Our beliefs are summarized in Luther’s Small Catechism. Below is a summary of how Family of Faith interprets the teachings of Jesus found in the Bible.


Creed

We believe in one God Who has existed from all eternity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed simply and succinctly express the foundational truths we embrace as God has revealed them to us in His Word, the Bible.

Creation

We affirm God as the sole Creator of the entire universe. He brought it into existence by His powerful Word, spoken at the beginning of time. He created the vast universe explored by telescope and the unseen world discovered by microscope. All things were created perfect in balance and detail. As the pinnacle of His creative genius He fashioned man and woman in His very image to enjoy His company and to be caretakers of the world He created. From their earliest days in the garden called Eden they were given the opportunity to demonstrate their love for and loyalty to God. He planted two trees in the center of the garden; one was called the ‘tree of life’, whose fruit enabled them to live forever, and the other was called the ‘tree holding the knowledge of good and evil’. The former tree promised sustained life to those who ate; the latter came with the curse of death to any who even touched the tree.

Fall of Man

Satan, under the guise of a wily serpent, deceived the first man and woman. He called God’s holy character into question and promised them a knowledge equal to God’s. They could be ‘like God, knowing good and evil’ if they ate the tree’s fruit. When they ate the fruit their eyes were opened. They suddenly experienced a world of terrifying new emotions: shame, fear and embarrassment. Instead of becoming ‘like God’ they were alarmed at His voice and attempted to hide themselves at His approach. Their choice to disobey God’s clear command unleashed a Pandora’s box of evil into the once perfect world. Everything God created now groaned under death’s curse. The man and woman were banished from the garden and a flaming angel forbade them to eat the fruit of ‘the tree of life’. They would age and die; brought forth from the dust of the ground the would return to it once more. Sin greatly marred the splendid image of God.

God’s Son-Mankind’s One Hope

The Son of God existed from all eternity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. When the appointed time came for Him to enter the world, He emptied Himself of the glory that would have made everyone fall at His feet in fearful adoration. He divested Himself of His rights as God’s Son and came both to rescue and also to serve a fallen, rebellious world. Fulfilling many prophecies Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of King David from ancient times, to a virgin named Mary. She miraculously conceived the child through the work of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, the man she was pledged to marry, didn’t believe her and resolved in his mind to divorce her without exposing her to ridicule. But the angel who appeared to Mary also spoke to Joseph in a dream and corroborated her words. The baby’s name would be Jesus, which means ‘salvation’. It was given because through Him God planned to save humanity from sin’s curse and from death’s grip.

 

Jesus was a man unlike any other. People saw God’s love in His face and recognized it in His words. They witnessed God’s compassion in Jesus’ miracles and experienced His acceptance in Jesus’ embrace. His good friend John witnessed most of Jesus’ miracles and said of Him, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”( John 21:25)  The miracles presented powerful evidence that He was, indeed, the Son of God.

 

The Necessity of Jesus’ Death

At least since His baptism, and possibly before, Jesus understood His mission to rescue the fallen world would inevitably lead Him to a hideous death on a cross. Though He reminded His followers again and again about His impending death, they never grasped its reason or accepted its imminence. He alone understood the vicarious nature of His death: The innocent Son of God would die for the sins of a rebellious humanity. As the biblical writer Paul was later to say, “He was put to death for our sins and raised so that we might become right with God.”  On the day that has come to be known as ‘Good Friday’ Jesus was wrongfully convicted in two courts or law, one out of jealousy and the other out of fear, and was sentenced to be scourged and then crucified. Though written derisively, the charge written above His head revealed His true identity: “This is Jesus, king of the Jews”. With His dying breath He asked His Father to pardon those responsible for His death. At the time of the afternoon temple sacrifice Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “It is finished!”  Never again would there be a need for a sin offering: Jesus’ words literally mean “Paid in full!”

 

Many extraordinary signs accompanied His death. For the last three hours of His life the sky darkened inexplicably, an event recorded in other ancient literature. At the moment of His death the ground shook violently with an earthquake. The Roman captain in charge of the execution detail witnessed the entire spectacle and concluded, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39). His friends laid His body in a grave as the sun was about to set and returned to their homes. The Jewish Sabbath regulations kept them from returning to the grave until Sunday morning.

 

Jesus Conquers Death

At least three women who had accompanied Him during His earthly ministry went early on Sunday to the grave with spices they had prepared to complete the burial preparations begun on Friday. To their astonishment the large stone blocking the entrance to the tomb was already removed. Peering into the tomb they were greeted by smiling angels who announced the greatest news ever to come from a cemetery: Jesus had been raised from death, just as He said He would be. The women went as commanded by the angels to tell His friends the great news; it seemed to fall on deaf ears!   Not one of them believed the women. There were other angelic appearances that day and select appearances of Jesus Himself to His astonished friends. At the end of the day, as all His friends were speaking about what had happened, Jesus appeared behind closed doors. They were all incredulous, thinking a ghost was before them. To prove He was alive He ate a piece of fish and showed them the scars, an eternal testimony to His sacrificial love. During the next forty days He appeared numerous times to His followers. On one occasion  more than five hundred people witnessed Him and heard Him speak. At the conclusion of the forty days He appeared one final time to the group of followers, some of whom still struggled to believe He was alive!  While speaking with them on top of a mountain He suddenly began to ascend from the earth. His faithful friends gazed intently, trying to catch one last glimpse of Him. Two angels suddenly appeared standing with them and announced that Jesus would return one day just as they had seen Him leave.

 

The Holy Spirit Arrives

The last meal Jesus shared with His disciples was a celebration of the Passover, which was a festive, happy occasion. Jesus expressed His eagerness to share this meal with His disciples before He suffered and died the next day. It was an evening filled with surprise: Jesus announced the presence of a traitor in their midst; He predicted one of them, Peter, would deny he even knew Jesus, not once or twice but three times before the rooster announced the arrival of dawn. He also explained how necessary it was for Him to return to heaven so that the He could send them the promised Holy Spirit who would remain with them always. He explained how the Holy Spirit would continue the work Jesus began among them, teaching them, guiding them in truth and testifying about Jesus. The Holy Spirit would also remind them of everything Jesus taught them. The Holy Spirit would serve as God’s presence in and among His followers after Jesus ascended into heaven. One of Jesus’ final instructions to His followers was this: “Stay in Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high.”

 

In the days and weeks following Jesus’ ascension His followers waited expectantly for the promise to be fulfilled. Daily they gathered in the temple for prayer. Fifty days after Jesus returned to heaven about one hundred and twenty of His followers were gathered together in one place. The biblical writer Luke described what happened:

 

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4

 

As Peter stood up to explain what was happening the Holy Spirit moved in the hearts of his hearers. At least three thousand received Jesus through faith and were baptized on that very day!

 

Today’s Church

The Church continues to exist and to grow today because of the Holy Spirit. He convicts people of their sin, their need for forgiveness and of God’s willingness to meet them in every need. He brings the promises of Jesus alive in our hearts and gives clear assurance of His love. He gives a peace that makes no sense to the unbelieving world, a peace experienced in the midst of trials and not simply in their absence. He satisfies the hunger of the restless soul, giving purpose and fulfillment in life. He assures us of a life beyond the grave in the place Jesus prepared for us when He suffered on the cross on our behalf.

 

 

 
© 2018 Family of Faith Lutheran Church
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