Galatians 4:6).
- God made everything that exists and created human beings to enjoy communion with him and community with each other (Genesis 1-3).
- God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to forgive our sins and to rise from the grave to give eternal life to everyone who believes in His name (John 3:16).
Jesus brings us back into right relationship with God (2 Corinthians 5).
- Apart from saving faith in Jesus Christ, no one can be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:11-12).
- By the power of the Holy Spirit, God creates faith in our hearts to believe in Jesus and receive His forgiveness through the preaching and hearing of the Gospel and the right administration of the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Romans 10:17; Titus 3:5-7; Matthew 26:26-28; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21).
- Through the “means of grace” (Word and Sacraments), the Holy Spirit forgives our sins and makes us holy (sanctification).
- Through Baptism, we enter into the fellowship of Christ’s Body, God’s Family, the holy Christian Church, in which we worship God, study God’s Word, and grow spiritually together in love for God and one another (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:1-15). God expects and encourages all believers in Christ to gather together for regular, public worship to praise God, pray for and encourage one another, hear his Word, receive his Sacraments, and be equipped for daily Christian life and personal witness to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Matthew 28:19-20).
- Someday Christ will come again to raise our bodies from the dead and reunite them with our souls, renew the whole creation, and judge people for their sins on the basis of faith or unbelief (1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 21-22; Romans 8).
In addition to the basic beliefs outlined above, Lutherans confess the three Ecumenical Creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian) and hold to the theology of the 1580 edition of the Book of Concord (including the Unaltered Augsburg Confess), also known as the Lutheran Confessions, a collection of early Lutheran writings that explain and defend our faith. More information about our beliefs may be found at the website of our denomination, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, or LCMS, at http://www.lcms.org/belief-and-practice.