The Divine Service

What is a divine service?

For New Apostolic Christians, the divine services are an integral part of Christian life. Every service offers an opportunity for fellowship with God for every worshipper.

The ministers in the New Apostolic Church are called and ordained into ministerial office and they serve the congregations in an honorary capacity. Their sermons in a divine service are unscripted, spontaneous and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Divine service is the activity of God upon people, and a work of people for God. In the divine service the congregation gathers to hear God’s word and receive blessing through the sacraments. Christians worship God in reverance and humbleness. In the worshipful serving of the believers and in the perceptible presence of the triune God, the congregation experiences that God serves them in love.

What to expect in a divine service

Prior to the commencement of the divine service, the choir and orchestra generally present some musical items. At the service commencement time the congregation stands and sings an opening  hymn. The officiant then offers a prayer to the triune God which concludes with “Amen”, and then reads a bible verse to the congregation. A musical item is presented by the choir or orchestra, and the service begins.

The ministers who serve at the altar do not read from a script; rather they trust in the power of the Holy Spirit to provide the words that will be spoken. Prior to divine services a guideline is provided for ministers, which contains the verse to be read from the Holy Scriptures accompanied by some additional thoughts. In most cases, every congregation worldwide uses the same bible verse for the divine service.

In preparation for the celebration of Holy Communion, a hymn is sung by the seated congregation. The minister invites the congregation to pray the Lord’s Prayer. He then proclaims the Absolution and prays the eucharistic prayer in preparation for Holy Communion. The congregation is invited to celebrate Holy Communion, at which time the communion chalices are uncovered. The minister announces “the Lord’s table is prepared” and consecrates the host (bread and wine wafer). All baptised Christians are invited to come forward to receive Holy Communion, during which a hymn will be sung. At the conclusion of the sacrament the chalice lids are replaced.

The congregation stands and the minister prays the closing prayer which includes the final blessing. The divine service concludes with a musical item from the choir or orchestra.

Service for the departed

It is a fundamental Christian conviction that people live on after physical death. While the body is transitory, the soul will continue to live forever. It is immortal. Jesus Christ has conquered death and thereby granted human beings access to eternal life with Him. At the end of all things all power will be taken from death. The afterlife of the soul is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments. A human being retains his or her characteristics after physical death.

The circumstances of souls in the beyond is a direct result of their proximity to – or remoteness from – God, and therefore varies greatly. Death has not brought about any change to the circumstances of the souls. Rather, their situation is identical to that which they had during their lifetime. Those who are reborn and who followed the Lord will find themselves in a state of righteousness before God. Souls who have never lived by the gospel, never had their sins forgiven, and never received the sacraments, find themselves in a situation of remoteness from God. This can only be overcome by believing in Jesus Christ, accepting His merit, and partaking in the sacraments.

Since the sacrifice of Christ, salvation can still be attained even after physical death. New Apostolic Christians intercede in prayer for the departed: they ask the Lord to help the souls who have entered into the beyond in an unredeemed state. Gods will to save is universal. Jesuscommission to proclaim the will of God, forgive sins, and dispense the sacraments is fulfilled by the Apostles of today upon both the living and the dead.

The effect of the sacraments is the same for both the living and the dead. The dead who have received the rebirth out of water and the Spirit have the same status as the dead in Christ. Three times a year – on the first Sunday in March, July and November – special divine services are for the departed where prayers are offered and sacraments are provided.