2.4.5 The Fifth Article of Faith

I believe that those designated by God for a ministry are ordained only by Apostles, and that authority, blessing, and sanctification for their ministration come forth out of the Apostle ministry.

Like the Fourth Article of Faith, the Fifth Article of Faith also refers to the significance of the Apostle ministry. While the Fourth Article of Faith emphasises the link between the Apostle ministry and the proper proclamation of doctrine, forgiveness of sins, and dispensation of sacraments, this article deals with the spiritual ministry. God is the one who designates an individual for a ministry. Thus the ministry is not a human work, nor is it ultimately that of the congregation. Rather it is God's gift to His church. The human being, as expressed in the Fifth Article of Faith, bears his ministry on the basis of divine will and not human decision. This is executed or implemented by the Apostle ministry. The ministry and the apostolate are inseparably linked to one another. Consequently, where the Apostle ministry is active there is also a spiritual ministry (see 7). In the church of Christ there are also various other functions which aid in proclaiming the gospel and serve to the benefit of the believers, which can also be performed without ordination.

Through the Apostle ministry, ministers receive "authority, blessing, and sanctification for their ministration". The ministry is not an end unto itself, that is it is not geared toward itself, but rather has its place in the church, most often in a specific congregation. The term "ministration" is understood as service to Jesus Christ and the congregation.

The ordination to a spiritual ministry incorporates three aspects: "authority, blessing, and sanctification". Especially for priestly ministries, the element of "authority" is of decisive importance, because they are authorised to proclaim the forgiveness of sins by commission of the Apostle and to consecrate Holy Communion. The priestly ministries share in the proper dispensation of the sacraments through the Apostles. The proper proclamation of God's universal will to save also occurs through the "authority" bestowed through the apostolate. Through the "blessing", both the priestly ministries and the Deacons are assured of the divine support and help of the Holy Spirit in the exercise of their ministries. "Sanctification" points to the fact that it is God Himself, in His holiness and inviolability, who seeks to act through the ministry. "Sanctification" is also necessary because the church is "holy".

Although the minister is chosen by God, it may nevertheless happen that he does not do justice to his ministry or even fails in it. Nevertheless, this does not call into question the original call of God.

Since "authority, blessing, and sanctification for their [the ministers'] ministration" come forth out of the Apostle ministry, every minister stands in an indissoluble relationship to the Apostle ministry.

See also