Doctrinal Statement of Faith for SoundWitness
The Bible, including the entirety of both the Old and New Testaments, is the Word of God, its authors being inspired by the Holy Spirit to write its very words, and is therefore free from error in its original form. It is the final authoritative guide for doctrine, faith, and conduct.
The purpose of the Bible is to save us from sin and damnation through faith in Christ, to educate and train in holiness of life, and to magnify God's glory. The Bible reveals, from first to last, God's plan of salvation in Christ. As such, its words are efficacious - they accomplish what they say, they are clear, being readily understood, and they are completely sufficient to accomplish their purpose.
There is one God eternally existent in three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet only one divine substance or essence, each person possessing the entire divine essence, equal in power and majesty. While God's attributes, such as His omnipresence, His eternality, or His Triune nature, may be difficult for our finite minds to comprehend, this does not mean that we cannot apprehend the basics.
God the Father has revealed Himself as Creator and preserver of the universe, to Whom the entire creation and all creatures are subject.
God created Adam and Eve in His image to live in fellowship with Him. They fell into sin through the temptation of Satan and thereby lost fellowship with God. Through their disobedience all of us are totally depraved, that is, self-centered sinners who oppose God, and who by nature are completely unable to trust, fear or love Him. We are subject to the devil, and are condemned to death under the eternal wrath of God.
Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son, is the image of the invisible God. To accomplish our redemption, He became fully human, being conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus Christ, who is both true God and true man, by His perfect obedience and substitutionary death on the cross, has purchased our redemption. He arose from the dead for our justification in the body in which He was crucified. He ascended into heaven, where He is now seated at the right hand of God, the Father, as our interceding High Priest. He will come a second time personally, bodily, and visibly to judge the living and the dead and make an eternal separation between believers and unbelievers. His kingdom will have no end.
The Holy Spirit is a divine person eternally one with the Father and with the Son. Through the Word of God He convicts us of sin, persuades us to confess our sinfulness to God, and calls us to faith through the Gospel. He regenerates, sanctifies, and preserves all believers in the one true faith. He comforts, guides, equips, directs, and empowers the Church to fulfill the Great Commission.
The knowledge and benefit of Christ's redemption from sin is brought to us through the means of grace, namely the Word and the Sacraments (Baptism and Holy Communion). Though as Christians we remain sinners in this life, through Christ's death and resurrection we are declared righteous and acceptable to God the Father. Because Christ promises to those who believe in Him that their sins are forgiven, Christians have the certainty of knowing that they now have eternal life.
The One, Holy, Universal, and Apostolic Church consists of all those who truly believe on Jesus Christ as Savior. The local congregation is an assembly of believers in a certain locality among whom the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. It cannot be avoided that hypocrites might be mixed in the congregation; that is, those whose unbelief is not evident to the congregation.
We joyfully and tenaciously proclaim and adhere to the confessional writings of the Lutheran Church as found in the Book of Concord. These confessional writings, or symbols, are an accurate and faithful summary of the doctrine found in the Bible, our only rule and norm according to which all teachings should be evaluated and judged. The Book of Concord contains the following documents: the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, Martin Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms, the Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord.
For a comprehensive summary of the teachings of the Lutheran Church, please refer to John Theodore Mueller's "My Church and Others: A Summary of the Teachings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church As Distinguished From Those of Other Denominations," found here.