I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*catholic in this context does not refer specifically to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the universal Christian Church, aka- all believers in Jesus.
(Jesus said) : “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you”… “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 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 that I have said to you.” John 14:15-16, 25-26 (ESV)
Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to believers as a Helper. He intercedes on our behalf, reminding us of what we have been taught when we hear God’s Word. Faith in Jesus comes through hearing the Word (Romans 10:17) and through the means of grace given to us in baptism and in Holy Communion. It is the Holy Spirit, through hearing the Word, and through the sacraments, that works this faith in us. It is by faith that we believe Jesus has paid the price, that He suffered and died for us, and so we are forgiven for our sins.
We also believe in a universal Christian Church- including believers from many different times, traditions and cultures. We believe that everyone who is drawn by the Father to Jesus, not by anything we can do, but only through faith, which is a gift from God, will be saved and will become part of the greater “communion of saints.”
(Jesus said) : “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44 (ESV)
Bodily resurrection is possibly one of the most difficult concepts for us to understand. Many of us believe that one dies, goes to heaven and then we become ethereal spirits without physical bodies. However, at the last day, or the eschaton, we will be raised with Christ, our bodies will be restored, and we will have life as real people with actual physical bodies- only those bodies will no longer be subject to the ravages of aging, injury or disease.
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (ESV)
Martin Luther explains the Third Article in the Small Catechism:
I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
What does this mean?–Answer.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.