WE BELIEVE, TEACH, AND CONFESS
Christ Lutheran Church, Lubbock, Texas, is a confessional congregation.
What does it mean to be a confessional congregation? It means that our doctrine, that is, what we teach, is in accord with what the Christian Church has taught from the time of the Apostles until now. To be specific, it means that our congregation and our pastor have vowed to God and publicly that the Book of Concord of 1580 is our confession, because it agrees with Scripture.
Unfortunately, many churches today try to win the approval of the world by watering down the teaching, by ignoring the problems presented by this fallen world, or by valuing relevance more than faithfulness to God.
God's Word is unchanging and eternal. The sole foundation of our faith is the inspired and inerrant Word of God. That Word is the basis of our teaching, our preaching, the Book of Concord, and our faith.
to the Christian Faith
When considering the teaching of any church, the two best places to start are the source of the teaching and the content of the teaching.
The Source of our Teaching
The source of our teaching, simply put, is the Bible. While we use creeds, confessions, and other statements to clarify what we believe the Bible says, all our teaching is derived from what is taught in the Holy Scriptures. As King David wrote, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. This teaching that the doctrine of the Church comes only from Scripture is known as Sola Scriptura, and we cheerfully affirm this teaching.
We teach that the Scriptures are inspired: all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
We teach that, because the Scriptures are inspired, they are without error (inerrant): The Scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35).
We teach that, because the Scriptures are inspired, they are unable to err (infallible): It is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18).
We teach that the Scriptures contain everything necessary for the salvation of sinners (sufficiency): Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30-31).
As Lutherans we have adopted creeds and confessions to state publicly and clearly what we believe, teach, and confess. We adopt these statements precisely because (quia) they are in accord with the Word of God. They are not themselves the source of teaching, but faithfully teach what the Scriptures teach and reject the errors that the Scriptures reject. The confessions of the church are found in the Book of Concord, published in 1580.
The Content of our Teaching
The chief content of our teaching is the Gospel, which is the promise of the forgiveness of sins won for all sinners through Jesus' death on the cross. All Scripture -- Old and New Testaments -- testify of Jesus Christ. -- You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me [i.e., Jesus] (John 5:39).
of the articles of the Christian faith
Original Sin - Man was created perfect in the image and likeness of God. That is, Adam and Eve before the Fall perfectly feared, loved, and trusted in God above all things [Genesis 1:26-27]. This image and likeness were lost in the Fall, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command [Genesis 3]. From that time on, every person is born in sin [Psalm 51:5], that is, without the fear of God, and is also guilty before God [Romans 3:9-20]. This inherited sin is called "original sin." The punishment for sin is death and hell [Romans 5:12].
The Son of God - For us men and for our salvation, the eternal Son of God took on man's nature in the womb of the virgin Mary, and became Man [John 1:14]. Jesus has two natures, divine and human, eternally united in one Person. He was born of the virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried that He might reconcile us to the Father and atone for the sins -- original sin and actual sin -- of all people of all time [Romans 4:24-25, John 1:29, Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23-25]. He descended into Hell and rose again on the third day, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father, forever reign over all creation, and sanctify all who believe in Him by sending the Holy Spirit into their hearts. This Christ will return on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead [1 Corinthians 15:3-6, Mark 16:19]. Jesus is the only Savior of mankind.
Justification - Men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight [Romans 3:21-26, Romans 4:5, Romans 5:1, Genesis 15:6, 2 Corinthians 5:19].
The Ministry - So that we may obtain the faith that God counts as righteousness, God has instituted the ministry of teaching the gospel and administering the sacraments. Through the gospel and the sacraments, the Holy Ghost is given, Who works faith when and where it pleases God. The Holy Ghost does not come to men without the external Word [John 3:5-8, John 17:17-20, 1 Corinthians 1:21, Acts 11:14, Romans 10:17].
Good Works - Faith is living, and such it is impossible for faith not to be doing what is good. Good works are necessary, not for our salvation, but because they are God's will for us [1 Corinthians 9:9, Acts 5:29, John 15:12, 1 John 4:11].
The Church - There is one Christian Church which consists of all who believe in Jesus Christ, and the Church is found where the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. For unity in the Church it is sufficient to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments [Ephesians 4:4-6, 1 Timothy 3:15].
What the Church Is - Although the Church consists of believers in Jesus, there will be hypocrites and evil persons mingled among the believers, but this does not affect the power of the Word or Sacraments [Matthew 23:2, Matthew 3:12, Ephesians 2:2].
Baptism - Baptism is a work of Jesus [Ephesians 5:25-26] in which He gives forgiveness of sins, rebirth, and salvation [Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Acts 2:38-39, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:3-4, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21]. In baptism, He puts His name on us, graciously making us His children [Matthew 28:19, Galatians 3:26-27]. Following our Lord's command, we baptize infants [Matthew 28:19 "all nations," Acts 2:39 "and to your children"].
The Lord's Supper - Jesus gives us His true body and blood to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of our sins [Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26]. As the Church has practiced from the days of the Apostles, we practice closed communion, the teaching that unity in doctrine is necessary before there can be unity at the altar.
Confession and Absolution - The Lord Jesus has given His Church on earth the unique authority to bind or loose sins [Matthew 16:19, Matthew 18:18, John 20:22-23]. The absolution is the loosing and forgiving of sins. We practice both public and private absolution [2 Samuel 12:14].
Repentance - Repentance has two parts: 1) sorrow over sin and 2) faith in the promise of the forgiveness of sins [Matthew 11:28, Mark 1:15, Colossians 2:11-12, Psalm 119:28, 1 Samuel 2:6]. Repentance is not a choice or a decision of man, but a gift granted by God [1 Corinthians 2:14, Ephesians 2:8-9, Acts 11:18, Lamentations 5:21, Psalm 80].
The Use of the Sacraments - The Sacraments do indeed bestow the forgiveness of sins, but not by the mere outward act of receiving them. The promise of the forgiveness of sins must be received by faith, and so it is necessary that the sacraments be received in faith [Romans 1:16, Isaiah 55:11, Romans 10:10].
Order in the Church - No one is to teach publicly in the Church unless he be regularly called [Romans 10:15, Acts 20:28, 1 Corinthians 3:5, 1 Corinthians 12:28, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Timothy 4:14, 1 Timothy 5:17-18, 2 Timothy 1:6, Titus 1:5].
SIX CHIEF PARTS
as taught in the Small Catechism
I. You shall have no other gods.
II. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
III. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
IV. Honor your father and your mother.
V. You shall not murder.
VI. You shall not commit adultery.
VII. You shall not steal.
VIII. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
IX. You shall not covet your neighbor's house.
X. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
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 Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be 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.
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Mark, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16).
St. Paul says in Titus, chapter three: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying” (Titus 3:5-8).
St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Rom. 6:4)
Christ our Lord says in John, chapter twenty, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld" (John 20:21-23).
The holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul write: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me. In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (from the accounts in Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
of the Lutheran Church
Our congregation and pastor have publicly subscribed to the 1580 Book of Concord as "a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God." The Book of Concord is a collection of ten documents:
The Apostles' Creed (3rd Century)
The Nicene Creed (325 AD)
The Unaltered Augsburg Confession (Philip Melanchthon, 1530)
The Apology (i.e., Defense) of the Augsburg Confession (Philip Melanchthon, 1531)
The Smalcald Articles (Martin Luther, 1537)
The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope (Philip Melanchthon, 1537)
The Small Catechism (Martin Luther, 1529)
The Large Catechism (Martin Luther, 1529)
The Formula of Concord (1577)
The entire Book of Concord can be read for free online at bookofconcord.org.