Our Foundation

Do you love a mystery? Look up and marvel at the wonders of our world: the complexity of human DNA, the fine-tuning of our universe, our desire for morality and justice, these all attest that there are sound reasons to believe there is a God—a Creator to this vast and varied universe. But the question remains, who is this God? Christianity’s answer to this question revolves around who Jesus of Nazareth was. Jesus didn’t claim to be just a great man or a great prophet, he claimed to be God’s own Son, incarnated on this earth for a supernatural purpose. Sound crazy? It should. But then again, Christ didn’t exist in a spiritual vacuum. Christianity is a historical religion: Christ is a living, breathing figure of history. Learn about him and see if you, too, believe, there is something more to his story.

The Ultimate Origin Story

Do you see all the human suffering in this world, and think, this isn’t amoral: there is real evil in this world?  Or, conversely, do you revolt against the idea that all of your being—your love, your pain, your fears, your struggles, all that is you, amounts to nothing more than a blink in the eye of Indifferent Time? The ancient Scriptures make sense of the human experience with a very different story, the ultimate origin story. Humans were created by a loving, personal God, but we were not satisfied blissfully, but blindfully, trusting in a Majestic Being. We wanted more: we wanted to be like God and rule ourselves.  So we rejected his rule and his perfect world. Since that time, selfishness and sinfulness have ruled in our hearts so that no matter how close to goodness we get in our mindfulness, our quest for gratitude, or our care for our fellow human beings, we still fall short. We're only human, as the saying goes. We live, we love, we hurt, we die. We need something or someone outside of ourselves to fix this broken state.  God knew this and even though we chose to reject him, he promised to send a Messiah—to move heaven and earth and actually come into human history to save us from ourselves and the deathly lives we have created.

The Historical Jesus 

As attested by history and the vast majority historical scholars, Jesus of Nazareth was a Jewish prophet—a living, breathing human being who lived in the early First Century CE. He died by Roman crucifixion, was buried, and three days later, his tomb was found empty. His disciples had experiences they believed were actual appearances of the Risen Jesus. Due to these experiences, their lives were transformed and they began preaching a uniquely Christian message. Namely, that Christ’s rising from the dead signified that Jesus was who he said he was, the promised Messiah.  And that this Messiah had come to save not just the Jewish people, but the whole world. Later, a prominent Jewish scholar, Saul of Tarsus, also claimed to have seen the risen Jesus and went from persecuting early Christians to preaching that same Christian message amidst beatings, imprisonment, and, ultimately, martyrdom.  Jesus’ disciples, Saul of Tarsus, the early Christian church, 2000 years of Christian believers, and now us today continue to declare the same historical creed as found in 1 Corinthians 15: ‘that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

If Jesus Was Who he Said he Was

So What was so important about this promised Messiah? If Christ was who he said he was, if he was the promised Messiah, then our lives are infused with an unshakeable peace, joy, and profound purpose. You can not only know God, the infinite Being who Created this Universe, but you can be known by him as his child. Through Christ, your worst mistakes are washed away.  You are made a new creation, transformed to live a life that manifests the glory of God in all you say and do. You can daily commune with God, speak to him and find comfort in his Word. You can find joy in your daily grind because you know that you can love and serve others wherever God has placed you. When hardship comes into your life, you can be fearless knowing that Christ has overcome this world.  And, finally, when death stares you in the face, you can, like those first disciples, breath your last breath with the confidence that your life has just begun: “where, o, death is your victory, where, o, death is your sting?”

How Jesus Answers Life’s Greatest Questions 

 
WHO AM I?
We tend to think…Our value is self-determined. The only limitations we truly have are the ones we put on ourselves. We determine who we are and where we find meaning. Our value is found in the identity and the relationships we create. But, what if I can never live up to the person I am and the person I want to be? 
What Christ teaches… You are intrinsically valuable. You are God’s creation, created in him to live, love, and serve others. You are so valuable that God came to this earth in Christ to live, suffer, die, and rise again so that you could be brought back to God. Tenth Avenue North puts it this way, “You are more than the choices that you’ve made…you’ve been re-made. 'Cause this is not about what you've done, But what's been done for you. This is not about where you've been, But where your brokenness brings you to. This is not about what you feel, But what He felt to forgive you, And what He felt to make you loved.” You are more. God promises that through Him, we can be the person He wants us to be, because he lives in us and has given us his Spirit. So to find yourself, is to find out God’s purpose for your life.

WHY AM I HERE?
We Tend to think...You can’t really ask that question because life just exists, and there is no good reason for it. Instead, you have to decide what you are going to do with the life you have. For most of us, we try to carve out some happiness and pay it forward as much as we can. But then, why do I still feel so empty?
What Christ teaches…Life is a blessing from the Creator. He has given us life so that we can find him, glorify him, and tell others about him. We glorify him by trusting in Him and striving to follow Christ’s example in all we say and do. We see ourselves in light of a larger cause: the outworking of Gods plan in history.

WHAT GIVES MY LIFE MEANING?
We tend to think… This is the million-dollar question that all of us have to struggle with and determine for ourselves. On good days, we may find meaning in our relationships, we hope our footprint on this earth is small, and we strive to leave the world a better place than we found it. On bad days, it is hard to see past our own self-interest, struggles, and cosmic insignificance. In life, we try to minimize the bad days and strive for the good ones. What more can we desire than that?
What Christ teaches...All of life—the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly—is infused with meaning. We are part of a larger story, with epic proportions. Our role may feel small, but Christ assures us that it is the role God has given us to glorify him. By living out our daily lives and drawing near to him, telling others about him, and serving others, we are spending ourselves for an epic cause and leading a life well lived.
 

WELS 

St. Paul is a member church of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). For a full treatment on what we believe that may differ from other church bodies, visit http://wels.net/about-wels/what-we-believe/.