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Being interested in the history which has shaped the present-day world and in historical events which are of significance to all people, I have compiled a brief list of significant events to which all would do well to give heed. They are events about which most — at least in my generation — have heard but which many seem to ignore.

The most significant events in human history are not the rise and fall of the Greek and Roman Empires. They do not include the discovery of the Americas or the formation of the United States. Important inventions or major medical breakthroughs are not on my list, either. Though certainly important, these and other significant events in human history rank small in comparison to the five events which I share with you in the following paragraphs.

The first event, of course, is man’s creation. All else is hinged to this event. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). And on the sixth day, “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28).

Genesis, chapter two, describes man’s creation in more detail: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (v. 7).

God created man in His own image and likeness. He gave man life, not only physical but spiritual. Man was created knowing God and God’s perfect will, loving God, trusting Him and seeking God’s honor and glory. Man was perfect and without sin.

And, because the LORD God created man, every one of us is responsible to the God who made us and all things. It is a fact we cannot escape even if we deny it.

The second significant event is the fall of man recorded in Genesis, chapter three. This event, too, affects everything. When Adam and Eve doubted God’s Word and disobeyed God’s command, all was changed. Read Genesis three.

Adam and Eve lost their perfect relationship with God. They were afraid of Him, hid from Him and sought to excuse themselves of responsibility for their sin by passing the blame. As a result of their sin, death came into the world — spiritual, physical and eternal. Adam and Eve lost the image of their Maker. Their knowledge of God and His will was darkened. Their love for God, trust in Him and desire to honor Him was gone. Instead, their thoughts and desires were turned in upon themselves and upon their own sinful longings — evil continually (Genesis 6:5; 8:21).

And, of course, this sin infects us all. The Bible tells us: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12; cf. Psalm 51:5). Each of us, from conception and birth onward, is sinful in that we are self-centered and self-seeking rather than loving God, trusting Him and seeking His will and glory. Indeed, our lives, our families and the world in which we live are in ruins because of our selfishness and sin. Instead of listening to God, we by nature seek our own way and path. And what a mess we’ve made of things! All of creation suffers and is under a curse because of mankind’s sin (cf. Romans 8:19-22).

Life, which was meant to be lived without end in fellowship with God our Maker, ends in death. “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19). And, as the Bible says, the ultimate end of sinful man is everlasting punishment in the fires of hell prepared for the devil and his evil angels (Matthew 25:41).

The third significant event in man’s history is God’s intervention on our behalf by coming into this world as a man to redeem lost and condemned sinners. God Himself took on human flesh and blood and became true man through the incarnation of the Son of God in the Virgin Mary. God the Son, Jesus Christ, became true man, fulfilled all righteousness for us and suffered and died upon the cross, bearing the just penalty for the sins of all mankind, and rose again.

How amazing it is that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …” (John 3:16)! “Our Lord Jesus Christ … gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:3,4). “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures … He was buried … He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). “He hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:6,7).

Because Jesus Christ came into the world, suffered and died for mankind’s sin and rose again, God is gracious toward us and reaches out to us with love and mercy, offering us forgiveness and life everlasting in fellowship with Him! Through faith in Jesus, we can have forgiveness for all our sins and a place in God’s everlasting kingdom!

The fourth history-changing event is the outpouring of God’s Spirit and His gracious working through the Gospel to bring people to true and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from God’s Spirit, none of us would understand and take hold of the message of the Bible. None of us would see and acknowledge our sinfulness or place our hope and faith in the perfect redemption accomplished for us by Christ Jesus. From the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) to His regenerative work yet today through the preaching and hearing of God’s Word, through the waters of Baptism and through the word and promises connected with the Lord’s Supper, the Spirit of God awakens sinners from spiritual darkness and death to faith in Jesus Christ.

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).

“And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross” (Colossians 2:10-14).

As man’s fall into sin shaped the history of the world, with nations rising and falling, and people living for themselves and carrying out their own sinful longings, so also the working of the Holy Spirit shaped much in human history, with Christianity spreading around the globe and casting its influence upon governments, thinking and society in general. And, of course, it has shaped for many of us, our history after this world is done.

The fifth and final significant event in history is yet to come but will come just as surely as the first have come. I speak of the end of this world as we know it and the day of judgment. It is the day “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).

It is the day when all who have turned from their unbelief and sin to faith in Jesus Christ will be received into God’s everlasting kingdom of glory, the day when this world and all the works of it are burned up, and the day when all who have not repented of their evil ways and turned to Christ Jesus will be condemned to everlasting torment in the lake of fire, which is the second death (cf. 2 Peter 3:7-13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13 — 5:11).

This final event will shape all of human history from then forward, for all the impenitent and unbelieving will be forever cast out of God’s kingdom to suffer in hell, and all who have turned to Christ Jesus will dwell forever with the LORD God in a new and perfect creation, never to sin or fall again (Isaiah 65:17ff.; Revelation 20-22).

And what do these significant events mean for us today? Quite simply, it’s time to believe the witness of God’s Word, the Bible, and take it to heart. It’s time to repent and look to Christ Jesus for forgiveness and life! The very reason this sinful world goes on is God’s patience with you and with me. He does not want us to be condemned with the world but to repent and be saved through faith in His Son.

As the Bible says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come …” (2 Peter 3:9,10).

And since the Day of the Lord is coming — perhaps much sooner than most expect — we would be wise to consider these significant historical events recorded for us in the pages of the Bible and place our hope and confidence in the Son! On that day, the rest of human history will matter little.

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“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:15-20

It is the responsibility and duty of every Christian to be watchful and on guard against false prophets; for outwardly false prophets may appear to be fine Christian pastors and teachers, but inwardly they are ravening wolves which destroy and scatter God’s flock.

The Apostle Paul, too, warned against such when he said to the elders of the church in Ephesus, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:28-32).

It will happen. There will be false prophets and false teachers who do not faithfully preach and teach God’s Word. And, they will cause divisions in the church and gain followings for themselves. Instead of building upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets — the Word of God — with Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone (cf. Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:1-10), they will build on the sands of false doctrine, human understanding and opinion.

The end result, of course, is that those who do not love the truth and hold fast to Christ and His Word are deceived by the lies of the devil and robbed of the salvation Christ won for them when He suffered and died on the cross for the sins of all.

The Bible tells us: “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Cor. 11:19; cf. 2 Thess. 2:3-12).

That is also why Paul wrote to Timothy: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:12-17).

Thus, for the sake of each of our soul’s salvation, Jesus would have us judge those who preach and teach God’s Word to us. Like the believers in Berea, we should search the Scriptures daily to be sure that what we are being taught is in truth God’s unadulterated Word (cf. Acts 17:10-11). If we don’t, we might easily be misled into unbelief or sin.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:16-20: “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

And what is the fruit of a prophet? What does he produce that we might judge? First and foremost, it is his teaching. Thus, we must always compare the teaching of pastors and teachers to the Scriptures, for the Scriptures are the inspired and unerring Word of God.

Isaiah also wrote: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20; cf. Jer. 23:16ff.; Deut. 13:1ff.). If a pastor or teacher is not speaking and teaching in full accord with God’s unerring Word, he is a false prophet and we ought to flee from him and hear him no more.

What if the error is only a small point here and there? Is it alright to continue to hear such a preacher? Consider how Satan worked in the Garden, causing doubt regarding the fruit of a single tree. Consider that any error and false teaching comes from the devil, the father of lies, and is meant to deceive us and lead us away from Christ and His truth, even if only little by little (cf. John 8:44).

Consider that Jesus, earlier in His Sermon on the Mount, warned against changing the smallest letter or portion of a letter of God’s Word (cf. Matt. 5:17-20). If a preacher will not humbly yield to the clear and plain truth of God’s Word, he is a false prophet — beware of him, Jesus said, for in the end his errors will tear, divide and scatter the flock like a ravenous wolf. Cf. Rom. 16:17-18; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 John 8-11; Titus 3:9-11; Eph. 5:11; Jer. 15:19.

If one added a single drop of a deadly poison to a clear and clean glass of water, would you drink it? I dare say that none of us would; for even if that drop of poison were not enough to kill us, it could still do damage and might over time, if we continued to ingest it, cause our death. So why then would anyone wish to continually expose himself to the deadly poison of error and false teaching? Even if it did not immediately destroy faith, it very well might over time. And, even more importantly, why would any believer and disciple of Christ wish to be unfaithful to His Word in any point? Cf. Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9.

A preacher and teacher of God’s Word must also be judged on the basis of his conduct and manner of life — not that any will be perfect and without sin, but there should be the sincere and earnest purpose to live in accord with God’s Word, repent of all sin and error and be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus.

Where one lives in continual disregard of God’s commandments and in open sin, one would not expect to find the good fruits of faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word and an exemplary life to lead and guide God’s flock in the way everlasting.

Thus, our Lord Jesus, who shed His holy and precious blood for the sheep, desires that none of us be misled and deceived by false prophets and be separated from Him. He desires that we all continue in the true and saving faith revealed to us in God’s unadulterated Word — that we trust in Him [Christ] alone and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for pardon, forgiveness and life eternal. He warns us against false prophets that we might always hear Him and His Word and continue to trust in Him unto life everlasting.

After all, He alone is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6; cf. Acts 4:12). Only in Him is eternal salvation!

Dear Lord Jesus, Shepherd and Redeemer of our souls, grant that we be not deceived and misled by the many false prophets who have gone out into the world, but hold fast to You and to Your Word unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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The summary statements which follow are not offered as a new confession of faith. We have a public confession of faith in our unqualified subscription to the creeds and confessions contained in the Book of Concord of 1580 as a true and right exposition of the teaching of God’s Word. Nor are they offered to replace the use of Luther’s Small Catechism for instruction in the Christian Faith; we continue to use Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms for instruction and edification in our study of God’s Word. The statements which follow are offered only as an outline and summary of the teaching of the Bible on various subjects so that we may be clear on what we believe and teach and that we might provide the Scriptural basis for these teachings.

As such, it is hoped that the following statements will be read and studied with a Bible in hand to diligently search the Scriptures and verify that these things are indeed so (Acts 17:11).

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WORD OF GOD

We believe that each and every word, as well as the entirety and whole, of the Holy Scriptures was given by inspiration of God and is, therefore, the true and unerring Word of God (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 2:13; John 10:35; 17:17; 2 Samuel 23:1-2).

We also believe that the Word of God has not been lost or corrupted, but has been faithfully preserved by God down through the centuries as a witness to all the nations (Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:8; I Peter 1:25; Matthew 24:14,35). We believe that it is still accurately recorded in the Hebrew and Greek texts and manuscripts commonly used and accepted by the Church down through the centuries and that it can be read and studied in faithful Bible translations such as the King James Version, the Modern English Version and the New King James Version. We discourage the use of texts and translations of the Bible which are unfaithful and would change, add to or take away from the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; Jeremiah 23:28; Matthew 5:18-19; Revelation 22:18-19).

Since all of Holy Scripture is God’s true and unerring Word, we teach that the Bible is to be the source and judge of all Christian doctrine. What is not in accord with God’s Word is not to be taught as Christian doctrine (Isaiah 8:20; Jeremiah 23:28-32; Psalm 119:128; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Acts 17:11).

The Bible is also its own interpreter; thus, passage interpretations which are not in agreement with other clear passages of Holy Scripture are to be rejected (2 Peter 1:20-21; Isaiah 8:20).

We teach that the Bible is to be diligently studied and heard; for it reveals to mankind the only way of salvation, which is through faith in Christ Jesus, and it guides the Christian in living according to God’s Holy will (John 5:39; 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Psalm 119:105).

GOD

We believe that there is only one true God (Isaiah 44:6; 1 Corinthians 8:4). This God (called the LORD or JEHOVAH) is one divine Being or Essence, but three distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (thus the name, Triune or Three/One God), each being eternal and equal in power and majesty because each Person is the LORD God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; 1 John 5:7; Isaiah 48:16-17; John 1:1; Colossians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 4:14).

We believe that no one can worship or serve the Triune God except he believes that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God and the Savior of mankind from sin and its consequences (John 3:18,36; 5:23; 14:6; 1 John 2:23; 5:11-12). Hence, all who deny the Trinity of God (that God is three Persons) or the Unity of God (that God is one divine Being), or who do not trust in Jesus Christ, the Son, for salvation, do not worship and serve the true God.

CREATION

We believe that the LORD God created the heavens, the earth, and all things in six normal-length days; that this occurred only about six thousand years ago (ca. B.C. 4,000) rather than millions and billions of years ago; that all things were originally created good and without sin; and that God created and still preserves all things by His almighty Word (Genesis 1-2; Exodus 20:11; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 33:6; 139:13-16; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2-3; 11:3; Old Testament genealogical records). We, therefore, reject all teaching and theory which contradicts the Biblical record of creation, including atheistic and theistic evolution and other (falsely called “scientific”) theories which suggest that the earth and life came to exist by chance over millions or billions of years.

ANGELS

We believe that the LORD God, when He created the heavens and the earth, also created a great number of angels to carry out His commands and do His will (Nehemiah 9:6; Exodus 20:11; Colossians 1:16; Psalm 104:4; 103:20-21; Daniel 7:10). These angels are spirits of great power and strength (Psalm 103:20; 2 Kings 19:35). We believe that a large number of these angels sinned and fell away from the LORD God shortly after creation and that the devil and the other evil angels who fell away with him are reserved unto the judgment of eternal torment in hell (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Matthew 25:41). Until the last day, these evil spirits continue to oppose God and His will and seek the destruction of God’s works (Genesis 3:1ff.; Revelation 12; John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Job 1-2; Matthew 4:1-11). The great number of angels who remained faithful to the LORD God are now confirmed in their holy estate and continue to carry out God’s commands and serve the needs of Christians (Hebrews 1:14; Matthew 18:10; 25:31; Psalm 91:11-12; 103:20-21).

MAN

We believe that the first man and woman were created by God (Adam’s body from the dust of the ground, and Eve’s from the rib of Adam); that they were given a rational and immortal soul (not being unintelligent or brutish) and were created for eternal life; and that they were created in the image of the LORD God, having a knowledge of God and His will and being righteous and holy in thoughts, desires, words and deeds (Genesis 1:26-28,31; 2:7,18-25; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10).

We believe that Adam and Eve sinned as described in Genesis, chapter three; that, as a result of this sin, all men are conceived and born in sin and are inclined to evil (having lost the image of God); that, as sinners, all of mankind stands condemned by God’s holy Law to eternal suffering in hell; and that all people, as they are by nature, are unable to do God-pleasing works or reconcile themselves to God and thus escape His wrath and punishment (Psalm 51:5; Genesis 6:5; 8:21; Romans 3:10-20,23; 5:12,18-19; Galatians 3:10; James 2:10-11; Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23; Isaiah 64:6; John 3:6; 15:5-6; Psalm 49:7-9).

JESUS CHRIST AND REDEMPTION

We believe that Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God from eternity, and also true man, being conceived by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless and holy life under God’s Law in the stead of all mankind and then suffered and died upon the cross, paying the just penalty for the sins of all people, and rose again from the dead on the third day (John 1:1,14; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25; Galatians 4:4-5; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21-24; 3:18; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We believe that Jesus Christ, by His holy life and innocent sufferings and death in our stead, has redeemed and made atonement to God for the sins all people (Hebrews 2:14-17; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Colossians 1:19-22; Galatians 3:10,13; Romans 3:23-26; 4:25; 5:6-11,18-19; John 1:29; 1 John 2:1-2; Isaiah 53).

JUSTIFICATION

We believe that, for the sake of Jesus Christ’s holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for the sins of the world, God’s just wrath is propitiated and satisfied and God offers pardon and forgiveness to all in the Gospel (1 John 2:1-2; Ephesians 1:6-7; 2 Corinthians 5:19,21; Romans 3:23-26; 4:25; 5:18-19). God justifies people, forgives them, reconciles them and counts them righteous in His sight when they receive in faith the Gospel promise offering forgiveness and life eternal in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:28; 4:5; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 10:43). We reject as false all teachings which would make a man’s justification dependent upon his own works and merits, his own will or decision, or any justification apart from God-wrought faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus for the sins of all (Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 2:16; John 1:12-13).

FAITH IN CHRIST

We believe that it is through faith alone – and not of works – that a sinner receives the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which Christ Jesus won for all by His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross. Such faith, which is also a gracious gift of God worked by the Holy Spirit, is to believe and apply to one’s self the Gospel promise, the good news that God is gracious to us and forgives our sins for the sake of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work (John 3:16; Galatians 2:16; Romans 1:16-17; 3:20-28; 4:3-8; 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-9,11-18; Philippians 1:6,29; Colossians 2:12). We also believe that no one can be saved without such faith in Christ, for all who do not believe the Gospel message and trust in Christ alone for their salvation remain guilty in their sins and will be condemned to eternal suffering in hell, having rejected the only salvation provided by God – that won by the atoning sacrifice of His Son for the sins of the world (John 3:18,36; 8:24; Mark 16:15-16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

CONVERSION

We believe that conversion is the turning of a lost and condemned sinner from unbelief to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. This occurs when a man, condemned by the Law of God, is brought to faith in the Gospel and believes that God, for the sake of Christ’s redemption, is gracious to him and forgives all his sins (Acts 2:37ff.; 3:19; 11:21; 16:29-34; 26:18; Titus 3:3-7; Isaiah 55:7). We believe that conversion is entirely the result of God’s gracious working in us; for man, as he is by nature, is spiritually blind, dead and an enemy of God and, therefore, cannot by his own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ as Savior or come to Him (Ephesians 2:1-10; Romans 3:10-18; Genesis 6:5; 8:21; John 1:12-13; 3:3-6; 6:44,63,65; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 12:3; Colossians 2:11-15; Philippians 1:29; Jeremiah 31:18; 1 Peter 1:2-5, 23-25). We, therefore, reject as false all teaching which attributes a man’s conversion to his own will or decision rather than to God’s grace alone, and also any teaching which would limit God’s gracious desire and work for the salvation of all men.

REPENTANCE

We believe that true repentance consists of a troubled conscience (godly sorrow) over one’s sins and sinfulness and of faith in God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for our sins and the sins of the whole world. It is a coming to the knowledge and conviction of one’s utter sinfulness and of the punishment of God justly deserved; and it is a turning to God in faith, trusting that He will mercifully forgive our sins and accept us as His own dear children for the sake of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross (Psalm 51; Psalm 32; Romans 3:9-28; Mark 1:4, 15; Acts 2:36ff.; 3:19; 20:17-21; 26:20; Isaiah 55:6-7; Luke 24:45-47; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10; Ephesians 1:3ff.; 2 Peter 3:9). We also teach that a fruit of genuine repentance is a new and amended life lived for our God and Savior (Luke 3:3, 7-17; Acts 26:20; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Romans 6:1ff.; 1 John 1:5-10; 2:1-6; Isaiah 1:16-20; Ephesians 2:8-10).

We believe that a true Christian lives his life here in this world in continual and daily repentance; that is, acknowledging his sins and failures to the LORD God and receiving His mercy and forgiveness for Christ’s sake – as well as the needed help and strength to amend his life and live for the LORD God (1 John 1:8 – 2:2; Psalm 32; Psalm 51; Psalm 86:5; Ephesians 1:15-23; Philippians 4:13). We, therefore, reject the false teaching that true believers do not sin and thus do not need to continue in repentance, or that God cannot bring a fallen believer back to repentance or will not forgive the sins of those who have fallen and returned to repentance.

GOOD WORKS

We believe that, while good works cannot justify a man in the sight of God or merit God’s grace and favor, good works are commanded by God in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 3:10-20,28,31; 10:4; 12:1-2; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14; Psalm 119:1-5,35). Good works are those things a child of God does, speaks or thinks as a fruit of saving faith in Christ Jesus which are in accord with God’s commandments, are for the glory of God and the benefit of his neighbor, and are motivated by love for God and neighbor (Psalm 119:9,133; Psalm 19:14; Proverbs 12:5; Deuteronomy 10:12-13; Matthew 15:9; 22:36-40; John 14:15; Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 13:1-3; Luke 10:25-37). We believe and teach that no man can perform such works unless he first has faith in Christ as Savior and is regenerated by the Holy Spirit (John 15:1-5; Hebrews 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14; 3:3-8). Good works of believers are acceptable in God’s sight only for Christ’s sake – because God, for the sake of Jesus Christ’s innocent sufferings and death, pardons the sins and impure motives of His children (Isaiah 64:6; 1 John 1:7ff.).

MEANS OF GRACE

We believe that God offers, gives and assures to men the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which Christ won for all by His innocent sufferings and death on the cross through certain means: namely, the Word of the Gospel, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. Through these means, God the Holy Spirit graciously tells us of Christ Jesus and the salvation He won for us and all people by His atoning sacrifice upon the cross; and He assures us that, for Christ’s sake and through faith in His name, we are forgiven of all sins and have everlasting life in heaven (Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Romans 1:16-17; 10:15; Acts 2:38-39; 22:16; Colossians 2:11-15; 1 Peter 3:21; Matthew 28:19; 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; 10:16-17). We believe that it is through these means of grace that the Holy Spirit creates and sustains saving faith in men’s hearts (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:2,23-25; 2:2; John 3:5-6; Titus 3:5; Colossians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 11:23ff.; Philippians 1:6).

GOSPEL

We believe that the Gospel is the good news of man’s redemption in Christ Jesus. It is the proclamation that Christ died for all sins and rose again and that God, for the sake of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death upon the cross, forgives sins and offers and gives everlasting life through faith in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 1:16-17; 10:15; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Luke 24:46-47; Colossians 1:19-23; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 Timothy 1:15; 2:3-7; John 3:14-16). We reject the teaching that the Gospel is a new law requiring love and good deeds for our fellow man.

BAPTISM

We believe that Baptism has been instituted by God to be a means whereby He offers, gives and assures to an individual the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which Christ won for all by His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross (Colossians 2:11-15; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:26-29). In Christian Baptism, water is applied (by sprinkling, pouring or immersing) in the name of the Triune God (Matthew 28:19); and through Baptism, the Holy Spirit works to create and preserve saving faith in Christ Jesus, thus washing away sins and giving eternal salvation to all who believe (John 3:5; Titus 3:5; Acts 22:16; Mark 16:16).

We believe that all people are to be baptized – including infants and children, for they too can be brought to believe – and that those who reject Baptism forfeit the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which God wills to give them through Baptism (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38-39; Luke 18:15-17; John 3:5-6; Matthew 18:6; Luke 7:30).

LORD’S SUPPER

We believe that, when the Lord’s Supper is observed according to Christ’s institution, Jesus offers and gives to those who partake of the bread and the cup (wine) in His Supper His body and blood which were given and shed upon the cross as the atoning sacrifice for the remission of all sins – indeed, the Scriptures say in 1 Corinthians 11:23ff.: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (Cf. Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; 10:16.)

Those who partake of Christ’s Supper with a penitent heart and faith in Christ’s words receive through this new covenant meal the forgiveness of sins and the eternal salvation won for them by Christ’s atoning sacrifice, but those who partake of Christ’s Supper in impenitence and without faith in Christ and His words partake of the Supper to their own condemnation, not discerning the Lord’s body and treating the blood of the covenant by which they were redeemed as an unholy thing (Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32; Hebrews 10:29). Therefore, we receive at the Lord’s Table only those who profess the true Christian doctrine and are able to examine themselves; and we exclude others who have not yet been instructed in the true Christian Faith or who continue to live in open disobedience to God’s Word (1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Romans 16:17; Ephesians 5:11).

PRAYER

We believe that prayer is an act of worship in which Christians call upon the LORD God with their hearts and voices, offering up praise and thanksgiving to God and making requests of Him (Psalm 5:1-3; 19:14; 103:1; 95:1-6; 96:1-13). Though prayer is not a means of grace, it is a great privilege that God gives to those who trust in Christ Jesus for their salvation (1 John 5:11-15; Romans 8:15; John 16:23). Since God commands His children to come to Him in prayer, and promises to answer the prayers of those who have saving faith in Christ Jesus, we believe that every true Christian should pray regularly and in all things (Matthew 7:7-8; Psalm 50:15; Philippians 4:6; Isaiah 65:24; Psalm 65:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

HOLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH

We believe that there is only one Holy Christian Church and that this Church is made up only of true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, of those who have despaired of their own righteousness before God and trust that God is gracious to them and forgives all their sins for the sake of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work (Matthew 16:16-18; Ephesians 2:8-22; 4:4-6; 5:23-32; 1:22-23; Romans 12:4-5; 8:9; Philippians 3:8-9). We believe that this Church is invisible in that God only, and not man, can see faith in the heart (1 Samuel 16:7; Luke 17:20-21; 2 Timothy 2:19). Nevertheless, the Holy Christian Church does and will continue to exist in this world wherever the saving Gospel is still in use and the Sacraments are rightly administered (Matthew 16:18; 1 Kings 19:8-18; Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 1:16-17; 10:17). We reject as false the claim that Christ’s Church in this world is to be identified with any particular denomination or church body.

LOCAL CHURCHES

We believe that the Holy Scriptures speak, not only of the Holy Christian Church, which is made up of all believers in Christ; they also speak of local churches or congregations of believers and command Christians in every locality to gather together with other faithful Christians and form congregations where they may establish the public ministry and mutually care for and encourage their fellow believers in the true and saving faith (2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; Revelation 1-3; Acts 2:41-47; 14:23; 20:28; Titus 1:5; Jeremiah 23:3-4; Hebrews 10:23-25; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 4:1-16; Matthew 18:15-20). Though the Bible speaks of one Church, made up of all true believers, and of local churches, there are not two kinds of churches; for even in the local churches, only the believers are truly members of Christ’s Church in that place (1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 1:7). On the Last Day, the unbelieving and hypocrites who are outwardly connected with Christ’s Church in this world will be separated from the believing and cast into the fires of hell (Matthew 13:24-43, 47-50).

CHURCH FELLOWSHIP

We believe that God commands all Christians to discriminate between churches which are faithful to Christ and that which is taught in His Word (orthodox churches) and those which are not faithful to Christ and His Word (false and heterodox churches) and to practice church fellowship (joining together in those things which one would do with fellow believers, such as, worship, prayer, reception of the Lord’s Supper, evangelism, mission work, etc.) only with those who are faithful to Christ and His holy Word (Matthew 28:18-20; 7:15-23; John 8:31-32; 1 John 4:1-6; Acts 2:42; Romans 16:17-18; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 John 7-11). We, therefore, condemn as sin the syncretistic and unionistic practices of our day in which church fellowship is practiced and church union is sought without regard for full adherence to the Scriptural Doctrine.

A church’s faithfulness to Christ and His Word is to be judged, not only by its acceptance of and subscription to an orthodox creed or confession but by what is actually taught and practiced in the church. Errors in both doctrine and practice will continue to trouble churches in this world (Acts 20:28-32; 1 Corinthians 11:19); but those which are faithful to Christ and His Word will, through Scriptural admonition and discipline, continue to combat and remove such error from among themselves (Matthew 18:15-18; 2 Timothy 3:13-17; 4:1-5; Titus 3:10-11).

OFFICE OF THE MINISTRY

We believe that Christ has given to His Church, the congregation of all true believers, the office of the holy ministry and has commanded that faithful men be called and ordained to preach God’s Word, forgive and retain sins, and to administer Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (1 Peter 2:9; Matthew 28:18-20; John 20:21-23; Jeremiah 23:3-4,28; Hebrews 10:19-25; Acts 14:23; 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-12; Titus 1:5-9; 2 Timothy 4:2). Only men meeting the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 are to be entrusted with this office.

Though the public ministry of Word and Sacrament exists by the will and command of God, those holding this office have no authority and power but the Word of God (1 Peter 4:11; Hebrews 4:12; Romans 1:16-17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Thus, obedience must be rendered to the public ministry only when the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed and applied (Hebrews 13:17; Luke 10:16).

We reject as contrary to God’s will and as sinful the current practice of placing women into the public ministry or other positions or offices where they must teach or exercise authority over men (1 Timothy 2:11-15; 1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

CHURCH AND STATE

We believe that both the Church and the State are ordained of God – the Church for the eternal salvation of men, and the State for the maintenance of external righteousness and order among men in this world (Matthew 16:16-19; Ephesians 2:8-9, 19-22; Colossians 1:18-24; Acts 2:41-47; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14; 1 Timothy 2:2). In order that men might be saved, the Church has been commanded to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47; Romans 1:16-17; 10:15,17; John 18:11,36-37; 20:22-23; 1 Cor. 11:23-29; 2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10-18). To maintain civil order and righteousness in this world, civil governments have been given power and responsibility to enact just laws, to punish evildoers (including the use of the death penalty), and to wage just wars (1 Peter 2:13-14; Psalm 82:1-4; Genesis 9:6; Romans 13:3-4).

GOD’S GRACIOUS ELECTION

We believe that God desires the salvation of all men and has already, in His divine foreknowledge and from eternity, chosen those who believe and persevere in the faith to obtain eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and that this election and choosing of God is entirely of God’s grace and mercy in Christ Jesus, without any merit or worthiness on the part of men (2 Timothy 1:9; Matthew 22:14; Ephesians 1:3-14). We take comfort in the Bible’s promise that all those whom God has graciously chosen before the creation of the world and brought to saving faith in Christ through the Gospel will be preserved in that faith unto life everlasting (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:3-14; Matthew 24:22-24). This doctrine of Scripture gives to believers the assurance “that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

We reject as contrary to the Holy Scripture the teachings that God does not desire the salvation of all men; that He is the cause of unbelief and damnation in those who do not come to faith; or that God’s election is based upon some merit or quality in men (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 33:11; Matthew 23:37).

As to why some are saved and others are lost, we can only say with Scripture that God’s elect are saved entirely by God’s grace for Christ’s sake, and that the lost are so entirely of their own fault because they have “not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18; 12:48; Ephesians 2:8-9; Acts 7:51).

FINAL JUDGMENT

We believe that, at death, the souls of believers are taken to be with their Lord and Savior in heaven, and the souls of unbelievers begin suffering the eternal torments of hell (Luke 16:19-31; 23:43; Philippians 1:23; Revelation 14:13; 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:4-9). On the Last Day, Jesus Christ will return to judge the living and the dead; and on that Day, all the dead will be raised up (John 5:28-29; Job 19:25-27; Revelation 20:11-15; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The wicked and unbelieving will be cast, both body and soul, into the everlasting torments of hell; but those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation will, according to both body and soul, dwell with Christ forever, enjoying the blessings of heaven (John 5:29; Matthew 10:28; Luke 16:23-24; Isaiah 66:24; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Hebrews 9:27-28; Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 John 3:2; John 3:36; 17:24; 14:1-3; Psalm 16:11). We believe that the Day of Christ’s return is known only to God and not to man (Matthew 24:29-42; Mark 13:32; 2 Peter 3:10). Therefore, we also reject as false all contrary doctrines, such as purgatory or limbo, an earthly millennial kingdom, a secret rapture, and attempts to predict the time of Christ’s return.

ANTICHRIST

We believe that though there have been and are many antichrists who oppose Christ and the true Word of God with their lies and false teaching, there is also one antichrist, the son of perdition, whose coming was foretold in the Scriptures (1 John 2:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:3). We also believe that this antichrist is none other than the Roman Papacy, for all the marks of this antichrist have been fulfilled in the papacy of Rome (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Revelation 13 & 17; cf. Galatians 1:6-9).

SABBATH DAY

We believe that the Old Testament observance of the Sabbath and other holy days has been abrogated by God and is not required of believers under the new covenant (Colossians 2:16-17; Romans 14:5-6). The Commandment regarding the Sabbath Day does still require us to regularly take time to hear and learn God’s Word and to worship Him (Exodus 20:8; Isaiah 58:13-14; Acts 2:42; Colossians 3:16; Psalm 119:15-16; 26:8; 111:1; 95:1-6; 96:1-2). For this reason, we have set aside Sundays and other feast days for the hearing of God’s Word and for our gathering together to worship the LORD our God (Hebrews 10:24-25; Acts 2:42). However, the observance of these certain days is a church ordinance made in Christian liberty rather than a divine command binding upon the conscience (Romans 14:5-6).

MARRIAGE AND BEARING CHILDREN

We believe that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, that marriage was instituted by God and is entered by mutual consent and promise (Matthew 19:3-6; Genesis 2:18-24; Romans 7:1-3; Luke 20:27-38; Matthew 1:18-25; Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Therefore, we teach that it is sin to violate the marriage union by unfaithfulness or desertion (Matthew 19:3-9; 5:31-32; Mark 10:6-12; 1 Corinthians 7:10-16; Hebrews 13:4; Exodus 20:14; Malachi 2:14-16). With Scripture, we also condemn as sin: fornication (sexual relationships outside the bonds of Biblical marriage), sodomy, homosexuality and bestiality (Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

We believe that children are a blessing of the LORD and that the conception and formation of a child in the womb is the result of God’s creative working (Genesis 1:27-28; 25:21; 29:31; 30:22-23; Ruth 4:13; 1 Samuel 1:5,10-11,19-20; 2:21; Psalm 127:3-5; 128:1-6; 139:13-16; Ecclesiastes 11:5), and that it is God’s will and command that a husband and wife seek and desire to have children (Genesis 1:28; 9:1,7; 1 Timothy 2:15; 5:14).

We also believe that human life begins at conception and that it is murder to kill or destroy the life of an unborn child (Psalm 139:13-16; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Genesis 25:21-23; Genesis 9:5-6; Exodus 20:13). Therefore, we condemn as sin abortion – in all its forms – and reject as contrary to God’s will and intention the modern views and practices which would limit and discourage Christian parents from conceiving and bearing children.

SANCTITY OF LIFE

We believe that every human life is a creation of God and that every human life is precious to God, for God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7,21-22; 9:5-6; Psalm 139:13-16). We also believe that, except in the cases of punishing evildoers and waging just wars or taking just actions to protect life and property, God has reserved for Himself the right to end or destroy a human life (Genesis 9:5-6; Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:14; Exodus 20:13; Psalm 31:15; 39:4-5; 90:1-3; Job 14:1-12; Acts 17:24-28). Therefore, we must condemn as murder and sin the practice of abortion, euthanasia, self-inflicted death (suicide) and all other unjustified taking of human life.

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Good Shepherd Online Church offers Bible Studies, Devotionals, Podcasts and Worship in an online format for those who have no church home faithful to God’s Word.

Essentially, we believe and teach all that the Bible teaches, nothing more and nothing less.

We teach that all people are sinners and have come short of the righteousness God demands in His law, but that Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God made man, kept all God’s commandments perfectly in our stead and bore the full punishment for our sins and the sins of all mankind when He was crucified and died on the cross. On the third day, He rose again from the dead, and all who repent of their sinful ways and look in faith to Christ Jesus are pardoned by God, counted righteous in His sight and are promised everlasting life with Christ in His eternal kingdom.

More information on what we believe and teach is available under the Doctrine tab. Additional study materials are available in the links at the bottom of the page.

We hope you will join us as we study and proclaim God’s saving Word in a lost and dying world.

To contact us, email pastor@goodshepherdonline.org or call us at +1 479-310-5289.

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“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse …” Romans 1:18-20 (Read Romans 1)

Can anyone claim to have an excuse for his sinfulness and rebellion against the LORD God who both created and redeemed him? Can anyone claim, “I didn’t know”?

The Word of God is quite clear when it says that mankind is without excuse for sin and rebelliousness. No one can legitimately say, “I didn’t know.”

Why? Because all of us have a natural knowledge of God written upon our hearts and God has clearly revealed Himself to us in His creation (cf. Rom. 2:14-16; Psalm 19:1-6). The Scripture says, “that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

But what happened to that natural knowledge of God? Though, deep down, people know the truth — that they were created by an almighty and holy God and are accountable to Him — they hold that truth in unrighteousness. “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (v. 21-23).

People ignore and reject the truth which has been revealed to them. They turn away from the true God and reject His commandments. Instead of living for God and serving Him, they live in accord with their own self-chosen ideals and values. Their foolish hearts become calloused and darkened so they no longer even recognize the truth. They change the truth of God into a lie and worship and serve created things rather than the Creator of all things.

As a result of their rejection of the truth and rebellion, God gives them up to their corrupt desires. They reject not only the LORD God who made them but His purpose and design in creation. Even though they know, deep down, God’s judgment upon their wickedness, they corrupt themselves and applaud others who do the same (Rom. 1:24-32).

While we may be quick to point the finger, the truth is that we are all guilty. We have all turned aside from the truth and followed our corrupt human nature (Read Romans 2). Though we know the truth, we often buy into the lies of the devil, the thinking of this world, and our own sinful longings.

And God’s wrath is being revealed. His judgment is coming. The Scriptures warn us of what we already know, deep down. We have come short. We stand condemned and are guilty before God (cf. Psalm 130:3).

What hope do we have? There is only one hope, and that is in God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, who fulfilled all righteousness for us and then bore the full punishment for all our sins when He suffered and died upon the cross and rose again (cf. Psalm 130:4-8; Rom. 3:21-26). Through faith in Christ Jesus, there is forgiveness and life!

O Almighty God, have mercy upon us and forgive us for the sake of Christ Jesus, who shed His blood to redeem us and win for us pardon and everlasting peace. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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