Salem Lutheran Church, as a member congregation of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), accepts the Scriptures as the inspired and inerrant Word of God, and subscribes unconditionally to all the symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as a true and unadulterated statement and exposition of the Word of God. We accept the Confessions because they are drawn from the Word of God and on that account regard their doctrinal content as a true and binding exposition of Holy Scripture and as authoritative for all pastors, congregations and other rostered church workers of the LCMS.
With the universal Church on earth Salem teaches and responds to the love of the Triune God: the Father, creator of all that exists; Jesus Christ, the Son, who took on flesh in order to suffer and die for the sins of all human beings and to rise to life again in the ultimate victory over death, death, and the Devil; and the Holy Spirit, who creates faith through God’s Word and Sacraments. The three persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal, one God.
We’re called “Lutheran” because we believe, teach, and confess the truth of God’s Word recorded in Holy Scripture and summarized in The Book of Concord. The teaching of our church can be summarized in three short phrases:
- Grace Alone: God loves the people of the world, even though they are sinful, rebel against Him and do not deserve His love. He sent Jesus, His Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly.
- Scripture Alone: The Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the sole rule and norm for Christian doctrine.
- Faith Alone: By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for them. Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him.
What does this mean?
This means that as Lutherans we believe, teach, and confess the following:
- God –We believe that there is only one true God, who is Triune, meaning he is one divine essence in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (The Holy Trinity)
- Man – We believe that man is not the product of evolutionary development, but that was created in the beginning by God who formed him from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Therefore man consists of both body and soul. We were created to be perfect: holy and innocent, however we sinned when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
- Sin – We believe that sin is every thought, word, and action that is contrary to the God’s law. And that since, Adam and Eve’s sin, all of humanity is corrupted by and born with sin and continues to sin throughout all of their life. As a result of our sin we are subject to the consequences of it, both temporal/earthly consequences: pain, suffering, guilt, sorrow, divorce, jail, illness, disease, and old age, to name a few, as well as eternal consequences: death and hell.
- Jesus/Redemption – We believe that God, in His mercy, chose to save us by sending his one and only son who came in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary. He perfectly obeyed the law, which we sin against. He suffered and died on the cross so that the penalty and eternal consequence that we deserve for our sin would be paid for in full. Jesus redeemed you from sin, death, and hell, not with perishable things, such as gold or silver but by the shedding of His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. Moreover, after Jesus died, he was taken down from the cross and buried in the tomb. But unlike us, Jesus did not say dead, but He rose from the dead three days later, to proclaim His victory over sin, death and the devil and to give to all who believe in him forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Then He ascended into heaven where He rules in power and glory, until the day when He returns to judge the living and the dead. Those who believe in Jesus will rise to eternal life and live with him, where there will be no more sin, crying, pain, suffering, mourning, or death. Those who do not believe will rise to eternal death as they are separated from God and thrown into hell where this is pain, suffering, torment, agony and unquenchable fire. , , and Jesus has done everything necessary to accomplish the salvation of all people. Therefore, the answer to the question, “How can I be saved?” is a very simple one: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” . “For salvation is found in no one else, there is no other name under heaven given to men, by which we are saved.” According to Holy Scripture, salvation comes not by “living a good life” or “trying to be a good person,” since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” . Salvation is a free gift of God, which comes through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” .
- Holy Scripture/The Bible – We believe and teach that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are in every part without error and the inspired Word of God. It is from God, meaning that the words in it are God’s own words that he has recorded by human authors who experienced these historical events. Scripture’s central message is articulated best in , where John says, “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing in him, you may have life in his name.”
- The Church – We believe that everyone who, by faith, believes in Jesus Christ is a member of His one holy Christian Church. Since man cannot determine which of those who profess faith in Christ truly believe in him, we believe that true Christians are found wherever this Gospel of Jesus Christ, specifically his death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin, is preached. We believe that no church body, denomination, or sect can rightfully claim to be the “only saving” church outside of which there is no salvation. We believe that the true church is the one which adheres in every point to the doctrine of Christ and His apostles, and retains the right administration of the sacraments.
- Holy Baptism – We believe and teach that Baptism is “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” ( and that it is necessary because it “now saves you” (). Through this divine, miraculous washing of water and His Word, God works the forgiveness of sins and gives His Holy Spirit (). Because Baptism is God’s work, and not a human work of committing oneself to the Lord, children also should be baptized, because the promise of forgiveness “is for you and for you children” () and children are part of “all nations”. ()
- Holy Communion – We believe and teach that in this Sacrament the true body and blood of Jesus Christ are really present under the bread and wine for Christians to eat and to drink, because Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is My body….Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant” (). Our Lord Jesus Christ is present in this sacred meal to give “the forgiveness of sins” (), eternal life, and salvation. As He taught His disciples, he also teaches us: “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (). Consequently, Lutherans agree with and practice the Church’s historic practice of “closed communion.” Since “the cup of blessing” is “a participation in the blood of Christ” and “the bread that we break” is “a participation in the body of Christ” (). all who commune receive the actual body and blood of Christ – believers to their abundant blessing, but unbelievers to their eternal harm. Whoever communes “without discerning the body [of Christ] eats and drinks judgment on himself” (). So in Christian love, Lutherans protect those who are unprepared to receive Holy Communion by first teaching them their need for Christ, and the forgiveness and life that he gives in the Sacrament and the truth doctrines of Holy Scripture. When there is unity in confession we joyously commune together.
- Holy Ministry – We believe and teach that nobody should teach or preach on behalf of the Church or administer the Sacraments in the Church unless he is ordained by the Church and called to this service. The Office of the Holy Ministry is instituted and given by God “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” () Just as Jesus first sent the Apostles to baptize and teach (), to proclaim “repentance and forgiveness of sins” (), and to feed His sheep () with His body and blood, he still sends pastors to serve His redeemed people in these very same ways.
- Marriage – We believe the Holy Scriptures teaches that God, in creating the world, gave marriage to be the life-long union of one man and one woman (, ), a gift to be held in honor and kept pure (; ). The union of husband and wife, in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for the mutual companionship, help, and support each ought to receive from each other in times of prosperity and adversity. It is also established that the man and woman may find delight in each other and that they may “be fruitful and multiply”, bearing children who are to be brought up in the fear and instruction of the Lord. Above all, marriage is a picture of the communion between Christ and His Church. () For this reason, what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
- Civil Government – We believe and teach that God ordains and institutes all governing authorities and establishes laws for the sake of good order, that is, to punish the wrongdoer and reward those who do good (). Christians, therefore, are to “be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (). Christians may freely and with a clear conscience serve in civil offices, law enforcement, and the military, and thus serve their neighbors as God’s agents of justice.
- Christ’s Second Coming – We believe and teach that our Lord Jesus Christ “will come again to judge the living and the dead” (Apostles’ Creed). As Scripture teaches, Christ will come once at the end of time, not to “rapture” believers away from earth, nor establish earthly kingdoms, nor to begin a thousand year reign on earth, but to separate the believers from the unbelievers () and to give each of them their eternal reward or punishment. One the Last Day, those who have rejected Christ, along with the devil and his angels, “will go away to eternal punishment” while those who trust in Christ and His forgiveness, life, and salvation will go “into eternal life” ()
18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (ESV)
28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (ESV)
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (ESV)
43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ (ESV)
31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (ESV)
12 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.” (ESV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (ESV)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)
31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (ESV)
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (ESV)
21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (ESV)
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (ESV)
39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (ESV)
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (ESV)
28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (ESV)
54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (ESV)
16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (ESV)
29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (ESV)
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (ESV)
47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (ESV)
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. (ESV)
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (ESV)
2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5 And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (ESV)
4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (ESV)
2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; (ESV)
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (ESV)
3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (ESV)
13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. (ESV)
32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. (ESV)
46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (ESV)