Living a Christian life today

The Old and the New Testaments are very different from each other: one speaks of the law, the other of grace; one of punishment, the other of love. How can Christians today model their lives on the principles of the New Testament? Answers from a recent divine service by the Chief Apostle.

In Old Testament times the religious life of the people revolved around the law, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said in a divine service in Winterthur (Switzerland) on 14 April 2017.

For most Jews the law was the guiding principle: “Most Jews at the time saw things like this: if we keep the commandments, God will bless us and we will have a good life.” But with the coming of Jesus a different perception of God was introduced. All of a sudden it was no longer about prosperity and the observance of outward rules. “For a successful and a balanced life and a happy marriage you don’t necessarily need God. But to have fellowship with God, to attain eternal life, you need Jesus Christ,” the Chief Apostle said. What is at stake here is far more than merely a happy life: “It is a matter of eternal life,” the Chief Apostle made clear.

Eternal life cannot be earned

“Sometimes I ask myself whether Christians have understood this,” the Chief Apostle asked. “God does not owe us anything. Whatever we do is a response to the love of God. That is the basic principle of being a Christian. Let us forget this thing about merit and reward. All we can do is respond to the love of God with love.”

And with this the Chief Apostle came to a central issue. How can today’s Christians respond to the love of God?

  • By liberating themselves from the belief that all things are determined by fate: “Fate has not determined that we must always sin and be weak. On our own we are not able to overcome evil, but we can do it with Jesus Christ. Evil cannot separate those from God who love Him. This is not a question of being heroes who want to change the world, but of responding to the love of God.”
  • By remaining courageous: “Jesus showed love and compassion for mankind right to the end. We can learn from this. If things are going badly for us, if we are confronted with death, if we are ill or are being treated unfairly, if someone is threatening us and is making things difficult for us, it does not mean that God does not love us. Nor does it mean that God has forsaken us: God is with us in suffering, injustice, and even in death. In fact, God is with you especially in such moments—even if you are suffering and things are going bad for you.”
  • By showing solidarity: “Let us make sure that no one is exempted from salvation because of us. It is not our place to bar somebody’s way to salvation because we do not like him or because we think he is a terrible person. Whether he walks the path to salvation is up to him. But the Lord died for him too and wants to offer salvation to him. It is our responsibility to make salvation accessible to him. We are living in the time of the New Testament. Everybody can attain salvation. It is not a matter of merit, but of grace.”

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Peter Johanning
Switzerland, Chief Apostle, Divine service