The Ten Commandments
In these laws God describes what He expects from us. There is a Natural Law that God has written into the heart (mind) of every person. It gives them an idea of what is right and what is wrong. The Ten Commandments or Moral Law is a fuller explanation of this Natural Law. Obedience to the Moral Law is not optional; neither can we be saved by obeying it. The main purpose of the Law is to show us our sin so we realize our lost condition and the need for a Savior.
Once the Holy Spirit works faith in Christ within a person’s heart, that person is no longer under the bondage of the Law. The Law becomes a guide directing the Christian to what they should do or not do to lead a God-pleasing life. The power to live this life always comes from the Gospel. Even Christians cannot keep the Law perfectly, but, because they have been joined to Christ by the Holy Spirit’s work through God’s Word, Christians want to keep God’s Commandments and strive to serve Him.
Finally, we should note that Jesus summarized the two parts of the Ten Commandments in this way: Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Lord’s Supper
When Jesus gave us the Lord’s Supper, He said of the bread, “This IS my body”. He said of the wine, “This IS my blood.” Human reason cannot understand how a piece of bread can be Jesus’ body and how wine can be His blood. Faith simply takes Jesus at His Word. The promise of Christ is that that each time we take the Lord’s Supper, He will be present with the very body and blood that He gave and shed on the cross for our salvation. The very fact that He is present in that bread and wine tells us that He is not holding our sins against us. Baptism is God’s way of starting us in the new life as a member of His family. The Lord’s Supper is His way of nourishing our faith and keeping us close to Himself.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
The Lord’s Prayer
Prayer is our response to God’s grace and mercy. As a child of God through faith in Jesus we have a desire to speak to Him. Jesus opened the channel of communication with our Heavenly Father when He died for our sins and rose again. This is why we add the phrase, “in Jesus’ name” to our prayers.
Scripture teaches that we are sinners from the moment we were conceived (Psalm 51:5). We read in Ephesians 2:3 that, “Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” Peter preached on Pentecost (Acts 2:38), “Be baptized . . . for the forgiveness of your sins.” Jesus commanded us to baptize “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Sin separates us from God and makes us objects of His wrath. Baptism in the name of the Triune God brings us back to God and establishes a proper relationship with Him. Baptism is God’s gracious activity by which He turns us around. Paul writes in Titus 3, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Since we are sinners from the moment of conception and since baptism is for the forgiveness of sins, infants also benefit from baptism. Baptism is a means of grace through which we have forgiveness and eternal life. We also understand, however, that each day we continue to sin. On a daily basis we need to turn to God and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to live the new life which glorifies God. This new life is described by Paul as a life that is filled with and controlled by the fruit of the Spirit. This life is characterized as a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
The Apostles’ Creed
What we believe affects how we live. The first thing we must realize is that God, the Father, made us and now provides everything necessary to support our body and life. In response to this we ask Him to help us fulfill our duty by thanking, praising, serving and obeying Him.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God from eternity. He is also a human being by virtue of the fact that He was born of the Virgin Mary. He willingly gave up His place in heaven to become man and He allowed Himself to be arrested, tried, condemned and killed on the cross so He could pay the price for our sins. His resurrection from the dead shows us that He has also defeated death and the devil. Faith in what Jesus has done for us moves us to ask His help as we desire to live under Him in His family and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness.
Romans 8:7 says the sinful mind is hostile to God. I Corinthians 12:3 makes the point that no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. It is God, the Holy Spirit, who calls us to be a member of His family. He uses the good news of Jesus’ death in our place and His resurrection to assure us that He loves us and cares for us. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior.
Confession and Absolution
Dr. Martin Luther wrote, “When I urge you to go to confession, I am simply urging you to be a Christian.” To be a child of God is to admit our shortcomings, that is, our sins. We admit both to God and very specifically to those we have sinned against. The whole purpose of admitting sin is to be honest about our condition and to realize our only hope for relief from the agony of sin-broken relationships comes from God’s grace. Thankfully, God has given the church, His people here on earth, the authority to announce forgiveness to those who are sorry for their sins, want to change their lives, and turn to Jesus as their Savior. The church also has the authority to withhold forgiveness from those who are not sorry and have no desire to change.