Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church is a Christian congregation made up of confessional Lutherans. “But what are confessional Lutherans?”
As confessional Lutherans we believe that the Bible is the inspired and entirely inerrant Word of God. We also subscribe (or hold firmly) to all the teachings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as they are found in the Book of Concord, since we believe those teachings to be in absolute agreement with the teachings of Scripture.
Conservative Lutheran theologians who were deeply interested in preserving the pure doctrine of the Lutheran church compiled the Book of Concord in 1580. This book includes the three Christian or ecumenical creeds (the Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds), together with six Lutheran confessional writings: The Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology (or Defense) to the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms of Dr. Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles and the Formula of Concord. We subscribe to these six Lutheran Confessions because we believe that they are an accurate summary of all the biblical teachings that those confessions treat.
The Book of Concord is too extensive to properly summarize on this website, but here are the most basic teachings of Scripture that are preached and taught at Good Shepherd, by her sister congregations in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and by the confessional Evangelical Lutheran church:
We believe that there is one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4), who has revealed himself in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). However, we do not have three Gods, but one God. The ancient Christian church used the word “triune” (three in one).
We believe that all people are sinful from the moment they are conceived (Psalm 51:5) and that the punishment for sin is death (Romans 5:12; 6:23). Because of our sin there is nothing that we can do to please God, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
We believe that God does not want us to “try hard” or to “make our best effort” to live a good and decent life. Instead, Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). In other words, trying hard is not good enough. God demands absolute perfection.
We believe that since no one could achieve such perfection because of their sin, God sent his one and only Son Jesus into the world to be our Savior from sin and death, “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We believe that Jesus is the God-man, 100% God and 100% human being. He is the Son of God who was born of the Virgin Mary. He was born into this world to keep God’s law perfectly in our place (Matthew 5:17) and to suffer and die for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2).
We believe that Jesus rose from the dead with a glorified body on Easter morning. This resurrection serves as powerful, divine proof that God has forgiven all sin for the sake of Jesus.
We believe that because of what Jesus has done, God has justified (declared “not guilty”) the entire world freely by his grace (undeserved love) for the sake of Jesus (Romans 3:24).
We believe that all who trust in Jesus as their Savior have eternal life (John 3:16). Only those who refuse to trust in Jesus as their Savior will endure eternal death (Mark 16:16).
We believe that we are not saved because of our faith. We are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). The Holy Spirit is the one who creates faith (trust) in our hearts through the hearing of God’s Word and partaking in the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion (Romans 10:17). Just as God gives us our physical life as a free gift (we do nothing to earn or deserve it), so also he gives us our new spiritual life as a free gift (we do nothing to earn or deserve it). In other words, we do not make “our decision for Jesus.” Jesus chooses us simply by his grace (undeserved love).
We believe that in Holy Baptism God makes a commitment to us. In baptism he promises us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We baptize infants because they need these promises as well, since they are sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12).
We believe that in Holy Communion Jesus gives us his true, natural body and blood under the bread and wine for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:26-28). Even unbelievers receive his body and blood in this Supper, although it is to their judgment (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).
We believe that Christians produce good works not to merit or earn anything from God (something they cannot do anyway). Instead Christians produce good works because that’s what Christians naturally do, in the same way that a good vine produces fruit (John 15:1-8). Good works are “fruits of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).
We believe that Jesus will return on the Last Day and judge all people. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). We reject any teaching of a “thousand year” reign of Christ on earth. Jesus said very plainly, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).