Going through life with Jesus
“If Jesus were standing next to me, would I say this or would I do that?” Chief Apostle Schneider used a simple but clear image to make the notion of discipleship concrete.
At the beginning of the divine service he read 2 Timothy 2: 11–13: “For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider was in Cologne-South (Germany) on 14 January 2018 to celebrate this divine service. Nearly two thousand believers participated in the service, which was transmitted to nine congregations.
Baptism: a promise
“At our baptism, we promised God, like all other Christians do, that we want to be crucified with Christ. That means that we renounce sin,” the Chief Apostle said. Saying no to sin has an effect on a person’s life. It involves the determination to avoid sin, he said, and that means abstaining from lying, adultery, jealousy, resentment, selfishness, and serving idols.
“We give up lying. We do not want to say, write, or sign anything that does not correspond to the truth.” This is something that is trivialised in today’s society. People sign papers although they know that their content is inaccurate.
A selfish person is someone who constantly talks about himself: what he eats, what he thinks, what he does, how good-looking he is, and what a great guy he is. Chief Apostle Schneider made clear: “This is a sign of indifference. What is missing here is love for one’s neighbour. This is something we do not want.”
Development: a consequence
“We want to die to sin and live with Christ as though He were standing right next to us. What would I say, how would I behave?” There must never be standstill, nor an interruption—also in connection with our annual motto “Faithful to Christ”. “Being faithful does not only mean going to church, it involves a steady development.”
Discipleship and serving: a necessity
Whoever follows Jesus has to accept trials and temptation. The Devil wants to weaken our faith. Satan tells us seeing and believing do not match. “But,” the Chief Apostle went on, “the path of seeing has never led to God. For some people this is completely absurd, absolutely impossible, but this is a divine law: only faith leads to God.”
Whoever serves Jesus will meet with resistance. This is something Jesus already told His disciples. “If you proclaim the gospel, things will get difficult: the people will not accept it. We experience the same thing today,” the Chief Apostle said. He went on to say that it is not important how many people accept the offer of salvation, but that there still is a possibility for human beings to receive salvation today and tomorrow.
Do not deny Jesus
“Without Jesus Christ there is no salvation. Whoever denies Jesus Christ cannot come to God,” Chief Apostle Schneider made clear. To deny Jesus Christ is to
- reject His person. What remains is a historical figure, a wise man, but no longer the Son of God, the Risen One, and the One who will return.
- reject His sacrifice. What remains is a life that corresponds to ethical rules. It comes down to being a good person—but without recognising salvation in the sacrificial death of Jesus.
- reject His teaching. What remains is a promise of salvation that is addressed to only a portion of mankind. But there is no question: God still loves all human beings with the same love, and Jesus died for all human beings.
- reject His life as an example for our own. What remains is the willingness “to be good, and go to church”. But what we can no longer do is recognise that Jesus was not spared from suffering. “God cannot spare us the human lot, even if we are children of God. We become sick, we die, we are victims of accidents, we have to deal with injustice. We have no privileges whatsoever.”
“We resolutely renounce sin. We continue to follow Jesus Christ despite adversity. Jesus grants salvation to those who truly desire it,” the Chief Apostle summarised the divine service.