Understanding redemption, examining ourselves

What does it mean to be a Christian? In a nutshell: understanding God’s will and bringing one’s life into line with the gospel. Following are thoughts from a divine service by Chief Apostle Schneider.

On 23 December 2018 the Chief Apostle conducted a divine service in Weimar (Germany). His sermon was based on Luke 1: 68–69: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David.”

Even before Jesus’ birth, Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, praised God for redeeming his people. “Nothing had even transpired yet!” the Chief Apostle noted. “Why did he say that? Because he was filled with the Holy Spirit!” And this Spirit was not subject to time. For God, the Chief Apostle continued, the future is as real as the present is. “And when the Holy Spirit speaks about the future, about the return of Jesus Christ, about eternal fellowship with human beings He is describing a divine reality.”

Redemption, the reason for praise

“Zechariah praised God because He is the Redeemer, the Saviour. This must also be our mission and aspiration: to praise God for sending us the Redeemer and Saviour.” Then as now there are people who do not agree with this. They question the need for a Saviour. They point to the suffering and misery in the world or insist that society is perfectly capable of solving all these problems itself.”

Chief Apostle Schneider explained that it is a Christian’s duty to help the poor, but “the help we can give is limited to space and time. Only God can truly put an end to all suffering and distress.” He went on to say that thanks to the explanations of the Holy Spirit we know what redemption is: God wants to get to the bottom of things and root out all evil; He wants to eliminate the separation between man and God. “This is the redemption which Jesus Christ can effect: He wants to lead human beings back into fellowship with God.”

A song of praise: visible faith in Jesus Christ

“We are grateful for this and praise and glorify God. May our praise not only consists of beautiful songs, but let us substantiate our gratitude with deeds,” Chief Apostle Schneider said. That includes …

  • faith in Jesus Christ. “We believe in the incarnation of the Son of God, even though many people today find it ridiculous.”
  • detecting the lie and resisting temptation. “Jesus Christ wants to help us in resisting temptation and renouncing evil. He helps us through His word.”
  • preserving our relationship with God no matter what. “Let’s make sure that wealth and success never stand in the way of our relationship with God.”
  • not solving our problems by cheating others. “The devil comes and tells you, ‘You have a problem, you can solve it.’ And then he comes and offers us his solutions: lies, fraud, hatred, revenge.”

Chief Apostle Schneider calls on all: “Remain faithful to the gospel. Stay on the path of love, forgiveness, and obedience to Jesus Christ. That’s the solution!” This belongs to glorifying God. “Let us approach Jesus Christ in all humility. Let us show remorse and then repent so that the Saviour can help us and forgive us our debts and sins.”“

The standard: the attitude of Christ

The Chief Apostle said that the believer must also examine his own nature. As Paul said, the new creation within us must develop through faith in Jesus Christ. The Chief Apostle went on and referred to Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. It was so characteristic of Jesus, whose life was dedicated to serving others, and it is to be an example for every Christian. “Whatever happens, let’s remember that we are in the service of Christ. We must help our neighbour to come to Jesus Christ.”

“By becoming more and more aware that we are children of God, that we are in the service of our Master, and have been called to contribute to the salvation of many human beings, we will react differently, and also answer and act differently.”

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Oliver Rütten
Germany, Chief Apostle, Divine service