Immanuel is part of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). The LCMS teaches and responds to the love of the Triune God (the trinity): the Father, Creator of all that exists; Jesus Christ, the Son, who became human to suffer and die for the sins of all human beings and to rise to life again in victory over death and Satan; and the Holy Spirit, who creates faith through God’s Word and Sacraments. The three persons of the Trinity are coequal and coeternal, one God.
What is a “Lutheran”?
A Lutheran is a Christian who accepts and preaches the Bible-based teachings of Martin Luther, who was the catalyst of the reformation of the Christian Church in the 16th century. The teaching of Lutheran and the reformers can be summarized in three phrases; Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone.
Though each of us sins in the ways that we act, talk, and think, God still loves us! He sent His Son, Jesus, to forgive all of us. That is undeserved kindness…that is grace…God-loving the unlovable and declaring... “it is by grace that you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:8)
By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for us. Those who hear and believe this Good News have the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him. “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourself, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2: 8-9)
The Bible is the basis of all faith and teaching. In God’s Word, He reveals what He wants us to do and not to do (Law) and (Gospel) what He has done for us in Jesus, dying in our place and rising on the third day and by grace through faith, forgives us and saves us for eternity.
As Lutheran Christians we believe that the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
The Bible tells us that such “faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:17). Jesus Himself commands Baptism and tells us that Baptism is water used together with the Word of God (Matt. 28:19-20).
Because of this, we believe that Baptism is one of the miraculous means of grace (another is God’s Word as it is written or spoken), through which God creates and/or strengthens the gift of faith in a person’s heart (see Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:1-4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12.13).
The terms the Bible uses to talk about the beginning of faith include “conversion” and “regeneration.” Although we do not claim to understand fully how this happens, we believe that when an infant is baptized, God creates faith in the heart of that infant.
We believe this because the Bible says that infants can believe (Matt. 18:6) and that new birth (regeneration) happens in Baptism (John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5-6). The infant’s faith cannot yet, of course, be verbally expressed or articulated by the child, yet it is real and present all the same (see, e.g., Acts 2:38-39; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim. 3:15).
The faith of the infant, like the faith of adults, also needs to be fed and nurtured by God’s Word (Matt. 28:18-20), or it will die.
Lutherans do not believe that only those baptized as infants receive faith. Faith can also be created in a person's heart by the power of the Holy Spirit working through God's (written or spoken) Word.
Baptism should then soon follow conversion (cf. Acts 8:26-40) for the purpose of confirming and strengthening faith in accordance with God's command and promise. Depending on the situation, therefore, Lutherans baptize people of all ages from infancy to adulthood.
The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, which Immanuel is part of, does not believe that Baptism is ABSOLUTELY necessary for salvation. All true believers in the Old Testament era were saved without baptism. Mark 16:16 implies that it is not the absence of Baptism that condemns a person but the absence of faith, and there are clearly other ways of coming to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit (reading or hearing the Word of God).
Still, Baptism dare not be despised or willfully neglected since it is explicitly commanded by God and has His precious promises attached to it. It is not a mere “ritual” or “symbol,” but a powerful means of grace by which God grants faith and the forgiveness of sins.