2.4.4 The Fourth Article of Faith

I believe that the Lord Jesus rules His church and thereto sent His Apostles, and until His return still sends them, with the commission to teach, to forgive sins in His name, and to baptise with water and Holy Spirit.

The Fourth Article of Faith further specifies the belief in the church already mentioned in the Third Article of Faith. This article starts off by mentioning the rule of Jesus Christ: it is He who rules His church because "He is the head of the body" (Colossians 1: 18). Among other things, this rule comes to expression in the sending of the Apostles. The great commission (Matthew 28: 19-20) shows that the proclamation of the gospel and the dispensation of the sacraments were originally bound to the apostolate. Here the apostolicity of the church, as already generally referenced in the Third Article of Faith, is taken up again and set in the concrete framework of the church in its historical manifestation.

The Apostle ministry is not historically confined to the era of the early church. It is rather to fulfil its task "until His [Jesus'] return". That which Jesus Christ effects through His Apostles–which can be experienced by every believer–is expressed in the following: "to teach, to forgive sins in His name, and to baptise with water and Holy Spirit".

The commission "to teach" also applies to the proper proclamation of the gospel of the death, resurrection, and return of the Lord.

A further task incumbent on the apostolate is to "forgive sins in His [Jesus'] name" (John 20: 23), that is to bindingly proclaim forgiveness to human beings on the basis of the sacrifice and merit of Jesus Christ.

The Fourth Article of Faith concludes with a reference to the sacraments of Holy Baptism with water and the Holy Sealing. The apostolate has the commission to baptise with water and the Holy Spirit, that is to dispense those sacraments through which a new creation in God can come into being.

See also