WHAT WE BELIEVE
To be a Christian is to live by the Word of God, Luke 11:28
We are nothing of ourselves. It is the Word which has made us what we are: forgiven, justified, children of God, heirs of life and salvation. It is the Word which has bound us up together as a Church: Christ’s little congregation here on the outskirts of Preble, the flock of which the Good Shepherd says, “I know my sheep and am known of mine.”
The Word does everything. It kills and makes alive. The ministry of the Law brings the inbred sin to light. It teaches us to confess with St. Paul, “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing,” Rom. 7:18. We need the Law to convict, accuse, bring us to nothing. We need the Law to sit us squarely in the ashes of repentance, showing us, not only sin, but the futility of trying to save ourselves. We need the Law to show us our great and desperate need for a Savior.
But then the Gospel enters in, our sinful souls to quicken. The ministry of the Gospel comforts consciences by setting forth Christ, and his work for us—his perfect life and holy death for us men and our salvation. The Gospel declares that through Jesus’ blood and merit, we are at peace with God, and stand before God justified, Rom. 5:1ff. The Gospel is the ministry of consolation. It preaches us forgiven and holy, creates faith and confidence, and kindles in our hearts love toward the neighbor. The Gospel makes us bold and lively disciples, confident even amid suffering and trouble that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Our resurrection on the Last Day is a sure and certain thing.
We are approaching 150 years of receiving God’s grace at St. Paul. Many generations have come and gone. But one thing remains. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever, Is. 40:8.
It is the Word which has bound us up together as one Church. We rejoice together in one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. We rejoice to be one with the saints on earth, and the saints who have gone before us and are now resting with the Lord. One day, our cemetery will be vacant, and we will see the faithful departed again in a blessed heavenly reunion. But for now, at the Lord’s Altar, receiving Christ’s Body and Blood, we are one with them, and he with us, for all eternity.