A course on the praise of God

The worship and praise of God is part of what constitutes “joy in Christ”. But how do we get to this point? Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider plotted a four-point programme in a recent divine service. Following are excerpts.

Chief Apostle Schneider visited a small but special congregation on 16 January 2015 near Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. A congregation of about 230 members of various nationalities had gathered in a church building in Jebel Ali that is shared by dozens of denominations. The Chief Apostle based his sermon on Isaiah 43: 21: “This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.”

Just as God had chosen the people of Israel to declare His praise, so He has chosen His people of today to do the same, the Chief Apostle said. Referring to Psalm 126 he pointed out that God not only wants His people to declare their praise of Him, but also wants the people around them to declare: “The Lord has done great things for us.”

In order to achieve this, spiritual training is necessary then as now. God teaches us to recognize

  • His activities,

  • His will,

  • His grace,

  • and His faithfulness.

The activities of God can be experienced in His help, in the protection He offers, and in His guidance: “God is always there to help, and He helps us!” Chief Apostle Schneider emphasized. In order to make His will known, God teaches us His law: “If we keep the law we will experience the blessing of God.” If we, however, choose to obey Him out of fear of punishment we are on the wrong path, the Chief Apostle continued. What is important is that we follow the Lord in order to experience His blessing.

The grace of God manifested itself in His reaction to the disobedience of mankind. He forgave the people of Israel many times over. And we “experience the grace of Christ in every divine service”, the Chief Apostle said before going on to explain the faithfulness of God, “In spite of all our weaknesses He continues to lead us to the kingdom of heaven.”

Those who go through this learning process have many possibilities to declare the praise of God. The Chief Apostle pointed out four.

  • Gratitude: “Because we have experienced His help, His grace, and His blessing. We are aware of the importance of the promise He has given us.”

  • Obedience: Showing thankfulness while continuing to follow our own head will not work.

  • Confidence: “Continue to trust Him, even if a situation appears hopeless. He has already done such great things for us.

  • Unity: Regardless of age, status, and culture we stand united as one people of God.”

Even once we have completed this learning process, the Chief Apostle pointed out, the praise of God will not end. It will continue “in the new song that the bride of Christ will sing after the return of Christ; in the thousand-year kingdom of peace, when as kings and priests we declare the praise of God; and in the new creation together with all those who have been saved. That is heaven! That is your and my future. That is what we are being prepared for.”

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Andreas Rother
Chief Apostle, Divine service