Katechismus

1 The revelations of God

God, who created heaven and earth, reveals Himself in various ways in nature and history, thereby making it possible to recognise nature as His creation and the history of mankind as the history of salvation.

God has revealed Himself in a unique way in His Son Jesus Christ. In order to ensure that this revelation would always be kept alive, the Eternal One sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. He reveals God as the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the return of Christ, God's revelation to those who will then be caught up to Him will be perfect, for they will see God as He is (1 John 3: 2).

1.1 The self-revelation of God in creation and history Back to top

On their own, human beings cannot perceive God's being and nature or God's reign and will. Nevertheless, God does not conceal Himself, but rather reveals Himself to mankind.

His revelation is a declaration of divine nature, divine truth, and divine will, and is to be seen as a sign of God's love and care for mankind.

When we speak of God's "self-revelation" we understand that God grants human beings insights into His nature. God thereby makes Himself known as the Creator of heaven and earth, the Deliverer of Israel, the Reconciler of mankind, and the Maker of the new creation. However, this revelation is not only a self-revelation and expression of the divine will, but also an encounter which God grants human beings in word and sacrament.

1.1.1 God reveals Himself as the Creator Back to top

The self-revelation of God in the visible creation is accessible to all human beings. Since the beginning of time, man has observed the grandeur of nature and inquired about its origin and author. Occupying oneself with this question is to lead to faith: God is the Creator and Protector of the material world, which also includes mankind.

The material world is an expression of God's will and activity. Thus we can also recognise a self-revelation of God in it. The visible creation bears witness to the existence of God, the Creator, as well as to His wisdom and power: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psalm 19: 1).

Apostle Paul also points out that God reveals Himself through His creation, and that all human beings should be able to recognise Him: "... because what may be known of God is manifest in them [the Gentiles who do not believe in God], for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1: 19-20).

Unbelievers do not realise that God reveals Himself through the visible creation, and therefore draw false conclusions from this self-revelation of God by worshipping things created by God. They thus bring the glory–which is due the Creator alone–to created things, and thereby make them into idols. For this reason, idolatry is also criticised in the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon: "[God] the first author of beauty hath created them [the powers of nature]. But if they [the unbelievers] were astonished at their power and virtue, let them understand by them, how much mightier He is that made them. For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures, proportionably the maker of them is seen" (Wisdom of Solomon 13: 3-5).

Even though man is able to perceive the wonder of the natural creation, it does not necessarily follow that he will, on his own, relate this to the living God. Furthermore, the phenomena of creation may merely lead him to conclude that a living God must exist. However, it is only in the context of God's self-revelation throughout history, that is through His word addressed to human beings, that the nature and will of God can truly be perceived by mankind.

1.1.2 God reveals Himself in the history of Israel Back to top

The fact that God revealed Himself in history first becomes clear in the development of the people of Israel as attested in the Old Testament.

When He revealed himself in the burning bush, God provided an historical reference by pointing out that He had already revealed Himself to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3: 6).

The central event of salvation for the people of Israel is their liberation from slavery in Egypt. Here, God led His people in the form of a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire (Exodus 13: 21-22). This deliverance is mentioned again and again in the Old Testament: the prophets make reference to this great deed of God, and the Psalms sing of it.

In addition to the exodus from Egypt, the promise that the people of God would be given a land of their own in Canaan and the covenant made at Mount Sinai are divine revelations of decisive importance: God Himself determined the place where His people were to live and, through the Commandments at Mount Sinai, gave Israel rules and standards by which to live.

The faith of the people of Israel is based upon divine revelations in their history, which they experienced either as an expression of God's helping care or of His punitive judgements.

Psalms 105 and 106 proclaim in impressive fashion that God both shapes history and manifests Himself within it. Likewise, the events during the time of the judges and kings in Israel and Judah, the Babylonian captivity, and the return from exile, provide examples of the fact that God intervenes in history.

Moreover, God revealed Himself through His prophets: "I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets" (Hosea 12: 10). It is the same God who leads and instructs His people: "Yet I am the Lord your God ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but Me; for there is no Saviour besides Me" (Hosea 13: 4). It is likewise through the prophets that God promises the coming Messiah, the Saviour (Isaiah 9: 6; Micah 5: 2).

1.1.3 God reveals Himself in His Son Back to top

God's incarnation in Jesus Christ is the historical self-revelation of God that surpasses everything before it (John 1: 14; 1 Timothy 3: 16). The gospel according to Luke expressly places the birth of the Son of God in a historical framework: "And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria" (Luke 2: 1-2).

The historicity of God's incarnation is also underlined in the first epistle of John. There John confronts groups within the Christian community who denied that Jesus Christ had really "come in the flesh" (1 John 4: 2). John goes on to write: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life ...–that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1: 1-3).

1.1.4 God reveals Himself in the time of the church Back to top

With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem on Pentecost, God revealed Himself to mankind as the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In addition to the revelations of God attested in Holy Scripture in ancient times, there are also insights of the Holy Spirit in recent times, which are imparted to the church of Christ through the Apostle ministry. The deeper insights into His plan of salvation, which are provided by the Holy Spirit, serve as a reference to the unique self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ, to maintain awareness of it, and to point to Christ's return.

The revelation of the Holy Spirit makes it clear that the fundamental renewal of mankind and the creation has become possible. In human beings this occurs through the sacraments. At the end of time, heaven and the earth will also be newly created.

SUMMARY Back to top

God reveals Himself in various ways in nature and history, such that nature is always to be recognised as His creation and history as the history of salvation. (1)

On their own, human beings cannot perceive God's being and nature or His reign and will. (1.1)

Revelation is a declaration of divine nature, divine truth, and divine will, and is a sign of God's love and care for mankind. (1.1)

Self-revelation means that God makes Himself known as the Creator, the Deliverer of Israel, the Reconciler of mankind, and the Maker of the new creation. (1.1)

The self-revelation of God in the visible creation is accessible to all human beings, however, it can only be properly recognised in faith. (1.1.1)

It is only through the self-revelation of God in history–that is to say through His word addressed to mankind–that the nature and will of God can truly be recognised. (1.1.1)

God revealed Himself in the history of Israel, as attested in the Old Testament. The principal event of salvation for the people of Israel was their liberation from slavery in Egypt. In addition, God revealed Himself through His prophets. (1.1.2)

The incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is the historical self-revelation of God which surpasses everything before it. (1.1.3)

With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, God revealed Himself in His Trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (1.1.4)

In addition to the revelations of God attested in Holy Scripture in ancient times, there are also insights of the Holy Spirit in recent times which are imparted through the Apostle ministry. (1.1.4)

1.2 Holy Scripture Back to top

Over the course of many centuries, human experiences of God's revelation and His acts in the course of the history of salvation have been recorded in writing. Already in the time after the Babylonian exile, that is in the centuries before Christ's birth, the writings concerning God's acts, promises, and commandments were accorded great authority in Judaism, and were also called "Holy Scriptures" in the epistles of the New Testament. The second epistle to Timothy emphasises that these Scriptures are based on divine revelation: "... that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3: 15-16).

While Apostle Paul uses the term "Holy Scriptures" in reference to the compilation of sacred writings of Judaism in use at the time, the modern Christian usage of the term applies to the collection of the writings from both the old and the new covenants.

The term "Bible" is derived from the Greek word biblia, meaning "books, scrolls". The Bible is a collection of books from Old Testament times which came into being over a span of more than 1000 years, as well as books from the New Testament period, which were composed over a span of about 70 years.

The author of Holy Scripture is God, while its writers were human beings whom the Holy Spirit inspired (2 Peter 1: 20-21). God made use of their abilities to commit to writing that which was to be passed on in accordance with His will. Although the contents of the biblical books have their source in the Holy Spirit, they bear the mark of their respective writers and their perceptions of the world, in terms of style and form of expression. We have God to thank for the fact that these texts have remained unadulterated over all this time.

Holy Scripture is a testimony of the revelation of God without claiming to be a complete account of all of God's deeds (John 21: 25).

1.2.1 Content and structure of Holy Scripture Back to top

The Bible is comprised of two main parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The term "Testament" derives from the promise of the "new covenant" recorded in Jeremiah 31: 31-34 [1]. While the writings of the Old Testament refer to the covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as with Moses, the writings of the New Testament testify of the new covenant, which God initiated with the sending of His Son.

Both the Old and New Testaments testify of God's plan of salvation for mankind and are thus linked to one another. The designation "Bible" for the Old and New Testament has already been in use since the ninth century.

[1] The Hebrew term berit, which means "covenant", is rendered as diatheke in the Greek translation of the Bible. This Greek term has the double meaning of "covenant" and "testament".

1.2.2 The Old Testament Back to top

The Old Testament contains accounts of the creation, individual events from the time after the fall into sin, as well as the origin and history of the people of Israel. Beyond that, it contains works of Judaic wisdom literature, the Psalter as Israel's book of hymns and prayers, as well as books that bear witness of the words and activities of the prophets of God.

1.2.2.1 The origin of the Old Testament canon Back to top

The term "canon" (meaning "standard" or "guideline" in English), which was borrowed from the Greek language, is used to describe the collection of holy writings that have been binding on all Christendom since the middle of the fourth century.

The Christian canon of the Old Testament is based on the Hebrew canon of Judaism. Even by the time of Jesus and the early Apostles, Judaism did not yet have a firmly defined canon. Although there was a basic collection of holy writings (the Torah, the books of the prophets, and the Psalms), there were also other books which were accepted as holy by some Judaic groups but rejected by others. The scope of the Hebrew canon was conclusively defined by the end of the first century AD.

At that point in time, the Christian canon of the Old Testament was far from complete.

To this day there is no uniform canon of the Old Testament that is binding on all Christian churches.

1.2.2.2 The books of the Old Testament Back to top

In the New King James Version of the Bible used in the English-speaking world, the Old Testament can be divided into three groups: historical books, doctrinal books, and prophetical books.

The seventeen historical books are:

The five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)

The book of Joshua

The book of Judges

The book of Ruth

The two books of Samuel

The two books of the Kings

The two books of the Chronicles

The book of Ezra

The book of Nehemiah

The book of Esther

The five doctrinal books are:

The book of Job

The book of Psalms

The book of Proverbs

The book of Ecclesiastes

The Song of Solomon

The seventeen prophetical books are:

Isaiah

Jeremiah

Lamentations of Jeremiah

Ezekiel

Daniel

Hosea

Joel

Amos

Obadiah

Jonah

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

Haggai

Zechariah

Malachi

1.2.3 The later writings of the Old Testament Back to top

The later writings of the Old Testament contained in many editions of the Bible are also known as "Apocrypha" ("hidden Scriptures"). These are Judaic writings that came into being between the third and first centuries BC. In terms of content, they constitute an important binding agent between the Old and New Testaments. Important convictions of faith of the New Testament are foreshadowed in these writings. In the New Apostolic Church these later writings of the Old Testament are just as binding for faith and doctrine as all other writings of the Old Testament canon.

Those English-language editions of the Bible that contain the Apocrypha generally place these books between the Old and New Testaments.

The fifteen Apocryphal books are:

The two books of Esdras

Tobit

Judith

The rest of Esther

The Wisdom of Solomon

Ecclesiasticus

Baruch

The Song of the Three Holy Children

The History of Susanna

Bel and the Dragon

The Prayer of Manasses

The three books of the Maccabees [2]

[2] Some English-language publications of the Bible include three books of the Maccabees, however, the third book is widely considered non-canonical.

1.2.4 The New Testament Back to top

The New Testament contains the records of the mission and activity of Jesus and His Apostles handed down in the gospels and the Acts. Letters from the Apostles to the congregations and individuals provide insight into the congregational life and missionary activity in the early Christian period. These letters also provide explanations about the doctrine, which the Apostles proclaimed by commission of their Sender.

In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the prophetical book of the New Testament, Jesus Christ admonishes His church in various ways, comforts them with the promise of His return, and points to future events.

1.2.4.1 The origin of the New Testament canon Back to top

For the early Christian congregation, today's Old Testament comprised the actual Bible. In addition, the recorded "words of the Lord" (logia) soon came to be accorded special regard. The logia were at first passed on verbally. Even before any accounts of Jesus' activity were ever recorded in writing, the congregations had various creeds and hymns in which the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were professed. These also found their way into the writings of the Apostles.

The oldest early Christian writings handed down to us are the letters of Apostle Paul. These were read aloud in the divine services and then passed along to neighbouring congregations.

After the epistles of Paul, the gospel of Mark is the oldest written testimony of Christian belief. The content and structure of the gospels according to Matthew and Luke are closely related to it.

In order to preserve the apostolic tradition, pass along its teachings, and distinguish it from false doctrines, it became necessary to prepare a collection of New Testament writings that would be binding upon the church. An Easter letter from Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria dating from the year AD 367 lists all 27 writings of the New Testament as binding. This canon was ultimately ratified by the synods of Hippo Regius (AD 393) and Carthage (AD 397).

The Old and New Testament canons did not come into being on account of human contemplations alone, but most of all through the will of God.

1.2.4.2 The books of the New Testament Back to top

In the New King James Version of the Bible the New Testament can be divided into the same categories as the Old Testament.

The five historical books are:

The gospel according to Matthew

The gospel according to Mark

The gospel according to Luke

The gospel according to John

The Acts of the Apostles

The 21 doctrinal books are:

The epistle of Paul to the Romans

The two epistles of Paul to the Corinthians

The epistle of Paul to the Galatians

The epistle of Paul to the Ephesians

The epistle of Paul to the Philippians

The epistle of Paul to the Colossians

The two epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians

The two epistles of Paul to Timothy

The epistle of Paul to Titus

The epistle of Paul to Philemon

The epistle to the Hebrews

The epistle of James

The two epistles of Peter

The three epistles of John

The epistle of Jude

The prophetical book is:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Apocalypse)

SUMMARY Back to top

The author of Holy Scripture is God. Its writers were human beings whom the Holy Spirit inspired. In style and form of expression the books of the Bible bear the mark of their respective writers and their perceptions of the world. (1.2)

Holy Scripture is a testimony of God's revelation, although it is not a complete account of all of God's deeds. (1.2)

The Bible–that is Holy Scripture–is comprised of the Old and New Testaments. Both parts testify of God's plan of salvation for mankind and are thus linked to one another. (1.2.1)

The Christian canon of the Old Testament is based upon the Hebrew canon. The Old Testament consists of seventeen historical books, five doctrinal books, and seventeen prophetical books. (1.2.2.1; 1.2.2.2)

In terms of content, the fifteen later writings of the Old Testament (Apocrypha) comprise an important link between the Old and New Testament Scriptures, and are just as binding for faith and doctrine as the other books of the Old Testament canon. (1.2.3)

The New Testament contains records of the mission and activity of Jesus and His Apostles. The 27 books of the New Testament have been considered binding (canonical) since the fourth century. The New Testament consists of five historical books, 21 doctrinal books, and one prophetical book. (1.2.4; 1.2.4.1; 1.2.4.2)

1.2.5 The significance of Holy Scripture for doctrine and faith Back to top

Holy Scripture is the foundation for the doctrine of the New Apostolic Church.

Accordingly, the proclamation of the word in the divine services is also based on Holy Scripture. It is the starting point, and foundation for, the sermon (see 12.1.6).

1.2.5.1 Interpretation of Holy Scripture through the Holy Spirit Back to top

The correct understanding of Holy Scripture, which came into being through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, can only be unlocked by the same Spirit. God's will–and thus also the Holy Scripture given by Him–can only be opened up in all its depth through the activity of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2: 10-12).

As "servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Corinthians 4: 1), the Apostles of Jesus are also commissioned to interpret Holy Scripture. They can only do this through the Holy Spirit.

1.2.5.2 Jesus Christ–the centre of Scripture Back to top

According to Christian understanding, the principal aim of the Old Testament is to prepare the way for the arrival of the Messiah and to testify of Him. Jesus Himself emphasised this (John 5: 39; Luke 4: 17-21; 24: 27). He interpreted the Scriptures for His disciples in relationship to His activity. Concerning this He made the statement: "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me" (Luke 24: 44). Accordingly, the Old Testament must be interpreted on the basis of the Son of God. The old covenant is fulfilled in Christ. The incarnation of the Son of God is the most important self-revelation of God and is the centre of the entire history of salvation. This reality is brought to expression in the statement: "Jesus Christ is the centre of the Scripture."

The significance for faith and doctrine of any statements made in the individual books of the Old Testament–or in the later writings of the Old Testament–can be determined by the agreement of their contents with that which the gospel teaches.

1.2.5.3 Personal use of the Holy Scriptures Back to top

It is recommendable for every believer to read regularly from Holy Scripture, as it comforts and edifies, provides orientation and admonition, and serves to promote knowledge. The important thing in this process is the attitude of heart with which the reader studies the Bible. The striving for the fear of God and sanctification, together with sincere prayer for correct understanding, are contributing factors for profitable reading of the Bible. Reading the Bible intensively leads to a better understanding of the gospel. This in turn promotes knowledge and reinforces certainty of faith.

SUMMARY Back to top

Holy Scripture is the basis for the doctrine of the New Apostolic Church. (1.2.5)

The proper understanding of Holy Scripture can only be opened up in all its depth through the activity of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles of Jesus also have the commission to interpret Holy Scripture. They are only able to do this through the Holy Spirit. (1.2.5.1)

Jesus Christ is the centre of Scripture. Thus even the significance of the Old Testament writings is determined by their agreement with the teachings of the gospel. (1.2.5.2)

Reading Holy Scripture offers believers comfort, edification, orientation, admonition, and advancement in knowledge. (1.2.5.3)

1.3 Present-day revelations of the Holy Spirit Back to top

Fundamental evidence that the Holy Spirit would, after Jesus' return to His Father, reveal new things, and thus disclose that which had been previously hidden can be found in John 16: 12-14: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is mine and declare it to you." With these words, Jesus Christ promised His Apostles that they would receive further explanations about God's nature and plan of salvation through the Holy Spirit.

The early Apostles experienced the activity of the Holy Spirit in the manner that the Lord had announced to them. The letters of the Apostles bear witness to the fact that the Holy Spirit had opened up to them an extensive understanding about the Lord (Philippians 2: 6-11; Colossians 1: 15-20) and of future events (1 Corinthians 15: 51-57). Their activity and testimony was permeated by that which the Holy Spirit revealed to them (Ephesians 3: 1-7).

The preaching of the Apostles of Jesus active today is based on the statements of Holy Scripture (see 1.2.5). They are guided by the Holy Spirit in their teaching commission. It is in this manner that the aforementioned promise of the Son of God is also fulfilled today: the Holy Spirit keeps alive the self-revelation of God manifested in Jesus Christ, brings it to life in the present, and points to the appearing of the returning Christ. The incarnation, death, resurrection, and return of the Son of God are at the centre of this revelation today.

Beyond that, the Holy Spirit imparts to the apostolate new insights about God's activity and plan of salvation, which, although intimated in Holy Scripture, have not yet been fully revealed. An important example that bears mentioning is the teaching that salvation can also be attained by the departed (see 9.6.3).

On the basis of his teaching authority, it is incumbent on the Chief Apostle to proclaim such revelations of the Holy Spirit, and to declare them as binding doctrine of the New Apostolic Church.

SUMMARY Back to top

Jesus Christ promised His Apostles that they would receive further clarification about the nature of God and the plan of salvation through the Holy Spirit. (1.3)

The Holy Spirit grants the apostolate new insights concerning God's activity and plan of salvation, which are already intimated in Holy Scripture. (1.3)

1.4 Faith as mankind's response to the revelations of God Back to top

Faith is one of the basic realities of human life. It does not refer primarily to a particular doctrine or view of the world, but rather to a more or less well-founded conviction, in other words, something held to be true as contrasted with verifiable knowledge. Furthermore, "faith" in the non-religious sense signifies a subjective attitude of confidence in someone.

All people believe, regardless of whether they profess a religious doctrine or not. Their way of life is predominantly defined by that which they believe. In this respect, an individual's personal beliefs also shape his personality.

In the religious sphere, faith is manifested when a person binds himself to a divine being or principle.

The foundation and content of Christian faith is the triune God. The belief in God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has been made accessible to mankind by Jesus Christ.

Fundamental statements about faith are recorded in Hebrews 11: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (verse 1). Here it is emphasised that faith is indispensable for entering into the proximity of God: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (verse 6).

However, it remains an act of grace on the part of God whenever a human being finds his way to Him through faith. Believers should recognise faith as a gift, and put it into practice in their lives (see 4.2.1.5).

1.4.1 Belief in God, the Father Back to top

Holy Scripture testifies that God has revealed Himself in all time periods and in a variety of ways (see 1.1).

Among the revelations that allow mankind to recognise God are the works of creation (Romans 1: 18-20). For example, believers praise these works in the Psalms.

Furthermore, God reveals Himself to human beings through His word and intervenes powerfully in their lives. For example, God called Abraham to leave his native country. Abraham obeyed God, following the path God showed him with unreserved trust (Genesis 12: 1-4). In doing so, he demonstrated that he believed God.

Whenever God reveals Himself, He calls upon human beings to believe: the only appropriate response man can give to God's call is to believe, in other words, to be open to this revelation and to accept it. Moreover, believers will voluntarily and unconditionally bind themselves to God, and endeavour to structure their lives in obedience to Him.

The old covenant centred on faith in God, the Creator, Preserver, and Liberator, who had also already revealed Himself as Father. Thus we read as follows in Isaiah: "Look down from heaven, and see from Your habitation, holy and glorious ... Doubtless You are our Father ..." (Isaiah 63: 15-16; cf. Deuteronomy 32: 6).

1.4.2 Belief in God, the Son Back to top

With the incarnation of God, the Son, the Old Testament promises pointing to the coming of the Messiah were fulfilled. Jesus Christ gives the exhortation: "You believe in God, believe also in Me" (John 14: 1). Thus belief in God as revealed in His Son was also required in addition to belief in God as the omnipotent Creator of heaven and earth, who had made a covenant with the people of Israel. The faith that is now required also entails keeping the word of Jesus Christ (John 8: 51; 14: 23).

In the old covenant, the term "God, the Father" expressed God's care for His people. Through Jesus Christ, however, it becomes evident that God is the Father of the only-begotten Son from eternity.

Jesus Christ opens up the way for human beings to attain childhood in God and to be called as firstlings (see 10.1.3), through the rebirth out of water and the Spirit, that is by receiving Holy Baptism with water and Holy Sealing. These two prerequisites are not contingent on being a descendant of Abraham, but on believing in the Saviour and receiving all of the sacraments (Romans 3: 22, 29-30; Ephesians 2: 11-18). Being caught up to the Lord at His return is the direct expression of becoming a firstling. Firstlings are guaranteed direct fellowship with God eternally.

1.4.3 Belief in God, the Holy Spirit Back to top

The Holy Spirit's activity is already attested in the Old Testament: kings and prophets were guided by the Holy Spirit (Psalm 51: 11; Ezekiel 11: 5).

According to the words of the Lord, the Holy Spirit's activity in the New Testament is divine revelation (John 14: 16-17, 26). Here too, the only appropriate response for mankind is faith, namely faith in the Spirit, who presently guides into all truth and reveals God's will.

1.4.4 Faith and the sermon Back to top

Jesus Christ made it clear that faith in Him and His gospel is brought about by accepting the word of His ambassadors, His Apostles: "As You sent Me into the world I also have sent them into the world. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word" (John 17: 18, 20).

The preaching of the gospel generates faith: "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10: 17).

The Risen One commissioned His Apostles to preach the gospel to all nations and to observe His word (Matthew 28: 19-20). With reference to salvation and future redemption, it is a fundamental requirement to accept the preaching of the gospel in faith. Concerning this, Mark 16: 16 states: "He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."

SUMMARY Back to top

Faith is one of the fundamental realities of human life. (1.4)

The basis and content of the Christian faith is the triune God. Whenever God reveals Himself, He calls upon human beings to believe. Faith is an act of grace on the part of God, which human beings are to put into practice in their lives. (1.4)

In the old covenant, faith revolved around God, the Father, who revealed Himself as Creator, Protector, and Liberator. (1.4.1)

With the incarnation of God, the Son, the Old Testament promises concerning the coming Messiah were fulfilled. Since then, faith is also required in God, who is not only the Creator, but who also reveals Himself in Jesus. Through the rebirth out of water and the Spirit, Jesus Christ opens up the way for human beings to attain childhood in God as well as the opportunity to attain the status of firstling. (1.4.2)

Belief in God, the Holy Spirit, is the belief in the Spirit who currently leads into all truth and reveals God's will. (1.4.3)

The word of preaching of those sent by Jesus produces faith. In order to be saved, it is necessary to accept God's word imparted through the sermon. (1.4.4)