Capable of doing what others think is impossible

Why did Jesus have such a strong faith? He had inner strength, which we humans would like to have as well. The Chief Apostle mentioned five of these in a divine service he conducted for the congregations in southern Africa.

From Strasbourg (France) to Harare (Zimbabwe) in a mere second—virtually, it is possible. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider conducted the service in our church in Strasbourg (France) on Sunday, 14 June 2020 in English for the congregations in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and South Africa. Normally he would have been in Harare on that Sunday, but the pandemic had changed his plans.

The Chief Apostle based his sermon on Ephesians 3: 16: “… that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.” With this the Chief Apostle sent a special message to the many people who are currently going through such difficult times. “I must say that I am deeply concerned by the difficulties that are reported to me. All I can do is pray with you and pray for you—and I tell you, I do it.” He said that he especially prays for the strength with which the Holy Spirit strengthens the inner man. This was the focus of his sermon. And the order he used was as follows.

1. Love for God. This is the source of all strength, the Chief Apostle said. Jesus loved His Father in heaven, and this helped Him get through difficult days. Even when He was tempted in the desert He held on to this love of God. When He called the people to come and they did not react He stayed with God. When the disciples betrayed Him and denied knowing Him, He continued nevertheless. This is how the Holy Spirit wants to strengthen us today, the Chief Apostle said. “The love of God has been poured out by the Holy Spirit into our hearts, and He tells us: God loves you.” We always want God to know how we are suffering, how we are feeling, what we have done, and what we are going through. “That is okay,” the Chief Apostle said, “but it is much better to listen to the Holy Spirit. For He tells us that God loves us!” And this is a huge source of strength, he added.

2. Trust in God. Jesus trusted His heavenly Father in all situations. Finally, when everything was over, He said: “I commend My spirit into Your hands.” Even though, as a human being, He could not understand everything that God had planned, He never lost His trust in God’s omnipotence. And the message to His disciples was clear: God is greater than anything else, and nothing and no one can snatch you out of His hand. This is also our source of strength today, the Chief Apostle said. “No one can snatch us away from God.” The Holy Spirit tells us what will come in the future, what it will be like in heaven. “Even if we don’t understand everything, God is working on our salvation. Let’s trust Him!”

3. Humility towards God. This is something Jesus exemplified in a special way. Humility was one of His strengths. He knew that He was called to serve humanity and not to rule the world. He knew His mission. He would not have done what He wanted to do, but fulfilled the will of His Father—an example for us today, the Chief Apostle said: “We have to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed—that is our mission.” We can count on God: He will be with us. “He will help us fulfil this mission. We are to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. Let us accept this with humility. God will grant us the strength to do so.”

4. Inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Jesus had great knowledge and much wisdom. The Chief Apostle reminded the congregation that Jesus had gone to the temple as a twelve-year in order to learn the Scriptures. He asked many questions and went in search of good answers. And then He allowed Himself to be inspired by the Spirit of God. This particular combination produces great strength for the inward man, the Chief Apostle said. Jesus knew the laws and He allowed His understanding of these to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is how He was able to summarise all the commandments in this sentence: “Love God above everything and your neighbour as yourself.” He knew all the commandments, and this made Him strong. “We have to know the Bible, we have to know the doctrine – that is important.” For example, that God is a God of love and does not want people to be punished. “If we allow ourselves to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, we can concentrate on the essence of Scripture: love God and love your neighbor.” That makes us strong, he said, and helps us to avoid a lot of problems, irritations, and disappointments. “Let us think about eternal life, about the future—that is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus also knew when it was time to speak and when it was time to stay silent. When Herod asked Him who He was, He did not reply. Our human understanding has a lot of questions: “Why does God do this? Why does God act in this manner?” We cannot understand everything God does. Our answer is that we believe God and trust in Him. The Chief Apostle said that faith is not the result of endless discussions. One cannot prove it. “Let us convince with our deeds and lives, but not with speeches.”

5. Love of neighbour. This was also a special source of strength for Jesus Christ, the Chief Apostle said at the end of his sermon. Even when He was suffering on the cross, He was still worried about Mary and John. He wanted them to look after one another. And He did not forget the robber on the cross next to Him. He promised him salvation. Jesus was even able to forgive those who killed Him. “Sure, our love for our neighbour cannot be as perfect as Jesus’ was. Nevertheless, it enables us to do things that other people think are impossible. We can do it because the Lord has given us His love, which enables us to love our neighbour.”

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Peter Johanning
Chief Apostle, Divine service