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What We Believe
“This congregation holds all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God and the sole rule of faith and life.”
- St. Paul’s constitution
A BIBLE-BASED CHURCH
At St. Paul’s, the Bible isn’t merely a source of spiritual inspiration or one among many collections of writings about God; it is the one true revelation from God to humankind, given so we may know of His love and His plan of salvation for all people through His Son, Jesus Christ. While we believe that the Spirit of God will also work through the words and writings of people today, the truth of these words must be measured by the theology found in the Bible.
We hold the Bible in the highest regard and yet we do not worship the Bible. The Bible points beyond itself to the God who is revealed as “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” The Biblical writings are a complex blend of history, poetry, and exhortation. They tell a story of a human people—the Israelites, the Jews and the followers of Jesus. They teach us about God through recalling the actions of God in history. At other times, they teach us very directly through descriptions of God and prescriptions of how to live as His people.
A CHRIST-CENTERED CHURCH
Lutherans believe that all Scripture ultimately points to the fullest revelation of God: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Through Jesus Christ, humankind is saved from sin, death, and the power of the devil. By the love and good favor of God, the sacrifice of Jesus is regarded as payment in full for all of our sin. Having once been dead in our sin but now made alive in Christ Jesus, we spend the rest of our lives living to his glory.
This Good News is simply given to us. We don’t earn it. We simply cling to it as if all eternity were at stake, and so it is!
A SACRAMENTAL CHURCH
God has promised that we would be saved through Jesus. We are connected to that saving event of Jesus’ death and resurrection through things that we can see, touch, taste, smell and hear; namely, the sacraments of Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, and the “Office of the Keys” (Confession and Absolution). In these events, God attaches his Word to physical elements of water (Baptism), bread and wine (Holy Communion), and human touch and voice (Confession and Absolution). By thus receiving the water, bread, wine, and human touch and voice, we are receiving his Word, which rescues us through its proclamation of forgiveness.
Jesus Christ, true God, was born to the Virgin Mary as true Man. While living on this earth to save it, he preached, healed, and forgave sin. After the sacrifice of his death, he was resurrected on the third day, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. He ascended into heaven, at which place he continues to pray for his people and continues to rule the world and his church. Before ascending to heaven, he promised he would come again, and commissioned us to go and preach the Good News, baptize, and make disciples.
The church waits for the last Biblical promise to be fulfilled—Christ’s return. As we wait, we are confident in the promise of his continual presence and care in our lives, and that he uses us as the very body of Christ so his ministry might be visible for the world.
A CONFESSIONAL CHURCH
Our constitution goes on to state, “This congregation accepts all the Symbolic books of the Lutheran Church contained in the Book of Concord of the year 1580.” Among these Symbolic (the word here means “to be identified by”) books are the “Augsburg Confession,” the “Formula of Concord” and the three ‘Ecumenical Creeds’ (the Nicene, Apostles’ and Athanasian). We speak one of these Ecumenical Creeds at every Sunday service of worship. They are called “ecumenical” because they were at one time (and to a large degree, still are) recognized by most Christians in the world.
The “Augsburg Confession” and the rest of the Lutheran Symbolic books are uniquely Lutheran and are held as confessional standards in most Lutheran congregations. These writings by Martin Luther and others in the 16th Century attempted to bring reforms to the Roman Catholic Church. In time, they became identifying documents for the many Christians who agreed with the reforms and proceeded to break from Rome. Today, Lutheranism continues to see itself as a reforming movement within the greater Church Catholic. We pray for restored unity, even as we cling to the Biblical truth as we have been led to confess it.
The teachings of Lutheranism have traditionally best been summarized by Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism (another of the Lutheran Symbolic books). Following the ancient catholic (“universal”) tradition, Luther’s catechism contains questions and answers based on the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Holy Baptism, the Office of the Keys and Confession, and the Lord’s Supper.
For more information on what we believe, we invite you to contact us and/or to click here to learn about available Bible classes.
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