“Suffering is not necessary for salvation”

Suffering is neither an obligation nor is it a guarantee that we will really partake in the resurrection. And Jesus’ suffering was only one stage, followed by His resurrection. The Chief Apostle recently explained in a divine service how we can follow this path.

Jesus announced His death and resurrection to the disciples three times. Even so, they only really understood Him when it really happened. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider used one of these announcements as the basis for the divine service on 10 March 2024 in Minden in Germany: “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again’” (Luke 18: 31–33).


At the beginning, the Chief Apostle asked why Jesus announced His suffering, death, and resurrection several times. The Chief Apostle said that He thus showed:

  • no matter what happens now, don’t worry, everything has been pre-determined by God. He has everything under control.
  • don’t worry, I am not naive. I am not stupid. I know exactly what is waiting for me.
  • what is going to happen is God’s will, but He is not forcing me to do it. Nor are the people forcing me to do this. If I go down this path then because I agree with it.
  • He was referring to the prophet. The Son of Man—this was clear to the Jews—was the messenger of God of whom Isaiah had already spoken and who was to come and would suffer in order to deliver human beings from sin.
  • the last message which the disciples totally missed: yes, I must to suffer. I must die, but don’t worry. I will rise again!”


Jesus explained, “This is My way now, but if you want to obtain salvation, you must follow the same path.” ‌It sounds terrible when you hear this, the Chief Apostle said. “If we want to obtain salvation from Jesus Christ, we must follow Him. Does that mean we must all be killed, that we must all suffer terribly?” Don’t panic, this is not what Jesus is asking.

Following Christ is not suffering

“Of course, many Christians were persecuted later,” the Chief Apostle admitted. But not all the Christians at that time were persecuted and died as martyrs. There were also Christians in the early days who were not persecuted. They lived a completely normal life.

“Today, unfortunately, and this saddens us greatly, many Christians are being persecuted.” However, the Chief Apostle said, “It is not only Christians who are being persecuted.” As an international Church leader, he knows that people worldwide are being persecuted because of their ethnic origin, their religion, their opinions, or simply because they are different. “From this I conclude that suffering is not required for salvation. One does not need to suffer in earthly life to be saved. One can also be saved without suffering. Christians do not suffer more than other people.”

Conversely, it is also true that Christians are not spared from suffering, the Chief Apostle continued. “Nor can we assume that our lives will be better because we are faithful children of God.”


Those who follow Christ will have to deal with affliction. “The evil one, Satan, the spirit from below—call him what you will—wants to take advantage of earthly suffering to separate us from God,” the Chief Apostle warned. “But he also wants to take advantage of the good times to separate us from God.” And it is not just bad people from outside who cause us distress. “Sometimes it also comes from people who are well-disposed towards us. This is why Jesus emphasised that even the closest family should not be more important than the will of God. However, the greatest challenges still come from ourselves.”

‌Denying ourselves

The Son of God dwelled in the glory of God, in His omnipotence, and in His perfection and came to earth as a weak human being to have fellowship with human beings. Conversely, this means that since we humans want to come to God, we must give up being our own lord and master and god. Because denying ourselves simply means accepting and doing the will of God, as Jesus Christ did. And it means serving. Jesus demonstrated this when He washed His disciples’ feet. “Following Christ and denying ourselves also means serving our neighbour,” the Chief Apostle explained.

The little flock

The Chief Apostle referred to Luke 12: 32 for this description and brought it into the present day. “Those who follow Jesus Christ will have fewer Likes than everyone else,” he said. “Those who follow Jesus Christ will never be part of the mainstream, they will always belong to the small people, because at some point they will encounter a lack of understanding somewhere. They will come up against resistance and rejection.” Doing God's will sometimes upsets society. “But that should not bother us,” he said. “We are in good company. We are with Jesus Christ.”


Already today we can experience fellowship with Jesus Christ despite all the suffering on earth. When we come to Jesus with worries about the future, He says, “I guarantee you: the first resurrection will take place. The bride of the Lord is being prepared and the day of the Lord will come. Trust Me and just follow Me.” This is perhaps the most difficult part of following Christ. “Let us continue to follow the Lord, model our lives on His will, love Him, and serve our neighbour: in faith, in love, and trust in God. Then we can already today experience the mysterious fact that Jesus Christ is with us and close to us, and when He comes, He will take us to Himself. This is not a human promise, it is the divine truth.”

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Katrin Löwen
Chief Apostle, Divine service