Sanctification: the means to an end

He calls them sisters and brothers and wants to share everything with them. Jesus Christ loves human beings. Those who allow themselves to be sanctified and sanctify themselves can experience this. How? He Himself is the best example.

Comforting would best describe the divine service which Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider held in Uster (Switzerland) on 11 August 2019. It was based on a word found in an epistle to a congregation that had grown weary and lost its joy. “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2: 11).

Why does the Bible text refer to the people as “brethren” of Christ? For one, Jesus was a man like we are. Not an angel who came down from heaven, but a descendant of Adam. Secondly, He Himself referred to the disciples as brothers and said that His Father was their Father and His God their God. And finally: “We are fighting the same battle and the same enemy,” the Chief Apostle said.

Liberated and called

How are we sanctified? The Chief Apostle’s answer: “Those who belong to God, who are consecrated to serve Him, and those who are penetrated by the activity of the Holy Spirit are sanctified.”

As a result, Jesus Christ is sanctified because He is the Son of God, the Chief Apostle said. Moreover, Jesus Christ is the holy servant of God, whom God sent to earth so that His will would be done here. And finally: “Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit and was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

God also sanctifies the brothers and sisters of Christ, the Chief Apostle continued. For “Christ has redeemed us through His sacrifice. He liberated us; we belong to God.” What’s more, we are a holy people who has been called to proclaim the kindness and gifts of God—not because we are so good, but because we are to serve God. And finally: “God has sanctified us through the Holy Spirit. We have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Allowing ourselves be guided

“Jesus Christ was not only sanctified by God. He also sanctified Himself. How did He do that?” Chief Apostle Schneider asked. His answer: “Jesus fought against evil and sin. He always sought a close connection with God. He devoted Himself to God entirely, and even laid down His life.”

“God expects us to sanctify ourselves. That is our task. How can we do that?” the Chief Apostle continued. For one, we need to fight against sin; we do not want to be servants of sin. And then, he said, we must rise above the earthly and come to a different level so that we can be spiritually blessed. And finally: “We do not have to die on the cross, but we need to put off our old nature, let the new creation grow and develop within us, and allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit.”

Committed to one another

Jesus Christ is committed to His brothers and sisters. “Don’t worry,” the Chief Apostle said, “no petition, no affliction, no question is too small, silly, or insignificant. Jesus shares everything; He practises solidarity in every respect. He is not ashamed to lead the sinners who follow Him into His glorious kingdom.”

The Chief Apostle emphasised, “We profess our belief in Jesus Christ and take a clear stance. We do not pursue any particular policies. We are aware that it is not our responsibility to change society. But what can be expected of us is that we at least say every now and then: ‘This is not what the gospel says. I cannot agree with that.’”

“Nor should we be ashamed of our brothers and sisters,” the Chief Apostle said in closing, “knowing that they are the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.”

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Andreas Rother
Switzerland, Chief Apostle, Divine service