We believe that the books of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice. During the Divine Service after each reading it is declared, “This is the Word of the Lord,” and the response is, “Thanks be to God.” We believe, teach, and confess the following because it is in accord with the Word of God:

I. God

We believe in one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the words of the Athanasian Creed from the 5th century: “The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God; and yet there are not three Gods, but one God.”

In the words of our Lutheran Confessions and the Scriptures cited there:

“God is one divine essence who is eternal, without a body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. He is maker and preserver of all things, visible and invisible (Nehemiah 9:6). Yet there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). These three persons are of the same essence and power.” Augsburg Confession, Article I.2-3

II. Original Sin

We believe that man is born with sin. Mankind’s corrupted nature is turned entirely away from God. Man would rather set himself up as God than believe in the one true God.

In the words of our Lutheran Confessions and the Scriptures cited there:

“Our churches teach that since the fall of Adam (Romans 5:12), all who are naturally born are born with sin (Psalm 51:5), that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence. Concupiscence is a disease and original vice that is truly sin. It damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born anew through Baptism and the Holy Spirit (John 3:5).” Augsburg Confession, Article II.1-2

III. The Son of God

We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, as the Apostle Peter confessed the same in Matthew 16:16. In the words of John the Baptist, Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus is fully God and fully man, not half of each, but completely both. We believe that where Jesus is, he is not only present in his divine nature, but is present with his body in his human nature as well.

In the words of our Lutheran Confessions and the Scriptures cited there:

“Our churches teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God (John 1:14), assumed the human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So there are two natures – the divine and the human – inseparably joined in one person. There is one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried. He did this to reconcile the Father to us and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of mankind (John 1:29). He also descended into hell, and truly rose again on the third day. Afterward, He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. There He forever reigns and has dominion over all creatures. He sanctifies those who believe in Him, by sending the Holy Spirit into their hearts to rule, comfort, and make them alive. He defends them against the devil and the power of sin. The same Christ will openly come again to judge the living and the dead, and so forth, according to the Apostles’ Creed.” Augsburg Confession, Article III.1-6

IV. Justification

We believe that man is justified not by his own works, but for the sake of Jesus’ blood and merit. To be justified means to be declared righteous. We cannot make ourselves righteous, but must be declared righteous by God when our sins are freely forgiven through Jesus Christ. There is no salvation apart from believing in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, as Jesus testifies, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). This salvation demands nothing from us but is given as a gift.

In the words of our Lutheran Confessions and the Scriptures cited there:

“Our churches teach that people cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works. People 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. By His death, Christ made satisfaction for our sins. God counts this faith for righteousness in His sight (Romans 3:21-26; 4:5).” Augsburg Confession, Article IV.1-3

V. The Ministry

We believe that Jesus established the Office of the Holy Ministry for the sake of giving his gifts to his people. Through this ministry Jesus himself preaches, baptizes, forgives sin, and gives his body and blood. The Holy Spirit works through those gifts to create and sustain faith in those who receive them.

In the words of our Lutheran Confessions and the Scriptures cited there:

“So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given (John 20:22). He works faith, when and where it pleases God (John 3:8), in those who hear the good news that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake. This happens not through our own merits, but for Christ’s sake.” Augsburg Confession, Article V.1-3

VI. New Obedience

We believe that good works are necessary, not so that we can be saved, but because God wills that we do them. Just as a well tended fruit tree naturally bears fruit, so a person who has the Holy Spirit and faith naturally does good works. We do not look to good works for assurance of salvation. For that we look to Christ alone.

In the words of our Lutheran Confessions and the Scriptures cited there:

“Our churches teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). It is necessary to do good works commanded by God (Ephesians 2:10), because of God’s will. We should not rely on those good works to merit justification before God. The forgiveness of sins and justification is received through faith.” Augsburg Confession, Article VI.1-2

The full Augsburg Confession has 28 Articles. For more information on the Lutheran Confessions, including historical backgrounds and full texts, click here.

All quotes from the Augsburg Confession taken from McCain, Paul Timothy, Concordia – The Lutheran Confessions : A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005). Quote from the Athanasian Creed taken from Lutheran Service Book, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006).