Core Values: Biblical
So what kind of Church are we? We are a Biblical Church. We have been defining our core values this spring. And this is where we start. We believe the Bible to be the Word and revelation of God. We take it seriously. We shape our lives by it. We read, study, and give it prominence in worship. It is inspired, inerrant, and authoritative.
And we read the Bible in a particular way. It is so much more than, “basic instructions before leaving earth.” Jesus is the heart and center of the Scriptures. The Bible brings us Christ and tells His story. The Bible is the history of redemption. And as we read, listen, and engage with the Scriptures, we are incorporated into that story.
And for us, context matters so much. Bible verses are not fortune cookies. We don’t just rip them out of their context and then make them mean whatever we want. The meaning of a verse is determined by the author, not the reader. So when we want to know the meaning of a particular verse, we look at the immediate context, the chapter, the book, and finally the rest of the Bible.
We also believe that God’s Word is unique in that it accomplishes what it says. Isaiah 55:11 says, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God’s Word goes out and it changes reality. It declares us righteous. It forgives our sins. It makes us His own.
So the Bible is central to our life together as His Church – it is the voice of God. And because we love Him, we desire to get to know Him through His Word. We read the Bible in our own private devotions. We study the Bible in classes. And let me invite you to get involved in one of our weekly Bible studies. This is the best place to get comfortable with God’s Word.
Core Values: Confessional
So what kind of Church are we? We are a Confessional Church. This means we have a clear and thorough definition of what we believe. We are grounded in our doctrine and we are accountable to the truth we confess. Christ and His work of justification are at the core of what we believe. And whether our doctrine is popular or unpopular, we make it known.
Our Lutheran confessions are included in the Book of Concord. They were finished in 1580, so we have been saying the same thing as Lutherans for a long time! The Book of Concord contains:
- The Ecumenical Creeds: Apostles’, Nicene, Athanasian
- The Augsburg Confession
- The Apology of the Augsburg Confession
- The Smalcald Articles
- The Power and Primacy of the Pope
- The Small Catechism
- The Large Catechism
- The Formula of Concord, Epitome
- The Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration
We often interact with the Small Catechism around here. I lace it into my sermons. It is used in catechesis. We encourage parents to help their kids memorize the Small Catechism before they even start youth catechesis. Luther intended for us to use the Small Catechism throughout our lives as a prayer book and devotional.
Core Values: Liturgical
Over the past few months, we have been getting to know our core values: biblical, confessional, liturgical, and missional. This month I would like to address what it means to be liturgical.
This value addresses what we do together as we gather weekly for the Divine Service. And what we do isn’t just a matter of taste or preference. The content of our service really matters. The Sacraments deliver grace to us. And we gather to hear the living voice of the Gospel and the whole counsel of God in Scripture, preaching, and every other component of what we do on Sundays.
We also recognize that style isn’t neutral. We pay attention to the mode and style of worship of the saints who have gone before us. We use a historic liturgy, doing what faithful Christians have done for centuries. We don’t emulate the modern rock concert or stand-up comedy. For us to be a liturgical Church means we recognize the need to be reverent in our services.
Our theology of worship comes from the Scriptures and our Lutheran confessions. Acts 2 reminds us of the nature of the Church as they gathered around the Word of God and the Sacraments, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Our Lutheran Confessions tell us that worship is receptive, “So the worship and divine service of the Gospel is to receive gifts from God.” This is why we call our worship the Divine Service. We recognize that God condescends to come down to us and meet our needs for forgiveness, life, and salvation. Christians need this grace throughout our lives.
And this is why we gather. The Church offers something that we can’t get anywhere else. This means that our practices should look different than everything else out there. We don’t exist to entertain. We are distinct. We are set apart. And we have our eyes fixed on Jesus who is really present in bread and wine; water and Word.