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Is the Lutheran Church bad?

q.gif (1639 bytes)   I am a member of the Lutheran church. Is the Lutheran church bad. We believe that the scripture is infallible. Can you help me out?



a.gif (1659 bytes)   We are told that there are about 66 million Lutherans worldwide, and about 36 million of them live in Europe. In our area, there is a heavy Lutheran population. There were 3 Lutheran churches in this city, which has a population of only 8,000, but two of them merged together. One of them is associated with the Missouri Synod, which is the most conservative of the Lutheran churches.

The Lutheran Church was founded upon the doctrines of a German monk, named Martin Luther, who protested against the Catholic Church, and was in the forefront of the Reformation that swept Europe in the 1500’s. Many churches refer to themselves as “Protestant” in denomination. Those are groups that “protested” against the Catholic Church, and came out of it.

But every non-Catholic church does not have to claim (or accept) the title of “Protestant.” The Lord promised in Matthew 16:18, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH; AND THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT.” During the “Dark Ages,” when the Catholic Church controlled Europe, burned Bibles, and burned Christians at the stake, there was still the “true church,” although it was mostly underground at the time.

“On January 1, 1988, three American synods, the American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in America, merged to become the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). In August 1997, the ELCA declared full communion with the United Church of Christ, the Reformed Church of America, and the Presbyterian Church-USA. The ELCA also decided that the differences between it and the Roman Catholic Church in matters of salvation had essentially been resolved.” (http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/denominations/lutheranism.htm).

In contrast to the above Lutheran churches is the Missouri Synod, which prides itself on being more conservative. But Romans 16:17-18 warns, “17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and BY GOOD WORDS and FAIR SPEECHES DECEIVE THE HEARTS OF THE SIMPLE.” When reading the official Lutheran doctrine of the Missouri Synod, it sounds good — at first. But you must read carefully, lest you be deceived by their good words and fair speeches.

They write of their position on the Bible: “Since the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God, it goes without saying that they contain no errors or contradictions, but that they are in all their parts and words the infallible truth” (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=563). “Hence the Holy Scriptures are the sole source from which all doctrines proclaimed in the Christian Church must be taken and therefore, too, the sole rule and norm by which all teachers and doctrines must be examined and judged” (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=563). Those are good words.

They write of their position on God: “On the basis of the Holy Scriptures we teach the sublime article of the Holy Trinity; that is, we teach that the one true God, Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4, is the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, 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 entire, Col. 2:9, Matt. 28:19” (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=564). Those are good words.

They write of their position on the matter of creation: “We teach that God has created heaven and earth, and that in the manner and in the space of time recorded in the Holy Scriptures, especially Gen. 1 and 2, namely, by His almighty creative word, and in six days. We reject every doctrine which denies or limits the work of creation as taught in Scripture” (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=565). Those are good words.

They write of their position on sin and the fall of man: “We furthermore teach that sin came into the world by the fall of the first man, as described (in) Gen. 3. ...and thus all men are sinners already by birth, dead in sins, inclined to all evil, and subject to the wrath of God” (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=566). Those are correct words.

They write on their position of good works and salvation: “Before God only those works are good which are done for the glory of God and the good of man, according to the rule of divine Law. Such works, however, no man performs unless he first believes that God has forgiven him his sins and has given him eternal life by grace, for Christ's sake, without any works of his own, John 15:4, 5. Since 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 (and God would have us to be rich in good works, Titus 2:14) is unceasingly to remember the grace of God which we have received in Christ, Rom. 12:1; 2 Cor. 8:9. Hence we reject as unchristian and foolish any attempt to produce good works by the compulsion of the Law or through carnal motives” (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=571). Those are good words.

They write of their position on faith in Christ: “Since God has reconciled the whole world unto Himself through the vicarious life and death of His Son and has commanded that the reconciliation effected by Christ be proclaimed to men in the Gospel, to the end that they may believe it, 2 Cor. 5:18, 19; Rom. 1:5, therefore faith in Christ is the only way for men to obtain personal reconciliation with God, that is, forgiveness of sins, as both the Old and the New Testament Scriptures testify, Acts 10:43; John 3:16-18, 36. By this faith in Christ, through which men obtain the forgiveness of sins, is not meant 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, or justification, which was fully earned for us by Christ and is offered by the Gospel” (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=568). Those sound like good words — but here begins some of their fair speeches by which they deceive the hearts of the simple. They say that a person is saved by “faith in the Gospel,” but they are deceitful in their use of the word gospel, as we shall see.

They write of the means of grace by which a person gets saved: “Although God is present and operates everywhere throughout all creation and the whole earth is therefore full of the temporal bounties and blessings of God, Col. 1:17; Acts 17:28; 14:17, still we hold with Scripture that God offers and communicates to men the spiritual blessings purchased by Christ, namely, the forgiveness of sins and the treasures and gifts connected therewith, only through the external means of grace ordained by Him. These means of grace are the Word of the Gospel, in every form in which it is brought to man, and the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and of the Lord's Supper. The Word of the gospel promises and applies the grace of God, works faith and thus regenerates man, and gives the Holy Ghost, Acts 20:24; Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23; Gal. 3:2. Baptism, too, is applied for the remission of sins and is therefore a washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, Acts 2:38; 22:16; Titus 3:5. Likewise the object of the Lord's Supper, that is, of the ministration of the body and blood of Christ, is none other than the communication and sealing of the forgiveness of sins” (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=572). Those are deadly words.

What they have done is add to the gospel. They have said, “still we hold with Scripture that GOD OFFERS AND COMMUNICATES TO MEN the spiritual blessings purchased by Christ, namely, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS and the treasures and gifts connected therewith, ONLY THROUGH THE EXTERNAL MEANS of grace ordained by Him.”

What do they mean when they say that God offers and communicates the forgiveness of sins “only through the external means of grace ordained by Him?” Is salvation received by external means, or is it an internal decision and transaction?

Romans 10:9-10 says, “9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt BELIEVE IN THINE HEART that God hath raised him from the dead, THOU SHALT BE SAVED. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” That is describing an internal decision.

Believing in our hearts that God hath raised the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead is making reference to the gospel. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 says, “1 Moreover, brethren, I DECLARE UNTO YOU THE GOSPEL which I preached unto you, WHICH ALSO YE HAVE RECEIVED, and wherein ye stand; 2 BY WHICH ALSO YE ARE SAVED, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS according to the scriptures; 4 And that HE WAS BURIED, and that HE ROSE AGAIN THE THIRD DAY according to the scriptures.”

What does this Lutheran statement mean, “God offers and communicates to men ...the forgiveness of sins ...ONLY THROUGH THE EXTERNAL MEANS of grace ordained by Him”?

They clearly tell us what they mean. “THESE MEANS of grace ARE the WORD of the GOSPEL, in every form in which it is brought to man, AND the SACRAMENTS of HOLY BAPTISM and of the LORD’S SUPPER.”

And lest there be any confusion over what they meant, they go on to say, “BAPTISM… is APPLIED for the REMISSION of SINS… the LORD’S SUPPER… the ministration of the body and blood of Christ, IS NONE OTHER THAN THE COMMUNICATION AND SEALING OF THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS”

What they have done is said that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are a part of the gospel, and that there is no way to be saved apart from these external means of receiving His grace. “God offers and communicates to men ...the forgiveness of sins ...ONLY THROUGH THE EXTERNAL MEANS of grace ordained by Him.”

Lest anyone mistake what they have said, they say it again in the next paragraph, “Since IT IS ONLY THROUGH THE EXTERNAL MEANS ordained by Him THAT GOD HAS PROMISED TO COMMUNICATE THE GRACE AND SALVATION PURCHASED BY CHRIST, the Christian Church must not remain at home WITH THE MEANS OF GRACE ENTRUSTED TO IT, but go into the whole world with the PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS, Matt. 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15, 16. For the same reason also the churches at home should never forget that THERE IS NO OTHER WAY OF WINNING SOULS for the Church and keeping them with it THAN THE FAITHFUL AND DILIGENT USE of the of the divinely ordained MEANS OF GRACE” (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=572). Those are deadly words.

They have thus redefined two very important words. They have redefined the word gospel. As we saw in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. There was no mention in those verses at all of baptism or the Lord’s Supper. “1 Moreover, brethren, I DECLARE UNTO YOU THE GOSPEL which I preached unto you, WHICH ALSO YE HAVE RECEIVED, and wherein ye stand; 2 BY WHICH ALSO YE ARE SAVED, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS according to the scriptures; 4 And that HE WAS BURIED, and that HE ROSE AGAIN THE THIRD according to the scriptures.”

The Bible makes it very clear that baptism is NOT a part of the gospel. 1 Corinthians 1:14-17 says, “14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. 17 FOR CHRIST SENT ME NOT TO BAPTIZE, BUT TO PREACH THE GOSPEL: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”

The dying, repentant thief on the cross was not baptized, nor did he take part in the Lord’s Supper, but the Lord Jesus Christ said that he was going to be with Him in paradise (heaven). Luke 23:39-43 says, “39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, TO DAY SHALT THOU BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.”

They have also redefined the word grace. “THERE IS NO OTHER WAY OF WINNING SOULS for the Church and keeping them with it THAN THE FAITHFUL AND DILIGENT USE of the of the divinely ordained MEANS OF GRACE.”

That is a contradiction of the very meaning of grace given in the Bible. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

But could we be misunderstanding what the most conservative Lutheran’s (the Missouri Synod) are saying? Are they seriously saying that the only way to be saved is by receiving forgiveness of sins through the external means of being baptized and receiving the Lord’s Supper? Are they serious that salvation cannot be obtained by a sinner that realizes his lost condition, and thus repents and in his heart believes upon the Lord Jesus Christ? Are they really saying that he is not saved, and that he does not really receive forgiveness of sins until the water of baptism washes his sins away? And are they really saying that his salvation and forgiveness is not sealed until he partakes of the body and blood within the elements of the Lord’s Supper, and it actually, physically, enters into his body?

They give the next paragraph to dispel any question about whether they think that a sinner, in the quietness of his own heart with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, can get saved as he is alone with God.

They say. “We REJECT as a DANGEROUS ERROR the doctrine, which disrupted the Church of the Reformation, that the GRACE and the SPIRIT OF GOD are communicated NOT THROUGH THE EXTERNAL MEANS ordained by Him, BUT BY AN IMMEDIATE OPERATION OF GRACE. THIS ERRONEOUS DOCTRINE BASES THE FORGIVNESS OF SINS, OR JUSTIFICATION, UPON A FICTITIOUS ‘INFUSED GRACE’” (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=572).

They could not have stated what they believe any clearer. They reject, as a dangerous, doctrinal error, the belief that a person can immediately receive grace and the Spirit of God (salvation) apart from the external means (apart from being baptized and partaking of the Lord’s Supper).

Does the Bible ever show any examples of people being saved and receiving the Spirit of God before they are baptized or partake of the Lord’s Supper?

Acts 10:36-48 says, “36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” These people received the Spirit of God immediately as they believed upon Him in their hearts as they heard Peter preaching.


What does “infused grace” mean? “To administer or inject by infusion; infuse implies a pouring in of something that gives new life or significance” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary).

So they are rejecting the idea that a person can be infused with salvation and the Spirit of God by an internal repentance of the heart and calling out to God for salvation. They very clearly call this a “fictitious” salvation, because it is not received through baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The word fictitious means, “imaginary; false, assumed” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary).

What do you think this passage says about that? Was this man just imagining that he was now saved? Luke 18:10-14 says, “10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Was that a fictitious salvation that was immediately given to the repentant publican? Not according to the Lord Jesus Christ. He said that it was real.

Baptism is NOT to be administered to a person until he/she is first saved. Acts 8:29-38 says, "Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." A person cannot be Scripturally baptized until he is first saved.

Salvation is a personal, inward decision. No one can bring you salvation by baptizing you, or giving you bread and grape juice. Obeying the Lord in believer's baptism is a work of obedience after a person is saved. To believe that baptism and the Lord's Supper brings salvation, is a false salvation of works. Humble yourself before Almighty God, and in repentance and faith ask Him to save you and cleanse you of your sin. John 1:12 says, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."

We would be happy to send you some Bible Study Courses to help you learn more. You can view the first one at "http://www.libertygospeltracts.com/biblecrs/salvatio/salvatn1.htm."


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