“We believe, teach, and confess that the sole rule and standard according to which all dogmas together with all teachers should be estimated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament alone, as it is written Ps. 119, 105: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. And St. Paul: Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed, Gal. 1, 8.”
We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons, or dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
We believe that since the fall of Adam, all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, without the fear of God, and with the all-infecting disease of concupiscence, that is, the desire and tendency to do nothing but sin. Each man is dead in sin from the moment of conception, and can do nothing to save himself.
We believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten from the Father from all eternity, and true Man, born of the Virgin Mary, is the Savior of the whole human race. He took on human nature in every way, yet was without sin. He died the all-availing death to sin once for all, so that all might be saved through faith in His redeeming grace.
We believe that in the waters of Holy Baptism, God washes a person clean from all stain of conscience, forgives all sin, makes the dead man alive in Christ, and puts His Name – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – upon His child to claim him as His own. We retain and practice the Baptism of children, just as our Lord blessed the little children.
We believe that God, in His mercy, has given the gift of Private Confession and Holy Absolution to as many as desire it. Before God, we should confess all sins, but before the pastor we should confess those which particularly trouble the heart and conscience. Then, we should believe that his word of forgiveness is God’s forgiveness, which is as valid and certain as if Christ Himself were speaking directly. Confession is not required, but is offered as a gift, for the soothing of troubled souls.
THE LORD’S SUPPER:
We believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are really, truly, physically, bodily present and are distributed to those who receive the bread and wine. We believe that such bodily eating and drinking, under the command of the Lord, gives forgiveness of sins and unites us one to another in a common confession of faith and in fellowship with the whole Church here on earth and the whole heavenly host.
We believe that good works do not gain us merit or worthiness before God, but rather are the fruits of faith – proof that faith is living and active. Christians do good works not because God needs our works, but because our neighbors need them. God does not need our good works, but He commands us to love our neighbor by serving him. Our neighbors need our good works, but cannot command or demand them from us, and so need us to live out our faith in this way.