a brief summary from Lutheran Hour Ministries of traditional Lutheran teaching
1. The entire Bible, which points to Jesus as the Savior, is the inspired and errorless Word of God. It is God’s message of love and hope for all people.
2. There is only one true God, who exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
3. God is the creator of everything that exists.
4. Adam and Eve, our first parents, were originally created by God pure and holy. They lived according to God’s will, doing what was pleasing to Him.
5. Adam and Eve, the man and woman God created in the beginning, went against God’s will and brought sin into the world. Since that time, all people have been conceived and born in sin.
6. Sin is living out of relationship with God, not living according to God’s will, and thus transgressing His holy will in thought, word, and deed.
7. People cannot save themselves by their good works or restore themselves to a right relationship with God.
8. God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world. He is both true God and true man. He lived to fulfill God’s law for us, died on the cross to pay the penalty our sins deserved, and rose from the dead so that we might have eternal life. He ascended into heaven, where He now sits at the right hand of The Father to intercede for us.
9. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, God declares a person just -- or righteous -- and forgiven. This happens not because of human effort, but because the justification won by Jesus is applied to the one who believes Jesus as Savior.
10. Faith in Jesus is a gift of God given by the power of the Holy Spirit, thus all the glory belongs to God.
11. The means of grace are the Word, Holy Baptism, and Holy Communion. By these means, the merits of Jesus’ perfect life and atoning death are personally conveyed to all who believe in Jesus as their Savior.
12. Jesus will come again to take all believers to Himself. On the final day, all the dead will be raised. Those who are still alive will be bodily transformed. After this, the final judg- ment will take place. Unbelievers will go to eternal damn- ation, and believers into eternal life.
13. The true Christian Church is made up of all believers of all times who believe in the Triune God and in Jesus Christ as their only Savior.
14. God wants Christians to join with other believers in church- es which correctly teach God’s Word and administers Holy Baptism and Holy Communion according to the teachings of Scripture.
15. Christians are called to tell others that the only way of sal- vation is by faith in Jesus Christ, and to show their faith by by their deeds of love towards others.
Reprinted from the tract What Lutherans Believe. © Lutheran Hour Ministries. Used by permission.
As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household.
The First Commandment : You shall have no other gods.
What does this mean? We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.
The Second Commandment : You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.
The Third Commandment : Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.
The Fourth Commandment : Honor your father and your mother.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.
The Fifth Commandment : You shall not murder.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.
The Sixth Commandment : You shall not commit adultery.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.
The Seventh Commandment : You shall not steal.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor's money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.
The Eighth Commandment : You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest possible way.
The Ninth Commandment : You shall not covet your neighbor's house.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor's inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.
The Tenth Commandment : You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor's wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.
The Close of the Commandments What does God say about all of these commandments? He says, "I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:5-6).
What does this mean? God threatens to punish all who break these commandments. Therefore, we should fear His wrath and not do anything against them. But He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands.
(Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4)
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary; Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; The holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; The forgiveness of sins; The resurrection of the body; And the life everlasting. Amen!
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven andearth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made, Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man; And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried; And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father, And He shall come again with Glory to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy, Christian and Apostolic Church, I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins and I look for the resurrection of the dead, And the life of the world to come. Amen!
Designed by Dr. Martin Luther, the Luther Coat of Arms has become the world-wide symbol of the Church of the Augsburg Confession, commonly known as the Lutheran Church.
On July 8, 1530 (just two weeks after the presentation of the Augsburg Confession at the Diet of Augsburg) Dr. Luther explained the Luther Seal in a letter to hymn writer and fellow reformer Lazarus Spengler:
“There is first to be a cross, black [and placed] in a heart, which should be of its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us... Even though it is a black cross, [which] mortifies and [which] also should hurt us, yet it leaves the heart in its [natural] color [and] does not ruin nature; that is, [the cross] does not kill but keeps [man] alive... Such a heart is to be in the midst of a white rose, to symbolize that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace; in a word it places the believer into a white joyful rose; for [this faith] does not give peace and joy as the world gives and, therefore, the rose is to be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and of all the angels. Such a rose is to be in a sky-blue field, [symbolizing] that such joy in the Spirit and in faith is a beginning of the future heavenly joy; it is already a part [of faith], and is grasped through hope, even though not yet manifest. And around this field is a golden ring, [symbolizing] that in heaven such blessedness lasts forever and has no end, and in addition is precious beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.”
American Lutheran Theologian Co-founder and first President of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
CHURCH AND MINISTRY by Dr. C.F.W. Walther American Lutheran Theologian Co-founder and first President of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
Part One: Concerning the Church
Thesis 1: The church in the proper sense of the term is the congregation (Gemeinde) of saints, that is, the aggregate of all those who, called out of the lost and condemned human race by the Holy Spirit through the Word, truly believe in Christ and by faith are sanctified and incorporated in Christ.
Thesis 2: To the church in the proper sense of the term belongs no wicked person, no hypocrite, no unregenerate, no heretic.
Thesis 3: The church in the proper sense of the word is invisible
Thesis 4: It is to this true church of believers and saints that Christ gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and it is the proper and only possessor and bearer of the spiritual, divine, and heavenly gifts, rights, powers, offices, and the like that Christ has procured and are found in His church.
Thesis 5: Though the true church in the proper sense of the term is essentially [according to its true nature] invisible, its existence can nevertheless be definitely recognized, namely, by the marks of the pure preaching of God’s Word and the administration of the sacraments according to Christ’s institution.
Thesis 6: In an improper sense Scripture also calls the visible aggregate of all the called, that is, of all who confess and adhere to the proclaimed Word and use the holy sacraments, which consists of good and evil [persons], “church” (the universal [catholic] church); so also it calls its several divisions, that is, the congregations that are found here and there, in which the Word of God is preached and the holy sacraments are administered, “churches” (Partikularkirchen [particular or individual churches]). This it does especially because in this visible assembly the invisible, true, and properly so-called church of believers, saints, and children of God is hidden; outside this assembly of the called no elect are to be looked for [anywhere].
Thesis 7: As visible congregations that still have the Word and the sacraments essentially according to God’s Word bear the name “church” because of the true invisible church of sincere believers that is found in them, so also they possess the power [authority] that Christ has given to His whole church, on account of the true invisible church hidden in them, even if there were only two or three [believers].
Thesis 8: Although God gathers for Himself a holy church of elect also where His Word is not taught in its perfect purity and the sacraments are not administered altogether according to the institution of Jesus Christ, if only God’s Word and the sacraments are not denied entirely but both remain in their essential parts, nevertheless, every believer must, at the peril of losing his salvation, flee all false teachers, avoid all heterodox congregations or sects, and acknowledge and adhere to orthodox congregations and their orthodox pastors wherever such may be found.
A. Also in heterodox and heretical churches there are children of God, and also there the true church is made manifest by the pure Word and the sacraments that still remain.
B. Every believer for the sake of his salvation must flee all false teachers and avoid all heterodox congregations or sects.
C. Every Christian for the sake of his salvation is in duty bound to acknowledge and adhere to orthodox congregations and orthodox pastors, wherever he can find such.
Thesis 9: To obtain salvation, only fellowship in the invisible church, to which alone all the glorious promises regarding the church were originally given, is absolutely necessary.
Part Two: Concerning the Holy Ministry or Pastoral Office
Thesis 1: The holy ministry or pastoral office is an office distinct from the priesthood of all believers.
Thesis 2: The ministry of the Word or the pastoral office is not a human institution but an office that God Himself has established.
Thesis 3: The ministry is not an arbitrary office but one whose establishment has been commanded to the church and to which the church is ordinarily bound till the end of time.
Thesis 4: The ministry is not a special or, in opposition to that of ordinary Christians, a more holy state, as was the Levitical priesthood, but it is a ministry of service.
Thesis 5: The public ministry [Predigtamt] has the power to preach the Gospel and administer the holy sacraments as well as the power of spiritual judgment.
Thesis 6: A. The ministry of the Word [Predigtamt] is conferred by God through the congregation as the possessor of all ecclesiastical power, or the power of the keys, by means of its call, which God Himself has prescribed. B. The ordination of the called [persons] with the laying on of hands is not a divine institution but merely an ecclesiastical rite [Ordnung] established by the apostles; it is no more than a solemn public confirmation of the call.
Thesis 7: The holy ministry [Predigtamt] is the power, conferred by God through the congregation as the possessor of the priesthood and all church power, to exercise the rights of the spiritual priesthood in public office in the name of the congregation.
Thesis 8: The pastoral ministry [Predigtamt] is the highest office in the church, and from it stems all other offices in the church.
Thesis 9: A. To the ministry there is due respect as well as unconditional obedience when the pastor uses God’s Word. B. The minister must not tyrannize the church. He has no authority to introduce new laws or arbitrarily to establish adiaphora or ceremonies. C. The minister has no right to inflict and carry out excommunication without his having first informed the whole congregation.
Thesis 10: To the ministry of the Word, according to divine right, belongs also the duty [Amt] to judge doctrine, but laymen also possess this right. Therefore, in the ecclesiastical courts (consistories) and councils they are accorded both a seat and vote together with the clergy.
Reprinted from Church and Ministry (Kirche und Amt): Witnesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the Question of the Church and the Ministry by C.F.W. Walther, translated by J. T. Mueller.
©1987 Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission of CPH
Thesis 1: The doctrinal contents of the entire Holy Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, are made up of two doctrines differing fundamentally from each other, viz., the Law and the Gospel.
Thesis 2: Only he is an orthodox teacher who not only presents all the articles of faith in accordance with Scripture, but also rightly distinguishes from each other the Law and the Gospel.
Thesis 3: Rightly distinguishing the Law and the Gospel is the most difficult and the highest art of Christians in general and of theologians in particular. It is taught only by the Holy Spirit and the school of experience.
Thesis 4: The true knowledge of the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is not only a glorious light, affording the correct understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures, but without this knowledge Scripture is and remains a sealed book.
Thesis 5: The first manner of confounding Law and Gospel is the one most easily recognized -- and the grossest. It is adopted, for instance, by Papists, Socinians, and Rationalists and consists in this, that Christ is represented as a new Moses, or Lawgiver, and the Gospel turned into a doctrine of meritorious works, while at the same time those who teach that the Gospel is the message of the free grace of God in Christ are condemned and anathematized, as is done by the papists.
Thesis 6: In the second place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is not preached in its full sternness and the Gospel not in its full sweetness, when, on the contrary, Gospel elements are mingled with the Law and Law elements with the Gospel.
Thesis 7: In the third place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Gospel is preached first and then the Law; sanctification first and then justification; faith first and then repentance; good works first and then grace.
Thesis 8: In the fourth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is preached to those who are already in terror on account of their sins, or the Gospel to those who live securely in their sins.
Thesis 9: In the fifth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when sinners who have been struck down and terrified by the Law are directed, not to the Word and the Sacraments, but to their own prayers and wrestling with God in order that they may win their way into a state of grace; in other words, when they are told to keep on praying and struggling until they feel that God has received them into grace.
Thesis 10: In the sixth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher describes faith in a manner as if the mere inert acceptance of truths, even while a person is living in mortal sins, renders that person righteous in the sight of God and saves him; or as if faith makes a person righteous and saves him for the reason that it produces in him love and reformation of his mode of living.
Thesis 11: In the seventh place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when there is a disposition to offer the comfort of the Gospel only to those who have been made contrite by the Law, not from fear of the wrath and punishment of God, but from love of God.
Thesis 12: In the eighth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher represents contrition alongside of faith as a cause of the forgiveness of sin.
Thesis 13: In the ninth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when one makes an appeal to believe in a manner as if a person could make himself believe or at least help towards that end, instead of preaching faith into a person’s heart by laying the Gospel promises before him.
Thesis 14: In the tenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when faith is required as a condition of justification and salvation, as if a person were righteous in the sight of God and saved, not only by faith, but also on account of his faith, for the sake of his faith, and in view of his faith.
Thesis 15: In the eleventh place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Gospel is turned into a preaching of repentance.
Thesis 16: In the twelfth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher tries to make people believe that they are truly converted as soon as they have become rid of certain vices and engage in certain works of piety and virtuous practices
Thesis 17: In the thirteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when a description is given of faith, both as regards its strength and the consciousness and productiveness of it, that does not fit all believers at all times.
Thesis 18: In the fourteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the universal corruption of mankind is described in such a manner as to create the impression that even true believers are still under the spell of ruling sins and are sinning purposely.
Thesis 19: In the fifteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher speaks of certain sins as if they were not of a damnable, but of a venial nature.
Thesis 20: In the sixteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when a person’s salvation is made to depend on his association with the visible orthodox Church and when salvation is denied to every person who errs in any article of faith.
Thesis 21: In the seventeenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when men are taught that the Sacraments produce salutary effects ex opere operato, that is, by the mere outward performance of a sacramental act.
Thesis 22: In the eighteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when a false distinction is made between a person’s being awakened and his being converted; moreover, when a person’s inability to believe is mistaken for his not being permitted to believe.
Thesis 23: In the nineteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when an attempt is made by means of the demands or the threats or the promises of the Law to induce the unregenerate to put away their sins and engage in good works and thus become godly; on the other hand, when an endeavor is made, by means of the commands of the Law rather than by the admonitions of the Gospel, to urge the regenerate to do good.
Thesis 24: In the twentieth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the unforgiven sin against the Holy Ghost is described in a manner as if it could not be forgiven because of its magnitude.
Thesis 25: In the twenty-first place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the person teaching it does not allow the Gospel to have a general predominance in his teaching.
Reprinted from The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel by C.F.W. Walther, translated by W. H. T. Dau.
©1929, 1986 Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission.