Believing what we cannot see
Living by faith, not by sight. That was the subject of a divine service the Chief Apostle conducted in the Philippines recently. He used the example of the people of Israel to explain what exactly this means. .
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider was very happy to see the brothers and sisters in Tupi on 16 October and expressed this in his opening remarks: “We are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the New Apostolic Church in the Philippines, and that’s a reason to express our gratitude.” Fifty years ago, he said, faithful servants of God had come to the country to proclaim that Jesus is coming! “But fifty years later, this promise has still not been fulfilled,” the Chief Apostle added. “The Lord has still not come.” So what about the promise? As an answer, the Chief Apostle read the Bible text for the service: “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5: 7).
To help the brothers and sisters understand the Bible text, the Chief Apostle led the congregation through the desert, so to speak, like God did with the people of Israel: “God came to Moses and to the people of Israel and told them: I will lead you to the promised land, but you have to leave Egypt.” God fulfilled His promise, he said, but it took a long time. That tells us that we have to be persistent, and that means:
- being convinced of the truthfulness of God’s word. “To believe means I am absolutely convinced that the word of God is the truth, not what I see, not what I understand, but what God says.”
- trusting in God. “To believe in God means I am confident that He will do what He has promised and that He can do it.”
- being patient: “We will wait patiently until He fulfils His promises.”
The people of Israel set an example
Israel had to leave Egypt, and in the same way Christians today have to leave evil behind and renounce it. “And because of this faith and our willingness God delivered us through baptism with water and the Spirit.”
And just as the people of Israel had to follow God, Christians also have to follow God’s instructions today: “He teaches us how to love others. He teaches us how to increase in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He teaches us how we can be transformed into the image of Christ,” the Chief Apostle explained.
The Israelites had to fight their enemies. “We too have to fight against the evil one and overcome temptation,” the Chief Apostle said.
It was on their trek through the wilderness that the many tribes of Israel really became a people, a nation. Christians today are also on their way to unity, the unity of the church of Christ.
When the people were in the desert, they could not see God, but they heard Him through Moses. “We cannot see God either today, but we hear His voice through the Holy Spirit,” the Chief Apostle assured the congregation.
And similar to the manna that the people of Israel received in the desert, we receive nourishment from heaven today too, spiritual nourishment. “We receive the body and blood of Christ when we celebrate Holy Communion,” explained the Chief Apostle.
And just as the people of Israel were able to experience God’s help, Christians can also experience God’s help today. “Jesus is not ashamed to be our brother. And He remains with us despite our weaknesses,” the Chief Apostle said with reference to Hebrews 2: 11.
Don’t give up
Chief Apostle Schneider mentioned how glad he was that the choir sang the song “Never give up!” He said, “You got the message today: never give up, keep on walking in faith,” he urged the congregation. “We have no reason to give up.”
“Yes, Jesus has not fulfilled His promise yet,” the Chief Apostle admitted, “we are not yet perfect; we are still not like Christ.” However, there is no reason to give up. Instead, let us ask Jesus for grace. “I must do more for the unity of the church. I must do more for my brother, for my sister. I must love them more.”
In conclusion, the Chief Apostle appealed to the congregation: “Let us follow Christ and the Apostles until the end. Then we will experience that God is faithful, that He keeps His promises.”