Good Shepherd – Jesus says in John 10, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Our Savior is our Good Shepherd. A Good Shepherd does whatever is necessary for the good of the sheep. Because of who we are – sinners – Jesus laid down his life on the cross to take away our sins. Because of who Jesus is – the Good Shepherd – our sins have been forgiven, and we are his dear, blood-bought sheep.
Evangelical – This word means “centered on the Gospel.” The Gospel is the good news that Jesus, our Savior, lived a holy life of obedience to God’s Law in our place, died on the cross as the sacrifice which has forgiven the sins of the whole world, and rose again on the third day as the sure guarantee that our sins have been forgiven. We call ourselves “Evangelical,” that is, “all about the Gospel,” to remind ourselves that what St. Paul said in Romans 1 is also true for us, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”
Lutheran – By identifying ourselves as Lutheran, we are saying something about our Scriptural position. Perhaps the three phrases that have come to be identified most closely with Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546) are these: Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone. St. Paul writes to the Ephesians, “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.” This good news that God saved us by grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures alone.
Church – A church is literally an assembly of believers around the Gospel in the Word and Sacraments. This reminds us of what our Savior’s purpose is for us. As we gather to preach and teach, learn and hear the Gospel, Jesus daily and fully forgives all sins to us. He sends us the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith. He produces the fruits of good works in our hearts and lives. He keeps us firm in this faith as long as we live, until he brings us from the Church on earth to the Church in heaven.