Sharing the mystery of eternal life
Persevere in the Apostles’ teaching! This is an exhortation that believers are quite familiar with. But what exactly does it mean? Here are some answers from a divine service about serving, following Christ, and the question of who really is the boss here.
“For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.” With these words from 2 Corinthians 4: 5 Apostle Paul explains what the task of the Apostles is. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained this at the beginning of the divine service on 26 March 2023 in Cotonou in Benin.
Called to teach
Jesus called His Apostles, who were people like any other, and gave them the power and authority to perform miracles. This is how they were to bear witness to the presence of God on earth. When Jesus provided proof of His being the Son of God through His resurrection miracles were no longer necessary. Jesus then commissioned His Apostles: “Proclaim the forgiveness of sins and go to all the nations and make disciples of them. Baptise them and teach them to observe what I have taught you.” This also applies to the Apostles today.
What Jesus teaches
“The mission of the Apostles is to proclaim what Jesus Christ says,” the Chief Apostle explained. “And what does Jesus Christ teach us?” Chief Apostle Schneider went on to specify:
- First of all, Jesus Christ teaches us that God wants to give us eternal life. God’s goal is to lead us into His kingdom, where we can be with Him forever. Jesus made it clear that He had not come to solve the world’s problems and eliminate evil. Nor had He come to give preferential treatment to those who follow Him. “I have come to show you what you must do to escape evil and enter My kingdom.”
- “The second teaching of Jesus is: in order to attain eternal life you must please God and not people,” the Chief Apostle said and gave a concrete example: “To please God it is not necessary to build big and luxurious churches. I can assure you that God does not care about that. He is interested in what goes on in the congregation, not in the building as such.”
- Jesus also teaches: “You can please God by doing His will.” But no one is able to be completely obedient and thus justify him- or herself before God through their good deeds. “The only way we can be saved is through faith in Jesus Christ and by grace,” said the Chief Apostle. And in order to obtain forgiveness, we must repent, acknowledge our sins, recognise that we are imperfect and that we are completely dependent on Him.
- Following Jesus does not just mean being where He is to hear His word and receive His help. Following Jesus means following His example, doing what He did. To follow His example means that we become like Him. The Chief Apostle explained that the sacraments help us to become more and more like Jesus.
- The last point: “To gain eternal life we must love God as Jesus loved God,” the Chief Apostle said. Jesus explained what it means to love God. And that was quite simple: He said that to love God you must love your neighbour. Your love for God can never be greater than your love for your neighbour. In other words, we must love God by loving our neighbour.
Jesus is number one
A minister should not preach about himself, the Chief Apostle made clear. “The Apostles are not here to preach about their opinion, their ideas, or their person.” The same thing applies to the other ministers: “The congregation is not interested in your opinions and stories.” The only thing that matters is the gospel.
In conclusion, the Chief Apostle made it clear that the Apostles do serve the Church, but that they have only one Master. “We serve the Church for the salvation of souls and our leader, our Master, is Jesus Christ.” He alone tells us what is to be done. And He is also the only one who is allowed to judge. “It is not the task of the Apostles, or the ministers, to judge believers.”
The Chief Apostle’s conclusion: “Let us endeavour to believe in Jesus, to become like Him, and to love our neighbour. Then Jesus will grant us His grace and we can enter His kingdom.”
Benin, Apostle, Chief Apostle, Divine service