What We Believe

Paradise, CA

We are blessed to be a part of the beautiful and resilient Paradise community. This is our story.


     This is a simple and broad view of what our congregation believes about God, the world and the people in it.   We are a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive and in-depth study.  If you would like to study in more detail, you can click on this link: http://bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php   It will take you to the Book of Concord which is the standard reference work for al Bible trusting Lutherans.  On to what we believe…


“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”                                                                                    Proverbs 1:7  


     Everything that we believe and we profess to be right and true is founded on the spoken words of God which have been faithfully taught, written down, copied and translated into the Bible we read today.  While change is the one constant in our lives and our world, God’s Word does not change which makes it the bedrock in our world that is absolute.   We do know what God is like and what He thinks about us because He speaks to us about Himself through the Bible.   In other words, if we want to know more about God and what He is like, than we must pick up the Bible and read what He has to tell us.  This is not only true for knowing God, but it is also true for knowing anything related to God including His creation (the world and the people in it), His will for us (how we should act and what we should be doing with our lives) and His plan to redeem this planet and the people in it.


Who We Are


     This can be difficult to answer if you are looking in the wrong place.   If you look within yourself at things like gifts, talents, experiences, successes and failures than who we are is an intricate assembly of parts that are ever-changing and makes it impossible to define.  Are you a jock because you love sports?  What if you enjoy the arts as well?  If you make a lot of money does that make you successful?  Are you a winner… a loser… a success… a failure… a survivor… are you all of that… or none of it?  In fact, you can make your own definition of who we are based on your context and opinion.   The problem is that if we decide for ourselves, than it becomes relative and there is no certainty.  Who we are can change from day to day and gives us no foundation for dealing with challenges and storms in our lives.


“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."                                                                                                                                                                                Genesis 1:27-28  


"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Jeremiah 1:5


“You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, "He did not make me"; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"?                                                                                                                                           Isaiah 29:16  


     From passages such as the ones above, the Bible teaches that we are creations of God.   Even more than that, we were carefully and lovingly made by our Creator and our identity is found in Him.   This is great news because these days there is so much pressure heaped on our shoulders to decide who and what we are that we can spend a lifetime trying to figure it out.  People can waste so much time chasing ideals that they believe define who they are.  Those ideals and goals become prizes for our efforts, but the thrill and feeling of accomplishment will pass leaving us alone to go and chase something else.  Things such as money, status, sexual identity, education, and achievements are all carrots that we naturally desire because we think these things will give us an identity and sense of self-worth.  The Bible says we are God’s workmanship, we are His and we belong to Him!  We are blessed to have God reveal to us and recognize that we not only have an identity in Him, but also what His desire for us is.

     Being a child of God means that we can follow our dreams and push ourselves to better things, but we do so knowing that God is not only guiding us, but is truly with us and He is our strength and our hope.  The ultimate prize we desire is not found here in the world, but we will receive it when we are in the presence of God in heaven.  Money, status, education and achievements are not goals, rather they are tools that we can use for God’s glory, not ours.


What We Are

     God is not content to simply set the stage of the world, put people in it and see what happens.  God has dwelt with His people from the beginning and loves us too much to let sin and Satan rule His kingdom.  After He created us in His image, meaning that we were set apart from the other parts of His creation like plants and animals, we were given simple instructions.   Be fruitful and multiply, eat of any tree of from the garden but the tree of knowledge of good and evil and care for God’s creation.  It didn’t take long for Adam and Eve to disobey God causing everything to change.   They ate of the forbidden fruit and suddenly their eyes were open (which is not a good thing) and they were now ashamed of one another and fearful of God.

     What we are is broken.  We must understand this and if you think about it, if you simply observe what is happening in the world, look online for more than ten seconds you will see how bad things are.  Some want to blame God for not caring, some want us to believe that this is evidence that there is no God.  

 “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.   All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."   "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips."   "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."    "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known."   "There is no fear of God before their eyes."                                                                                                                                                                                            Romans 3:9-18   


     This is where we stand today.  Left to our own thoughts and devices we can only rebel against God and we look to ourselves for meaning and purpose.  Contrary to modern thinking, we do not get to decide what we are.   We can decide things like what kind of career we will have in life and who we are going marry.  We can even decide to not believe in God.  What we are unable to decide for ourselves is what we are.   As created beings, we must concede to the creator about what He has made us to be and for what purpose He made us.


“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”                                                      1 John 3:1-3


Here at Our Savior Lutheran, we believe that wisdom does not come from within, but from God who is the Creator of all things.  This includes you and me.  Therefore what we are is defined by God and His Word (which is God’s way of communicating) Who He is and what He has done and continues to do for us.  We are God’s children who have turned our backs on our Father.  We are disobedient, selfish kids who think we know more than our parents.  We think our dad is not cool and doesn’t understand the world we live in today.  We run away from home and would rather live on the streets than to be comforted and sleeping in the bed that God has prepared for us.

“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”                                                                                                       Romans 5:8


“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”                                                                                                                                  John 3:16-20

    You have probably heard John 3:16,  "that God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son Jesus."  However, when you look at the text which follows, you get a clearer picture of why God sent Jesus.   Jesus came to us because we like to think for ourselves and we naturally reject being told what to believe and what to do.  Some call it being independent and a free-thinker.  The Bible calls it a result of the sinful, rebellious nature.  Yes we are broken, but that is not just what we are.  We are also redeemed children of God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  When we admit we are broken, ask for forgiveness and look to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, this is proof that the Holy Spirit is with us and we can be assured that we are also God’s children (2 Cor. 5:5).

“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.   For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"   The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”                                                                     Romans 8:13-16


Why We Are

“What I am supposed to do with my life?”  “What is my purpose in life?” “Why am I here?”  These are thoughts that creep into our minds from time to time.  The question of why we are here on this planet at this time is simply one that we cannot answer for ourselves.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ephesians 2:10

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?   So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”                                                                                                                                        James 2:14-17

“And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.  He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Peter 1:17-25

     We have choices to make every day.  Those choices are based on a bigger picture of purpose.  The clothes we wear, the car we drive, the friends we keep, the job we work at, and the family we have are all a result of the bigger picture of priorities and identity.  Why we are here is a great question to wrestle with because it gets us beyond our everyday routines and the stuff that often clutters our minds and into a deeper sense of purpose.  As God’s children we have a purpose centered on serving God by caring for the needs and concerns of others, not ourselves.  

     Knowing who we are and what we are informs us why we are.  Everything that we believe centers on God and His law and mercy because He is the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sustainer of our faith in what He has done for us. Armed with this knowledge we are set free from the chains of our sinful nature and serve God by loving our neighbor not because we are so good at it or because we are worthy, but because God loved us first.