The secret lies in the preparation
The goal of all Christians is to be ready when Jesus returns to take His own to Himself. Apostle Peter once wrote that one needs to be spotless and blameless for this. What exactly this means the Chief Apostle explained in a divine service.
“We gather today to commemorate the fulfilment of God’s promise to send the Saviour for us and for all human beings,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider began the divine service on 10 December 2023 in our Dinwiddie church near Johannesburg, South Africa. “That means that we remember what happened, but it also means that we think about what it means for us personally.”
The Bible text used for the divine service was 2 Peter 3: 14: “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” The Chief Apostle explained that this is a reference to the return of the Lord. “Honestly, it makes no sense to believe in God if you do not believe in eternal life,” the Chief Apostle said. “It makes no sense to believe in Jesus Christ if you do not believe in His return.” Many Christians only follow Jesus for earthly reasons. “And if you follow Christ for earthly reasons only, sooner or later you will be disappointed.”
Spotless before God
“This morning’s Bible text gives us clues as to how we can prepare for the return of Christ.” It says that we must be found without spot. The Chief Apostle explained that it would be a completely misleading if we were to take this to mean that we must be perfect and can no longer commit sin. “That is not possible for a human being,” he said. Instead, being spotless means that all of our sins have been forgiven and that we have been justified by grace.
“Let us make every effort to have all our sins forgiven and to be justified by grace,” the Chief Apostle urged. God grants grace to those who
- recognise that they are sinners and depend on grace. “We acknowledge that we are sinners because we recognise the perfection and glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
- plead for grace: “When we plead for grace, it is not because we are afraid … It is only an expression of our love for Christ and our strong desire to be with Him.”
- are humble: “Being humble means that we accept God as our Lord.”
- fight against sin and evil: “Even if we will not manage to become perfect, we cannot just put up with our weaknesses.”
- make an effort to forgive: “And the fifth and final point to obtain grace is to be willing to be reconciled with your enemies.”
Blameless in trust
Even Jesus was not spared suffering. “God loves us as He loves Jesus Christ. He protects and provides for us, but He does not spare us from all suffering. He will, however, make sure that we as poor human beings will be able to enter the kingdom of God.” That is why we can trust in God.
Blameless in love
The Chief Apostle warned that there is a danger of our becoming lukewarm today. He said that a lukewarm believer serves God as long as it is easy and pleasant. “But as soon as it becomes difficult and unpleasant, he or she says, ‘I can’t do that.’” Those who serve God half-heartedly do so as long as it is interesting and profitable, the Chief Apostle continued. But as soon as it becomes unpleasant and uninteresting, and no longer brings any benefits, they say, “Sorry, I can’t do it.” He urged the congregation, “Let us serve the Lord and love Him from the bottom of our hearts.”
He went on to say that we must not become lukewarm in our love for our neighbour either. Paul said, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another.” God’s love was poured out in our hearts when we received the gift of the Holy Spirit. “Has it grown since then?” the Chief Apostle asked. “Have we become more tolerant in recent years? Do we accept that God loves all human beings as much as He loves us, even if they are totally different? Do we accept that God is merciful to all human beings?” If our love for one another has increased, we are blameless before God.
The Chief Apostle’s recipe
“To put it in a nutshell, our goal is the return of Christ. We want to be prepared and are making every effort. Let us specifically make every effort to have all our sins forgiven and to be cleansed by grace. Let us acknowledge the glory of God and our imperfection and be aware that we need grace. We plead for grace not because we are afraid of something, but to express our longing. We humble ourselves before God and accept His teaching and guidance. We are still willing to improve and change, and we want to be reconciled with our neighbour and even with our enemies. We want to become blameless. We believe in God’s love and His word, and we trust in Him.”