I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, maker of heaven and earth.
AND IN JESUS CHRIST, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. AMEN.
These statements are excerpts from the excellent Lutheran Hour Ministries brochure "What Lutherans Believe" © 2005 They sum up the core teachings of our church body. Read the full document here.
About "BEING SAVED"
There is absolutely nothing we can do to "be saved" - Jesus Christ has already done everything necessary. In His death and resurrection, everyone who believes in Jesus as Savior has been brought back into a right relationship with God. That means that, on account of Jesus, everyone who believes is "justified," or declared innocent by God. God has done justice to the world's sins; because of Jesus, all who believe are forgiven and will live eternally.
We do not cooperate in our salvation and there is nothing we could ever present to God to make our way into eternal life with Him-not money or even good works. Neither can we really feel it or prove it. We cannot reason our way to salvation, nor can we earn it. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves—Jesus Christ has done it all.
It is through faith in Jesus that we receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life - by believing that He has freed us from the guilt, punishment, and power of sin. Faith is a gift worked in us by the power of the Holy Spirit; it doesn't come to us through anything we are capable of, but through what God does for us. We simply receive what is already being offered out of God's great love.
About GOOD WORKS
Since there is nothing we can ever do to earn salvation, we do not do good works in order to be saved; good works are done out of praise and thanks because we are saved. Such good works include, but are certainly not limited to, serving and caring for the needs of others, honoring and giving respect to those in authority, honoring our vows and commitments, and generally doing what is considered by many to be good and right. It's often said that Martin Luther expressed it this way: God doesn't need our good works, but our neighbor does.