Lutherans believe and the Bible teaches that a person is saved by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
The Bible tells us that such “faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:17). Jesus Himself commands Baptism and tells us that Baptism is water used together with the Word of God (Matt. 28:19-20).
Because of this, we believe that Baptism is one of the miraculous means of grace (along with God’s Word as it is written or spoken and the Lord’s Supper which follows), through which God creates and/or strengthens the gift of faith in a person’s heart (see Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Gal. 3:26-27; Rom. 6:1-4; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 12.13).
Terms the Bible uses to talk about the beginning of faith include “conversion” and “regeneration.” Although we do not claim to understand fully how this happens, we believe that when an infant is baptized God creates faith in the heart of that infant.
We believe this because the Bible says that infants can believe (Matt. 18:6) and that new birth (regeneration) happens in Baptism (John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5-6). The infant’s faith cannot yet, of course, be verbally expressed or articulated by the child, yet it is real and present all the same (see e.g., Acts 2:38-39; Luke 1:15; 2 Tim. 3:15).
The faith of the infant, like the faith of adults, also needs to be fed and nurtured by God’s Word (Matt. 28:18-20), or it will die.
Lutherans do not believe that only those baptized as infants receive faith. Faith can also be created in an adult’s heart by the power of the Holy Spirit working through God’s (written or spoken) Word.
Baptism should then soon follow conversion (cf. Acts 8:26-40) for the purpose of confirming and strengthening faith in accordance with God’s command and promise. Therefore, Lutherans baptize people of all ages from infancy to adulthood.
The LCMS does not believe that Baptism is ABSOLUTELY necessary for salvation. All true believers in the Old Testament era were saved without baptism. Mark 16:16 implies that it is not the absence of Baptism that condemns a person but the absence of faith, and there are clearly other ways of coming to faith by the power of the Holy Spirit (reading or hearing the Word of God).
Still, Baptism dare not be despised or willfully neglected, since it is explicitly commanded by God and has His precious promises attached to it. It is not a mere “ritual” or “symbol,” but a powerful means of grace by which God grants faith and the forgiveness of sins.
We receive in, with, and under the bread and wine the true body and blood of Christ shed on the cross, Jesus Christ Who is now risen and ascended and sits at the right hand of God the Father.
He is the same Christ, and when he gave us the Sacrament, as the Lutheran Confessions affirm, “he was speaking of his true, essential body, which he gave into death for us, and of his true, essential blood, which was poured out for us on the tree of the cross for the forgiveness of sins” (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration VII, 49).
In the Sacrament, our Confessions further teach the same Jesus who died is present in the Sacrament, although not in exactly the same way he was corporeally present when he walked bodily on earth.
With Luther, the Formula of Concord speaks of “the incomprehensible, spiritual mode of presence according to which he neither occupies nor yields space but passes through everything created as he wills … He employed this mode of presence when he left the closed grave and came through closed doors, in the bread and wine in the Supper …” [FC SD VII, 100; emphasis added].