The Lutheran Church has been advertised through the years as standing for the Bible as the Word of God and for the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Its teachers have presented the Lord Jesus Christ in His atoning death, bodily resurrection, and expected return. Justification by grace through faith is claimed to be one of its cardinal doctrines. Yet the tragic fact remains that the truths taught by the Lutheran denomination are rendered ineffective by certain firmly held errors.
THE NEW BIRTH
Lutherans teach that one must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. But they set forth the rite of baptism as the means of the new birth. Thus large numbers are kept from experiencing the true rebirth.
They assume [wrongly] that this took place in infancy in connection with the baptismal rite.
Baptism with water is NOT the means of the new birth. It is evident from Scripture portions dealing with regeneration that there is only one possible means of accomplishing it.
Paul specifically tells the church at Corinth, "...in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel" (I Corinthians 4:15). In the same epistle he emphasized the fact that he had baptized almost none of them (I Cor. 1:14-17)!
The false sacramental gospel of "Baptismal Regeneration," as proclaimed by Martin Luther and others, has probably (God only knows) led more people to hell than any other error propagated and tolerated within the ranks of professing Christianity.
JUSTIFICATION AND SALVATION
Justification by faith is a doctrine 'rediscovered' by Martin Luther and stressed by Lutherans to this day. To this they add the error that justifying faith is imparted in infant baptism. Thus people who have never called upon Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord are assured [falsely] that they already believed because they have been 'baptized'.
The Bible recognizes no other way for saving faith to be imparted than through the hearing of the Word of God.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Furthermore, the New Testament knows no baptism except that which follows believing in Christ.
The truth of salvation by grace apart from works of righteousness is a basic Bible doctrine. However, the unscriptural Lutheran teaching of a 'baptismal covenant' has been added.
This is supposedly an agreement between the individual and God which assures salvation.
It is allegedly entered into at the baptismal rite and reaffirmed at confirmation. The individual is thus placed in the impossible position of trying to hold on to a salvation which he does not have by continuing to meet the conditions of a vow which he cannot keep.
The result is that multitudes are under a yoke of bondage. They are trying to do the best I can to assure an entrance into Heaven.
Those who seek standing before God through any other means than undeserved righteousness received through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ have no part in God's kingdom. (See Romans 3:20, 22-24; 4:4-5; 9:30-32; 10:1-3; 11:6; Galatians 2:16, 21; 4:21-31). It is specifically stated in Titus 3:5 that a man cannot be saved by any works of righteousness which he has done. Lutheran teaching nullifies this portion by the interpretation that the washing of regeneration of which it speaks is infant baptism!
KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT EXPERIENCE
It is assumed [wrongly] by Lutherans that an individual is born again when 'baptized' as an infant and that he is established in the Christian faith at confirmation. As a result, little or no emphasis is placed upon Christian experience in Lutheran churches. The vast majority of members are educated in doctrine without ever coming into a saving experience of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lutheranism is in reality a system of error which functions under the garb of truth. Lutheran doctrine is basically accurate on only some points. The appearance of true Christianity is given. However, the unscriptural additions which have been made nullify the truths presented. The error keeps multiplied thousands from experiencing true salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ while they are taught to mouth the very teachings intended to bring salvation.
It is not difficult to determine the results produced by this system of error. Let one question Lutheran people and examine the operation of various churches. He will find rare exceptions among individual Lutherans and in churches where the errors have not been so strongly emphasized. The answer to his question, 'What is the basis for your assurance of eternal life?' will be quite predictable. He can expect to hear, 'I am a Lutheran,' 'I have been baptized and confirmed,' 'I am doing the best I can,' or a similar answer with no mention of Jesus Christ. He will also find that there is little or no understanding of the New Testament Epistles.
In the program of the churches, it will be found that little provision is made for the study of the Bible by adults. Regular meetings for prayer are rare and in some places unknown. Opportunities for the sharing of Christian experiences are seldom offered.
HOW GREAT THE TRAGEDY!
We have seen that the Lutheran denomination stands for some of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith while holding to errors which nullify the truths. Add to this the emphasis so often found in connection with error, that the Lutheran church alone teaches the Bible 'in its truth and purity.' To question Lutheranism is to be guilty of heresy and grievous unbelief! The promptings of the Spirit to seek the truth are quenched. Doctrines held are assumed to be Scriptural, and investigation into their validity is not pursued. Large numbers of Lutherans thus remain in a form of religion in which they are eternally lost.
A PERSONAL TRAGEDY
The terrible possibility of being a partaker in this tragedy should be honestly faced by every Lutheran. One may be a good church member and yet be a lost soul. To rely upon baptism and confirmation is to have a misplaced confidence. Salvation is not found by believing in God and trying to keep the Ten Commandments.
Tragic is the state of every person who is depending upon anything else than the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation. He is condemned already (John 3:18), and the wrath of God abides upon him (John 3:36).
If yours is a misplaced confidence, make the necessary correction at once. Take heed to the gospel message: "how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" (I Cor. 15:3,4). Turn from your sin and Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone -- NOT a church, NOT a ceremony, NOT good works! Then you will have a present assurance of salvation based upon the Word of God (I John 5:13; John 5:24). You will have the inner witness of the Spirit that you are a child of God (Romans 8:16). Be satisfied with no less than this.
The issues at stake are too great to take a chance. To discover that you are lost after it is too late to be saved would be the greatest tragedy of all. "behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:2).
Ephesians 2:8,9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
John 1:12 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
WHAT DID MARTIN LUTHER BELIEVE and TEACH?
Therefore, "faith alone" for Luther meant believing God saved one through the ritual of Baptism. He said it many times. He said it clearly! And yet today many Evangelicals and Fundamentalists do not really understand that Luther dogmatically held to "Baptismal Regeneration." In fact, if one did not believe in the Sacrament of Baptism for salvation, then Luther held that your faith was in vain--even if you were baptized.
The OBJECT of our FAITH must be Christ ALONE and not baptism! The Scriptures teach that your FAITH must be directly in CHRIST ALONE!!! (Gal. 1-3)