Beliefs

Beliefs

“We are called by Christ to worship, serve, and share God’s peace.”

If someone was to ask me, “So, Pastor, what is Lutheran Church of Peace all about?” I would most likely start by saying that we are a group of Christians. Short and simple, we are a group of Christians. We are, Christ-ians. And just as the term suggests, being a “Christian” means that we are defined by our relationship to Jesus Christ. And with that relationship to Jesus, with his presence, with Him claiming us as his own, comes unthinkable peace.

Colossians 3:15-17 puts things this way:

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Our current LCP theme statement begins by saying that “We are called by Christ into joyful relationship with him”. And that is what Paul is saying in this passage, and that is what is at the heart of who we are here at LCP. We are a church of peace, because Christ is at the center. And whatever we do, in word or deed, we do in the name of the Lord Jesus (verse 17). Short and simple, we are Christ-ians.

Drilling a little deeper, what exactly is this “peace of Christ” all about? Well, there we turn to the Gospel of John for a little guidance. John 19, verse 30, where from the cross, Jesus declares, “It is finished”.

“It is finished”, declared our Christ.

What, is finished? It. All of it. Everything. It is all accomplished. Jesus, takes it all on himself, everything, and declares it is all over. It. Is. Finished!

And then, after it is all finished, he comes to us after being raised from the dead, and declares, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19) Wow! WOW!!!

What are we all about here at Lutheran Church of Peace? Well, we’re about Christ Jesus coming to us, and declaring, “It is finished. Peace be with you!”

And knowing that, it is hard not to be joyful.

We are called by Christ into joyful relationship with him, and to invite others into that reality.

Now, you’ll notice that we are called “Lutheran” Church of Peace. What is this “Lutheran” thing all about, and what we believe? Or put another way, where does the being “Lutheran” part fit in?

Well, that Lutheran label is just our short and abbreviated way of saying that we look at Jesus in a particular way.

Some view Christ as another Moses, as a giver of the Law, as a great taskmaster who is constantly there to check in and see how you are living, what you are doing, and how you are helping to make the world a better place. And the question in many churches becomes, “Are you living the Christian life?” (whatever that may be). And all too often, churches in America today often carry (for good reason) a stigma of being that place that tells you what to do, and how to live, and attempting to incent you to become a better person through guilt.

You probably know how this goes, and have a sense of this. If someone says, “hey, quit preaching to me”, what do they mean by “preaching to me”? Well, preaching to most means being told what to do, how to act, and how to live “the Christian life”. But not so for us Lutherans.

Instead, we view Christ as Christ. We see Christ as a savior. We see Jesus as the one who can make us (who are ever so broken) whole. And being “preached to”, for us, is hearing the Good News that Christ has actually taken on all of our brokenness, and survived. Being “preached to” means hearing our Christ say to us, “It is finished. Peace be with you.”

Here is a quick analogy. I love watching baseball. And one of my goals in life is to visit every MLB ballpark. Anyway … a few years back, I took a tour of the Milwaukee Brewers stadium. And while I was in the press box, I noticed something pretty cool.

As foul balls would race up from the batter’s box and into the press box, they would fly in with reckless abandon and create all kinds of damage. Now, the cool thing is that the press would then circle the damage and label who created that mess and on what date.

That’s kind of how I envision my Christ, and what Luther often talks about – seeing our sins on our Christ, and him not deterred in any way.

For there Jesus was, after he had been crucified – with the marks of the nails and the piercings of his side – and he comes and declares (in John 20):

‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ And Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’

Wow. Jesus comes to us after being raised from the dead, with our sins in his body, and declares, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19) Wow! WOW!!!

What are we all about here at Lutheran Church of Peace? Well, we’re about Christ Jesus coming to us, and declaring, “Peace be with you!”, with our brokenness in his body to bring us healing and wholeness.

And knowing that, it is hard not to be joyful.

As our current LCP theme statement declares, “We are called by Christ into joyful relationship with him, and to invite others into that reality.”

How exciting! And we hope you join us.

As for specific doctrinal questions, here are our beliefs on some popular theological topics:

Concerning Decision Theology We believe that God chooses us and not the other way around. We believe that we are like that sheep who wanders from the fold, which Christ has to go and find and carry back on his shoulders (Luke 15:1-7). As Christ says himself in John 15:16, “You did not choose me but I chose you”.

How does this choosing happen? As Luther states in his Small Catechism, we believe “that we cannot by our own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ our Lord or come to him. But the Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel”. The Holy Spirit calls us, enlightens us, and opens us up to receiving this Great News of Jesus Christ. And it comes to us through God’s word. Because God’s word does what it says. As Isaiah 55:11 reads, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God’s word is an active and living word (Hebrews 4:12), doing exactly what it says it does, accomplishing precisely what it says. And so, when God declares, “Your sins are forgiven on account of Christ”, well, you sins are actually forgiven. Pretty amazing!

What is this Word of God? Lutherans base their beliefs on the Bible and nothing else. Scripture Alone (“sola Scriptura”) was the motto of the reformation and is our only foundation for faith and life; not religious tradition, modern trends, emotions or feelings, but the Word Alone. As one of the founding Lutheran documents states, "The Word of God is and should remain the sole rule and norm of all doctrine" (FC SD, Rule and Norm, 9). This means the Word as Scripture (Old and New Testaments), and the Word Made Flesh (John 1), Jesus Christ himself are what we base our beliefs on, and how we live our lives.

How does this Word come to me? This word of promise comes to us through many forms. It comes in the declaration of the forgiveness of sins during absolution; it comes in the proclamation of the Gospel in preaching. It comes when this Word is bound to physical elements like water, bread and wine. It comes whenever “there is the proper application of the pronoun”, as us Lutherans like to say. It comes when you realize that this Gospel is for you. Once you have the for you, you know that the Word has come.

Baptism It is in baptism where God seals us with the promise, namely, that you have been marked with the cross of Christ and sealed in the promise forever. How can water do such great things? Well, it is not the water indeed that does them, but the Word attached to the water. And what is that word, what is that promise? Jesus declares, “he who believes and is baptized shall be saved” Mark 16:16

Holy Communion Here, the earthly elements are bread and wine, but again, they are connected to the active and living Word of God, and as such, deliver the promise to you. What are these words? Christ, on the night in which he was betrayed said, “This is my body given for you” and “my blood, shed for the forgiveness of sin”. In the Lord’s Supper, we get Christ’s body and blood for us; in, with, and under the bread and wine. So that we can actually taste that this promise is for us.

Want more? What makes a Lutheran a Lutheran? Well, there is this big book of various confessions of faith called the Book of Concord. All Lutherans subscribe to these confessional documents which are contained in that collection of faith statements. For more on what we believe, see this link which contains the entire contents of the Book of Concord:

Book of Concord

We hope that you come and join us!