We Believe, Confess and Teach…
As God comes to us through His Word He has relevance for our lives today and answers for living life now and forever.
We invite you to come visit us at St. Paul and experience the grace of God and the fellowship we have in Jesus Christ.
There is only one true, eternal, divine God, who is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is the Triune God — one God who exists in three separate but equal persons, revealed by the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He holds in Himself infinite wisdom, power, and goodness.
- God the Father is the creator of all things.
- God the Son is Jesus Christ, God who also became man to suffer and die as payment for our sin and be raised from death that we could be justified to stand before God forgiven and redeemed from sin and death.
- God the Holy Spirit is the one who calls us to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, keeps us in the one true faith and equips us for living out our faith.
We confess this mystery, not by our own reason or strength, but because this is who God has revealed Himself to be in the Holy Scriptures.
Since the fall of Adam, all people are born with a problem which the Bible calls “sin.” This sin manifests itself as a lack of love and trust in God along with self-serving thoughts, words and deeds. Our sin turns us away from God and against one another. Scripture teaches that we have inherited our sinfulness (or, “original sin”) and is the cause of the sin we do ourselves (or, “actual sin”). Sin is the cause of all temporal suffering and death. Sin is the cause of all the evil in the world and is present because of our rebellion against God. Our sin condemns us and will bring eternal death upon all those who are not redeemed from it. Being born with sinful desires, we by nature do not want to believe this, and reject God and His truth and promote and believe in our own goodness and lack of evil. Yet, despite this evil, God does not desire people to exist in eternal separation from Himself, and He provides a remedy through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus is God’s answer to the problem of evil. Being the eternal Son of God, He took our human nature into Himself in order to buy us back (redeem us) from the realm of evil. Conceived in the womb of the virgin, Mary, by the Holy Spirit, He is a man of two natures — simultaneously true God and true man. He was born like us so that He could die for us, which He did, by crucifixion, under the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate in human history. As an acceptable sacrifice for sin, taking all of our sins on Himself, He redeemed us from our sinful nature and from all actual sins.
He physically rose from the dead on the third day after His death, appearing to many people and preaching to them the purpose of His sacrifice: that He had triumphed over hell, death, and Satan and opened the gates of Heaven to all who believed. Those who were witnesses to these things expected Him to become an earthly king. But, instead, He ascended to the throne of God in heaven where He reigns in total dominion over all things until the appointed time when He will return to judge both the living and the dead, to put an end to death and decay, and to take those who believe and trust in Him to live forever with Him in heaven. It is through the merits of Jesus alone and not by our works that God shares with us the benefits that Jesus won on the cross: Forgiveness, Righteousness (being in a right relationship with God), and Eternal Life.
People, born spiritually dead, have no power or desire to seek God or be saved. People are saved by God’s grace (undeserved and unearned love) alone, centered in Jesus Christ. The forgiveness of sins and salvation from death that was won on the cross by the death of Jesus are delivered through the Lord’s Word! Jesus wants to save, so He speaks His saving Gospel of forgiveness to us. Before ascending into heaven, Jesus appointed witnesses and instructed them to preach everything He had ever spoken, especially the meaning of His crucifixion, death, and resurrection.
By His work alone, He accomplished total justification of all mankind before His Father, so it is not by our own strength, efforts or deeds, but for Christ’s sake alone, we are freely saved from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil. There is nothing we must or can do to initiate or complete what Jesus has done. It was simply done for us all and given to us. We are received into God’s favor for Christ’s sake. It’s a promise given, and faith believes it.
About Faith and the Holy Spirit
It is through faith alone that we receive forgiveness of sin and salvation. In order that we might receive this faith, Jesus promised that the preaching of His death and resurrection for people’s salvation (the Gospel) would deliver the gift of the Holy Spirit, who gifts us with faith. We can’t see the Spirit, but Jesus has located Him wherever the Word is preached and the Sacraments administered.
It is the Spirit’s desire through the Word of God and the Sacraments to work faith in all people; regenerate their dying spirits, by calling, gathering and enlightening them together with all Christians. This faith is created, through the Good News, the Gospel in God’s Word and Baptism; and renewed and sustained by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word and the Lord’s Supper.
The Christian life is characterized by daily repentance (turning away from sin), as we feel sorry about what we have done, confess our sin and receive the merciful forgiveness for that sin, won for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
As the Word of God is preached, the Spirit works through the Law to bring about awareness of sin and a terror in the conscience that realizes what sin is and what it deserves. But the Law is not preached alone! The Word of Gospel is preached, through which the Spirit works like a salve upon a deep wound, to comfort the conscience and bring peace and forgiveness. By both Law and Gospel, the Holy Spirit creates a living and active faith in each believer.
About Good Works
Through the work of the Gospel, the Lord grows the good tree of faith — and good fruit grows on good trees. God doesn’t need our good works. In fact, He is happy with us fully because Jesus has died for us. Good works are for the benefit of our neighbor, so our life in this world is lived in loving service toward them.
As the Holy Spirit works in the believer through the Word and sacraments, good fruits are promised to follow. We strive to love our neighbor in this way, though we never look to our works as evidence of faith, but always to Jesus!
About the Bible
Scripture alone is the basis for all Christian doctrine (everything we believe and teach), for it is God’s Word, inspired by Him and thus without error.
The Lord calls Christians together in His Name to hear the preaching from His Word, receive His gifts, and give Him thanks and praise. Today, we continue the practice of the early church in learning the Lord’s teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer (Acts 2:42). This Church, built on the confession of Christ-crucified, exists wherever the Word of God is preached in its truth and purity.
While it is not necessary that human traditions or ceremonies be shared in common in every place, Jesus’ institutions of Preaching, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are to be retained in their purity in every place, for without these external gifts, the certainty of the Spirit’s working is removed.
The forgiveness of all sins and the freeing of every individual of all shame and guilt was won by the death of Jesus on the cross. But the forgiveness He won on the cross is not delivered to us personally at the cross. We weren’t there, but Jesus wants to comfort us with His salvation today. In the Lord’s Service, He serves us with His Gospel, delivering the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation to us today. While the world’s religions attempt to climb toward their “gods” through their works, emotions, or reason, the Lord Jesus halts our climbing and descends to us in worship just as He did when He was born in Bethlehem.
In our worship Christ first comes to us and in joyful response to His mercy and grace, we respond with praise, thanksgiving, and praying for the Church and the world. The Lord’s Church has been given a rich tradition of liturgy and hymnody that clearly confesses the foundation of our faith: Christ crucified for sinners. One of the greatest gifts the history of the Church has left to us is a Scripture-filled “liturgy” or “public service” that places Christ and His forgiveness at the center of our worship services.
As we seek to place our focus on God we look to our worship heritage and seek to make it our own. As we look to make our worship meaningful, facilitating people to worship God through the faith that is theirs we look to the rich resources that Christians have been inspired to through the ages. In worship we are connected to God, to one another and to fellow Christians through time and place, both here and in heaven.
Jesus instituted the Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in His Word, so the Church looks to the Word of God for how we practice these gifts today. According to that Word, Baptism is not only water but when water is used with God’s Word and by His command it becomes a life giving water that that works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil and gives eternal life for it bestows faith. Scripture declares that all “who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like His,” as it is written in Romans 6. Through baptism, God places His name upon us, even little children, for salvation is not dependent upon our will or intellectual development, but it is the gift of God.
About the Lord’s Supper
The Sacrament of the Altar (Holy Communion, The Lord’s Supper) is a sacred act established by Christ Himself and given to the whole Church. God’s Word teaches “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement upon himself.” (I Corinthians 11:28-29. ESV). Therefore, in accordance with Holy Scripture, and out of loving concern for all, we believe that those who commune should:
- Be baptized Christians who have been instructed in God’s Word, especially regarding the Sacrament.
- Confess and sincerely repent of all their sins; (1 John 1:8-9).
- Believe that through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God forgives their sins and gives them newness of life (Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 6:23; II Corinthians 5:17).
- Believe that in and with the bread and wine they receive, in a miraculous way, not merely a symbol but the true Body and Blood of Christ, for the forgiveness of their sins and the strengthening of their faith (I Corinthians 10:16; Matthew 26:28).
- Recognize that participation at His table is a “proclaiming of the Lord’s death” (I Corinthians 11:26) and indicates a public agreement with the Biblical teaching of the Sacrament, and a oneness in the faith we confess.
Anyone who wishes to commune here for the first time and who is not a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church or a sister congregation is encouraged to speak to Pastor Schafer in advance (410-747-1897).
About Confession and Absolution
As Jesus gave Baptism and the Supper, He also sends out His apostles and pastors to speak His words of forgiveness to repentant sinners (John 20:21-23). Thus, in the Church’s worship, we begin by confessing our sins to God, and then receiving the gift that Jesus bestowed on His Church: the total forgiveness of our sins which is bestowed on us through the pastor that we have called.
About Christ’s Return
The Last Day (Judgment Day) is when Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. On that day, everyone who has died will see their bodies raised to life and those who are still alive will be bodily transformed. At that time, the final judgment will take place. Those who do not trust Jesus as their Savior will go into eternal damnation in hell and all those who believe in Jesus as Savior will have eternal life in heaven. Though the last day will come suddenly and unexpectedly, for the believer who stands with faith in Christ the last day is nothing to fear.
There is a diversity of teaching on the end times, thus there is great confusion. For more information on this, please contact our pastor.
What is a Lutheran?
“Do you guys worship Luther?!?” No! Lutherans are Christians who confess that we are saved by faith in Christ alone, by His grace alone, as taught in the Scriptures alone. Anything added to Jesus for salvation takes everything away from the Gospel. This was the same confession of faith even by Martin Luther in the 16th century in response to abuses within the Roman Catholic Church of the day, who had stepped away from the Scriptures and added works to the cross of Jesus. Churches today who continue in that confession of faith are united as Lutherans. The Confessions of the Lutheran Church, making up The Book of Concord, are the Church’s response to false teachings, thus uniting Lutherans in faithful Biblical doctrine.
What are the Lutheran Confessions?
Lutherans confess that, “The Word of God is and should remain the sole rule and norm of all doctrine,” (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 9). The authority of the Scriptures is complete, certain and final. The Lutheran Confessions are simply a “basis, rule, and norm indicating how all doctrines should be judged” only because they are “in conformity with the Word of God” (FC SD, RN). The Confessions only repeat the written Word of God in response to the challenges of their day. They do not replace the Scriptures, but they point us back to the Scriptures all the more. Read the Book of Concord online here.
About the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod
The word “Synod” in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod comes from Greek words that mean “walking together.” The term has rich meaning in our church body because congregations voluntarily chose to belong to the Synod. Our name is historical when congregations in Missouri along with congregations from other states first formed our synod. Today we have congregations throughout the United States, are partnered with Lutheran Churches and have missionaries throughout the world.
United as a synod we can better do the mission and ministry of Christ’s Church than we would be able to do as individual congregations; such as mission work, the training of pastors, teachers and other church workers and the various ministries both nationally and internationally that Christ calls us to. We have the second largest parochial school system in the United States and have 10 colleges and universities and 2 seminaries.
Though diverse in their service, our congregations hold to a shared confession of Jesus Christ as taught in Holy Scripture. Our congregations believe that the Lutheran Confessions are a correct interpretation and presentation of biblical doctrine. Contained in The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, these statements of belief were transcribed and shared broadly by church leaders during the 16th century. Luther’s Small Catechism contains essential summaries of our beliefs, while the Augsburg Confession gives more detail about what Lutherans believe. Find out more here.