More than preaching: the work of the Apostles
Jesus ascended to heaven, and the churches changed. It was an awkward time for the first Christians. However, the Apostles continued to carry out their work. What these tasks were and what they mean for us today, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained in a divine service.
A few years after Christ’s ascension, the time of the first Christians: Jesus promised to come again and commissioned His Apostles to carry out His mission until He would be back. But He just did not come back. In fact, the Apostles died and nothing happened. The believers became restless. And then a letter arrived: “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Saviour (2 Peter 3: 1–2).
“What was true then is also true today,” said Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider during a divine service on 29 May in Bochum, Germany. Jesus gave the apostolate so that the Apostles would proclaim salvation and continually reveal new insights about the gospel.
Mission: to lead
The Chief Apostle said that Jesus Christ also gave His Apostles the mission to lead the church and organise church life and regulate things. This included defining a liturgy and building up church structures. This they did with help from the Holy Spirit: “This is what He tells us: decide what needs to be decided; but do not forget to always put Jesus Christ at the centre, to prepare for the return of Jesus Christ, to love God, and to love your neighbour.”
At the time of the first Apostles, the number of congregations grew, there were more and more of them. “So they had to come up with a ministerial structure, an organisation, and rules, otherwise it would have become chaotic.” It remained the church of Christ. “It is not any different today: certain things have to be adapted,” said the Chief Apostle.
Mission: to preach
Jesus commissioned His Apostles to proclaim His gospel. “The Apostles teach us what Jesus told them: salvation means fellowship with God.” In addition, they also preach how salvation can be obtained. “You need the sacraments—Holy Baptism, Holy Sealing, Holy Communion—as well as the Apostle ministry,” the Chief Apostle explained. As well as faith: “Specifically that means that we trust Him completely. We trust in the love of God and the teaching of Jesus Christ in every situation, and we love God and our neighbour.” Finally, we still need grace. The Apostles preach how we can obtain it.
Through the Apostles and the servants commissioned by them, God has a personal message for everyone.
- At baptism: “Jesus loves you. He calls you: ‘Come to Me. I will give you the opportunity, I will give you everything you need to come to Me.’”
- At Holy Sealing: “Jesus Christ elected you. You can enter into His kingdom as a firstling.”
- In every divine service: “Your sins are forgiven. The peace of the Risen One abide with you!”
Mission: to warn people
Jesus said that there would be much affliction. The Apostles still proclaim this today. “The affliction and distress announced by Jesus Christ was the constant effort of the evil one to separate us from God.” That is why the Apostles tell us: “Be careful, don’t focus on the things that are going on in the world, in your life. Worry first about how this will affect your personal relationship with God, your Lord and Master Jesus Christ.” The Apostles remind the believers that Jesus will return even if the number of believers is not large.
Mission: to remain faithful to the gospel
In 2 Timothy 4: 2 it says: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.” This is also the mission today, the Chief Apostle continued. “In other words: whether it suits you or not, whether it pleases you or not.” Some people only want their own opinion confirmed, others do not want to hear about affliction and distress, renunciation, or divine judgement. “However, this is the gospel!” the Chief Apostle emphasised. “There is only one way: to faithfully follow Jesus Christ. Those who do not want that cannot exist before God.”
Mission: to exhort
Jesus already said, “Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5: 20). And the Apostles ask the same thing: “Why don’t you let the Lord Jesus work on you. Allow Him to deliver and redeem you.”
Another mission of the Apostles is to say: “Brother, sister, follow the Lord! Ask yourself what Jesus would do in the same situation, and then go and do the same thing.”
Mission: to comfort
The Apostles remind us of the promise of Jesus: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Evil wants to separate the believer from God, but be of good cheer: the Lord overcame the world. In the end, Jesus Christ will win.