The Word of God
We believe, teach, and confess that Holy Scripture (the canonical books of the Old and New Testament) differ from all other books in the world in that it is the very Word of God. We believe what Scripture says about itself: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. . ." (2 Timothy 3:16); "For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21); ". . . the Word of the Lord endures forever." (Psalm 119:9); etc." The Holy Spirit caused every Word to be written through the prophets, evangelists, and disciples. Since Scripture is the Word of God, it contains no errors or contradictions, but, in all its parts, contains the infallible truth (John 10:35; Romans 3:21; 1 Corinthians 2:13). The very Word of God gives the faith to believe this sacred mystery. Furthermore, the Bible says, "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son. . ." (Hebrews 1:1-2). His revelation is complete. For this reason we do not search for the Word, Will, or Revelation of God in "signs and wonders," that is, apart from the words of Holy Scripture; rather, with complete confidence, we find His Word, Will, and Revelation in the very words of Holy Scripture, which He has given to us and all people.
The Holy Trinity
Because Holy Scripture is the Word of God, we believe, teach, and confess the Triune God: the One true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4) is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, three distinct persons, but of one and the same divine essence, equal in power, equal in eternity, equal in majesty, because each person possesses the one divine essence entirely (Colossians 2:9; Matthew 28:19). We hold that all teachers and religions that deny the doctrine of the Holy Trinity are outside of the Christian Church. The Triune God is the God who is gracious to man (John 3:16-18; 1 Corinthians 12:3). Since the Fall of man (Genesis 1-3), no man can believe in the "fatherhood" of God except he that believes in the eternal Son of God, who became man and reconciled us to God by His vicarious satisfaction (1 John 2:23; John 14:6). This is a sacred mystery. We do not seek to explain the Trinity through analogy, metaphor, or simile. Reason cannot comprehend our God; rather, the Triune God gives us faith to believe in the Trinity. We do not explore the Trinity, we adore Him. We worship the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity.
Grace Through Faith Alone
God created all things good (Genesis 1-3). He created the first humans, Adam and Eve, in His own image (Genesis 1:26, 27; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10), that is, in true knowledge of God and in true righteousness and holiness and endowed with a truly scientific knowledge of nature (Genesis 2:19-23). However, sin came into the world by the Fall of the first man, as described in Genesis 3. By this Fall not only he himself, but also his natural offspring have lost the original knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and thus all men are sinners by birth, dead in sins, inclined to evil, and subject to the wrath of God (Romans 5:12, 18; Ephesians 2:1-3). We teach that mankind is unable, through any efforts of their own, to reconcile themselves to God.
For this reason, God sent His only begotten Son into the world to redeem us from sin, death, and the devil. We believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is the Lord, who has redeemed us, lost and condemned creatures, purchased and won us from all sins, death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, so that we may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity (Galatians 4:4, 5; 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:18, 9; John 3:16-18, etc.).
This Gospel is preached to all men, to the end that they may believe it (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19; Romans 1:5). Therefore, faith in Christ is the only way for us to obtain reconciliation with God, that is, the forgiveness of sins, as both the Old and the New Testament Scriptures testify (Acts 10:43; John 3:16-18). By this faith in Christ, through which we obtain the forgiveness of sins, is without any human effort to fulfill the Law of God after the example of Christ, but faith in the Gospel, that is, in the forgiveness of sins won by Christ and offered to us by the Gospel. This faith justifies, not as our work, but laying hold of the grace given in Christ (Romans 4:16).
As a result of the free gift of salvation given by Christ, the Christian does good works by grace through faith (John 15:4, 5). Good works never precede faith but are always and in every instance the result of faith in the Gospel. It is evident that the only means by which we Christians can become rich in good works (Titus 2:14) is to unceasingly remember the grace of God which we have received in Christ (Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 8:9). Good works do not merit or earn salvation. Good works are a result of salvation given by grace through faith in Christ.
Water & Word
Although God is present and works everywhere throughout all creation and the whole earth (Colossians 1:17; Acts 17:28, 14:17), we still hold with Scripture that God offers and communicates to us the spiritual blessings purchased by Christ, namely, the forgiveness of sins, only through the external means of grace ordained by Him. These means are the Word of the Gospel, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper. The Word of the God promises and declares the grace of God, works faith and regenerates us, and gives us the Holy Ghost (Acts 20:24; Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:23; Galatians 3:2).
Baptism is given for the forgiveness of sins and is, therefore, a washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Titus 3:5). It is not simple water only, but it is the water combined with God's command and included with His Word (Matthew 28). Baptism gives forgiveness, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare. Christ says, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Acts 2:38 says, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Furthermore, 1 Peter 3:21 says, "Baptism, which corresponds to this [the flood], now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. . ." We reject those who teach that Baptism is our work, or that it is merely a symbol or act of obedience and dedication of ourselves to God. Since Baptism is God's Work, not ours, and since salvation is a gift from God, not earned (Ephesians 2:8-9), our churches Baptize infants since they are sinners and in need of blessing (Matthew 19:15; Mark 10:16), and since they too can have faith by the Word of God (Luke 1:41-44). Baptism saves you. It is not our dedication to Him, but His dedication to us. He gives us the obedience of Christ. He has loved us before we could ever love Him.
The Lord's Supper
Bread & Wine, Body & Blood
The Lord's Supper is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink. It is the ministration of His very Body and Blood. It gives exactly what it says: "the forgiveness of sins," as the words declare: "Given for you," and: "Shed for you for the forgiveness of sins," (Luke 22:19, 20; Matthew 26:28), and "This cup is the New Testament in My blood" (1 Corinthians 11:23; Jeremiah 31:31-34). In the Lord's Supper, we receive Christ's very body and blood into our mouths, not in a spiritual way, but truly, physically. This is a sacred mystery revealed in Scripture and believed by faith. Christ is truly present, not because of our faith, but because of His promise in the Word. Therefore, those who do not truly believe still receive Christ's body and blood in the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:27 ff.). Those who receive it unworthily, that is, without repentance or faith, receive it to their judgment. For this reason, Lutheran (LCMS) Churches practice Closed Communion. This is an act of love on behalf of the Church to protect people from receiving it unworthily and to their harm.
The Lord's Supper is celebrated at this congregation in the confession and glad confidence that, as He says, our Lord gives into our mouths not only bread and wine but His very body and blood to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins and to strengthen our union with Him and with one another. Our Lord invites to His table those who trust His words, repent of all sin, and set aside any refusal to forgive and love as He forgives and loves us, that they may show forth His death until He comes.
Because those who eat and drink our Lord's body and blood unworthily do so to their great harm and because Holy Communion is a confession of the faith which is confessed at this altar, any who are not yet instructed, in doubt, or who hold to a confession differing from that of this congregation and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and yet desire to receive this sacrament, are asked first to speak with the pastor.
It is our desire that all people would commune with us, but out of high regard for God's Word, we believe, teach, and confess that unity in confession comes before unity in communion. Therefore, we invite everyone to make their confession of faith before God and man. God asks that the pastor, the congregation, and you to all believe, teach, and confess the same thing! If you attend another church from another denomination, and if your confession is at all different from ours, we will let you know! We simply ask that you give us the chance to instruct you on why we believe what we believe! Then, if you certainly are united in the same confession with us at Zion, then we would gladly welcome you as a member of this church! Know that this is all done purely out of love for God, care for you, and for true unity in our church! We hope that you give us the opportunity to share with you this wonderful news!
What should I do when I arrive?
Find the pastor and introduce yourself. Tell him where you go to church. Please, do not invite yourself up to communion, even if you are a member of a congregation in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. God has given the pastor the responsibility to welcome people to the altar as well as keep people from the altar who might receive the Lord's Supper to their harm rather than to their benefit. He is a steward of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1), which means that God has charged him with the great responsibility to commune only those who, as far as he can tell, confess what the Bible teaches. This is very serious. The pastor will be judged for how he handles Christ's Sacrament, and your faith can be damaged if you do not receive the body and blood of Christ with a true confession and conscience. Therefore, if you are a Missouri Synod Lutheran, please be aware that this is not a guarantee that you can take the Lord's Supper. The pastor should know who your pastor is, the name of your congregation, and whether you have learned and believe the Christian faith as it is summarized in the the Small Catechism. This is a great opportunity for you to talk about God's Word with the pastor. That's what he's there for. And talking about God's Word is always beneficial. It reveals Jesus to us, our Savior from sin and hell. We pray that whether or not you commune with us on your visit, that you be edified by the Word of our gracious God.