We might answer that question by looking first at a brief history of the Lutheran Church. In October of 1517, an Augustinian monk by the name of Dr. Martin Luther posted 95 theses, or issues for discussion, on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. He hoped to spark a debate about some of the abuses he perceived in the church and encourage a renewed interest and zeal in the authority of the Bible. Instead, an entire movement, the Protestant Reformation, gathered momentum and from this “protesting” the churches of the Reformation were born.
Lutherans believe in the triune God and the complete truth and trustworthiness of the Bible. We believe that the Bible, along with Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the means through which the Holy Spirit creates and sustains faith in a person’s heart. Paul’s summary in Ephesians 2:8-10 is worth noting: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
These words of Paul summarize three important truths about Christianity: We are saved by grace, through faith, for works. Lutherans trust in God’s grace alone for salvation, which they receive in their hearts through a personal relationship with God that is brought about by the Holy Spirit, and which prepares them to do the good works God intends for His people to do.
And just what truths does our faith cling to?
- That Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is the world’s Savior, the Messiah that God promised long ago to send in order to save us sinful people. (John 3:16)
- That a personal faith, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, is necessary if one hopes to be saved. As Jesus Himself declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
- That Christians are to tell others about the Savior, heeding Jesus’ command, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything I have commanded you.”(Matthew 28:19-20)
- That Christians are to live a sanctified life, that is, a life marked by the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Lutherans seek to show God’s love in word and action in their daily lives.(Galatians 5:22-23)
Lutherans are very mission-oriented and desire to “seek and save the lost,” or as Jesus put, to be “fishers of men” all around the world. There are currently Lutheran missionaries in more than 40 countries of the world telling people about God’s love, forgiveness and salvation. And Lutherans carry on all sorts of mission work right here in the United States in rural and urban areas, among the deaf, blind, mentally handicapped, and among various ethnic groups.