Nothing is possible without hope
What would a person be without hope? That is why it is of such crucial importance to know what to hope for! Straight from the Chief Apostle: “The Holy Spirit nourishes our hope in eternal life. We wait for the return of the Lord and hold fast to this hope in trust and love.”
After getting to know the congregation in Walvis Bay, Namibia, the Chief Apostle made his way to South Africa. On 15 December 2019 he based his Sunday sermon on a Bible passage from Romans 8: 25: “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” The message he derived for this for the assembled believers was as follows: “Hope that is bound to faith and love will not be disappointed.”
Waiting for the Messiah
The people of Israel of old already cultivated hope in the Messiah for centuries, said the Chief Apostle as he began his sermon. “The believing people of that time were convinced that God would send them a King, who would rebuild the old kingdom and restore it to a state of peace and prosperity, liberated from all its enemies,” noted the Chief Apostle. “Their hope for this permeated their daily lives, but was nevertheless disappointed in the end,” remarked the Chief Apostle. “The Son of God came to this earth and did something else entirely. He liberated mankind from the yoke of sin and established an invisible kingdom: the kingdom of God.” Nobody had been planning on that. And what’s more: Jesus also made it quite clear that they could not remain as they were. After all, only those who put on the new body would be able to enter into the kingdom of God.
Our hope—the kingdom of God
“And what is our hope?” was the Church leader’s question. “We desire to enter into the invisible kingdom of God and live in eternal fellowship with God, where we will have true peace and true joy.” This does not mean that we cannot already today hope for the help of God, however. “Naturally, we can always ask our Lord to help us in our daily lives.” However, this help is only of a limited scope. After all, even the sick whom the Son of God healed at the time still died, ultimately. “Our true hope is for life in the eternal kingdom of God. This hope is fed by the Holy Spirit. He tells us: “Trust in God. Jesus has said that He will come again in order to lead us into His kingdom.”
Hope requires nourishment
And then the Chief Apostle incorporated a number of further remarks into his sermon to illustrate how the Holy Spirit strengthens this hope:
- He reveals to us that God will raise up the believers just as He raised up the Lord.
- He proclaims to us that the return of the Lord is imminent.
- He reminds us that we are children of God.
- He causes our love for God and our desire to be with Him to grow within us.
- He tells us we can already today experience a foretaste of this fellowship with God, namely through the liberty of the pardoned and the joy of the overcomer.
“We are not dreamers. We are convinced. We are sure that the promise of Jesus Christ will be fulfilled: He will return!”
Hope requires zeal
“We will need zeal in order to wait for the fulfilment of the Lord’s promise,” added the Chief Apostle, before going on to add some further remarks about how this might come into being:
- “The more we become acquainted with Jesus, the deeper our desire to be with Him eternally—and to have fellowship with Him—will be.”
- “We strive to be liberated from our human imperfections and to increasingly take on the image of Christ.”
- “We hope that God will fulfil His plan of redemption so that all human beings and the entire creation may be redeemed from the evil one.”
Hope requires trust
So it is that the hope in the imminent return of the Lord gives purpose to our lives. And if this hope should ever become shaky, we will need to trust:
- “We believe firmly in the fulfilment of the promise—and the unbelief of man has no bearing whatsoever on our trust in God.”
- “We do not allow our failures and mistakes to discourage us—God will fulfil the work that He has begun in us.
- “We trust in the love of God, even though we do not always understand His actions.”
- “We trust the apostolate—Jesus will see to it that the Apostles will be able to fulfil the mission He has entrusted to them.”
- “Our afflictions do not call our gratitude toward God or our love for Christ into question. Our motivation to serve Him remains intact.”
For information: East London was the very first congregation on the whole African continent. In 2014, the then District Apostle Noel Barnes celebrated an anniversary divine service marking its 125-year existence.