Baptism is the sacrament given to all who believe in the Mystery of the Trinity and the Mystery of Incarnation for the remission of sin, to obtain adoption from the Triune God, to inherit the kingdom of God. It is called Mystery, because, when the priest recites the prayer of baptism over the water and blesses it, it changes and becomes the water that flowed from the right side of our Lord Jesus Christ while on the Holy Cross and one can receive the invisible grace of the adopted sonhood of God (Jn.19:34-35).
Whosoever believes and is baptized, shall get remission of sin. “We believe in one baptism for the remission of sin” (Creed). Every person is born from God through baptism, and will be free from damnation. “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:16; Acts. 2:28). To be born of the Trinity is for inheriting the kingdom of God. Our Lord has taught us that we cannot enter the kingdom of God except through baptism. “Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:5; Tit 3:4-7).
There were prophecies and symbols foretold by the laws and the prophets about Baptism.
A. Prophecy: - “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean. (Ezek. 36:25; Mich 7:19).
Circumcision in the Old Testament was practiced as a sign of baptism. It was given to Abraham as a token of the Covenant.
Every one that was not circumcised on the eighth day after birth was to be cut off from his people, shared not from the promise and/or shall have no portion from the promised land. The uncircumcised were not considered as the nation of God. (Gen. 17:7-14).
In the New Testament, Circumcision was replaced by Baptism. Every one that is not baptized was not born of God, and cannot inherit the heavenly kingdom. (Col. 2:11).
John the Baptist, at the end of the Old Testament and at the beginning of the New Testament was baptizing with water. (Mk. 1:4-8).
The Ark of Noah and the crossing of Israelites across the Red Sea were symbols of baptism. (1Pet. 3:19; 1Cor.10:2).
To fulfill the prophesy and to make the archetype real, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was baptized in the water of the River Jordan by the hand of John the Baptist. (Mt. 3:16; Mk. 1:9; Lk.3:21; Jn. 1:31). The Eritrean Orthodox Church baptizes children, males on the fortieth day and females on the eightieth day. These dates signify that the first persons obtained adoption from God. (Jubilee 4:2-15).
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19). And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of the Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts. 2:38). “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts. 10:48). “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into His death “ (Rome 6:3). “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free- and all were made to drink of one spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves us (you), not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience…” (1 Pet. 3:12). Such words testify to the usefulness of our Baptism.
Glory To God!
Mystery of Incarnation means the mystery of the descending of God the Son who is one of the Trinity from heaven and taking up flesh and rational soul from the Holy Virgin Mary to become man. The incarnation of God the Son is primarily necessitated for the salvation of the world. Salvation means the restoration of the world to its direct and unimpeded relation with God. Incarnation is the mystery of God becoming man, and man becoming God. “the Word become flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14).
The Reason for the Incarnation of the Son of God
God created Adam and Eve without sin and death. “God did not make death”. But, man, through his transgression brought on himself misery and suffering as well as sin and evil, and was condemned to death – death of body and soul, greave and hell (Gen. 3:19-24). “For God did not make death, He takes no pleasure in destroying the living. Do not court death by the errors of your ways, nor invite destruction through the work of your hands. To exist for this he created all things the creatures of the world have health in them, in them is no fatal poison, and Hades has no power over the world. But the godless call for death with deed and word, counting him friend, they were themselves out for him; with him they make a pact, working as they are to belong to him” (Wis.1:12-16; Rom. 6:23). “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thes.5:9). Adam and Eve disgraced and impoverished themselves. They were expelled from the Garden of Eden. They brought suffering and misery and were subject to the dominion of the devil. Death reigned from Adam to Christ, even to them that had not sinned. (Rom. 5:12-14). They knew that, all that happened was due to their transgression and violation of the commandment of God. They regretted and repented. They cried to their creator seeking mercy. God in his forgiveness along with his judgement, hearing their cry, observing their tears and accepting their repentance, was pleased to redeem them, and gave them promise. (Isa. 63:8; Heb.2:14-16).
When the appointed time had come forth, God sent His only Begotten Son, according to the promise. God the Son, descended from heaven and was born from the Holy Virgin Mary. He was born so that all who believe in Him would be saved. When it is said, that He became man, it is said to mean that He united to himself the body and soul of man. Then all the words of the prophets were fulfilled. (Isa. 7:14; 9:6 Mich.5:2; Gal. 4:4).
Without separation of His Divinity from His humanity and His humanity from His Divinity, He became one person, one nature without change, without confusion, without separation and without division. “He is one Son and one Christ before and after His Incarnation” (Cyril. Faith of the Fathers Ch. 78 part 48 verse 9-18). St. Gregory of Nazianzium said “He is the only God the Son who became man, and the only man who became God in unity” (Faith of the Fathers Cn. 61 part 4 verse 23). John Chrysostom has written that the human body was honored by the union of the Divine Word. The poverty in the nature of the flesh was abolished by the unity of the Word of God with the flesh, and the flesh retained the glory of the Word of God to itself by the unity. (Jn. Chrysostom, Faith of the Fathers Ch. 66 part 9 verse 18-19).
After birth He grew like men, doing all human works except sin. He lived 33 years and 3 months in the world. For us men he died on the Cross, destroyed death by his death and saved the world. He was laid in the tomb for three days and three nights; rose from the dead on the third day; appeared to His disciples, stayed on earth for forty days, gathering His disciples and teaching them the Book of the Covenant. On the fortieth day, while the disciples beheld, He ascended unto heaven to the Father in glory praised by angles, sat at the right hand of His Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead, when everyone will be recompensed according to his work. (Jn. 3:13; 1pet. 3:22; Mt. 25:31; Eph. 4:8-10; Acts. 2:30; 2 Cor. 5:14).
Therefore, the teaching highlighted in the Mystery of Incarnation is to believe that Christ is the Word of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, thus the Virgin Mary is the true Mother of God; the Mother of the Word. Cyril Hai. Ab.)
The Eritrean Orthodox tewahdo Church has Five pillars of Mysteries through which it teaches and demonstrates its basic religious belief. They are called Pillars of Mysteries due to the fact that they support and strengthen the faithful in religious teaching as a pillar supports a roof. These mysteries have Biblical foundation (1 Cor. 14:19). Accordingly, the five pillars of mysteries are expressed in the Creed which is the confession of our faith.
A. Mystery of the Holy Trinity
In this section the mystery of Unity and Trinity of the Triune God is described.
God is one in three and three in one. The unity of God is not convinced in the sense of an arithmetical digit nor of a solitary condition, but in that of an all-inclusive perfection. So the one is also eternally three. He is, affirms the Anaphora, “three names and one God, three prosopa and one appearance, three persons and one essence”.
The unity of God is confessed as the unity of Godhead – Melekote as the word is used in Geez, the ancient liturgical language of the Church. The one Godhead is shared equally and eternally by the three Persons – Akal as they are referred to in Geez. As in other parts of the Christian world, in Eritrea also there were men who tried to interpret the doctrine in various ways. There were, for instance, persons who refused to accept the personal distinctions in the one Godhead and others who insisted that the three Persons were three Gods. Both these views were rejected by the Church.
God is eternally Father, eternally Son, and eternally Holy Spirit. “The Father beget His son without days or hours; and when He beget Him, His Father was not separated from Him.” Beyond time, God is the eternal One. That One is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No one of the three Persons is prior to the other two in time. “The One was not before the Other”, says the Anaphora, “and the Second was not before the Third.” But “we proclaim that the Father lived with His Son, and that the Son lived with His Father before creation, and before the heavens and the earth were made.”
In the one co-eternal and co-equal Trinity, the Father is the eternal source of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Son is born of, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from, the Father. While affirming that the Son and the Holy Spirit derive each of them His respective being eternally from the Father, it is insisted that “the Father did not beget the Son to help Him in His work before the world was created and the existence of the Holy Spirit is not to contribute wisdom and work.”
It is not with the Deity as it was with Abraham who was older than Isaac. Or with Isaac who was older than Jacob, but the Father is not older than the Son, neither is the Son older than the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not younger than the Son, neither is the Son younger than His Father.
The Father is different from the Son and the Holy Spirit only in that He alone is Father. The Son alone is Son, and the Holy Spirit alone dwells in us and makes God known to us. So the priest who celebrates the Anaphora of St. John says in prayer, “But thy living Holy Spirit knoweth the depth of Thy Godhead. He has declared to us Thy nature, and told us about Thy oneness. He taught thy unity, and helped to know Thy Trinity.” The one Godhead is, therefore, in the Father in perfection. From Him the same Godhead is received in perfection by the Son through His eternal generation; and from the Father again the same Godhead in perfection is derived eternally by the Holy Spirit. It is affirmed at the same time with equal force that “the father is not greater than the Son, and the Son is not less than His Father,” and the Holy Spirit in not greater or less than either the Father or Son. Thus the unity of God is affirmed by confessing that the Godhead is one, and that the Godhead is eternally in the Father. The Son and the Holy Spirit receive the same Godhead eternally and in perfection from the Father.
There is also another equally important emphasis regarding divine unity. This lies in the affirmation that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are eternally inseparably together. In everything that the Father does, the Son and the Holy Spirit are there with Him; in all the things that the Son does, the Father and the Holy Spirit are there with Him; and in all activities of the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son are also with him. It is affirmed that “the father, being Father, doth not give orders to the Son; and the Son, being Son, is not exalted; and the Holy Spirit is equal. Both the divine Father, Son and Holy Spirit is equal. But the divine Father, Son and Holy Spirit and are one God, one Kingdom, one authority and one government.”
If we may put the emphasis in our words, the term “Father” with reference to God signifies the divine reality which originates everything; the Son indicates the divine reality implying all that is originated; and the Holy Spirit signifies the divine reality which dwells in creatures relating them both individually and corporately to God. The eternal God, as we have noted already, is the all-inclusive perfection. He creates all things; He sustains them; and He guides them to a final destiny.
God creates and sustains the world and all that there is in it. It is God the Father who brings all this into being; but it is accomplished in reality through the Son, and is perfected in the Holy Spirit. All this is one activity of God consisting of different aspects. Grounded in the Son and upheld and perfected by the Holy Spirit, the created world belongs to the Father. In His love God the Father sent His only Son into the world in order to accomplish its salvation; in the same love God the Son came and worked out the world’s salvation; in the same love again God the Holy Spirit perfects the salvation thus given. All these are manifestation at different levels of the same activity of God in relation to the world.
The Holy Trinity is three in name, in person (Akal), in deed and one in essence, in divinity, in existence, in will.
Three in name: - Father, Son, Holy Spirit
Three in deed: - the Father is the begetter
the Son is begotten
the Holy Spirit is the one who proceeds.
Three in person: - the Father has a perfect person
the Son has a perfect person
the Holy Spirit has a perfect person
The Father is the heart, the Son is the word, the Holy spirit is the life (breath).
The Father is the heart for Himself, and He is the heart for the Son and for the Holy spirit. The Son is the word for Himself, and He is the word for the Father, and for the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is the life (breath) for Himself, and He is the life (breath) for the Father and the Son.
Even though we say the Trinity are three in name, in deed and in person; the three are one in essence, in divinity, in existence and in will; we do not mean three God but one God. While the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit exist in their own perfect person, they are one in existence. (Hypolitus/Abulidis, Faith of the Father’s Chap. 40 verse 4:6).
As Ignatius has said in the Book of the Faith of the Fathers (HaimanoteAbew), the name of the Father is not interchangeable with the name of the Son or the Holy Spirit. The name of the Son is not changed to be the name of the Father or the Holy Spirit, the name of the Holy Spirit is not changed to be the name of the Father or the Son. The Father is called Father but not the Son or the Holy Spirit. The Son is called Son but not the Father or the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is called the Holy Spirit but not the Father or the Son. The Father is the Father, the Son is the Son, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The three exist eternally in their own name and person. (Faith of the Fathers Ch. 11 part 1 verse 7.8).
In their name of unity, the three are called Lord, God. Lord the Father, Lord the Son, Lord the Holy Spirit One Lord.
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit One God. The three hundred eighteen Fathers of Necea in the Book of Faith (HaimanoteAbew) said “we believe in Lord the Father, In Lord the Son, in Lord the Holy Spirit, One God. (Hai. Ab. Ch. 19 Part 1 verse 30).
The Apostolic St. Athanasius Archbishop of Alexandria said “The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. They are call one God but not three Gods.” (Athanasius the Apostolic, Faith of the Fathers Ch. 24 part 4 verse 4).
It is stated in many places in the Old and the New Testament Books about the Oneness and Trinity of the Holy Trinity.
In the Old Testament
Gen. 1:26; 2:18; 3:22; 11:7; 18:1-8; pa. 33:6; 146:5; Isa. 6:3,8
In New Testament
Mt. 3:16-17; 28:19; Jn. 14:26; 2Cor.14:13; 1Pet. 1:2; 1Jn.5:7-8
Glory to God.
When the appointed time of salvation and the foretold prophesies came to pass, God the Son come to fulfill the promise He gave, and took flesh from flesh, soul from soul and spirit from spirit of the Holy Virgin Mary and was born at Bethlehem, all creation rejoiced. A multitude of the heavenly host (angels) sang, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." The shepherds found the Child with His Mother and worshipped Him, glorifying and praising God. Luke 2:1-20.
15th November (geez calander), marks the first day of the Advent Fast, a period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Church from ancient times, in preparation for the Nativity of Christ. This fast, is observed beginning on November 15th and ending on Christmas Eve, with the Feast of the Birth of Christ (Christmas). It is a time for devout and penitential preparation of the soul for the proper and worthy celebration of the great feast of Christmas.
Fasting is abstinence from all things that a body needs, and one has to fast from animal products and from any kind of food for a limited time until the period of fasting is over. (Mt. 6:16, Fetha Negest 15). In general, one has to abstain from anything which the body desires.
The aim of fasting is to make the desire of the body to obey the will of the soul, to seek forgiveness of guilt and to increase the reward of the Soul.
All Scriptures are written with the inspiration of the Spirit of God or the breath of God. They are also described as Holy Books containing the word of God (Fiteha Negest Art.2). Illustrating that Holy Books are the breath of God or are written by the inspiration of the Spirit of God; the Apostle St. Paul states in 2 Tim. 3:17 “all Scripture is God – breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Saint Cyril of Alexandria also wrote that “Holy Books are the breath of God” (Faith of Fathers 78:67).
The name God signifies the Divine Being, meaning He who created the world and governs it. There is one invisible and inscrutable Almighty God who created all things eternal, who has neither beginning nor end, mighty in His work who revealed Himself to mankind as written in the Scriptures. (Ex 3,6). Some of the ways that prove the existence of the eternal God are the following.