In heaven and on earth
Fellowship with Jesus is possible already here on earth, not only in heaven. Two divine services in a row provide clarity about the future and the present. Following is a divine promise and a detailed description of the believer’s mission.
At the conclusion of his trip to South Africa in October, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider celebrated a divine service in George (South Africa) on Tuesday evening, 17 October 2017, which was attended by 1,500 participants. He based his sermon on the well-known Bible text from Matthew 18: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (verse 20).
In his opening words in George, the Chief Apostle referred to his service on the previous Sunday in Claremont, where he had spoken about the fact that Jesus had gone to prepare a place for His own and that He would return for them and take them unto Himself. “But Jesus not only spoke about the future and His return,” the Chief Apostle said to the congregation in George, “He also explained what is going to happen in the meantime, the time before His return.” Jesus is with us already today through the Holy Spirit, he said. “We experience the presence of Jesus Christ through the activity and efficacy of the Holy Spirit.”
Experiencing Jesus Christ in divine service
“‘For where two or three are gathered together in My name …’ This is the first definition of ‘divine service’,” the Chief Apostle said. “When we come to service we gather in the name of Jesus Christ. Every service begins in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
Hearing the voice of Jesus: “It is important for us to santify ourselves so that the Holy Spirit can help us recognise the words of Jesus Christ. It is not only the task of the ministers to sanctify themselves; it is also the task of the congregation.” Of course not every word of the sermon is of godly origin, the Chief Apostle said. But it is important that we listen to the voice of Jesus Christ and to His gospel and recognise: “This is for me.”
Praying as Jesus taught: “If our wishes, priorities, and thoughts correspond with the thoughts, priorities, and wishes of Jesus Christ, then Jesus gives us the guarantee: I am in your midst and I pray with you.” To pray as Jesus taught requires the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; He teaches believers what to pray.
Experiencing Jesus in Holy Communion: When we celebrate Holy Communion, we can see the wafers, the bread and wine. But this is backed by the presence of Jesus Christ. In fact, that means Jesus is in our midst and tells us: “I am not dead. I am alive. I am the Living One. I have overcome death and hell. I am the Victor. I will come back.”
Experiencing Jesus Christ in the fellowship of God’s children
The Chief Apostle continued, “I think we could broaden the meaning of this statement a little: ‘For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.’ It is not only valid in the context of divine services,” Chief Apostle Schneider said. It also describes the fellowship of God’s children.
Being aware of grace and our election: “Why do we belong to this Church,” the Chief Apostle asked. “Because all of us have been called by Jesus. We did not choose Jesus; He chose us. He decided: ‘You are mine!’ and called us. It is by grace that we have been baptised and belong to the people of God, he said. It is grace to be sealed and to be a child of God.
Keeping the commandments and enjoying peace: “It is a wonderful source of peace in the congregation when everybody is aware that the only reason we are there is grace,” the Chief Apostle said. When we were baptised we promised to renounce evil and that we want to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
Recognising Jesus in our brother and sister: When we were sealed the love of God was poured into our hearts. This makes it possible for us to love with the love of God. And remember, Jesus said: “I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” Jesus was speaking about those who belonged to Him, not about the whole world, the Chief Apostle said. What we do for our neighbour we do for Jesus Christ. What a wonderful congregation in which everybody can see Jesus in his brother and sister!
Proclaiming the gospel together: Everyone in the congregation has a mission, the Chief Apostle continued. The congregation is a team put together by Jesus Christ to work together to fulfil this mission, to preach the gospel, and to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. We cannot accomplish this alone, only together, in the name of Jesus.