An object lesson

Jesus taught the gospel with authority. He passed this mission on to His Apostles and told them to teach all people in the world. This is what the Chief Apostle does regularly. Just recently He was in Rwanda and preached about the gospel of Jesus and how it can be implemented.

Not far from the shores of Lake Kivu, he conducted an open-air service in Gisenyi on 19 January 2024. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider based his sermon on Matthew 5: 1–2: “And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them.”

‌“The Son of God came to earth and took on flesh in Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ commenced His mission, He began to preach and teach,” the Chief Apostle explained at the beginning.

Jesus taught

To teach them, God always addressed the people through His word, the Chief Apostle said and reminded the congregation of Moses, the great prophet, through whom He taught the people His law. At the end of his life, Moses announced the coming of a new prophet. And this prophet announced by Moses was Jesus Christ.

Jesus proclaimed that the kingdom of God is present among humankind. Those who believe in Jesus Christ can attain fellowship with God.

And Jesus preached with authority. The Chief Apostle said that Jesus did not interpret the commandments as they suited Him, but did so regardless of the circumstances. “His teaching comes directly from God. It is still valid and will always be valid until the end of time.”

The teaching of Jesus is not too complicated: “You don’t have to study for years and read and read to understand it. A simple child could understand it.”

And then He Himself was a role model in what He taught: “Jesus did not only preach, but He practised what He preached.”

Jesus’ teaching

In the Sermon on the Mount, the Son of God explained key elements of His teaching, many of which were completely new to His listeners. For example,

  • contrary to what the Jews believed, misfortune is not a punishment from God: “God loves those who are sad and poor. He has not punished them. He wants to save them and He can save them.”
  • He came to bring eternal life and not to solve the world’s problems. “Redemption is not happiness on this earth. Redemption is to enter the kingdom of God.”
  • He showed what is important to attain redemption: “In order to obtain salvation, it is not enough to keep the law of Moses, because no one can keep this law perfectly.” To make this clear, Jesus interpreted the law strictly. “Salvation is not obtained by keeping the law, but through grace.”
  • faith in Jesus is indispensable: “There is only one way to be saved: you must believe that Jesus was sent by God and that it is He who offers us salvation.”
  • what motivates us is important: “We should not obey God because we see advantages for ourselves and hope to get something out of it. We must follow God because we love Him.” Those who love God remain faithful to Him in good times and in bad, the Chief Apostle said.
  • we must also love our neighbour: “You must accept that God loves your neighbour as He loves you. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Accept that God is as merciful to your neighbour as He is to you.”
  • we must pray without ceasing. Jesus taught His listeners how to pray in His name. “If you ask God for something He wants to give you, you will receive it.”

Jesus’ disciples

With the question “What does this mean for us today?” the Chief Apostle transitioned to the practical part of the divine service. He explained that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, who reminds us of Jesus’ teaching, and the Apostles, who teach us how to put this teaching into practice. “It is the same teaching.” The Apostles urge us

  • to come to divine service: “We need to hear the word of God preached by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles. Everybody has their own interpretation of the Bible, of the gospel. Only the Holy Spirit can truly reveal God’s will to us.”
  • to firmly believe in Jesus’ teaching: “It is not always easy to say to God, ‘Your will be done.’ We must listen to the teaching and agree with everything that He teaches—not just what suits us right now.”
  • to put Jesus’ teaching into practice: “In the end, the law of Moses was simple.” It prescribed how the people were to dress and pray. But Jesus said: “The law is to love God and your neighbour.”
  • to persevere: “Don’t forget, God wants to give you eternal life. That is the reward.”
  • to proclaim the gospel of Jesus through our conduct: “Every one of us must proclaim the teaching of Jesus and make it known. However, not by talking a lot, but in the way we live and behave.”

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Katrin Löwen
Rwanda, Chief Apostle, Divine service