01. The revelations of God
The source of our belief is in God Himself. He allows human beings to recognise Him: He “reveals” Himself.
The knowledge that God exists has been given by God Himself. God does not conceal Himself, but rather allows Himself to be recognised by human beings such that human beings can speak of God and believe in God.
“Because what may be known of God is manifest in them [human beings], 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
God reveals Himself in different ways, in nature and in history.
God reveals Himself in nature as the Creator: in the existence of the universe, of mankind, and of animals and plants.
“He waters the hills from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth.”
Psalm 104: 13-14
God reveals Himself in the history of mankind. For example, He led the people of Israel out of captivity in Egypt and gave them the Ten Commandments. The greatest of God’s revelations in history occurred when He became human in Jesus Christ and when He was active on this earth. He lived 2,000 years ago. God revealed Himself as the Redeemer in Jesus Christ.
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son.”
Galatians 4: 4
God is a spiritual being. He identifies Himself as God,
- the Father, the Creator and Sustainer of the creation (cf. Genesis 1; 8: 21-22),
- the Son, the Redeemer and bringer of salvation (cf. 1 John 5: 20),
- the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Helper, who leads into all truth (cf. John 16: 13).
Revelations of God are recorded in Holy Scripture.
We understand the term “revelations of God” in several ways:
- God allows Himself to be recognised. He provides insight into His being and nature (“Self-revelation” of God).
- God makes His will known to human beings.
- God encounters human beings in His love, especially in His word and in the sacraments.
Yes, God provides revelations about the future: He has promised that Jesus Christ will return (cf. John 14: 3). God will reveal Himself in perfect fashion to those who will be transformed and caught up to Him at His return (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18). They will then see Him as He is (cf. 1 John 3: 1-2).
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
1 John 3: 1-2
Yes, through the activity of the Holy Spirit in the Apostle ministry, God grants us knowledge and insights about His actions for the salvation of mankind. These are referenced in the Bible and further exposed by the Holy Spirit.
Human beings are to believe in God and His revelations. Only through faith can human beings grasp the divine revelations. If they believe, divine matters will be valuable to them and will define their lives.
For example, someone who does not believe in God as the Creator will not see the universe as a work of God in which the Creator has revealed Himself, but rather as the result of coincidental processes unfolding in nature.
Faith is indispensable in order to come into the proximity of God, but faith is not something that human beings can bring about on their own. Faith is an act of God’s grace upon a human being, in other words, a gift Human beings are to have a longing for this gif and are to accept it. Faith leads human beings to recognise God, trust in God, and lead a life in accordance with the will of God.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11: 1
“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.”
Hebrews 11: 6
Faith is granted and reinforced by the Holy Spirit. Among other things, this comes about through the preaching of the gospel on the foundation of Holy Scripture.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Romans 10: 17
Holy Scripture—the Bible—is a collection of writings about God’s activity, promises, and commandments. It consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Holy Scripture attests to the revelations of God, however it is not a complete or exhaustive account of all of God’s deeds. God has seen to it that that which is important for the salvation of mankind has been preserved.
The term ‘Bible’ is derived from the Latin word biblia which signifies “books, scrolls”.
The author of Holy Scripture is God. Human beings, whom the Holy Spirit inspired to this purpose, wrote down that which God revealed. As concerns form and manner of expression, the biblical books bear the mark of their respective authors as well as the worldview and experiences of their time.
In translation, the term ‘inspiration’ means: ‘prompting’, ‘breathed in’. Divine inspiration signifies that the Holy Spirit has prompted a human being to do something or has imparted something to a human being.
Yes, God has seen to it that the texts of the biblical books have remained unadulterated over the centuries.
The biblical writings were collected over the course of centuries. This not only came about as the result of human contemplations, but also especially through the will of God.
The Christian canon of the Old Testament is based on the Hebrew canon of Judaism, the writings of which are presumed to have come into being over a timespan of about 1,000 years.
The revelations of God The canon of the New Testament consists of the gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the letters of the Apostles, and one prophetical book, namely the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The writings of Apostle Paul were the first to gain esteem in the early church. The gospels— of which the gospel according to Mark is the oldest— and the other writings were added later on. The writings of the New Testament came into being over the space of approximately 70 years.
In order to preserve and hand down these original accounts of the Christian faith, they were compiled into a collection that ultimately came to be certified as “canonical” in the course of various synods.
The collection of writings that are definitive for the teachings of a particular religion are called a ‘canon’. For the Christian faith, these include the writings of the Old and New Testaments.
The term ‘synod’ is derived from the Greek word synodos and means ‘gathering’ or ‘assembly’. A synod is understood as the assembly of an ecclesiastical body that has the authority to pass binding resolutions.
Holy Scripture is divided into two main parts, namely the Old Testament— which deals with the time before the birth of Christ—and the New Testament, which begins at the time of Christ’s birth.
The Old Testament contains vivid accounts of the creation and of the first human beings, as well as texts concerning the origins and history of the people of Israel. Furthermore, the Old Testament contains songs of praise to God, as well as admonitions and promises to human beings.
In the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, the New Testament gives an account of Jesus Christ, His Apostles, and the early Christian congregations. It also contains letters from the Apostles which were written to congregations as well as individual persons. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, the only prophetic book of the New Testament, deals with the return of Jesus Christ and other events of the future.
The Old Testament is comprised of seventeen historical books, five doctrinal books, and seventeen 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:
- Lamentations of Jeremiah
The revelations of God
The fifteen Apocryphal books are:
- the two books of Esdras
- The Rest of Esther
- The Wisdom of Solomon
- 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
The term ‘Apocrypha’ is derived from the Greek word apokryphos, which means “hidden, dark”. The Apocrypha (“hidden Scriptures”) are biblical books that are not contained in all editions of the Bible. They represent a binding link between the Old and New Testaments, and contain statements of faith that are important for understanding the New Testament.
In the New Apostolic Church, the Apocrypha are assigned the same value as the other writings of the Old Testament.
The New Testament consists of five historical books, 21 doctrinal books, and one prophetical book.
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 revelations of God
- 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)
Holy Scripture is the foundation for the doctrine of the New Apostolic Church. Verses taken from Holy Scripture are also the basis of the sermon in the divine services.
The proper understanding of Holy Scripture can only be opened up in all its depth through the activity of the Holy Spirit. It is part of the commission of the Apostles of Jesus to interpret Holy Scripture for doctrine and practice of faith.
“Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
1 Corinthians 4: 1
The central element of Holy Scripture is Jesus Christ. That is what is brought to expression with the words: “Jesus Christ is the centre of the Scripture”. It is for this reason that even the Old Testament must be interpreted on the basis of Him. The Old Testament prophesies, and prepares the way for, the arrival of the Messiah. The New Testament relates of Jesus’ activity in the present and the future.
Holy Scripture is of great significance in the life of the believer: it comforts and edifies, provides orientation and admonition, and promotes knowledge and faith.
The fear of God and sincere prayer for the correct understanding of Holy Scripture are principles for strengthening faith through the study of the Bible.
Christians believe in the one God— Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Belief in the triune God has been made accessible to mankind by Jesus Christ.
The Son, Jesus Christ, spoke of His heavenly Father, in whom human beings are to believe. On several occasions,
God, the Father, attested that Jesus Christ is His Son (cf. Luke 3: 22; 9: 35).
Finally, Jesus Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would come as a Comforter and Helper.
“Baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew 28: 19
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
John 14: 26