What is the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod?
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) is a denomination of Christianity numbering over 2 million people in the United States. The LCMS is in partnership with Lutheran denominations around the world. "Missouri" is mentioned in the LCMS name because the original founders of our denomination settled in the state of Missouri, just south of St. Louis. The word "Synod" means "walking together." The 6,000-plus congregations of the LCMS voluntarily join forces for mission, education, and service. The LCMS operates the largest Protestant educational network in the United States with thousands of early childhood centers and grade schools, hundreds of high schools, and a network of universities and seminaries.
The LCMS has been in existence since 1847 and its headquarters are located in St. Louis, Missouri.
How Lutherans Began
Lutherans got their name from Martin Luther. He was a German priest who insisted on a Biblical focus and foundation for the church and, therefore, was forced to part ways with the Roman Catholic Church. Luther's call to church reform sparked the Protestant Reformation.
Martin Luther helped the Christian Church rediscover the truth that God is loving and that He offers forgiveness and eternal life as a free gift because of Jesus Christ.
Luther taught that people – no matter how hard they try – cannot earn God's forgiveness or a place in heaven. It is a gift that people receive through faith in Christ.
The teachings of Luther and the reformers can be summarized in three short phrases – Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone.
Grace Alone: God loves us and gives us new life through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His only Son. This gift is given to us freely and out of love.
Faith Alone: God steps into our lives and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we trust Him with our lives in a dynamic and life-giving relationship.
Scripture Alone: The Bible is the foundation and authority for all we teach and practice. It is God's true Word for our lives.
What Lutherans Teach
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is a part of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. We are people of the Bible because God's Word points us to Jesus Christ. We treasure God's Word because it teaches us about eternal life and assures us of God's love and faithfulness. It inspires us to tell others. It moves us to help people in need.
The following is a summary of the teachings of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
Lutherans teach that the Bible is the Word of God; that, consequently, all the teachings revealed in it are absolutely true, that is without error; that it interprets itself; that it should be diligently heard and studied; that it is the sole standard for our faith and practice. Its central message is that Jesus promised salvation to all who believe in Him.
References: 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:21; John 10:35; John 20:30-31
The Triune God
Lutherans teach that God is triune, that is, one God in three distinct persons; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that these persons are equal in all things; and that to ignore or deny one is to discredit all. God is Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.
References: Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; John 5:23; 1 John 2:23; Genesis 1:1; 1 John 2:1-2; Romans 15:13
Lutherans teach that every thought, word, and action contrary to God's Law is sin; that every human being is a sinner by birth; that all evil in the world is the consequence of sin; and that sin separates us eternally from God.
References: 1 John 3:4; John 3:6; Genesis 3:21; Romans 5:12; Psalm 5:4; Psalm 51:5
Lutherans teach that baptism is a divinely instituted washing of regeneration; that it is intended for young and old without exception and may be administered by sprinkling, pouring, or immersing with water; and that by it all who in faith receive this sacrament are given the grace of God, forgiveness of sins, and the promise of eternal life.
References: Matthew 28:19; Titus 3:5; Mark 10:14; Acts 16:15; Hebrews 10:22; Acts 22:16; Acts 2:28; Mark 16:16
Lutherans believe that Jesus comes to us in a miraculous, forgiving, and life-giving way in, with, and under the bread and wine in Holy Communion. Jesus said, "This is My body ... This is My blood ... for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28) Those receiving this blessing should prepare by confessing their sins, trusting in Jesus as their Savior, and making a commitment to lead a life that glorifies God.
References: Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-19; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Lutherans believe and teach that all action with regard to social issues must be founded on what the Bible teaches. This faithful following of God's Word brings the freedom, joy, and wholeness God desires.