Signs of God’s love: the sacraments
They make the love of God visible: sacraments are fundamental acts of God’s grace. In these holy acts that are performed upon a human being by a human being God gives His salvation. The recipient is accepted into the fellowship of life with Him and is preserved in it.
“For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one” (1 John 5: 7–8).
The New Apostolic Church knows three sacraments: Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, and Holy Sealing. Receiving the three sacraments opens up the possibility for being united with the Lord at the return of Christ. The New Apostolic Church not only dispenses the sacraments to the living but also to the dead (the departed).
Fundamental: Holy Baptism
Holy Baptism is the first act of grace of the triune God bestowed on a human being who believes in Jesus Christ. It brings about a fundamental change in the relationship between God and man: everyone is a sinner, already before he can even think or do anything. Holy Baptism leads him out of this remoteness from God into His proximity. It is the first step on the way to life in God. The baptised is incorporated into the church of Christ.
Baptism is performed with water and dispensed in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Baptisms that have been performed in this manner (rite) in other denominations are recognised by the New Apostolic Church. Children are also admitted to baptism. The New Testament indicates that the blessings of God should also be made accessible to children (Mark 10: 14). When children are baptised, the parents assume the responsibility of raising them in accordance with the gospel until the children themselves can make their declaration of belief at their confirmation.
Recurring: Holy Communion
Holy Communion is the sacrament that the faithful can experience over and over again: it is the central event of the divine service. In Holy Communion the congregation commemorates the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, professes His resurrection, and looks forward to His return. The faithful celebrate fellowship with one another and with the Risen One. This is how the sacrament imparts the nature and strength of the Son of God.
What water is to baptism, bread and wine are to Holy Communion. The New Apostolic Church dispenses these elements in the form of communion wafers sprinkled with three drops of wine. With the consecration of the wafers the substance of Christ’s body and blood is joined to the elements (consubstantiation). The body and blood of Christ are therefore truly present (real presence).
All properly baptised (rite) Christians who profess Christ as their Lord and Redeemer are invited to partake in Holy Communion. Those who regularly participate in it in the New Apostolic Church thus also profess their faith in the Apostles of Jesus who are active today.
Enhancing: Holy Sealing
Holy Sealing is the sacrament through which God Himself grants the believer a share in His nature: through the laying on of hands of an Apostle, the believer receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. The prerequisites for Holy Sealing are belief in the triune God, proper baptism with water, as well as belief in the Apostles sent by Jesus Christ.
This baptism with the Spirit completes the rebirth that was begun in Holy Baptism and makes the human being into a new creation. It has both a present and a future effect: the first close relationship to God is intensified and the believer receives childhood in God. Moreover, the believer is called to become a firstling and be among those whom Jesus Christ will take unto Himself at His return.