A law that passes no sentence

God excludes no one. He does not reject anyone. Quite the contrary: He helps, supports, accepts… God is a God for you, your friends, and even your enemies.

What is more important? The law or grace? And what do the two even have to do with one another? In the month of February, the Sunday divine services in the congregations of the New Apostolic Church will focus on this indescribable gift of God and its very practical implications for all human beings.

God is in the midst of mankind

Moses conveyed the commandments of God to mankind in his time. This law made the will of God clear. From one day to the next, the people of Israel were in a position to distinguish between good and evil. While this helped, it was only to a limited extent. Sin had not yet been rendered harmless as a result. With the life and death of Jesus Christ, however, God has granted mankind full access to grace and truth.

Faith outweighs good works. Human beings can respond to the grace and love of God with faith and love.

God is love

The very existence of all true Christians is defined by faith. They believe that God has created mankind in order to be with Him in perfect fellowship one day. Christians also believe in the incarnation of God and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider emphasises: “We believe that God is love, and we trust in Him. This faith produces hope and love. We wait patiently for our redemption, and prepare ourselves for it. We respond to the love of God by loving in accordance with the example of Jesus.”

God fills His law through grace

The law of God provided orientation for the daily lives of the people of Israel. In the process He also created a foundation for the successful coexistence of human beings throughout the millennia—right to the present day. Beyond that, however, the gospel of Jesus Christ also assures believers of salvation in Jesus Christ. Belief in Jesus Christ enables human beings to have eternal fellowship with God.

In addition to faith, this results in a very practical implication for human beings: “The standard for our actions is the law of love for God and our neighbour.”

One God—for you, your friends, and even your enemies!

Regardless of the individual’s behaviour, it remains true that God loves all human beings. And Chief Apostle Schneider goes on to make it clear: “The Lord commands us to love our enemies, to pray for them, to bless them, and to do good works for them (Luke 6: 27–35). Although this demand may seem unreasonable, we must nevertheless take it seriously.”

Two aspects are important to the Chief Apostle in this context: first of all, “Jesus shows us that the kingdom of God is so sublime, so great, that it transcends all human boundaries—and that God can thus ask us to do the impossible: ‘I give you so much that I can also require something unimaginable of you.’” And secondly: “The love of which the Lord speaks here is not a matter of being agreeable and pleasant, but is rather a reference to divine love and to salvation—a much greater dimension!”

This is a challenge when it comes to remembering the departed: “Let us pray that those who still find themselves under the influence of the evil one can be turned from ‘enemies’ of God to ‘friends’ of God.” And in the process, it no longer matters whether there is a discernible difference in our neighbour, that is, whether he is agreeable and pleasant to us or not. After all, God loves all human beings.

Photo: Andrey Popov - stock.adobe.com

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Oliver Rütten
Divine service