The rally cry of the Reformation was a return to Christian truth: Scripture alone. Grace alone. Faith alone. This rally cry still echoes off the walls of Lutheran Church of the Ascension as a congregation of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
The divinely inspired and infallible Word of God as contained in the canon of the Old and New Testament is the only source and norm of faith and practice. This Word teaches us that all things were made through God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who is not only creator of the universe but also our maker. The Word also teaches that we, and all mankind, have rebelled against God and are born sinful since the fall of Adam. Therefore, any attempt to please God apart from Christ Jesus is impossible. We need forgiveness, life, and salvation, which only God can provide through His grace. The pervading message of the Word is that this grace has been given us through God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who lived, suffered, died, and rose again to save us. The doctrines of the Lutheran Confessions as found in the 1580 Book of Concord are in accord with these and all biblical teachings.
This same Word of God also teaches that such grace, that is the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, is applied to us through means or sacraments. Such means of grace are physical ways that God is currently at work in our lives to give us the benefits of Christ’s cross and empty tomb. Baptism, the washing with water and Word forgives our sin, grants us faith, and births us anew to a life in the Spirit. This gift is meant for all peoples regardless of race, gender, or even age. This baptismal grace is applied to us again every time we receive Holy Absolution, which is the forgiveness of any and all our sins proclaimed personally through the Office of the Keys. The Sacrament of Holy Communion is the very body and blood of Jesus Christ given and shed for us in, with, and under the elements of bread and wine. This sacrament forgives, strengthens faith, and unites us as members of the Body of Christ. The Sunday morning Divine Service, which is structured around such Word and Sacrament, is the primary manner in which Christ grants such grace to His Church.
God’s Word also teaches that it is only through faith that we may receive our salvation by grace. This faith is also a gift which God works in us, meaning that we cannot boast of our own belief or our own decision, which would turn faith into a good work. This is the clear teaching of Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is 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.