S What do Lutherans Believe?


What Do Lutherans Believe?
by Rev. David D. Reedy

Where do Lutherans get their beliefs from?

Unfortunately, there is a difference of opinion among various Lutheran church bodies about where we learn about God and what God is about. Missouri Synod Lutherans operate on the principal of sola scriptura, which means Scripture alone.  All that we believe, teach, and confess must faithfully be taken from the Holy Scriptures.

We believe that the Holy Scriptures are God's divinely inspired word, without error, that are able to make us wise unto salvation.

For further information see:     Of Holy Scriptures

What do Lutherans believe about God?

We believe that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  He is three persons in one God, not three gods and not one person, but Triune.

We believe that God is good and that He very much loves His creation.  We believe that God is gracious and merciful.

For further information see:  Of God      The Augsburg Confession "God"

What do Lutherans believe about human beings?

We believe that human beings were created good by God.  We were created to be in a loving relationship with Him and in a loving relationship with other human beings.  But we are all born sinful and separated from God destined to reap the consequences of such separation through the destruction we all experience in life and ultimately through death itself,  because of our original parents', Adam and Eve, fall into sin.

For further information see:

Of Creation     Of Man and Sin

What do Lutherans believe about Sin?

We believe that we are born into this condition called original sin.  No one is exempt.  It is not just a weakening of our abilities to do good, but is a total corruption of the human creature.  Because of our corruption we are completely cut off from God.  We can do nothing to remedy our own sinful situation.  We cannot seek out God with our own strength.  We cannot struggle to do good works to earn His merit.  The call to exercise our freewill and give our hearts to Jesus and decide to be obedient followers of Christ is a myth, because left alone in our sin we can only serve ourselves.  We can never perfectly follow God.

NAB Romans 3:19-25
 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law,
so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become
accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh
will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the
knowledge of sin. 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness
of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the
Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus
Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a
gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood
through faith.


For further information see:

The Augsburg Confession "Of Original Sin"
The Augsburg Confession "The Freedom of the Will"

What do Lutherans believe about Salvation?

We believe that God loves us and is very merciful, but He is also a just God.  He has looked down upon His creation with great love and tender mercy, sending His only Son Jesus Christ into this world to take on human flesh.  This Jesus Christ who is truly God and truly man gave His life upon the cross so that our sins may be forgiven.

Jesus took the burden of our sin upon Himself at the cross enduring our punishment.  His love is so great for us that He gives us His perfect righteousness.  By virtue of the cross, God declares that our sins are forgiven and we are righteous and welcome in His sight.

Through Christ's death and resurrection our relationship with God is restored.  God is once more our Father and through His mercy we are His children.

NAB John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. 9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

For further information see:

The Augsburg Confession "Justification"
The Augsburg Confession "The Son of God"
Of Redemption
Of Justification
Who is Jesus?

What Do Lutherans Believe about how one receives Salvation?

We believe that God sends His Holy Spirit to announce to us the goodnews that is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We believe the Holy Spirit comes to us through God's Word and the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Communion.

We do not believe that we come to God of our own efforts, strength, desire, or decision.  But rather God decides that He loves us, that He wants to be our Father and we His children.  So He sends His spirit to us to convey the riches of Christ's gift of forgiveness so that we may be restored to God.  We believe we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ's action upon the cross.  But faith itself is God's gift to us created by the Holy Spirit through the means of grace:  God's Word, Baptism, and Communion.

NAB Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by
the word of Christ.

NAB Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a
result of works, so that no one may boast.

NAB Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we
have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the
washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

NAB 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you,
that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,
"This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying,
"This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in
remembrance of Me."  For as often as you eat this bread and
drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

NAB 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ?
Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all
partake of the one bread.

For further information see:

Of Faith in Christ
Of Conversion
Of the Means of Grace
The Augsburg Confession "The Ministry"
Luther's Small Catechism "The Creed"

What do Lutherans believe about the new life in Christ?

We believe that Christ has come to free us from the bondage to sin.  Christ's death and resurrection forgives our sins and enable us to have a new life.  God not only has restored our life with Him through the cross of Christ, but is working to restore our relationships with others so that our relationship with Him and others will be one of love.  God gives us a new life in which we can care for one another.

The good works are the fruit of faith, the result of God's gracious working in our lives.

NAB Romans 6:1-11
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in
sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we
who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us
who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into
His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through
baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead
through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of
life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His
death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that
our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no
longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live
with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead,
is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the
death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He
lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to
sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

For further information see:

Of Good Works
The Ausburg Confession "The New Obedience"

More Indepth Studies on the Lutheran Faith


10 Studies on the Lutheran Faith for Inquiring Minds
Bair-Walther's Compendium on the Faith
A Great Variety of Resources on Lutheran Beliefs

© Rev. David D. Reedy