Katechismus

8 The sacraments

Sacraments are fundamental acts of God's grace. They are holy acts that are performed upon a human being in order to allow him to attain salvation, be adopted into the fellowship of life with God, and be preserved in it. Receiving the three sacraments opens up the possibility for being united with the Lord at the return of Christ.

Salvation in the sacraments is founded upon the incarnation, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as the sending and activity of the Holy Spirit.

The term "sacrament" is not recorded in the New Testament. The word mysterion which is rendered in some Old Latin Bible translations with the term sacramentum is originally unrelated to the acts that later came to be designated as "sacraments". In antiquity, the term mysterion referred to a secret matter only accessible to the initiated.

According to the Roman understanding, "sacrament" signified, among other things, "pledge of allegiance", "consecration", or "pledge". In the course of the second and third centuries AD, the terms mysterion and sacramentum came to be used in reference to ritual acts. Thus, for example, Tertullian (ca. AD 160-220) associated the baptismal vow and the creed–albeit not the act of baptism itself–with a military oath formulation. The church leader Augustine (AD 354-430) made the most significant contribution to our understanding of the sacraments in later antiquity: a sacrament comes into being through the union of a visible element with a spoken word that refers to the reality behind it.

A sacrament legitimately comes into being through four interrelated variables:

  • sign (signum/materia), that is the rite or the visible element,

  • content (res/forma), that is the presence of salvation,

  • dispenser (the mediator of the sacrament),

  • faith (on the part of the recipient), so that the sacrament is received for salvation.

The validity of the sacraments is not dependent on their interpretation or the understanding a person has of them, but rather only on the four aforementioned variables. The sign (signum) and content (res) are linked together through the word (verbum) of institution or consecration spoken by the dispenser.

Since this is not a magical or automatic event, as it were, the faith of the person receiving the sacrament is a prerequisite for the sacrament to unfold to its full salvific effect. However, even unbelief does not invalidate the sacrament, because that which God has done cannot be undone by the unbelieving recipient.

The proper administration of the sacraments is incumbent upon the Apostles. They have been commissioned by Christ to make the sacraments accessible in proper fashion. Although not all sacraments need to be dispensed by the Apostles or those commissioned by them, sacraments nevertheless exist in an apostolic relationship.

There are three sacraments (1 John 5: 6-8): Holy Baptism, Holy Sealing, and Holy Communion. They have been instituted by Jesus Christ. [1]

Through Holy Baptism with water, a human being enters into his first close relationship with God–he becomes a Christian, and through his faith and profession to Christ belongs to the church (see 8.1). Through Holy Sealing, God grants the baptised the gift of the Holy Spirit. Both sacraments together comprise the rebirth out of water and the Spirit. Through this rebirth, a human being becomes a child of God and is called to be numbered among the firstlings at the return of Christ (see 8.3). Holy Communion preserves a human being in the intimate fellowship of life with Jesus Christ. To this end, this sacrament must be received repeatedly in faith (see 8.2).

The sacraments are also dispensed upon children (Matthew 19: 14).

SUMMARY Back to top

Sacraments are fundamental acts of God's grace. (8)

Salvation in the sacraments is founded upon the incarnation, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as in the sending and activity of the Holy Spirit. The proper dispensation of the sacraments is the responsibility of the Apostles sent by Christ. (8)

A sacrament comes into being through the union of a visible element with a word that refers to a reality behind this word. (8)

A sacrament comes into being through four interrelated variables: sign, content, dispenser, and faith. (8)

Faith is the prerequisite for a sacrament to unfold to its full salvific effect. (8)

Jesus Christ instituted three sacraments: Holy Baptism with water, Holy Sealing, and Holy Communion. (8)

[1] cf. Matthew 28: 19-20; John 3: 5; Luke 22: 19-20; John 6: 53-58; 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26; concerning the distinction between Holy Baptism with water and Holy Sealing, see Acts 8: 14-17; 19: 1-6.

8.1 Holy Baptism with water Back to top

Holy Baptism with water is the first and fundamental act of grace of the triune God bestowed on a human being who believes in Jesus Christ. Through it, original sin is washed away and the believer is led out of his position of remoteness from God. Nevertheless, his inclination to sin (concupiscence) remains.

Through Holy Baptism with water, the baptised shares in the merit Jesus Christ acquired for mankind through His sacrificial death. Thereby a human being is led into his first close relationship with God–he becomes a Christian. Thereby he is also incorporated into the church, that is into the fellowship of those who believe in Jesus Christ and profess Him as their Lord.

Accordingly the Sixth Article of Faith states: "I believe that the Holy Baptism with water is the first step to a renewal of a human being in the Holy Spirit, and that the person baptised is adopted into the fellowship of those who believe in Jesus Christ and profess Him as their Lord."

8.1.1 Definition of the term Back to top

The term "baptism" is a translation of the Greek word baptizein = "to immerse". In early Christian times, baptisms were primarily performed by immersion in water.

8.1.2 The biblical basis for Holy Baptism with water Back to top

The ritual washings referenced in various passages of the Mosaic Law can be regarded as precursors to baptism with water. They led to a ritual cleansing of persons who, due to their physical conditions, were considered unclean. However, these washings did not have a covenantal character.

8.1.2.1 Old Testament references to Holy Baptism with water Back to top

As with the other sacraments, references to Holy Baptism with water can be found in the Old Testament.

The deliverance of Noah and his family in the ark is regarded in 1 Peter 3: 20-21 as an "antitype of baptism" and a reference to future salvation. In Christian tradition, the Israelites' passage through the Red Sea–their deliverance from Egyptian captivity–is also understood as a reference to the deliverance that occurs through baptism with water.

The Mosaic Law strictly distinguishes between "clean" and "unclean". Water is one of the means used to bring about ritual purity. Persons who were unclean in a religious sense had to subject to a bath of purification (Leviticus 13-15).

Ezekiel 16: 9 mentions a washing with water and an anointing with oil, through which Jerusalem was received into a covenant of salvation. This can also be understood as a reference to Holy Baptism with water and Holy Sealing.

Likewise, the situation of the Aramaic commander Naaman can be related to baptism: at the instruction of the prophet Elisha, the leper washed himself by dipping his body seven times into the Jordan, and the disease abated (2 Kings 5: 1-14). This can be understood as a symbol for the washing away of original sin through baptism.

8.1.2.2 Holy Baptism with water in the New Testament Back to top

In the New Testament "baptism" is often understood as having two parts, namely baptism with water and baptism with the Spirit (Acts 8: 14 et seq.; 10: 47; 19: 1-6; Titus 3: 5). Holy Baptism with water and Holy Baptism with the Spirit are therefore interdependent.

Jesus Christ submitted to the baptism of John the Baptist in order to demonstrate how righteousness before God can be attained (Matthew 3: 15). So it was that the baptism of repentance, as practised by John, led to Holy Baptism with water. The Son of God abased Himself and put Himself on the same level as the sinner (Philippians 2: 7). Thereby Jesus Christ set an example for mankind mired in sin.

At the same time, Jesus' true identity as the Son of God was clearly revealed at His baptism. The triune God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–was present. The mystery of the Trinity began to reveal itself. The fact that Jesus is the Son of God was proclaimed (Matthew 3: 17; Mark 1: 10-11).

Jesus Christ also described His sacrificial death as "baptism". The sacrifice on the cross and Holy Baptism with water are thereby linked to one another (Luke 12: 50).

The great commission issued by the Risen One makes it clear that baptising–in the form of baptism with water and the Spirit–is one of the tasks assigned to the Apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28: 19). Baptism therefore emanates from the triune God. It is not a work of man, but an act of God's salvation upon a human being.

After the Pentecost sermon, the Apostles called on those who had come to believe: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2: 38). In this manner, those who believed were incorporated into the congregation (Acts 2: 41).

8.1.3 The necessity of Holy Baptism with water for salvation Back to top

Holy Baptism with water is indispensable for partaking in salvation. It is the first step on the way to complete redemption. Hence, Holy Baptism with water opens the way to eternal fellowship with the triune God.

8.1.3.1 Holy Baptism with water as an act of God Back to top

Holy Baptism with water is not a figurative or symbolic action, but rather a real act of God's loving care. Through this act, the relationship between a human being and God is fundamentally changed. The effect of Holy Baptism with water acts upon a person's entire being.

SUMMARY Back to top

Holy Baptism with water is the first and fundamental sacramental act of grace of the triune God upon a human being who believes in Jesus Christ. (8.1)

Through Holy Baptism with water the baptised enters into his first close relationship with God–he becomes a Christian and is thereby incorporated into the church. (8.1)

In the New Testament "baptism" is often understood as a two-part baptism with water and the Holy Spirit. Holy Baptism with water and Holy Baptism with the Spirit are therefore interdependent. (8.1.2.2)

Jesus Christ submitted to the baptism of John the Baptist in order to demonstrate how righteousness before God can be attained. (8.1.2.2)

The great commission issued by the Risen One makes it clear that baptising–in the form of baptism with water and the Spirit–is one of the tasks assigned to the Apostles. Baptism is an act of God's salvation upon a human being. (8.1.2.2)

Holy Baptism with water is necessary for salvation. (8.1.3)

It is not a figurative or symbolic act, but is indeed an act of God's loving care that fundamentally changes the relationship between a human being and God. (8.1.3.1)

8.1.3.2 The washing away of original sin Back to top

"Original sin" [2] refers to man's state of separation from God, in other words, the remoteness from God that has come into being through the fall into sin. Through disobedience, mankind has lost the permanent and direct fellowship with the Creator.

Since the fall into sin a fundamental state of sinfulness and remoteness from God has weighed upon every human being (Genesis 3: 23-24; Psalm 51: 5; Romans 5: 18-19). This means that, from the very beginning–before any deed or thought–every human being is a sinner, even if no individual sin has yet been committed. Through baptism, original sin is washed away. The image of washing brings to expression that God lifts the state of permanent separation and remoteness from Him: He grants human beings their first close relationship with Him as well as the opportunity to have fellowship with Him. Even after baptism, the human inclination to sin remains as a further consequence of the fall into sin.

SUMMARY Back to top

"Original sin" refers to man's state of separation from God, in other words the remoteness from God that has come into being through the fall into sin. Since the fall into sin, a fundamental state of sinfulness and remoteness from God has weighed upon all human beings. (8.1.3.2)

Through baptism with water original sin is washed away and the believer is led out of the state of remoteness from God. His inclination to sin (concupiscence) remains. (8.1.3.2)

[2] The doctrine of original sin was first formulated by Augustine based on biblical testimony. Original sin has its source in the primal sin of Adam and Eve. The biblical basis for the doctrine of original sin is Psalm 51: 5 and Romans 5: 12.

8.1.4 The proper dispensation of Holy Baptism with water Back to top

The elements of the three sacraments have been prescribed by God. The two essential elements of Holy Baptism with water are the water and the Trinitarian formula: "I baptise you in the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." When performed in this fashion, Holy Baptism can unfold in its effect upon the believer.

The water, the outward sign of inner purification, requires consecration to lift it up out of the domain of the profane and into that of the holy. It is therefore consecrated in the name of the triune God prior to the act of baptism. The baptising minister then uses the consecrated water to make the sign of the cross three times on the forehead of the person being baptised, and–under laying on of hands–baptises him in the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The sign of the cross symbolises salvation in Christ and the redemption He effected through His sacrificial death. Making the sign of the cross three times on the forehead of the person being baptised is a reference to the triune God.

8.1.5 Prerequisites for receiving Holy Baptism with water Back to top

Anyone can receive Holy Baptism with water. In the New Apostolic Church it is administered by an Apostle or priestly minister to both children and adults. The prerequisite is the believer's profession of faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel.

When children are baptised, the parents, or persons responsible for the religious upbringing of the children, must profess their faith in Jesus Christ and vow to raise the baptised child in accordance with the gospel. The practice of baptising children is based upon the insight that the blessings of God should be made available to them. They too require the grace of the Lord, and the kingdom of God is open to them (Mark 10: 14).

SUMMARY Back to top

The two essential elements of Holy Baptism with water are the water and the word in the Trinitarian formula. The water is consecrated in the name of the triune God. Thereafter the baptising minister uses the consecrated water to make the sign of the cross three times on the forehead of the person being baptised, and baptises in the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (8.1.4)

Any human being can receive Holy Baptism with water. The prerequisite is profession of faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel. (8.1.5)

When children are baptised, those who bear responsibility for their religious upbringing must profess their own faith in Jesus Christ and vow to raise the baptised child in accordance with the gospel. (8.1.5)

8.1.6 The effects of Holy Baptism with water Back to top

Through Holy Baptism with water, a person who believes in Jesus Christ and professes Him is incorporated into the church of Christ and thereby has fellowship with Jesus Christ. Holy Baptism with water performed in the name of the Trinity is a binding element among Christians.

Holy Baptism with water–similar to circumcision in the old covenant–is a mark of the covenant. Through it, a human being is adopted into the new covenant and can then receive further marks of the covenant: access to Holy Sealing is open to those who are baptised. Those baptised in the New Apostolic Church are entitled to partake regularly in Holy Communion.

The baptised shares in the death of Jesus Christ and in His new life. Seen in a spiritual sense, he partakes in the experience of Jesus Christ. Just as Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind, so the baptised is to be "dead indeed to sin" by renouncing it. Baptism incorporates the believer into Christ's activity of redemption such that Christ's death on Golgotha also becomes the "death" of the baptised: this signifies the end of life in the condition of remoteness from God and the beginning of life in Christ. Baptism imparts powers to wage the battle against sin (Romans 6: 3-8; Colossians 2: 12-13).

Baptism is "putting on Christ". With it, the first step on the path to renewal of the inner man has been taken: "For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3: 27). This image constitutes the basis for abandoning one's old way of life and "putting on" the virtues of Christ. It describes that which comes to expression in the term "repentance", namely the act of turning away from one's old nature and turning to the Lord. This means that one must earnestly endeavour to lead one's life in accordance with God's will. The baptised person vows to conduct and organise his life under the regency of Christ.

8.1.7 Faith and Holy Baptism with water Back to top

Like all other sacraments, Holy Baptism with water is dispensed on the basis of faith. Sacrament and faith belong together: "He who believes and is baptised will be saved" (Mark 16: 16). A person's faith is both a prerequisite for receiving the sacrament as well as his response to this act of God.

The unbelief into which a baptised person may fall cannot undo the validity of Holy Baptism with water. A validly dispensed Holy Baptism with water is not repeated.

8.1.8 Holy Baptism with water and Holy Sealing Back to top

Although Holy Baptism with water and Holy Sealing are interdependent, they are two distinct sacraments. The book of Acts relates that Holy Baptism with water and baptism with Holy Spirit were administered in two separate acts (Acts 2: 38-39; 8: 12-17, 10: 44-48; 19: 5-6).

The rebirth out of water and the Spirit occurs when a person receives both sacraments, namely Holy Baptism with water and Holy Sealing (John 3: 5).

8.1.9 Holy Baptism with water and following Christ Back to top

During Holy Baptism with water, the believer vows to earnestly endeavour to avoid sin and to lead a life of following Christ. The kind of following to which the baptised are called consists of aligning themselves to the life and nature of Jesus, in accordance with His words: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16: 24).

8.1.10 Holy Baptism with water and the Apostle ministry Back to top

In Matthew 28: 18-20, the Risen One gives His Apostles the commission to baptise. The administration of the sacraments is inseparably linked to the Apostle ministry. While Holy Sealing–according to the testimony of the Scriptures–was only dispensed by Apostles, there are several biblical references indicating that Holy Baptism with water was not exclusively performed by Apostles (Acts 8: 38). Priestly ministers in the New Apostolic Church also have the authority to baptise with water.

However the Holy Baptism with water administered by the Apostles and ministers ordained by them is not the only valid one: since it has been entrusted to the church as a whole, properly performed baptisms in other churches are also valid (see 6.4.4).

SUMMARY Back to top

Holy Baptism performed in the name of the Trinity is a binding element among Christians. (8.1.6)

Baptism is a covenantal mark, whereby a human being is accepted into the new covenant. It is the first step on the path to renewal of the inner being. The baptised individual shares in the death of Jesus Christ as well as in His new life. (8.1.6)

A properly dispensed Holy Baptism is not repeated. (8.1.7)

Holy Baptism with water and Holy Sealing are two interdependent yet distinct sacraments. The rebirth out of water and the Spirit occurs by receiving both of them. (8.1.8)

The Risen One issued the commission to baptise to His Apostles. In the New Apostolic Church, Apostles have the authority to baptise and can also issue this authority to the priestly ministries. (8.1.10)

Since Holy Baptism with water has been entrusted to the church as a whole, properly performed baptisms in other churches are also valid. (8.1.10)

8.2 Holy Communion Back to top

The Seventh Article of the New Apostolic Creed states: "I believe that Holy Communion was instituted by the Lord Himself in memory of the once brought, fully valid sacrifice, and bitter suffering and death of Christ. The worthy partaking of Holy Communion establishes our fellowship with Jesus Christ, our Lord. It is celebrated with unleavened bread and wine; both must be consecrated and dispensed by a minister authorised by an Apostle."

Of the three sacraments, Holy Communion is the one which is repeatedly made available and dispensed to a human being. The content and significance of Holy Communion cannot be fully grasped in rational or doctrinal terms. It is closely associated with the mystery of the person of Jesus Christ.

In Holy Communion, the reality of God and His devotion to mankind can be directly experienced. Holy Communion is the central event of the divine service. It also takes on a significant position in the consciousness and life of the faithful.

8.2.1 Designations for the sacrament Back to top

There are various designations for the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, which emphasise different aspects of the sacrament:

  • "Holy Communion" refers to the sacrament's historical institution by Jesus Christ in fellowship with His Apostles on the evening before His crucifixion.

  • The term "Eucharist" derives from the Greek eucharistein, meaning "to give thanks". Jesus Christ gave thanks to God when He instituted Holy Communion (Luke 22: 19). The giving of thanks in Holy Communion calls believers to an all-encompassing gratitude, in particular for the sacrifice and merit of Jesus Christ, but also for redemption and sanctification.

  • "Lord's Supper" is a designation for Holy Communion which draws attention to the fact that Jesus is the Lord (see 3.4.6.2) and that, in this capacity, He has instituted it and invites us to celebrate it.

  • "Breaking of bread" refers to the Passover meal which Jesus Christ celebrated when He instituted Holy Communion (Matthew 26: 26). That the breaking of bread was an identifying feature of Jesus can be seen from the fact that the disciples travelling to Emmaus thereby recognised the Risen One (Luke 24: 13-31). The early Christians referred to their meal fellowships as "breaking of bread", through which their unity and fellowship was brought to expression (Acts 2: 42, 46).

8.2.2 Old Testament references to Holy Communion Back to top

The Old Testament not only makes frequent references to the Son of God, His suffering, and His sacrifice, but also relates many events that have a certain affiliation with Holy Communion. In retrospect, they can be understood as references to the sacrament established by Jesus Christ. From them it is clear just how closely the old and the new covenants are interrelated.

Genesis 14: 18-20 describes Abram's encounter with the royal Priest Melchizedek. Melchizedek–whom the epistle to the Hebrews interprets as a reference to Jesus Christ–blessed Abram and also brought him bread and wine (verse 18). "Bread and wine" are reminiscent of the elements of Holy Communion. This relationship becomes even clearer in Hebrews 5: 10, where Jesus Christ is called a "High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek".

Another important Old Testament reference to Holy Communion can be seen in the feeding of the Israelites with manna as they wandered in the wilderness (Exodus 16: 4-36). Manna is described as "bread from heaven" (verse 4). According to John 6: 35, Jesus Christ called Himself "the bread of life". This manna held the promise of something greater, as it were, namely a food which would not only strengthen the body, but also one's entire being, and serve for salvation.

8.2.3 Jesus' miracles of feeding and Holy Communion Back to top

The gospels attest that Jesus Christ ate and drank with sinners. In contrast to the Pharisees and scribes, He had table fellowship with those who, in accordance with the Mosaic Law, were considered unclean and who were therefore excluded from association with the righteous (Mark 2: 13-17).

Not only did Jesus eat with others, the gospels also relate that He provided food for them. His miracles of feeding–for example, the feeding of the five thousand (John 6: 1-15), the feeding of the four thousand (Matthew 15: 32-38), but also the miracle of transforming water into wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2: 1-11)–are all signs of the kingdom of God which has drawn near to mankind in Jesus Christ. Beyond the satisfaction of physical hunger, these earthly meals are also a reference to salvation in Christ. This becomes clear in the words of the Lord when He linked the feeding of the five thousand with the statement: "I am the bread of life" (John 6: 26-51).

8.2.4 The Passover meal Back to top

At the Lord's command, the Israelites celebrated their first Passover on the night before their exodus from Egypt. Lambs without blemish were killed and prepared. With the lamb, the Israelites ate unleavened bread. The blood of the lamb, which was painted on the doorposts, was the sign that would spare the Israelites from the tenth plague to come upon Egypt, namely the death of the firstborn (Exodus 12).

God commanded that the Passover should be celebrated every year in commemoration of the liberation from Egypt.

The similarities between the Passover meal and Holy Communion are quite apparent: both are meals of commemoration in which bread is an indispensable component. The cup of wine which is drunk at the end of the Passover meal symbolises the joy resulting from the Israelites' deliverance from Egyptian captivity. The blood of the Passover lamb effected deliverance for the firstborn of the Israelites. This is a reference to Jesus Christ as the "Lamb of God" who was sacrificed: "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1: 29; cf. 1 Peter 1: 19).

The Passover meal is a commemoration of the Israelites' deliverance from Egyptian captivity. Holy Communion refers to deliverance in a much broader sense, namely to the redemption of mankind from the bondage of sin through the sacrifice of Christ, and to deliverance from eternal death.

8.2.5 The institution of Holy Communion by Jesus Christ Back to top

Already before Jesus Christ established Holy Communion in the presence of His Apostles, He said: "... unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you" (John 6: 53). "Flesh and blood" are a reference to Holy Communion, which, as the Lord hereby emphasised, is indispensable for salvation. Also significant here are the additional statements of the Lord: "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life ... He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in Him" (John 6: 54, 56).

The Synoptic Gospels relate that Jesus Christ shared a meal together with His Apostles on the Feast of Passover. Matthew 26: 26-29 describes how the Lord instituted Holy Communion: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body.' Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom'" (Mark 14: 22-25; Luke 22: 14-20). While the account in the gospel of Mark largely coincides with the account in the gospel of Matthew, we find the following additions in Luke: "Do this in remembrance of Me" and "this cup is the new covenant in My blood" (Luke 22: 19-20).

With the words: "Do this in remembrance of Me", the Lord gave His Apostles the commission and authority to celebrate Holy Communion in the same way as He Himself had done.

8.2.6 Holy Communion in the first epistle to the Corinthians Back to top

In 1 Corinthians 11: 17-32 we find evidence of the celebration of Holy Communion and of Jesus' words of institution which He spoke in the process. This text first of all attests that the celebration of Holy Communion was part of the religious practice of the early Christian congregations. Here Apostle Paul cited the words of institution for Holy Communion as practised in Corinth. Here it becomes clear that a predetermined wording was prescribed: "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you." This is followed by the words of institution: "The Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26).

This text describes the situation in which Holy Communion was instituted and also relates the words spoken by Jesus. The commemoration of this unique event in the history of salvation also incorporates the words of institution. Wherever Holy Communion is celebrated, this night in which the Lord was betrayed is also commemorated.

Breaking of bread and giving thanks (Greek: eucharistein) to God also belong together. At the same time, Jesus' interpretation of the bread and wine is repeated: the bread is not only the Passover bread, but rather "My body which is broken for you". Likewise, the cup not only contains the customary wine of the Passover, but is "the new covenant in My blood". The one cup of wine which was passed around during the celebration of Holy Communion calls to mind the death of Jesus upon which the new covenant was founded. Whoever drinks from this cup receives the blood of Jesus Christ, that is to say the Lord Himself. The conclusion of the text emphasises the importance of the proclamation of the unique event of Christ's death as well as the importance of His return. The significance of Holy Communion for fellowship of life with the Lord is also underlined: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread" (1 Corinthians 10: 16-17).

8.2.7 The significance of bread and wine Back to top

The elements of bread and wine which constitute the sacrament belong to the domain of sustenance, of celebration, and of Israelite divine service.

Bread is a symbol for human sustenance in general. The meals of bread and the related miracles of the Old and New Testaments demonstrate that God is concerned with the human being as a whole, not only in part–that is not only the body, and not only the soul. Even within the divine service, bread had been assigned an important function by the Mosaic Law: twelve loaves of showbread ("Bread of the Presence") were placed on a table in front of the veil to the Most Holy Place. On each Sabbath, they were eaten by the priests and replaced with new loaves (Exodus 25: 30).

In general, wine is also a reference to the primal and creaturely dependence of human beings on sustenance. In ancient Israel, wine was one of the beverages consumed at feasts. In Israel, wine was also a symbol of joy and of future salvation (Isaiah 55: 1).

SUMMARY Back to top

Holy Communion is the sacrament which is dispensed to a human being again and again. It is the central event of the divine service. (8.2)

Holy Communion is also known as the "Eucharist" ("giving thanks"), the "Lord's Supper", and the "breaking of bread". (8.2.1)

Already the Old Testament contained references to Holy Communion. (8.2.2)

Both the Passover meal and Holy Communion are meals of remembrance of which bread is an indispensable component. The Passover meal commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from captivity in Egypt. Holy Communion points to liberation in a much more comprehensive sense, namely to the redemption of mankind from the servitude of sin. (8.2.4)

On the occasion of the Passover feast, Jesus Christ shared in a meal with His Apostles. In the process He instituted Holy Communion. (8.2.5)

The oldest evidence of the celebration of Holy Communion and the words of institution which Jesus spoke at that time can be found in 1 Corinthians 11. This also recalls the situation in which Holy Communion was instituted. (8.2.6)

The sacrament is constituted by the elements of bread and wine. (8.2.7)

Bread is a symbol for human sustenance in general. Wine is also a reference to the human dependency on sustenance. In Israel, wine is also a symbol of joy and of future salvation. (8.2.7)

8.2.8 Holy Communion as a meal of remembrance Back to top

Holy Communion is a meal of remembrance because it first of all commemorates the death of Jesus Christ as a unique event which is valid for all times. The remembrance of this event is important because it emphasises that Jesus Christ is true Man who had to suffer real death. It also recalls the situation at the institution of Holy Communion in the circle of the Apostles. This highlights the importance of the Apostles for the proper administration of Holy Communion. However, this remembrance extends even further, namely to the resurrection of the Lord (which is why Holy Communion is also an Easter meal) and to His ascension into heaven. Everyone who celebrates Holy Communion partakes in this commemoration and its proclamation until Christ returns.

This is not only a matter of remembrance directed toward the past, but rather also a reminder of the certainty of Christ's current presence and His future kingdom.

8.2.9 Holy Communion as a meal of profession Back to top

Holy Communion is a meal of profession, as is clear from the words: "You proclaim the Lord's death ..." (1 Corinthians 11: 26). The profession of the death, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ is part of the fundamental profession of the Christian faith. This profession is required of all those who wish to partake of Holy Communion for salvation.

Those who regularly partake of Holy Communion in the New Apostolic Church should be aware that they are thereby publicly professing their faith in the activity and authority of the Apostles of Jesus at work today (see 2.4 and 8.2.21).

The emphasis on the confessional nature of the holy meal also serves to counteract thoughtless or purely habitual partaking in the sacrament.

8.2.10 Holy Communion as a meal of fellowship Back to top

Holy Communion is a meal of fellowship in a threefold sense:

  • First of all, the incarnate and glorified Son of God enters into fellowship with His Apostles in the celebration of Holy Communion. Thereby the original situation at the institution of Holy Communion is repeated.

  • However, in the celebration of Holy Communion the Risen One also has fellowship with those believers who partake of the Lord's Supper worthily for their salvation.

  • Moreover, those assembled in the congregation for divine service also have fellowship with one another in Holy Communion.

8.2.11 Holy Communion as an eschatological meal Back to top

Holy Communion has an eschatological–end-time–character because it is closely linked to the marriage supper in heaven. In Jesus Christ the kingdom of God has drawn near. In accordance with His statement: "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22: 18), the congregation joined in Holy Communion awaits the fulfilment of the promise announced to them in this Communion fellowship. Until the future and ultimate unification of the bride with the bridegroom (see 10.2), the congregation experiences its most intimate fellowship with the Lord through Holy Communion.

SUMMARY Back to top

Holy Communion is a meal of remembrance: it commemorates the death of Jesus Christ as a unique event that is valid for all time. This commemoration extends beyond the resurrection and ascension of the Lord and also incorporates the current presence of Christ as well as His future kingdom. (8.2.8)

Holy Communion is a profession of the death, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ. This profession is required of all who wish to partake of it. (8.2.9)

Those who regularly partake in Holy Communion in the New Apostolic Church should be aware that they are thereby also professing belief in the Apostles of Jesus active today. (8.2.9)

In Holy Communion Jesus Christ joins in fellowship, first with His Apostles, and then with the believers. The congregation gathered for divine service also has fellowship among one another in Holy Communion. (8.2.10)

Holy Communion also has an eschatological character: it is closely associated with the marriage feast in heaven. Until the ultimate reunion of the bride and bridegroom, the congregation experiences its most intimate fellowship with Him in Holy Communion. (8.2.11)

8.2.12 The real presence of the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion Back to top

The elements of bread and wine are not transformed in their substance through the consecration and pronouncement of the words of institution. Rather, the substance of Christ's body and blood is joined to them (consubstantiation). There is thus no transformation of the substances (transubstantiation).

There is a close connection between Holy Communion and the fact that Jesus Christ has both a human and a divine nature, both of which exist unadulterated and indivisible in Him (see 3.4). It is in this sense that the relationship between the bread and wine and the body and blood of Christ is to be understood: after the consecration, a parallel exists between the "bread and wine"–which corresponds to the human nature of Christ–and the "body and blood"–which corresponds to the divine nature of Christ.

In Holy Communion, bread and wine correspond to the human nature of Christ, while the body and blood correspond to His divine nature. Accordingly, there can be no transubstantiation of the bread and wine. Rather, even after consecration, the bread and wine retain their natural substance. Yet the bread and wine are not merely metaphors or symbols for the body and blood of Christ. Rather, the body and blood of Christ are truly present (real presence). Through the words of consecration spoken by an Apostle or a priestly minister commissioned by him, the substance of the body and blood of Christ is joined to the substance of the bread and wine.

The outward form (accidence) of the elements of Holy Communion is not changed by this act. Just as the Man Jesus was visible during His life on earth, so also the bread and wine are visible in Holy Communion. After their consecration, however, the elements of Holy Communion constitute a dual substance–like the two natures of Jesus Christ–namely that of bread and wine and that of the body and blood of Christ. The Son of God is then truly present in the elements of Holy Communion: in His divinity and in His humanity.

However, as regards the elements of Communion it is not the case that the bread alone corresponds to the body of Christ and that the wine alone corresponds to the blood of Christ. Rather, the body and blood of Christ is completely present in each of the two elements, both the bread and the wine.

The body and blood of Christ remain present in the consecrated wafer until it has reached its designated recipient.

After the divine service, the wafers that were not dispensed are treated with reverence and care.

8.2.13 The real presence of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion Back to top

In Holy Communion, it is not only the body and blood of Christ, but also His sacrifice itself, that are truly present. However, this sacrifice has only been brought once and is not repeated in Holy Communion. Neither is Holy Communion merely a reminder of the sacrifice. Rather, during the celebration of Holy Communion, Jesus Christ is in the midst of the congregation as the crucified, risen, and returning Lord. Thus His once-brought sacrifice is also present in that its effect grants the individual access to salvation. In this way, the celebration of Holy Communion causes the partakers to repeatedly envision the sacrificial death of the Lord, which enables them to proclaim it with conviction (1 Corinthians 11: 26).

SUMMARY Back to top

The bread and wine are not changed in their substance through the consecration or the speaking of the words of institution. Rather the substance of the body and blood of Jesus is joined to them (consubstantiation). (8.2.12)

In Holy Communion the bread and wine correspond to the human nature of Christ, while the body and blood correspond to His divine nature. (8.2.12)

Bread and wine are not merely metaphors or symbols for the body and blood of Christ. Rather the body and blood of Christ are truly present (real presence). (8.2.12)

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is also present in Holy Communion. (8.2.13)

8.2.14 The relationship between forgiveness of sins and Holy Communion Back to top

The forgiveness of sins and Holy Communion are closely related to one another. Both the forgiveness of sins and Holy Communion have their foundation in Christ's sacrifice (Acts 13: 37-38). Jesus Christ instituted Holy Communion on the basis of His sacrifice: "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26: 28). At the same time, these words of the Lord make it clear that He brought His sacrifice in order to redeem mankind from sin.

Christ authorised His Apostles to proclaim the forgiveness of sins (see 7.6.2) and to celebrate Holy Communion as He Himself had done with them (Luke 22: 19).

Although the sacrifice of Christ becomes present in Holy Communion, Holy Communion does not in itself effect forgiveness of sins. Rather, the forgiveness of sins proclaimed before the consecration of the elements of Holy Communion also enables believers to worthily partake of Holy Communion.

8.2.15 Holy Communion and the Apostle ministry Back to top

Jesus Christ instituted Holy Communion in the circle of His Apostles and entrusted it to them. He commissioned them to proclaim the gospel and to dispense the sacraments. The epistle to the Hebrews illustrates that Jesus Christ is the true High Priest who offers Himself up as a sacrifice. Whenever an Apostle or a priestly minister commissioned by Him performs the consecration, this occurs by the commission and authority of Jesus Christ. Here it is the Holy Spirit who effects the real presence of the Son of God, His body and blood, in Holy Communion. It is also in this sense that the Apostles of Jesus are "stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Corinthians 4: 1).

Where the Holy Spirit is active through the ministry established and authorised by Jesus Christ, this sacramental reality comes into being.

SUMMARY Back to top

The forgiveness of sins and Holy Communion are closely related to one another. Both are founded upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Although the sacrifice of Christ is present in Holy Communion, forgiveness of sins is not effected at the same time in the sacrament. (8.2.14)

The forgiveness of sins also enables believers to worthily partake of Holy Communion. (8.2.14)

Jesus Christ instituted Holy Communion in the circle of the Apostles and entrusted it to them. (8.2.15)

Where the Holy Spirit is at work through the ministry established and authorised by Jesus Christ, this sacramental reality comes into being. (8.2.15)

8.2.16 The words of consecration in Holy Communion Back to top

For the consecration of Holy Communion, the authorised minister speaks a liturgically fixed text based on 1 Corinthians 11: 23 et seq. and Matthew 26: 26 et seq. as follows:

"In the name of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I consecrate bread and wine for Holy Communion and lay thereupon the once brought, eternally valid sacrifice of Jesus Christ. For the Lord took bread and wine, gave thanks and said: 'This is My body which is broken for you. This is My blood of the new covenant given for many for the remission of sins. Eat and drink! Do this in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this wine, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. Amen!"

8.2.17 The celebration and receiving of Holy Communion Back to top

The sacrament of Holy Communion is administered by dispensing the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the consecrated wafer with the words: "The body and blood of Jesus given for you." Hence the designation "Holy Communion" is used primarily in reference to the consecrated and dispensed communion wafer (bread and wine as sacramental elements).

Since both the consecration of the communion wafer and its dispensation are part of the sacrament, the term "Holy Communion" is used, in the broader sense, as the designation for the complete act of consecration and dispensation (sacramental act).

Owing to its great importance, the congregation is called upon to celebrate Holy Communion in reverence, faith, and complete devotion to Christ.

8.2.18 The prerequisites for partaking in Holy Communion Back to top

The fundamental prerequisites for partaking worthily of Holy Communion are belief and a repentant heart filled with longing for salvation. Although unbelief does not render the sacrament invalid, faith is the prerequisite for it to serve for blessing and salvation. Unbelief in receiving the sacrament can be related to the words in 1 Corinthians 11: 29: "For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgement to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."

Those who are indifferent to the suffering and death of Christ or who merely make a habit of the celebration of the sacrament, and partake of Holy Communion in this manner, run the risk of doing so unworthily.

8.2.19 The manner in which Holy Communion is received Back to top

Holy Communion is received both by the ministers and the congregation in both forms, namely bread and wine.

As of 1917, the New Apostolic Church has dispensed both elements of Holy Communion together in the form of a communion wafer sprinkled with wine.

8.2.20 The effects of Holy Communion Back to top

Those who partake worthily of Holy Communion share in the merit acquired by Jesus Christ through His sacrifice. The believer's share in the new covenant and in the merit of Christ–which is founded upon Holy Baptism with water–is continually reinforced by partaking in Holy Communion.

Furthermore, Holy Communion guarantees fellowship of life with the Son of God. It is a visible expression and a reinforcement of life with Jesus Christ. Through His body and blood, Christ shares His nature with the believer–a nature which is distinguished by perfect strength to overcome–thereby allowing the believer to live in Christ.

On account of the real presence of the body and blood of Christ, the worthy partaking of Holy Communion establishes true fellowship with the Lord and thereby the unity of the believers, both the living and the dead, with one another (John 17: 20-21). This is also expressed in 1 Corinthians 10: 17: "For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread." This unity of the faithful created through Holy Communion is the unity with Jesus Christ, the Apostles sent by Him, and all those who have been reborn of water and the Spirit. In this fellowship of the Lord's Supper the true nature and true form of the church of Christ are thus clearly revealed (see 6.5).

At the same time, Holy Communion is an essential means of preparing for the day of Christ's return.

SUMMARY Back to top

When consecrating Holy Communion, the authorised minister speaks a liturgically fixed text based on 1 Corinthians 11: 23 et seq. and Matthew 26: 26 et seq. (8.2.16)

The body and blood of Jesus Christ is dispensed in the consecrated wafer. (8.2.17)

The basic prerequisites for partaking worthily of Holy Communion are a longing for salvation, willingness to repent, and faith. (8.2.18)

In the New Apostolic Church bread and wine are dispensed in the form of a wafer sprinkled with wine. (8.2.19)

The believer's share in the merit of Christ–which is founded upon Holy Baptism with water–is continually reinforced by partaking in Holy Communion. Holy Communion assures the fellowship of life with the Son of God and establishes the unity of the believers among one another. (8.2.20)

Holy Communion is an essential means of preparation for the return of Christ. (8.2.20)

8.2.21 Eligibility for partaking in Holy Communion Back to top

All those who have been baptised, adopted, or sealed in the New Apostolic Church are entitled to regularly partake in Holy Communion. These individuals profess the content of the New Apostolic Creed (see 2.4).

An essential prerequisite for receiving Holy Communion is Holy Baptism with water. Only those who have been baptised should partake in Holy Communion.

Although usually only New Apostolic Christians receive Holy Communion, Christians from other denominations who have been baptised in the proper manner (see 8.1.4) can partake of Holy Communion as guests. It should be made clear to them that Holy Communion is a meal of profession of the Son of God who died, resurrected from the dead, and will come again.

Secession or excommunication from the New Apostolic Church also voids admission to Holy Communion. Upon readmission to the New Apostolic Church, the believer is once again granted access to Holy Communion.

8.2.22 Communion celebrations of the churches Back to top

Where the authorised Apostle ministry is active, the body and blood of Jesus is joined to the bread and wine in Holy Communion. The celebrations of other churches also contain important elements of Holy Communion, since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are also commemorated with belief and gratitude there.

New Apostolic Christians should bear in mind that by regularly partaking in the Communion celebration of another church they are in principle professing that church's doctrine.

SUMMARY Back to top

Those who are baptised, adopted, or sealed in the New Apostolic Church are entitled to regularly partake in Holy Communion. The essential prerequisite is Holy Baptism with water. Properly baptised Christians can be admitted to Holy Communion as guests. (8.2.21)

Secession or excommunication from the New Apostolic Church invalidates the right to partake in Holy Communion. (8.2.21)

The Communion celebrations of other churches also contain important elements of Holy Communion. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are also commemorated with belief and gratitude there. (8.2.22)

8.3 Holy Sealing Back to top

Holy Sealing is the sacrament through which the believer, through the laying on of hands and the prayer of an Apostle, receives the gift of the Holy Spirit and becomes a child of God with the calling to become a firstling. Accordingly, the Eighth Article of Faith states: "I believe that those baptised with water must, through an Apostle, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to attain the childhood in God and thereby the prerequisite for becoming a firstling."

8.3.1 Concerning the term "sealing" Back to top

The term "sealing" refers to the use of a seal. Important documents are certified and given authority by means of a seal. It documents authenticity. Confidential documents are closed with a seal. Owners designate their property with a seal. A seal is a guarantee that the authority behind it assures protection and integrity.

These aspects of the word's meaning are also reflected in the designation for the sacrament of baptism with the Spirit. Furthermore, in the epistles of the New Testament, "being sealed" is understood to mean receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit:

  • "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (2 Corinthians 1: 21-22).

  • "In Him [Christ] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 1: 13).

  • "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4: 30).

The book of Revelation also contains references to sealing as a mark of ownership or as an eschatological sign of salvation (Revelation 7: 3; 22: 4).

8.3.2 The promise of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament Back to top

In the time of the old covenant, the Holy Spirit was active in individual human beings chosen by God for specific tasks. Hence the prophets used the words "Thus says the Lord" to attest to their divine authority and instruction. The Spirit of God awakened in them the thoughts on which their proclamations of both judgement and salvation were based.

By commission of God, the prophets also anointed kings to rule the chosen people. Thus, for example, David was anointed king by Samuel (1 Samuel 16: 12-13). With this act, David's kingship was "sealed", as it were. Furthermore, we read that the Spirit of God came upon David. According to Psalm 51: 11, the king prayed–after having committed a sin–that the Lord should not take His Holy Spirit from him.

Moreover, the Old Testament contains references to the future, when the Spirit of God would be poured out–no longer merely upon individuals, but upon many people: "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days" (Joel 2: 28-29). Comparable promises can be found in the words of other prophets, for example in Ezekiel 36: 27: "I will put My Spirit within you." In his sermon on Pentecost, Apostle Peter pointed out that the promise of the prophet Joel had been fulfilled (Acts 2: 15 et seq.).

8.3.3 Jesus' anointing with the Holy Spirit Back to top

Like the two other sacraments, Holy Sealing also has its foundation in the life and activity of Jesus Christ. Concerning Him–the Son of Man–John 6: 27 states that "God the Father has set His seal on Him."

After Jesus had been baptised in the Jordan, John the Baptist also testified: "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him." This was the identifying sign that God had promised John the Baptist, by which he was to know Him "who baptises with the Holy Spirit ... this is the Son of God" (John 1: 29-34).

This event is also described in Matthew 3: 16: "When He had been baptised, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him." The descending of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus occurred after His baptism with water was complete. Two distinct acts can therefore be identified. The Holy Spirit and the voice of God proclaim the divine Sonship of Jesus. The anointing of Jesus with the Holy Spirit is a legitimation of His Messiahship, and is at the same time a reference to the later sacrament.

The understanding of the link between Holy Baptism with water and Holy Sealing is based–among other things–on these two events, namely baptism with water and anointing with the Holy Spirit. They belong together and are interrelated–and yet they are two distinct sacraments.

That Holy Sealing has its example in the anointing of Jesus is also underlined in Acts 10: 37-38: "The word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power."

8.3.4 The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Back to top

In His farewell discourses, Jesus Christ repeatedly promised to send His Apostles the Holy Spirit, for example in John 15: 26: "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me." This promise was fulfilled on Pentecost when the Apostles and disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2: 1-4).

God acted directly in both of these fundamental events, and this symbolically prefigures the sacrament of Holy Sealing: He sealed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and testified that He was the Son of God. He sealed the Apostles–and the believers who had fellowship with them–with the Holy Spirit.

After the Pentecost sermon, when those who had come to believe in Christ asked him what they should do, Peter answered: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2: 38). This shows that Holy Baptism is a prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit.

The centurion Cornelius was an exception: here God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit directly to non-baptised souls in order to show Apostle Peter that salvation was now also accessible to the Gentiles. Therefore, in this special case, Holy Baptism was only administered after the dispensation of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10).

8.3.5 Further attestations of Holy Sealing in the New Testament Back to top

According to the testimony of Scripture, Holy Sealing is bound to the Apostle ministry. Philip had preached in Samaria and baptised those who believed in the gospel: "Now when the Apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8: 12 et seq.). Simon the sorcerer "saw that through the laying on of the Apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given" (Acts 8: 18). In this incident, the sacraments of Holy Baptism with water and Holy Sealing–that is the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit–are clearly distinguished from one another.

There is another event that serves to substantiate the distinction between baptism with water and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. In Ephesus there were disciples who, having only received the baptism of John, were then baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus: "And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them" (Acts 19: 1-6).

These accounts indicate that, apart from the exceptions mentioned, the gift of the Holy Spirit was solely administered by Apostles. Furthermore, it becomes clear that the gift of the Holy Spirit was dispensed only after baptism with water had been administered.

8.3.6 The proper dispensation of Holy Sealing Back to top

As the water in Holy Baptism and the bread and wine in Holy Communion, the gesture of laying on of hands of the Apostle is–according to the testimony of the New Testament–the visible element in Holy Sealing. The prayer of the Apostle is also part of the proper dispensation of this sacrament.

The sacrament of Holy Sealing, the baptism of the Spirit, is exclusively dispensed by Apostles.

SUMMARY Back to top

In Holy Sealing believers receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (8.3)

The descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus occurred after His baptism was complete. The anointing of Jesus with the Holy Spirit is a legitimation of His Messiahship and a reference to the sacrament of Holy Sealing. (8.3.3)

The sending of the Holy Spirit, as promised by Jesus, was fulfilled on Pentecost. (8.3.4)

According to the testimony of Scripture, Holy Sealing is bound to the Apostle ministry. (8.3.5)

The gift of the Holy Spirit was only dispensed after baptism with water had been performed. (8.3.5)

The sacrament of Holy Sealing is dispensed exclusively by Apostles through the gesture of laying on of hands and a prayer. (8.3.6)

8.3.7 Prerequisites for receiving Holy Sealing Back to top

Holy Sealing requires the recipient to believe in the triune God and the Apostles sent by Jesus Christ. Prior to this he must have been baptised with water in the proper manner (see 8.1). He must profess his faith and vow to follow Christ. In the Lord's work of redemption, he will then be prepared for the imminent return of Christ.

Holy Sealing is dispensed to both adults and children. When children receive Holy Sealing, their parents–or those responsible for the religious upbringing of the children–must profess the required belief on their behalf and vow to raise the children in the New Apostolic faith.

8.3.8 Holy Sealing as an act of God Back to top

Like Holy Baptism with water, Holy Sealing is also an act of God upon a human being. That which was begun in Holy Baptism is completed in Holy Sealing, namely the rebirth out of water and Spirit. Both sacraments are acts of God's grace upon a human being and are only performed once. The life received thereby is nourished and preserved above all by regularly partaking of Holy Communion.

The new creation (2 Corinthians 5: 17) which comes into being through the rebirth is a reference to the sanctification and renewal which occurs through God, the Holy Spirit.

8.3.9 The effects of Holy Sealing Back to top

Through the sacrament of Holy Sealing, the baptised believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, with power from God (see 3.5.2).

Through Holy Sealing, the Spirit of God makes His permanent abode in a human being–God Himself grants him a share in His nature: "... the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5: 5). The initial relationship of proximity to God founded upon baptism with water now takes on a new quality in the childhood in God.

Through the rebirth out of water and Spirit, the believer is moreover called by God to become a firstling. With respect to the kingdom of God, the rebirth has both a present and future aspect (John 3: 5).

The present effect of the rebirth–the childhood in God–represents, as it were, an anticipation of being a firstling and part of the "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2: 9). In this sense, "childhood in God" thus refers to that condition of a human being before God which is characterised by having received all the sacraments, believing in the proper proclamation of the gospel, and aligning one's life by the return of Christ.

The "Spirit of adoption" whose activity begins to unfold within a human being through Holy Sealing, confidently addresses God as "Abba, Father!" The Holy Spirit testifies to those who have received Him that they are children of God (Romans 8: 16). This occurs in the conscience (see 4.2.1.3) but also through the word proclaimed in the divine service.

At Holy Sealing the believer surrenders himself to the triune God, and God accepts him as His property. This means that the reborn believer becomes an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. He is called to suffer with Christ, and receives the promise that he will be glorified with Christ (Romans 8: 15-18).

The surrender to Christ begun in Holy Baptism with water is completed in Holy Sealing. The believer thereby receives that spiritual revival which will lead him into fellowship with the returning Lord (James 1: 18; Revelation 14: 4). Accordingly the believer now belongs to that group within the church whom God prepares through Apostles for the return of Christ and the marriage in heaven (Revelation 19: 7-8).

The enduring presence of Holy Spirit within a human being also has profound and noticeable effects on one's earthly life: if the sealed believer gives the Holy Spirit room to unfold, divine virtues will develop, which Apostle Paul figuratively describes as "fruit" of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23).

The Holy Spirit will then reveal Himself as a light that provides the believer with insight into divine interrelationships. He is a Comforter and Helper. The Holy Spirit also admonishes the sealed believer, sharpens his conscience, and provides orientation on the way to the goal of faith.

SUMMARY Back to top

The prerequisites for receiving Holy Sealing are baptism with water, belief in the triune God, as well as belief in the Apostles sent by Jesus Christ. (8.3.7)

The rebirth out of water and the Spirit, which was begun by God in Holy Baptism with water, is completed through Holy Sealing. The new creation that comes about through the rebirth is a reference to the sanctification and renewal that occurs through God, the Holy Spirit. (8.3.8)

At Holy Sealing a human being is enduringly filled with the Holy Spirit. (8.3.9)

The effect of the rebirth out of water and the Spirit is childhood in God as well as the calling to be a firstling. If the sealed soul gives the Holy Spirit room to unfold, divine virtues will develop. (8.3.9)