Lutherans are realists. We know that human sin (those things we do that make our conscience bother us!) is a part of our condition. As much as we might like to always be good, we cannot. We call this original sin, and understand that this is part of what it means to be human.
Lutherans believe in a forgiving God. Because God desires us to be good, and follow his ways at all times, we know that sin separates us from God. Yet we long to be reconnected to our loving God. We believe that God sent Jesus to reconnect us. Jesus of Nazareth, a man sent from God into human history, is 100% God and 100% human. His life and teachings (learned about by reading the first four books of the New Testament in the Bible) show the way to honoring our relationship with God first, and our relationship with each other second. Jesus teaches us that we should “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and your neighbor as yourself.”
As great as Jesus was as a teacher, it is his actions on our behalf that make him our Savior. We believe that Jesus reconnects us with God, because he died on the Cross, in our place, thus bringing forgiveness of sin and a new relationship with God.
Lutherans believe in new possibilities for life, because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross. Jesus not only died, but was raised from the dead by our heavenly Father. By rising from death, he defeats sin and death. He sends out his Holy Spirit to empower us to live life in new ways. Forgiven and restored to a right relationship with the Father, we become aware that we are loved, unconditionally, and that awareness frees us to love.
How do we know all of this? Faith in the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, is a gift from God. As we live in the gathered family of God, hearing his Word and sharing in his Meal (Holy Communion) we experience his presence and feel his love.
We use the phrase, “saved by grace through faith” which means: our relationship with God is set right by the loving and saving acts of Jesus, which become real and a part of us, through our experience, hearing, and living in that relationship. The Holy Spirit brings us into the relationship and continues to nourish us.
This relationship is not just about how we relate to God. Being loved, we are called to love. Being forgiven, we are called to forgive. Jesus the Son of God becomes our Servant, dying and rising for us. We are called by this Servant to serve others.
What happens if I have some doubts? Martin Luther had doubts in his life too. He said wrestling with God and what you believe is an act of faith itself! The Bible is full of people who questioned God and his actions. We encourage you to reflect, ask questions, pray and engage us in conversation as you determine for yourself what it means to be in a relationship with a living God.