The Teachings of the Lutheran Church are beautifully confessed in Luther's Small Catechism. An easy-to-navigate online version is found HERE
Ever since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, the world has been corrupted by sin. Hurricanes blow and tornadoes twist. There are wars and rumors of war. People hurt and people hate and funeral homes aren’t going out of business—“the wages of sin is death.” From one generation to another, St. Paul says “death came to all men because all sinned.”
Desperate times call for desperate measures. God intervened in love and mercy. His Son became man in order to live the perfect life in our place. His righteousness covers our unrighteousness. He then died the perfect death to pay the price for our sins. At this cross we see the ugliest and yet the most beautiful thing ever. We see the full wrath of the Father. He is a just God that demands payment for wrong. Yet, we also see love without end. The punishment was carried out on his Son and not us.
The Means of Grace
Good Friday—where God’s justice and mercy met—happened many years ago and for most of us, many miles away. So this grace must be delivered to us here and now. As St. Paul said, “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” The grace of God earned through the life and death of Christ is given to us through the means of grace: the Holy Word of God, Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion. Through these means Christ comes to us in a very real way. Just as he became man to earn our salvation, so he comes to us in a real way to give us forgiveness, life, and salvation.
The Divine Service
The Divine Service on Sunday is the time when the Church gathers. And why? We gather to receive God’s mercy. We come as the prodigal children to our Father’s house. It is a family reunion of sorts. We gather under our family name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our baptisms give us the full legal right of sons and daughters. We are now able to come before our Father to plead for His mercy—which He freely gives. We are granted an acquittal (Absolution), we hear and sing the story of Christ’s life (Word) and we dine with him and his church (Communion).
Sunday mornings are first and foremost about God’s giving to us; whereby we also return to Him our thanks and praise. We also realize that true worship lasts more than an hour. Throughout the week we offer our very selves as living sacrifices, created as God’s workmanship to love our neighbors. We do this in our vocations in life. We all have divinely ordained callings in life. We have family vocations (mother, son, uncle, sister). We have career vocations (nurse, farmer, accountant, student). We have churchly vocations (pastor, layman, Sunday School teacher). We have civil vocations (citizen, mayor, volunteer). We understand that in these vocations we are the masks of God. God is working through us in this world. So our lives and jobs really aren’t about our pleasure, nor are they about pleasing God. After all, God doesn’t need our good deeds in heaven, but our neighbors here on earth do. Our lives are lived for our neighbor as God uses us to love them—all to His glory!
The Word of God and our Confession
Christ for us! Christ working through us! All of this has been taught to us through the Word of God. We believe that the Bible is the true and inspired Word of the Triune God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It cannot err nor lie and is sufficient for our life here and for our eternal salvation. Ever since the fall the temptation has come to add and subtract from God’s Holy Word, something He forbids for good reason. Because of this, our Lutheran forefathers boldly confessed the truth of God’s Word as a response to corruptions in the past. We here at St. John’s confess the same: the three Ecumenical Creeds: (the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian). We also confess the Augsburg Confession and its Apology, the Small and Large Catechisms of Dr. Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope and the Epitome and the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord. These are found in the Book of Concord. We hold to these truths not as equal to God’s Word but as confessions that correctly and boldly confess the truths of God’s Word.
Interested in Learning More?
St. John's is a member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. For a detailed statement on our synod's website go here: This We Believe
Pastor Bortulin would love for the opportunity to discuss the teachings of Scripture with you. This could happen informally around your kitchen table or in one of our Adult Instruction Classes, held periodically throughout the year as an introduction to the Lutheran faith. Contact Pastor for more details.