These are the four core teachings of our church. They are more important than everything else. We measure all we do and say by them. They also have cool Latin phrases which shows that these core teachings are much more ancient than Immanuel…
Grace Alone. (Sola Gratia)
Christ Alone. (Sola Christus)
Faith Alone. (Sola Fide)
Scripture Alone. (Sola Scriptura)
These four teachings are the heart of what it means to follow Jesus. They can be found in a very old document that was the birth of the Lutheran Church (Augsburg Confession part 4). You can read it here… The Augsburg Confession. Here is what these four things mean to us…
When we look at God’s Word and the message we see two distinct parts – law and grace. We are careful to notice how different they are and not get them all mixed up. Law is the measuring standard on human hearts. It is found throughout God’s word…
A couple examples of law from the Bible:
“Even when unbelievers, who do not have God’s written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They demonstrate that God’s law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right. The day will surely come when God, by Jesus Christ, will judge everyone’s secret life.” – Romans 2:14-16
“Love your neighbour as yourself.” Mark 12:31
Human beings tend to naturally function in LAW mode. We judge each other and fear each other’s judgement. But we cannot be ‘saved’ or receive God’s acceptance through the law because no human can achieve the standard. But God does love us! And when he says “I love you”, there are no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. The Bible calls this unconditional love of God “GRACE”. Grace is not something we earn, it’s a free gift.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” – 1 John 4:10
We believe not only that God loves YOU unconditionally, but that God IS love, and that God loves all people on the planet – his grace is there for everyone to put out their hands and receive! We teach that ‘the church stands or falls on grace’. By this we mean that without this all of our teaching would be useless!
There is no point believing in something like grace without proof. And we have proof that grace is not just a nice idea. Grace is real because it has been proven in a real way – when God came down as one of us, lived as one of us, and died in place of us on the cross. When we read the Bible, we remember that the centre is GRACE. When we read the Bible, we read everything in the context of GRACE. When we read the Bible, we can often see GRACE on every page! Without coming back to Christ all our ‘theology’ (thinking and talking about God) ends up hopeless.
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before God made anything at all and is supreme over all creation. Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through him and for him. He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together. Christ is the head of the church, which is his body. He is the first of all who will rise from the dead, so he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and by him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross. This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends… – Colossians 1:15-22
We use the word ‘Christocentric’ to describe our teaching and action being ‘centred on Christ’. We measure the rightness of teaching on whether it is ‘Christocentric’ and grace centred. Please keep this measuring stick when listening to your pastor and leaders at Immanuel. Keep us Christocentric!
Faith is a deep mystery. It’s not believing something in the head. It’s not just a feeling in the heart. It’s even a gift! Martin Luther described faith with three different images. Which one suits you best right now?
1. Faith is like the beggar’s hands (Luke 18:35-43)
2. Faith is knowing that you can’t do it on your own but trusting and leaping! (Hebrews 11:1)
3. Faith is a life of regular rebirth – starting fresh in the newness of baptism daily. (Romans 6:4-7)
Have you ever considered that there are many things people might use to glean some ideas or information about God? People turn to all sorts of things for guidance, advice, comfort or authority! Some of these things can be helpful and others are not. But what how can we be sure? We belive that the highest, most dependable source of knowledge of God is scripture – The Bible. We teach that the Bible is the “Word of God” – that it is “God-Breathed”.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
We acknowledge that God continues to speak to us through the Holy Spirit. We acknowledge that God speaks to us in our lives in many ways. But we measure the truth of what we think we are hearing by God’s Word in the Bible. God speaks through our hearts, minds, emotions, dreams, visions, people, preaching, prophets, etc. but we measure what we are hearing by scripture alone. If it conflicts with the message of scripture then we don’t accept it!
Just as Jesus Christ is a deep mystery so is the Word of God in the Bible. We teach that the Bible is the word of HUMAN BEINGS in all its parts and aspects. We teach that Scripture is the Word of GOD in all its parts and aspects. Both are true at the same time. God used ordinary people and their words were ‘breathed’ through by the Holy Spirit!
We believe that God’s word for us is CLEAR, but we do not approach it simplistically. We want to know about who wrote it and when and understand as much as possible what God was doing when it was written. We don’t want to focus entirely on ‘red herrings’ and get caught up on minute details – we read scripture always centred on Jesus Christ.
To find out even more go to the Lutheran Church Of Australia at www.lca.org.au