All things are of God, through God, and to God
Why do we give God the glory? Why do we trust Him? Why do we keep our promises and proclaim salvation in Christ to our neighbour? The Chief Apostle supplied answers to these questions at Thanksgiving.
Chief Apostle Schneider celebrated Thanksgiving with 4,000 brothers and sisters in Strasbourg in France on 3 October 2015. He was accompanied by District Apostle Bernd Koberstein from Germany; District Apostle Helper John Sobottka from Canada; Apostle Ulrich Falk, Clément Haeck, Jens Lindemann, and Gert Opdenplatz from Germany, and Jeannot Leibfried from France. The service was transmitted across the country and to Belgium. At the end of the service, Apostle Jeannot Leibfried and his wife received a blessing on their silver wedding. The Chief Apostle based his sermon on Romans 11: 36: “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.”
God promises harvests and blessing
The first thing we do on Thanksgiving is to thank God. “God has committed Himself to His creation, to mankind, whom He made,” Chief Apostle Schneider said at the beginning of the divine service. God promised that seedtime and harvest would not cease. And He promised blessing to those who would remain faithful to Him. “Not everyone,” so the Chief Apostle, “sees this blessing right away.”
To illustrate the different effects that blessing can have, the Chief Apostle used an example from nature. Everything depends on what you sow, he said. If you sow vegetable seeds, they will only take a few weeks to sprout, and before long you will be able to harvest the produce. If you put an apple seed in the ground, it will take far longer before you can pick your first apple. “It is similar with God’s blessing. There are spiritual blessings that produce an almost immediate effect. You realize that God has answered a prayer, or has given you a special joy, or has let you experience your faith in a special way,” the Chief Apostle explained.
“Then there are times when the desired effect of blessing takes a little longer to manifest itself. You do not immediately see it, but this is a kind of blessing that is much more enduring: the blessing of a peaceful heart, the blessing of a courageous soul, and the blessing of strength to remain faithful no matter what. Such a blessing may be far less spectacular and needs much more time to develop, but it is a blessing that endures and produces effects over the long term.” Referring to the new creation, the Chief Apostle said, “The greatest blessing God wants to give us is eternal fellowship with Him.”
Everything is from God
“People nowadays tend to think that they deserve what they have,” the Chief Apostle continued. They think they have earned it on account of their efforts, their skills, and what they have invested. But people who no longer recognize that everything comes from God quickly become ungrateful and selfish.
“Everything we have comes from God: it is grace. We would not have any of this without His grace, no matter how skilled, competent, beautiful, or intelligent we might be. We recognize that everything is grace. And because we consciously perceive this grace, we give all glory to God:
- “We thank God.”
- “God knows what we need, and He will always give us what we need and when we need it. We trust Him.”
- “And since I know that everything I have was given to me through grace, I am prepared to share it with my neighbour.”
Everything is through God
It is through God that mankind will be saved, the Chief Apostle said, “Mankind will find eternal salvation in God.”
- “We cannot save ourselves. Jesus Christ is the only who can redeem us. A Christian who is aware that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, can do only one thing and that is to say to Jesus Christ: I will do what You ask of me. I will follow You and obey You. I will act in accordance with Your gospel, Your teaching.”
- “We were able to be redeemed because the Holy Spirit made it possible for us to know God. We have been redeemed because we have been baptized with water, have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, and have received Holy Communion. Without the activity of the Holy Spirit there would be no sacraments.”
- “Without Jesus’ commission to His Apostles, and without the activity of the Holy Spirit at the time of ordination, you and I would not be able to be redeemed.”
Everything is to God
“In everything that God does He has only one objective: He wants us to be with Him forever. That is why God is active,” so the Chief Apostle.
- “We believe that the Lord’s return is imminent,” the Chief Apostle said and added, “and yet there is so little joy. The joy over our salvation, the joy to be able to say: everything leads to one goal—eternal fellowship with Him.”
- “We have the assurance that God will complete His plan. He will finish the work He started.”
- “In the thousand-year kingdom of peace God wants to give every human being who has ever existed the opportunity of fellowship with Him. Our task is to lead people to God—through our conduct, our nature, and our speech—and to make access to Jesus Christ easy for our contemporaries.”