The foundation of everything we believe, teach and confess at River of Life Lutheran Church is the Bible, the 66 canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. We believe these Holy Scriptures are the inspired and inerrant Word of God. By inspired, we mean that every word of the Bible written by the prophets, apostles and evangelists was given to them by God. By inerrant, we mean that the Bible is entirely free of error, that everything it teaches about the history of the world, the nature of man and our redemption through the Triune God is true.
The Lutheran Confessions:
One of the great tragedies of division within Christ's Church is that saying you believe the Bible has come to mean so little because so many denominations and church bodies teach drastically different and contradictory theologies that they all claim are rooted in the Scriptures. As members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, we believe that the doctrine presented in the Lutheran Confessions is the true doctrine of the Bible. That which the Scriptures teach, the Confessions echo. The faith proclaimed in these documents is the same faith proclaimed by the Apostles and the Church throughout all time.
To quote the words of the Athanasian Creed, at River of Life, "we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity." As the Scriptures teach, there is one God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Created by Him in perfection, mankind fell into sin and brought death into the world. But, out of His great mercy, the Father sent His Son into the world in order that Jesus Christ would die for our sins and win new life for us through His resurrection. And through the Holy Spirit's call to faith in the bloody cross and empty tomb, we have been gathered into the Church, where the Triune God's gifts of life and salvation forever flow.
The Sacramental Church:
Because it is by faith that we belong to Christ's Church, we recognize that the Church is found wherever those faith-giving gifts are present. Therefore, our lives as Christians are rooted in the Word, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper.
The Word: Through the reading of the Scriptures, as well as through preaching on that Word, God teaches us who He is and brings us to trust in the forgiveness of sins that He won for us through the blood of Christ.
Baptism: We believe that Baptism is not an act of man's obedience to God, but rather is an act of God's mercy to man, where He gives to individuals the salvation that Jesus won for the world upon the cross. As Paul describes in Romans 6:4, baptism is an act whereby God drowns our sinful nature and raises us up to a new life where we can be called His very own children. We also believe that this rebirth of water and the Spirit, this gift of life, is one that Christ desires to give to all people, including infants.
The Lord's Supper: We believe that the Lord's Supper is not a mere symbolic meal, but rather is the means through which Jesus Christ comes to us physically and where we eat the very same flesh and drink the same blood that were broken and shed for us upon the cross. Just as in Baptism, it is through this Holy Meal that God gives us everything won for us in the Cross.
And because Christ promises all of His nail-pierced salvation to those who faithfully eat His body and drink His blood, we joyfully celebrate the Lord's Supper each week. Likewise, because Christ also warns against partaking of His body and blood in an unworthy and divided manner, we ask that all visitors who have not communed with us before speak with our pastor before approaching the altar.
Because Christ has built His Church upon these gifts that give us forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation, we believe that the purpose of Christian worship is for Christ's Bride to receive those gifts from her Bridegroom. Therefore, every aspect of our worship at River of Life is aimed toward that goal.
For our forms of worship, known as liturgies, we exclusively use the Divine Service settings from Lutheran Service Book because we believe their words and music faithfully and beautifully deliver to us the Crucified Christ and prepare us to receive His Supper. Likewise we sing hymns from the same book because they tell us the eternal story of our creation, redemption and sanctification through the Triune God.
While many congregations throughout the world may struggle to know how their worship can be relevant to a contemporary world, our congregation remains content with the ancient character of the Church's worship, knowing that contemporary sinners can find nothing more relevant than the infinite love and mercy of Jesus Christ that come to us each time we gather in His name.