Frequently asked questions
1. Was Jesus a real person?
Yes, Jesus was a real person. The Bible, of course, says He really walked this earth, interacted with people, did miracles, was crucified and even arose from the dead! There are Roman records and the works of historians of the period that make reference to Jesus and events surrounding His life. When you consider the actions of His followers, the 12 Disciples, and how they supported His cause years after His time on earth even though they were beaten, jailed, tortured and most of them killed – certainly they would not have done that for a man that never existed or was not victorious over death like the Bible says.
2. Is the Bible literally true, or an ancient story book to teach people important life lessons?
Some think the Bible is full of made up stories that have morals to them that we can learn from. Not so. The Bible tells of Jesus who was a real person (see previous question). The Bible itself claims to be true and without error. There are important life lessons there, good guidance into how we should treat one another; but more importantly, it reveals one who rescues us from judgment for our crimes against God: Jesus Christ!
3. What is a Lutheran?
A Lutheran is one who understands the message of the Bible as did Martin Luther (see next question). Followers of Martin Luther after his death put together a set of writings of Martin Luther and others which define what we understand the Bible to say. The many followers at that time came to an agreement that yes, this was their faith, and it was called the Book of Concord (concord means “agreement”). A Lutheran, then, is one who has this same understanding of the Bible.
4. Who was Martin Luther?
Martin Luther was a German monk who lived from 1483 to 1546. He lived his early life in constant fear that he would not make it to heaven and tried his best to make up for his sins by doing good, as he was taught. Through his study of the Bible, he began to see its message that God saves by faith, not good deeds (Romans 3:28). He tried to help the church of his day see their mistake in what they were presenting as the Bible’s message, but they banned him as a heretic instead. The political situation of the day was such that the Germans provided both protection and following that he could not be stopped by the church of his day. Around the same period, other reformers began being successful as well, seeing the same Bible truths Luther saw.
5. How are Lutherans different from Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc.?
First, keep in mind that there is much more agreement amongst the denominations than there is disagreement: most all denominations believe God is 1 God, 3 persons; that Jesus is God and Savior, etc. Some areas in which Lutherans differ from some: the Bible is from God and without error (not all agree); conversion first of all is not a decision of the will (as some say) but the gift of faith by the Holy Spirit from which godly decisions will be made, but all always have the freedom to reject God’s gift; all statements of the Bible fall into the categories of being either law (rules) or gospel (good news of God’s gift), and the gospel has priority; the bread and wine of holy communion somehow mysteriously bring the true body and blood of Jesus into the life of the believer (they are not mere symbols, neither do they turn into Jesus’ body and blood); the authority lies in the congregation of believers centered around the Bible, not in the denominational hierarchy (that exists to help the congregations function properly in this world); the “millennium” in Revelation is understood as a metaphor for the New Testament age up to the end, expressing that we are spiritually alive, reigning and victorious in spite of evil.
6. How do you get to Heaven?
One must be perfect in order to be admitted (Psalm 24:3-4). We all fall short of perfection. None of us would get in, except that Jesus came into this world and did all that the law demands of us in our place; and that He took all of our sins on Himself and was punished for them by His death on the cross. Jesus’ sacrifice is there for everyone, but only those who trust God’s gift will benefit from it. See Romans 3. He does it all, so there is no uncertainty because we might not have done something right. Accept God’s generous offer!
7. Why would anyone name a child 'Hananiah'?
People of Bible times lived in a different place and time than we do, and so different names were popular amongst them than amongst us. They would probably be appalled with the names we come up with. Try to find the meanings of Bible names you run into: they often have a beautiful meaning. For example, the name “Hananiah” means Jehovah has graciously given, probably given to remember an answer to prayer one of the parents received.
8. Are all religions just different ways to the same God?
No, they are not. Just as there are scams on the internet to get you to spend your money on something that’s not really there, religious leaders either knowingly or unknowingly try to get followers of a religion that doesn’t work. Any religion that is not heaven by Jesus alone is false. Jesus plainly states, He is the only way (John 14:6). When you examine religions carefully, they are all religions of “do:” do this and you will be saved; Christianity is a religion of “done:” Jesus has done all that is necessary for you to have an eternal relationship with the God Who made you!
9. God is so busy, should I not bother him with my minor requests?
We, because of our human limitations, can get to busy to get everything done adequately. Not so with God who is infinite! He pays so much attention to you that He knows how many hairs are on your head (Matthew 10:30), even when a daily recount is called for. Every detail of your life is important to you, not just the major concerns, but the minor ones as well. Go ahead and bother Him: He wants to hear from you!
If you have additional questions, or would like to learn more about a particular aspect of Lutheranism, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has an extensive Frequently Asked Questions area on their site as well.