What We Believe
Christ’s love, which he demonstrated by his perfect life and by his suffering and death on the cross, is the foundation for our relationship with God, the focus of our faith, and the motivation for all we do as Christians. In that same love for sinners Christ not only lived and died to set us free from sin and guilt, but he also rose again in victory on the first Easter Sunday, assuring us that his victory is our victory and that his resurrection is our resurrection. Saved by his grace alone, we look forward to his glorious return as we proclaim the good news of what his love has accomplished.
The members of St. Paul's do not stand alone in these beliefs, and our ministry goes far beyond the city limits of Arlington. We're united in faith with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) with national offices in Milwaukee, WI and mission work in over 20 countries around the world. The WELS began when three German pastors joined together in common fellowship in 1850. Today we are the third largest Lutheran church body in North America with nearly 400,000 baptized members, and are served by over 1300 pastors in over 1200 congregations. Our teachings and beliefs all stem from our conviction that the Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God. As fellow believers and members of the WELS, we share in our synod's mission statement:
"As men, women, and children united in faith and worship by the Word of God, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod exists to make disciples throughout the world for time and for eternity, using the gospel in Word and sacrament to win the lost for Christ and to nurture believers for lives of Christian service, all to the glory of God."
Statements of Belief
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life," has been called the gospel in a nutshell—and for good reason. In that one verse we're told all that we need to know for our salvation. God loves us. He sent his son to die for us. Believe it. So why do we need any further statements of belief?
Throughout the history of the Christian Church, errors have crept in challenging basic beliefs established in God's Word—including that Christ is true God and the concept of the Trinity, that God is in fact Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The early church fathers drafted creeds, or statements of belief, to clarify these biblical truths. As WELS Lutherans, we hold to three main creeds that have been the pillars of Christianity for centuries: the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.
In the 16th century, Martin Luther and other reformers addressed the false teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther came to see that sinners are saved by the grace of God as a result of Jesus Christ's perfect life and perfect death on the cross—not through any merit or effort of their own. Luther and others authored the six Lutheran confessions—to which we as WELS Lutherans still subscribe today because we believe they are a correct explanation of biblical truth.
In modern times, leaders within our own synod found it necessary to clarify the differences between us and other church bodies, particularly those that also call themselves Lutheran. We're confident you'll find our statement "This We Believe" helpful in understanding those differences.