Catechism

13 New Apostolic Christians and their life of faith

13.1 Prayer Back to top

In many religions, prayers are an expression of devotion to a higher being. Praying is generally considered an expression of devoutness.

Christians understand prayer as an opportunity given by God for human beings to enter into contact with Him. In prayer, the believer experiences: God is present, God hears, and God answers. Thus the believing human being bows before God's majesty and love in humbleness. Prayer is closely related to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8: 26).

In the Old and New Testaments, prayer is a verbal expression of belief in the God who has revealed Himself as the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. God addressed mankind first. For this reason, prayer is always mankind's response to God's word.

The figurative image of prayer as the "breathing of the soul" clearly expresses the necessity of prayer for faith. Faith without prayer is not a living faith. Prayer brings to expression love and reverence for God. Petitions are brought to God in the knowledge that the Almighty will lead all things to the benefit and eternal salvation of the supplicant.

13.1.1 Prayers in the Old Testament Back to top

The first biblical references to prayer can be found in Genesis 4: 26: "Then men began to call on the name of the Lord." This demonstrates a fundamental characteristic that has been intrinsic to prayer ever since: human beings turn to God and call upon Him in the firm belief that God hears them.

Psalm 95: 6 admonishes: "Oh come, let us worship". Examples of worship of God can be found in many hymns and psalms of the Old Testament, an example of which is the hymn of Moses: "For I proclaim the name of the Lord: ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He" (Deuteronomy 32: 3-4).

The psalmist admonishes: "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (Psalm 106: 1). This prayer expresses thanks to the eternal God through honour and praise.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit" (Psalm 51: 10-12). Such petitions in particular–in addition to those pertaining to earthly life–attest to that which is of importance to believing supplicants.

"Moses prayed for the people" (Numbers 21: 7) when God sent poisonous serpents in response to the murmuring of the Israelites. Compassion and love for one's neighbour come to expression in intercession.

The book of Psalms reflects the spiritual wealth of Old Testament prayer. It already points in the direction of New Testament prayer. An example is Hanna's prayer: when she brought her petition for a son to God, Holy Scripture says that she "poured out [her] soul before the Lord" (1 Samuel 1: 15). Her prayer of thanks after God graciously granted her plea is an example of profound praise of God, which is very closely related in content to the praise of Mary in the Magnificat (1 Samuel 2: 1-10; Luke 1: 26-55).

13.1.2 Jesus teaches prayer Back to top

The relationship between man and God changed fundamentally through Jesus Christ. On the basis of this new relationship with God, the Lord taught a kind of prayer that was previously unknown: on the one hand it is the prayer of a child who speaks to God as a loving Father in heaven (Matthew 6: 9), and on the other hand it is a prayer "in spirit and truth" (John 4: 24).

Jesus' disciples were believing Jews and thus familiar with prayer. Nevertheless, they wanted to learn how to pray like Jesus. One of His disciples asked Him: "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11: 1). In response Jesus gave the Lord's Prayer (see 12.1.7).

The Sermon on the Mount contains instructions on prayer (Matthew 6: 5-8): one is not to make an outward show of one's prayers or use a lot of words, "for your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him." Our prayers should rather come from the heart.

Jesus emphasised important aspects of prayer by way of three parables: in the parable of the friend at night, he emphasised that persistent prayer will have an effect (Luke 11: 5-10). The parable of the persistent widow admonishes persistent and patient prayer (Luke 18: 1-8). With the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector He demonstrated the significance of humbleness in prayer (Luke 18: 10-14).

Luke 21: 36 records an instruction of the Lord pertaining to prayer in view of His return: "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." Thus prayer is also associated with the necessary watchfulness in view of the coming of Jesus Christ.

13.1.3 Jesus prays Back to top

The gospel of Luke relates that Jesus prayed especially before decisive events:

  • before the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (Luke 3: 21-22);

  • before He chose the twelve Apostles (Luke 6: 12);

  • before designating Peter as the rock upon which He would build His church (Luke 9: 18-21; in connection with Matthew 16: 13-20);

  • before the Father transfigured Him in the presence of the witnesses from here and the beyond (Luke 9: 28-36);

  • before His bitter suffering began (Luke 22: 41-46);

  • before He died on the cross (Luke 23: 46).

The gospels attest the rich prayer life of Jesus: He would often withdraw into seclusion in order to enter into a dialogue with His Father (Matthew 14: 23; Mark 1: 35). He praised Him (Matthew 11: 25-27) and He thanked Him, even before His prayer had been granted (John 11: 41-42).

John 17 records the Lord's intercessory prayer. His intercession for the Apostles and the church–"I do not pray for these alone [the Apostles], but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one" (John 17: 20-21)–demonstrates how Jesus Christ approached His heavenly Father as an advocate on their behalf (1 John 2: 1).

Jesus prayed before His suffering. He knelt down and humbly bowed to the will of His Father: "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." This prayer was a struggle of the soul. God did not allow this supplication to go unanswered: an angel appeared and strengthened Jesus (Luke 22: 41-44). Even as Jesus hung on the cross, He prayed for His tormentors (Luke 23: 34). His last words before death were likewise a prayer: "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Luke 23: 46).

13.1.4 The prayer of the early Christians Back to top

Acts 4: 23-31 provides insight into the sincere prayers of the early congregations. Right from the start the early Christians practised communal prayer (Acts 1: 14). Accounts of intensive prayer are also recorded in association with significant events, for example the choosing of Matthias as an Apostle or the ordination of the first seven Deacons (see 7.5). The Apostles were also accompanied by sincere prayers in situations of danger (Acts 1: 24-25; 6: 6; 12: 12).

The letters of the Apostles emphasise the significance of prayer (James 5: 15-16). The Apostles also related that they prayed for the church (Ephesians 1: 16-23), and encouraged steadfastness in prayer (1 Thessalonians 5: 17).

From 1 Timothy 2: 1 it is clear that the prayers of the believers are to include all people: "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men."

13.1.5 The prayer of New Apostolic Christians Back to top

A significant function is assigned to collective prayer in the divine service: the Trinitarian invocation of God is followed by the opening prayer, in which worship, praise and thanks for divine protection and accompaniment, as well as petitions and intercessions, are brought to God. In the Lord's Prayer the congregation joins together in the prayer of the Son of God. Prior to the consecration of Holy Communion, the officiant offers up the Eucharistic prayer, which expresses thanks to God for the sacrifice of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, the sending of the Apostles, and the promise of Christ's return. At the close of the divine service, there is another prayer which expresses thanks for that which has been received, as well as the plea for angel protection and accompaniment, and longing for the day of the Lord. The needs of the members, as well as those of all people, find their place in these intercessions. Beyond that, the Lord is asked to accept the offerings and bless those who have offered.

In addition to collective prayers in the divine services, New Apostolic Christians also cultivate an individual prayer life. They begin and end the day in prayer. They likewise pray before meals and turn to God again and again throughout the course of the day in order to feel His nearness and seek His help. In family prayer, parents pray together with their children and thereby teach them to develop their own prayer life.

Prayer is not bound to any external form. Nevertheless, the intensity of a prayer can be promoted by closing one's eyes, folding one's hands, or kneeling, for example. The supplicant thereby withdraws from the busy activity of daily life to pause and bow before God in humbleness.

It is not necessary to express oneself in eloquent terms when praying. God knows the heart of the supplicant. If the latter's attitude is characterised by humbleness, faith, trust, and love for Him, the prayer will certainly find favour with the Almighty. The words used by the supplicant do not need to be spoken aloud. Even silent prayers find their way to God.

In terms of content, prayer is generally defined by adoration and worship, thanks, petitions, and intercessions. The knowledge of God's majesty and the grace that allows us to address Him as Father (Romans 8: 15) prompt us to worship God. Thankfulness applies to all the good things that have come out of the kindness of God. Above all, this includes the great deeds which God has performed, and still performs, upon mankind through word, grace, and sacrament. Beyond that, gratitude is expressed for earthly gifts such as sustenance, clothing, accommodations, and angel service and protection. In our petitions, we bring God our concerns as they pertain, for example, to the preservation of our faith and the help of God in daily life. The most important petition relates to the imminent return of Christ, and to the attainment of worthiness for it. Our intercessions are not limited to our own families or the congregation. Rather they include all who are in need of God's help, both here and in the beyond.

Not every prayer needs to contain all four components–God also hears our fleeting prayers in special situations of life. Depression, conditions of anxiety, physical pain, or deep suffering may make it impossible for a person to find the thoughts to formulate a prayer. Even then the supplicant is not cut off from God's help or nearness. Concerning this Romans 8: 26 states: "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." At such times it may also be helpful to pray the Lord's Prayer or recite one of the psalms, for example Psalm 23.

Prayers are concluded with the Hebrew word "Amen", which means: "So be it!" Here it is irrelevant whether one has actually spoken the prayer or simply prayed along in spirit.

13.1.6 Effects of prayer Back to top

Conscientious prayer opens a human being's heart to the knowledge: I am dependent upon God in my entire being! The attitude of the supplicant is characterised by childlike trust, humbleness, and fear of the Lord. It also comes to expression in formulations such as: "for Jesus' sake" or "in Jesus' name".

When a plea expressed in prayer is granted, it strengthens faith and increases thankfulness. However, those who pray will also make the experience that not every petition is granted. This does nothing to break the believers' trust: they remain assured that God hears every prayer and that, in His love, He ultimately guides everything for good to those who love Him (Romans 8: 28).

SUMMARY Back to top

Prayer is man's response to the word issued by God. In prayer believers experience: God is present, God hears, and God answers. (13.1)

Significant evidence of prayer in the Old Testament can be found in the Psalms. They contain worship of God, gratitude, pleas, and intercessions. (13.1.1)

Jesus Christ taught His followers to pray as a child who addresses God as "Father" and to pray "in spirit and truth". The Lord's Prayer, which was taught by Jesus, is a model for the prayer of all Christians. (13.1.2)

The gospels attest to the rich prayer life of Jesus. John 17 records the intercessory prayer, in which Jesus Christ brought intercessions to expression on behalf of the Apostles and the church. (13.1.3)

The early Christians practiced communal prayer right from the start. (13.1.4)

In addition to collective prayer in divine service, an individual prayer life is also important to New Apostolic Christians. (13.1.5)

In terms of content, prayer is defined by adoration and worship, thanks, petitions, and intercessions. The most important petition revolves around the imminent return of Christ and becoming worthy for it. (13.1.5)

13.2 Willingness to offer and sacrifice Back to top

The term "willingness to offer and sacrifice" refers to a person's inner desire to employ his powers and gifts for the benefit of others, by abstaining–in whole or in part–from realising his own interests.

There are various aspects to the term "sacrifice". For example, things offered to a higher being, as well as human deeds in service to others are generally described as "sacrifices" in common language. Monetary gifts that are donated for religious purposes are "sacrifices" in the religious sense.

Sacrifices are expressions of worship, gratitude, devotion, and submission to God.

13.2.1 From Old Testament sacrificial service to devoting one's life to God Back to top

Sacrifice and sacrificial service played an important role in practically all the religions of ancient civilisations–as also in Israel. Sacrifice was intended to invoke God's grace, avert punishment, and bring about reconciliation. Sacrifices were brought in many forms.

The first sacrifice mentioned in the Bible was brought by the sons of Adam and Eve: Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, Abel killed animals of his flock (Genesis 4: 3-4). God looked upon both those bringing the sacrifices and the sacrifices themselves. While He graciously accepted the sacrifice brought to Him in faith by Abel, He rejected Cain and his sacrifice (Hebrews 11: 4 and Genesis 4: 4-5). It follows that not every sacrifice is pleasing to God. The determining factor in whether He graciously accepts an offering is the attitude of the one bringing gifts to Him.

The Mosaic Law prescribed a multifaceted, strictly ritualised sacrificial service. It included burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and trespass offerings that were presented to God (Leviticus 1-7). Apart from the daily sacrifices for the morning and evening, the priests would, on certain days in the calendar, bring special offerings on behalf of the people. The sins of the people of Israel were thereby covered. Furthermore, there were sacrifices which individual Israelites made for various purposes, for example to atone for unconscious trespasses (Leviticus 4 et seq.) or bodily uncleanness (Leviticus 15: 14 et seq.).

All of the Old Testament sacrificial service, as determined in accordance God's will, lost its significance once and for all through Christ's sacrifice (Hebrews 8 to 10: 18).

In the New Testament, sacrifice takes on a new dimension. Thus Apostle Paul calls upon the Christians to "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God" (Romans 12: 1). This means that one should fashion one's life in accordance with the standards of the gospel: Christians surrender themselves to God with everything they have and are.

13.2.2 Jesus Christ–the model of willingness to sacrifice Back to top

The conception of sacrifice demonstrated in Romans 12: 1 is to be seen against the backdrop that Jesus Christ gave His body–that is Himself–out of love, as a gift and sacrifice for us (Ephesians 5: 2; Hebrews 10: 10). For believers, Jesus' sacrifice is holy and incomparable. They are aware that only Christ's sacrifice has the power of redemption.

Even though no other sacrifice can be compared with that of the Lord, His willingness to make this sacrifice serves as an example to be emulated.

Already before His suffering and death, Christ's willingness to sacrifice was revealed in His self-abasement (Philippians 2: 6-8). His devoted love was already evident in the fact that He had left the glory of His Father in heaven, come to earth, renounced His divine form, and taken on the lowliness of human nature. Apostle Paul made this the measure for every Christian's conduct: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2: 3-4). This demands a willingness to offer and sacrifice that should also be manifest in congregational life.

13.2.3 Willingness to offer and sacrifice based on faith, gratitude, and love Back to top

A sacrifice in the Christian sense should not be considered an enforced obligation. Neither should it be made in expectation of reward, but rather freely, out of faith, out of gratitude, and out of love. If one sacrifices with such an attitude, it will no longer feel like a sacrifice, even if it should require great effort. So it is that believers often do not think of it as a burden, but rather a joy, to engage their gifts and talents for the benefit of the congregation and their neighbour.

The willingness to offer and sacrifice springs forth from love.

If the willingness to offer and sacrifice is defined by love, the believer fulfils the will of God and acts in the mind of Jesus.

Those who give of that which they have received–be it in material or non-material gifts–thereby express their thankfulness and love. In Hebrews 13: 16 we are admonished to "do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased".

The willingness to offer and sacrifice may find its expression in many forms. Much of what takes place in congregational life is only made possible through the members' deep conviction and love for God and His work. Thus many brothers and sisters in faith donate a considerable portion of their free time, energy, and abilities in service to God and the community: many help along in the music and instruction of the Church, others take on tasks relating to the care of the church property and building, decorating the altar, and other duties. With few exceptions, ministers work in an honorary capacity. Divine services, dispensation of sacraments, acts of blessing, and funeral services are conducted free of charge. Families and sick members receive regular care. The aged, the handicapped, and those living alone are given special attention. Thereby the double commandment of love is fulfilled.

We are also admonished to do good to our brothers and sisters who find themselves in need (Galatians 6: 10). Love for our neighbour also prompts us to support others in situations of need (Matthew 25: 34-46), and to help them in times of disaster. This can also be done by donating money or other goods. The aid agencies which the Church sponsors in the context of its social commitment, and by way of which it provides emergency aid around the world, are generally financed by voluntary donations.

For New Apostolic Christians, willingness to offer and sacrifice is a matter of the heart. Believers also feel the need to express their thankfulness and love toward God in concrete gifts (sacrifices), be it in monetary form or in the form of natural produce. In so doing they can take direction from the tithe mentioned in Malachi 3: 10. Offerings are usually placed in the offering boxes set up at divine services and other Church events, or transferred to the accounts of the Church. In many regions an additional offering of thanks is brought on Thanksgiving Day.

All financial contributions are made voluntarily and mostly anonymously. Thus it is possible to cover all the expenses of the Church without levying a church tax or charging membership fees. Through their offerings, believers give thanks to God and contribute to the development and completion of His work.

With all offerings, the attitude of heart is of decisive importance. Jesus once observed "the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He also saw a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, 'Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had'" (Luke 21: 1-4).

Believers can bring a sacrifice in a broader sense, namely by devoting their own heart. This is understood to include the engagement of all gifts and talents, as well as complete trust in God. In certain situations it can therefore also be a sacrifice to subordinate one's own will under the will of God. These are spiritual sacrifices as admonished by Apostle Peter (1 Peter 2: 5). Beyond that, a great deal of time and energy is invested in the service of God and His work, and in many ways believers give up personal advantages in so doing. Ultimately everything the believer does or abstains from doing, out of love for God, is a sacrifice.

13.2.4 Sacrifice and blessing Back to top

It pleases God when we bring Him our offerings with the proper attitude, and He also associates His blessing with this. "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9: 6-8). From these words we can derive that our offerings will not always result in a tangible material blessing. Faith allows us to recognise that the sacrifices which are brought out of a pure heart attract blessing even if this blessing often remains hidden from our perception.

In the divine services, the officiant prays for God's blessing upon all those who bring offerings, as well as on that which they have offered. God not only blesses material offerings, but also offerings of time, gifts, and abilities brought for Him and His work, including the renunciation of personal advantage. The blessing of God can be experienced in earthly matters, but it is primarily of a spiritual nature. This includes the imparting of divine gifts of salvation out of the merit of Christ (Ephesians 1: 3-7).

SUMMARY Back to top

Offerings and sacrifices bring to expression worship, gratitude, devotion, and submission to God. (13.2)

No other sacrifice can be compared with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Jesus' willingness to sacrifice is an example that calls believers to follow Him. (13.2.2)

Willingness to sacrifice springs forth from love. (13.2.3)

Believers also express their gratitude and love for God and His work in concrete gifts, be it in monetary form or in the form of natural produce. (13.2.3)

The willingness to offer and sacrifice is also expressed in congregational life when brethren in faith dedicate a substantial amount of their leisure time, energy, and talents into the service of God and the congregation without compensation. (13.2.3)

The blessing associated with offering can indeed be experienced in earthly matters, but it is primarily of a spiritual nature. (13.2.4)

13.3 Marriage and family Back to top

Marriage is the lifelong union between a man and woman desired by God, upon which His blessing rests. It also forms the foundation for the family. It is based upon a free and voluntary public expression of fidelity by both partners. Mutual love and fidelity are indispensable factors in the success of a marriage.

God's blessing is an important and valuable foundation for marriage and family life.

13.3.1 Marriage as a divine institution Back to top

A monogamous marriage is a divine institution and not only a human institution. A polygamous marriage, that is marriage with multiple spouses, is not in accordance with Christian teaching and values.

The fact that God has explicitly anchored the protection of marriage within the Ten Commandments underscores the importance and value of marriage as a divine institution (see 5.3.7).

God created human beings as man and woman for one another. Significant statements on this are recorded in the history of creation:

  • "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it'" (Genesis 1: 27-28). Both man and woman are thus created in the image of God. Different yet equal before him, they both stand under the blessing of God and live by the Creator's instruction to procreate, and shape and preserve the earth, as that part of the creation entrusted to them, in accordance with God's will.

  • "And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him'" (Genesis 2: 18). Human beings are created to have companionship. In their spouses, man and woman have counterparts whom they can support and help.

  • "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2: 24). By entering into marriage, man and woman are amalgamated into a single entity intended to last for their lifetime.

Jesus also commented on the sanctity of marriage. In the context of the question of whether divorce is acceptable, he referred back to the aforementioned statements: "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19: 4-6).

Apostle Paul compared marriage to the relationship between Christ and the church. He calls upon husbands and wives to love and honour each other (Ephesians 5: 21-33).

13.3.2 Marriage and the wedding blessing Back to top

The legal norms for marriage ceremonies, marital status, and divorce differ from country to country. They are subject to change as a reflection of constant shifts in society. The New Apostolic Church is a proponent of protection for marriage and family.

Receiving the marriage blessing of the Church is of great importance (see 12.2.3.1). Such a blessing can have many different effects: it provides strength for enduring love and fidelity, promotes the willingness and ability to serve, help, and understand one another, and it helps partners to forgive each other and reconcile differences. However, these effects can only take hold if a couple conducts themselves accordingly.

It is desirable for spouses to have a common agreement in matters of faith. Grasping God's word and grace, praying together, and making experiences of faith together will solidify the foundation of a marriage and strengthen a family. However, the mere fact that both spouses are Christians does not, in and of itself, constitute a guarantee for a harmonious marriage life.

Before marriage–particularly with a partner of a different culture, religion, or confession–all questions pertaining to their life together should be discussed and clarified in order to favour the success of the marriage.

Adultery is a grave breach of trust and a sin (see 5.3.7.2). Sincere remorse and repentance, willingness to forgive, and the grace of God can enable spouses to continue a marriage after adultery has occurred. The Church recommends exhausting all available means of stabilising and preserving a marriage.

If it comes to divorce, harmful statements and actions should be avoided. Especially toward the children from their marriage, the couple should display the kind of conduct that will allow the children to preserve the respect and affection for both parents in the future.

13.3.3 Sex and family planning in marriage Back to top

Marriage also serves to perpetuate the human race: "Then God blessed them [the first human beings], and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply'" (Genesis 1: 28).

Sex in marriage should be defined by mutual respect, sensitivity and understanding. If mutual consent and true love stand in the foreground, sex can be an important bond within a marriage and contribute to the wellbeing of both spouses.

Family planning is at the discretion of both partners. Nevertheless, the Church opposes contraceptive methods and means that prevent the continued development of an already fertilised human egg cell. Artificial insemination is generally accepted, however, all measures by which life may be destroyed by human selection are rejected.

SUMMARY Back to top

Marriage is the lifelong union between a man and woman desired by God. God has created man and woman for one another. (13.3; 13.3.1)

The relationship between Christ and the church serves as an example for the marital relationship. (13.3.1)

The New Apostolic Church is a proponent of protection for marriage and family. (13.3.2)

The Church wedding blessing is of great significance. It can have a strengthening effect on love and loyalty, but only if both partners in the marriage make the corresponding efforts in their conduct. (13.3.2)

Adultery is a breach of trust and a sin. In the case of a divorce, harmful statements and actions should be avoided. (13.3.2)

Sex in marriage should be defined by love, esteem, and sensitivity. Family planning is at the discretion of the married couple. (13.3.3)

13.3.4 Parental responsibilities Back to top

Because children are a gift of God, parents not only have a high degree of responsibility toward their children and society in general, but also toward God. Mother and father bear the main responsibility for the upbringing of their children. Only with love and wisdom can they meet the demands of such a responsibility.

Children need security and loving devotion. Together, parents raise their children in faith and teach them to take orientation from accepted ethical values. Doing so requires a significant commitment of time. Parents should be prepared to put aside their own needs and interests for the benefit of their children.

In fulfilling the important responsibility of raising their children, parents should be aware of the fact that their own behaviour and conduct–not least of all as regards their marriage–serves as an important example for their children.

Within their means, loving and caring parents support the educational and professional development of their children for the purpose of providing them with a solid foundation for the future.

New Apostolic parents bear the important responsibility of raising and consolidating their children in faith and in the fear of God. This includes acquainting them with God's word and will (Deuteronomy 6: 6-7), praying with them, attending the divine services with them, and facilitating their participation in the Church's teaching programmes. In this manner, the necessary foundations are created so that the children can later conduct their lives as convinced New Apostolic Christians, and prepare themselves for the return of Jesus Christ.

13.3.5 Responsibilities of the children Back to top

The fact that children also bear responsibilities toward their parents can be derived from the Fourth Commandment (see 5.3.5): they are to show due respect and reverence for their parents. This is demonstrated in a conduct defined by thankfulness, love, trust, and obedience. Even after children no longer live in the parental household, the appropriate love and devotion should be accorded their parents.

If there are several children in a family, all should contribute to a harmonious family life by treating one another with brotherly love.

SUMMARY Back to top

Because children are a gift of God, parents have a high degree of responsibility toward their children, society, and–above all–God. (13.3.4)

It is the task of parents to raise their children in faith and the fear of God, and thereby create the foundation for the children to live as convinced Christians and prepare themselves for the return of Christ. (13.3.4)

The obligations of the children toward their parents are derived from the Fourth Commandment. (13.3.5)

13.4 Discharging one's obligations at work and in society Back to top

The religious, social, and professional conditions in which human beings find themselves result in various necessary modes of conduct. For Christians, the basis for fulfilling these obligations is belief in God as the One who creates, establishes, and maintains order. The imposition of obligations and the demand for compliance with them are essential characteristics of the Mosaic Law. Even in the new covenant, man is not absolved of discharging certain duties. Fulfilling these is understood as an expression of belief in the gospel.

The Ten Commandments provide orientation for fulfilling one's obligations. From the Fourth Commandment, for example, one can derive both the requirement for children to respect and show gratitude towards their parents, and for parents to take responsibility for their children. Ultimately, the point is to respect and accept authority all the way up to God. The Third Commandment also refers to conduct in everyday life.

The Third Commandment tells us to keep the Sabbath day holy, but the Bible passage goes on to state: "Six days you shall labour and do all your work" (Exodus 20: 9). The individual is therefore obliged to use his energies for his own welfare and that of his family, as well as on behalf of the state and society (Genesis 2: 15; 3: 17). It is the will of God to give mankind their daily bread, but they must also do their part toward this end. Christians are obligated to conscientiously discharge the tasks assigned them in daily life.

Fulfilling one's obligations must take place within certain limits. It must not become a career pursuit that takes on higher priority than one's own wellbeing or that of one's surroundings.

Apostle Paul emphasises the believer's duty to comply with government regulations (Romans 13: 1 et seq.). The following principle stands above everything else, however: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5: 29). Paul adds to this that each one is jointly responsible for the common good (Romans 13: 6).

13.5 The New Apostolic Church as part of society Back to top

In the New Apostolic Church the gospel of Christ is proclaimed. This proclamation includes the call for believers to follow Jesus and His example, to love God above all things, and to love their neighbour as themselves (Mark 12: 30-31). For members, this means they are to treat others with respect and tolerance, regardless of their social background, age, language, or other differences.

Within its capacity and commission, the Church as an institution helps to promote the common good, thus functioning as an integral part of society.

The New Apostolic Church stands for universal peace, appeals for reconciliation, and admonishes forgiveness. It rejects all forms of violence.

New Apostolic Christians are active in public life. The Church does not influence its members concerning their political opinions or activities.

13.5.1 Position regarding the state Back to top

The New Apostolic Church attaches importance to open and constructive relations with governments, public authorities, and religious denominations. It is politically neutral. Its activity conforms to the laws of each respective country, in accordance with Romans 13: 1: "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God" (cf. Titus 3: 1 and 1 Peter 2: 13). However this does not imply that all directives from the "authorities" are from God because they can fail in their tasks, and even grossly mishandle them. Even the power of the state must be measured against divine commandments.

The Church fulfils its legal obligations under the laws and regulations of the respective country. In return it expects its position to be respected and accepted.

The Church also expects its members to keep the laws and fulfil the civic duties of their country, as long as they are in harmony with the divine commandments. The account of Peter and John in Acts 4 can serve to provide orientation in this: when they were forbidden to teach in the name of Jesus, they considered their duty to obey God to be greater than their duty to obey the authorities: "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge" (Acts 4: 18-19). Later they gave account of their actions before the council with the words: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5: 29). From this it is clear that, although Christians are, in principle, subject to the authority of the state, the authorities of the state are in turn subordinate to the divine laws. This position is expressed in the Tenth Article of Faith: "I believe that I am obliged to obey the worldly authorities provided no godly laws are thereby transgressed." This means that there may be points of conflict between human laws and divine commandments. In such cases, the individual must decide, on the basis of his conviction of faith and in personal accountability to God, whether he will resist prescribed regulations that violate divine laws. "Prescribed regulations" are to be understood as orders issued by higher authorities.

13.5.2 Relationship to other religions and denominations Back to top

The New Apostolic Church and its members respect the religious practices of other people, and refrain from making derogatory remarks concerning those of different faiths, different religions, and different denominations. They endeavour to have a good and peaceable relationship on the basis of mutual respect. The Church rejects any kind of religious fanaticism.

While respecting the self-conceptions of each, the New Apostolic Church's relationship with other Christian churches is open, and seeks to emphasise the commonalities of the Christian faith (see 6.5).

13.5.3 Social commitment Back to top

The New Apostolic Church is committed to the gospel and the imperatives of Christian ethics. Thus it understands its duty to include charitable activity which benefits people irrespective of gender, age, colour, nationality, or religion. Within the scope of its abilities, the Church offers assistance to those in difficult situations of life. This work is supported through the voluntary commitment of many helpers in the congregations, but also through material assistance.

Wherever possible, the Church plans, promotes, and supports non-profit charitable projects that serve the common good, as well as institutions and relief operations around the world. It also works together with relief organisations.

SUMMARY Back to top

The Ten Commandments provide orientation in the fulfilment of duties in professional life and society. (13.4)

Believers are obligated to obey the regulations of state authorities. Nevertheless, the principle from Acts 5: 29 stands above everything else: "We ought to obey God rather than men." (13.4)

To the best of its abilities and commission, the Church as an institution helps to promote the common good. (13.5)

The New Apostolic Church is politically neutral. (13.5.1)

The religious practices of others are to be respected. The Church rejects all manifestations of religious fanaticism. (13.5.2)

The Church is committed to the gospel and the imperatives of Christian ethics. Within the scope of its abilities–and also in collaboration with aid organisations–the Church supports non-profit, charitable projects that serve the common good. (13.5.3)