Professing Jesus Christ
Without witnesses to the resurrection there would be no church of Christ today. “We hope that many people can still come to Christ,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said.
The Chief Apostle based his divine service in Marburg (Germany) on 16 April 2017 on Acts 10: 40–42: “Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead.”
Fundamental principle of Christian faith
Jesus carried out His mission in public. Everybody could see Him. Everybody could also witness His death, but nobody actually saw His resurrection. “As the Risen One He only came to those who had already believed in His word before He died,” Chief Apostle Schneider said. “God wanted to demonstrate: faith matters!”
This had already been the case at the time of Adam and Eve, at the time of the prophets, and it will be the case in our time too: “We have to believe in the word of God without receiving proof, without any big explanations, without any signs.” In Hebrews 11: 6 it says that it is impossible to please God without faith.
Those who believed in Jesus did not immediately recognise Him when He appeared to them after His resurrection. He had to identify Himself to them.
- He called Mary Magdalene by her name (John 20: 16).
- He opened His disciples’ understanding (Luke 24: 27, 45).
- He gave His disciples His peace.
- He ate with His disciples (Luke 24: 41–43, John 21: 12, 13).
- He helped His disciples (John 21: 6–7).
Christian faith is based on testimony
“Why did He appear to them?” the Chief Apostle asked. “He wanted them to be His witnesses! Nearly every encounter with the Risen One had a specific goal.” Mary Magdalene was to tell the disciples that the Lord had risen (John 20: 18), the disciples were to be His witnesses (Luke 24: 48), and the Apostles were to serve Him (Matthew 28: 19–20).
All of Christianity is based on the testimony of the first Christians. “If these people had not said anything, there would be no church of Christ today, we would not be Christians. And because these men and women spoke about this with so much conviction: ‘Jesus Christ lives! He has gained the victory! He is active! He helps others! He will return!’ such a great number of Christians has emerged from this.”
“Jesus Christ lives! Because we believe in His word, in His gospel, and because we believe in the testimony that we have received, we have the possibility of meeting the Risen One.” Those who believe in the word of Jesus can meet the Risen One already today. He does not appear to us as a visible figure, but we can perceive His presence:
- in the personal care and attention He gives us in divine service.
- when He opens our understanding for His plan of salvation.
- when He forgives our sins and grants us peace.
- when He invites us for Holy Communion.
- when He helps us in our everyday lives.
Bearing witness of Jesus
In the same way that Jesus called upon His disciples to testify of Him, He also expects us to testify of His resurrection today.
- He lives. “Jesus still speaks to us today. His word is very topical. He has something to say about today’s circumstances. He addresses them.”
- He forgives. “It must be visible in the congregation of the Lord that Jesus Christ is still active and still forgives sins. Those who receive forgiveness of sins are also in a position to forgive their neighbour, and this is something that the world must be able to see.”
- He is victorious. “Christ is risen. He has overcome sin and death. He is the victor and we testify of this in our battle against evil. We do not give up.”
- He will return. “He will return to those who believe in His word. He will take them with Him. Why will He do that? He will give them a commission, namely to be His witnesses in the thousand-year kingdom of peace. Things will continue there. He will not return because they are better than the others. He will return to give them a special mission. They are to spread His gospel in the kingdom of peace.”
“Let us not lose hope but continue to testify of the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” the Chief Apostle encouraged his brothers and sisters.