|The Triune God
Bethel Lutheran Church confesses the true God to be the Holy Trinity-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit-one God in three persons and three persons in one God.
We hold without reservation to the doctrine of God set forth in the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds. “We worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God, without mixing the persons or dividing the divine being.” [The Athanasian Creed]
We believe and confess that Jesus Christ is true God and true man in one unique person, and that he is equal to the Father and the Spirit in power and majesty. “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and became fully human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures.” [The Nicene Creed]
We believe that the Holy Spirit is true God with the Father and the Son. We confess that the Spirit of God proceeds from the Father and the Son, that he is “the Lord, the giver of life.” The Holy Spirit does for us what we could not do by our own thinking or choosing: he calls us from the darkness of unbelief into the glorious light of faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit “calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.” [The Small Catechism]
This congregation accepts and confesses all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as the verbally inspired Word of God and submits to this Word as the only infallible authority in all matters of faith and life. By the grace of God we take a high view of the authority of Holy Scripture, confessing the Bible to be the very Word of God and therefore free from error. “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)
The Lutheran Confessions
Bethel Lutheran Church accepts and confesses all the symbolical (confessional) books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church contained in the Book of Concord of 1580 as true statements of Scriptural doctrine. They are:
The three ecumenical creeds:
* The Apostles’ Creed
* The Nicene Creed
* The Athanasian Creed
The six Lutheran Confessions:
* Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism
* Dr. Martin Luther’s Large Catechism
* The Unaltered Augsburg Confession
* The Apology of the Augsburg Confession
* The Smalcald Articles
* The Formula of Concord
Our congregation’s name is Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church. The word “evangelical,” when used along with the name Lutheran, indicates that we take our stand on the Augsburg Confession and the other symbols (confessions) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. We accept and confess these books without reservation, not insofar as, but because they are the presentation and explanation of the pure doctrine of the Word of God and a summary of the faith held by the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Bethel Lutheran Church confesses that Christ has given his Church two sacraments, Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
Holy Baptism “is not just plain water, but it is water used by God’s command and connected with God’s Word. Baptism works forgiveness of sin, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.” [The Small Catechism] We believe that baptism is, as Christ commanded, for “all nations.” Because little children are born in sin, because they are part of “all nations,” and because little children can believe in Jesus, we practice infant baptism.
Holy Communion, or the Sacrament of the Altar, is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ for us Christians to eat and to drink. The chief blessing our Lord gives us in this sacrament is the forgiveness of sins, “for where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.” [The Small Catechism]
The Way to Eternal Life
With true Christians everywhere, our congregation confesses that Jesus Christ is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through (him).” (John 14:6) When the jailer at Philippi asked the apostle Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul responded, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household.” We are, therefore, saved by God’s grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Our good works cannot earn eternal life for us because our obedience to God’s commands never attains the perfection his law demands. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Eternal life is rather a gift of God’s undeserved love, freely given to all who trust in Jesus as their Savior. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)
It is joy and gratitude for this great gift of salvation that prompt us to do good works. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Bethel Lutheran Church is a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), a church body of nearly 408,000 baptized members in 1,239 congregations in the U.S. and Canada. WELS congregations hold a high view of the authority of the Scriptures, confessing that all Scripture is “in its entirety, in its parts and in its very words inspired by the Holy Spirit.” We preach and teach confidently, knowing that the Bible is God’s Word and therefore true. “And we also thank God continually because when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
We believe that God has given us the high privilege and the great responsibility of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel message is summarized in the familiar words of Jesus in 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.” (John 3:16) This message of God’s amazing love in Christ Jesus is the message that predominates in WELS preaching and teaching. In 24 world mission fields through the work of 77 expatriate missionaries, and in nearly 200 mission congregations in the U.S., the WELS is sharing the good news of our reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ. This is in addition, of course, to the evangelism work being carried on in more than 1000 other WELS congregations.
Bethel Lutheran is a member of the Western Wisconsin District, one of twelve districts of the WELS.