What We Believe
Prince of Peace is a confessional Lutheran church that has served Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Valley since 1967. It is a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), which started in 1850 and consists of nearly 1,200 congregations throughout North America in addition to operating numerous foreign missions around the world. We are typically considered a more conservative Lutheran church because we still hold that the Bible is the living and enduring Word of God, without error. Therefore we also believe it is the uncompromising responsibility of the church to teach that Word faithfully and, empowered by the Spirit, to live lives according to it. Here is a summary of our beliefs:
Ever since Adam and Eve fell for the devil’s temptation, the world has been corrupted by sin. Hurricanes blow, tornadoes twist, and earthquakes shake. People hate and death prevails. It is a corruption that penetrates every corner of the universe right down to the human soul. Sin is passed down from one generation to the next just like blue eyes and curly hair (Romans 5:12).
This desperate situation called for desperate measures. God would intervene in pure love and mercy. His Son became man in order to live the perfect life God requires of us in our place. The righteousness of Jesus Christ replaces our unrighteousness. He then died the perfect death to pay the debt of our sins. At this cross we see the ugliest and yet most beautiful scene in human history. We see the full wrath of the Father over sin. He is a righteous God who demands justice. Yet, we also see unlimited and unparalleled love. The punishment for sin was carried out on His Son and not us. This is grace (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Means of Grace
Jesus accomplished all this many years ago and for most of us, many miles away. So this grace must be delivered to us here and now, wherever we might be. As St. Paul said, “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them (Romans 10:14)?" The grace of God earned through the life and death of Jesus Christ is given to us through simple means. Means by which God dispenses His grace: the Holy Word of God, Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and Holy Communion. Through these means Christ comes to us in a very real way. Just as He became man to earn our salvation, so He comes to us in real ways to give us that salvation.
The Divine Service
The Divine Service on Sunday is at the heart and core of Prince of Peace because it is here that we collectively witness the means of grace in action. We gather to receive God’s mercy. We come as the prodigal children to be welcomed by our Father’s embracing arms. It is a family reunion of sorts. We gather under our family name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our baptisms give us the full legal right of sons and daughters of God and heirs of eternal life (Galatians 4:4-7). We are now able to come before our Father to ask for some amazing gifts: forgiveness, mercy, hope and strength. Here, He gives them all to us by His grace. We are granted an acquittal (Absolution), we hear and sing the story of Christ’s life (Word) and we dine with Him and His Church (Communion). Learn more about the Divine Service here.
We believe that Sunday mornings are more about God giving to us than they are about us worshiping Him. This is not to say we don't worship God. On the contrary, our true worship lasts all week! We are living sacrifices created as God’s workmanship to love and serve our neighbors (Romans 12:1; Ephesians 2:10). We do this in our various vocations in life. We all have divinely ordained callings in life. We have family vocations (mother, son, uncle, sister). We have career vocations (nurse, farmer, accountant, student). We have churchly vocations (pastor, layman, musician, Sunday School teacher). We have civil vocations (citizen, mayor, volunteer). We understand that in these vocations we are the masks of God. God is using us to take care of His world. Through us, God continues His very real and physical mode of operation. Therefore, our lives and jobs really aren’t about our pleasure, nor are they about earning some favor with God. They are daily sacrifices to love and serve those around us. After all, God doesn’t need our good deeds in heaven, but our neighbors here on earth sure do! Our lives are lived for our neighbor as God uses us to love them.
The Word of God and our Confession
All of this has been taught to us in the Word of God. We believe that the Bible is the true inspired Word of the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It cannot err nor lie. It is sufficient for our life here and our eternal salvation. It is also clear and efficacious to do what it says. Since sin has corrupted us, however, mankind has a tendency to add and subtract from God’s holy Word, something God expressly forbids. Because of this, our Lutheran forefathers boldly confessed the truth of God’s Word both as a response to corruptions in the past and as a guide to help prevent more in the future. We here at Prince of Peace confess the same: the three Ecumenical Christian Creeds: (the Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian), the Augsburg Confession and its Apology, the Small and Large Catechisms of Dr. Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope and the Epitome and the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord. These are all found in the Book of Concord.