Jesus is God's son, sent by God to become human like us. Through his death on the cross and his resurrection he broke the bonds of human sin and death, and restored the relationship of love between God and God’s people. Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine; he was present with God at the beginning. He was born on earth by the power of the Holy Spirit through the virgin Mary. During his earthly ministry he fed the hungry, healed the sick and associated with sinners and outcasts. He was in perfect obedience to his Father’s will, and found to be without sin. He was crucified, and died on the cross. On the Third day, what is now Easter Sunday; he was raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven to be with the Father. In this he conquered death, sin, and the grave. This is the Good news of our reconciliation to God that is preached, promised, and remembered through the sacraments.
The Holy Trinity the one God we know as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is only one God, but that God relates to humanity in three persons. The Father who created the world, the Son who came to redeem the world, and the Holy Spirit who is in the world until the Son returns.
There are two sacraments in the Lutheran Church: Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. A sacrament expresses the tangible presence of God through, an earthly element, an everyday action, and God’s word of promise and command. Baptism is water with the Word of God. Christian baptism is rooted in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a gift given to us by God through which our sins are forgiven and we are made members of the body of Christ and inheritors of eternal life. This gift is renewed daily, though Baptism is a one time act. In Holy Communion we remember and encounter Jesus Christ, and we see the visible signs of God’s love through Jesus Christ, who is truly present in and through the bread and wine. Through the sacrament of Communion the body of Christ -the church- is renewed, strengthened, and reassured of eternal life and the forgiveness of sin.
Salvation and sin
As human beings we are born with a sinful and selfish nature, it is not so much individual wrong acts, but a result of the broken relationship between creation and God due to human freedom. But by the grace of God through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection we are saved, renewed and given new life. In the Lutheran church the phrase used when talking about salvation is that “we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is God’s work that rescues us from the consequences of our sin so that we can live in a right relationship with God because of Jesus Christ.
The Creeds and Book of Concord
These are both statements about our faith. The creeds include the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds. The Book of Concord includes works by Martin Luther, and other theologians, written as a unifying expression of their understanding of the Christian faith.
Lutherans believe that we are a part of a community of faith that began with the gift of the Holy Spirit, God's presence with his people, on the day of Pentecost. The church is the fellowship of those who have been restored to God by Christ. It is made up of those who have been baptized and have received Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world. Sometimes it is referred to as "the Body of Christ." Its members are all sinners in need of God's grace. It has no claim on human perfection. The church exists for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel by words and in actions, and administering the sacraments.
Christian education is important for all age groups. An individual’s faith life does not reach a certain point and stop, it is a journey. Christian education helps guide and support God’s people throughout their life’s journeys. It equips disciples to proclaim God’s grace through words and actions, and passes traditions and faith on to future generations.
Word of God (Scripture)
We believe the bible to be the inspired word of God. It is the authoritative witness to the church’s faith. It bears testimony to God active in the lives of people and nations. In the Old Testament we find a vivid account of God’s relationship with the nation of Israel. The New Testament points us in one direction; that we may believe in Jesus Christ. He is the word of God made flesh. With Jesus there is a new covenant between God and all creation. The Bible is not a definitive record of history or science. But, it is the record of the drama of God's saving love for creation throughout history.
The word of God contains both Law and Gospel. The law is what convicts us, and the Gospel sets us free. Without the law there would be no need for the Gospel, but without the Gospel the law can only condemn and kill. We have the law so that there is structure and order in our lives, and so that we come to rely on and trust in God for our salvation.
Learn more about the beliefs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America from the ELCA website.