What We Believe
St. John Lutheran Church is affiliated with The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. The roots of our denomination go back to German immigrants coming to the United States in the early 1800’s to find freedom to worship as Lutherans. St. John Lutheran was organized in 1939 as a mission congregation of Trinity Lutheran in Sheridan, just down the highway from McMinnville.
The purpose of St. John Lutheran Church and School is to communicate the Good News offered in Jesus Christ; equip people to grow in their relationship with Christ and others; and live in the power of the Holy Spirit so that the Spirit transforms people into committed followers of Jesus Christ through love, acceptance and forgiveness.
We believe that we are stewards or managers of the many gifts the Lord has given us.
As stewards of God's blessings to us we will....
be faithful in prayer and Word
be personally more deliberate and intentional in reaching out
provide Christ centered education to evangelize and build up families
be a blessing by sharing our gifts and the Good News of the Gospel
be an open, welcoming church with a fully utilized attractive campus
What Do We Believe and Teach?
With the Universal Christian Church, we believe, teach and respond to the love of the Triune God–the Father, creator of all that exists; the Son, Jesus Christ, who left his home in heaven to become flesh and blood, to suffer and die for the sins of all peoples of the world, and rose from the grave, victorious over sin, death and the devil, that we that we too might live with him in heaven for all eternity; and the Holy Spirit, who creates faith in our hearts in Christ Jesus through God’s Word and Sacrament. The tree persons of the Holy Trinity are on e God, co-equal and co-eternal.
Grace alone — Loves all the people of the world, even though we are sinful, rebel against him, and do not deserve his love. He sent Jesus, his only begotten Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly through the blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Scripture alone — The Bible is God’s inherent and infallible Word, through which he reveals his Law and Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ. it is the only rule and unlovable and save the ungodly through the blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Faith alone — By His Suffering and death as a substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for them. To those who hear and trust in this Good News, God gives eternal life. The Holy Spirit creates in us the faith to trust in his promises and forgives all our sins through Christ Jesus.
With the Universal Christian Church, we believe, teach and respond God has revealed Himself in the Bible as One. Yet, He is also three Persons in the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each person is fully God and co-equal, yet there are not three Gods, but One. The mystery called the “Trinity” is just that, a mystery. We cannot fully comprehend God, yet we can go to Scripture and allow it to help us see God for Who He is. God is beyond our understanding, yet this mystery is a good thing because God is beyond “figuring out.” As Lutherans, we believe the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds are correct ways of summarizing God and His work in all creation as it has been revealed to us in Holy Scripture.
We are Christians in the sense that we are followers of Christ. A true believer has been given the gift of faith through the work of the Holy Spirit, not by any work or decision on their part, (Ephesians 2:8-9). A Christian believes that Jesus Christ is their own Savior or Redeemer, personally attaching that redemption to themselves. Again, no one simply decides to become a Christian or have faith in Christ. Only through the Means of Grace (the Word, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper) does the Holy Spirit work in bringing a person to faith. As faith is planted and begins to sprout and grow in the believer’s heart, they will become more open to God’s leading in the Word – they become a follower of Christ.
The Word of God
We understand the Word of God to include all the writings of Scripture found in the Holy Bible, the various forms it takes as it is preached and communicated throughout the world, and the true revelation of God to humanity. The Word is a means or vehicle of God’s grace to all people with whom it engages. Here are some facts about God’s Word:
It is inspired by the Holy Spirit, yet was written by men – the Holy Spirit (God) made sure it was written and communicated just as He (God) intended
It is inerrant, or without error
It is infallible, or incapable of misleading
As difficult as it may be, we consider the Word as it is presented in Holy Scripture to be the basis for our faith and life in the world. Although many question its origins, its message, and how it should be interpreted, our goal is to have the Word engage us, change us, and enrich us with its power – not the other way around. Without question, the whole of Scripture points to the true revelation of God in Jesus Christ – the Good News that Jesus Christ is the Savior and promised Messiah Who forgives our sins by His death and resurrection. That message of forgiveness is God’s grace coming to us.
Different Christians have had a different understanding of these rites of the Christian church. Roman Catholics consider any holy act performed by a priest to be a sacrament. They have seven. Protestants hold to two, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These are described by Lutherans as:
something commanded by Christ;
something having a visible element (water or bread and wine); and
something which carries the assurance of sins forgiven.
An important difference in Lutheran teaching is that the Sacraments are God’s grace coming to us, for which we do nothing. Rather than something we do, it is a pure gift of grace that God does.
The Sacrament of Baptism
We believe that baptism is a promise of God, not the commitment of a Christian. Truly, it is God’s grace coming to us, not a work on our part to commit to God. Therefore, we also baptize infants, believing that they too have been included in the promise of God. Even as infants understand their relationship to their biological parents long before they are able to verbalize that relationship, so an infant can understand a relationship with God long before he or she can verbalize it. Faith can live in an infant or an Alzheimer’s patient as easily as a fully functional adult because faith is not dependent on intellectual understanding.
If you are interested in learning more about baptism, please contact a pastor.
The Lord’s Supper, the Sacrament of the Altar, Holy Communion
We believe that the words of the Bible were important and carefully chosen by the Holy Spirit. Therefore when Jesus said, “This is My body,” and “This is the New Covenant in My blood,” He meant what He said. To change the word “is” to “represents” is to change Scripture because one wants to make it easily understood to human reason. The Holy Spirit helps us to know that reason must be subject to the Word and not the other way around.
This view is called “The Real Presence,” and is the belief that Jesus really comes in the bread and wine to give to us His real body and blood (1 Corinthians 10:16). It is not sufficient to say that He is spiritually present because it misses the truth that the human and divine natures of Christ have been inseparably joined in the mystery of the virgin birth. In other words, Jesus is more than just a divine spirit being, He is also a human being. Even His ascent to the right hand of the Father (after which our church, Ascension, is named) does not remove Him from our presence, since the Father is present everywhere.
Christ Himself said that He would be with us always, (Matthew 28:20). However, He is now invisible to our physical sight. Like television waves are invisible until they are broadcast through a special device called a TV, so Jesus is with us in invisible form until He is manifested in the form of bread and wine.
Some important points to consider before participating in the Lord’s Supper.
St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 that we are in fellowship (the Greek word is koinonia) with those communing together with us. Therefore, the word “communion” has its roots in community. The Lord’s Supper is not just between the person and God, but is a communal activity with God, the saints in heaven, and others of the same belief.
To avoid judgment, 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 says that we must:
Discern the true body and blood of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Examine ourselves, recognizing we have sinned (not followed the will of God), and repent, or turn from those sins
Finally, and most importantly, we are given the forgiveness of sins through the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as Jesus tells us in Matthew 26:28.