Above all, our Christian faith centers on Jesus! We trust what He has done for us as our Savior, we listen to His Word, we receive His blessings in the Sacraments, and we live our daily lives in love for Him and our neighbor.
Here are some details about what we believe and teach:
Christ Alone - Jesus Christ is the focus of our faith. He alone came to be our Savior by living a holy life, dying a sacrificial death, and rising again to destroy sin and death for us. "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Grace Alone - We are saved by the grace (undeserved love and kindness) of God. We cannot contribute anything to our salvation. Forgiveness, new life, and eternal salvation are all gifts from God! "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).
Faith Alone - We receive these blessings by faith (another gift from God!) - trusting Christ and what He has accomplished for us at the cross and empty tomb. This is the Gospel - the Good News of Jesus - through which God the Holy Spirit calls people to faith. "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).
Scripture Alone - God's inspired Word, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, is the source and standard for what we believe, teach, and practice. Christian ministry must always be evaluated on the basis of God's Word. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).
Law and Gospel - We summarize the two main themes and messages of the Bible as "Law and Gospel." In the Law, God shows us what we are meant to do and not do. The Law reveals our sin and our great need for a Savior. The Gospel (literally, "Good News") shows that Jesus is our Savior from sin, from God's righteous wrath, from hell, from hopelessness, and much more. The Gospel is all about God's initiative and all the blessings He graciously pours out on us.
The Nature of God - As revealed in Scripture and as taught by the Christian Church since its inception, we believe that God is Three Persons in One Divine Being. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, yet One True God, and so we call Him "triune" or "The Holy Trinity." The three historic Christian Creeds which we adhere to (the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds) express this faith in the Three Persons of the Trinity.
Holy Baptism - Baptism is one of the "Sacraments" instituted by Jesus Himself. (A Sacrament is a sacred act which combines tangible elements with God's promise of forgiveness. God's Word and Sacraments are also called "means of grace.") Holy Baptism is commanded by Jesus, as He says in Matthew 28:19, "Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The term, baptize, means "wash." Baptism is a washing which combines God's Word with ordinary water to "wash away your sins" (Acts 22:16). The Apostle Paul teaches, "Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word" (Ephesians 5:25-26). We practice Infant Baptism, trusting Christ's Word that this Sacrament is His gift for "all nations", regardless of age or intellectual ability.
Holy Communion - Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion (also known as the Lord's Supper, or the Sacrament of the Altar) on the night before He suffered and died on the cross. Trusting Christ's own words, we believe that we receive in Holy Communion both ordinary bread and wine and Christ's true body and blood, given and shed for our forgiveness. Because participating in Holy Communion is also an expression of faith, and because Communion can be received both one's good or harm (1 Corinthians 11:23-29), those who are part of another church or denomination or who have not yet been instructed in the Lutheran faith, are asked to visit with the pastor prior to communing at St. Matthew. Thank you!
What does "Lutheran" mean? - St. Matthew is a member congregation of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Martin Luther was a Bible professor who lived from 1483-1546. Luther and others in his time sparked the Protestant Reformation which led to many reforms in the church and helped to bring church teaching and practice back to Scripture, and especially to the Gospel message. As a Lutheran congregation, we are not following Luther the individual but the Bible-based and Christ-centered teachings which He and other Reformers emphasized. (The 20th century civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., and his father, were both named in honor of the "original" Martin Luther.)
Interested in learning more? If you have other questions or are interested in taking an instruction class at St. Matthew, please contact our pastor. Luther's Small Catechism is another great place to explore our Christian faith. To learn more about The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), or to check out some Frequently Asked Questions, CLICK HERE to visit the LCMS FAQ page.