Jesus offers eternal life
When does Jesus help? What’s the purpose of the gospel? What are good works good for? There are many ideas about this and some misconceptions. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider clarified what really matters.
“Christ offers eternal life to those who believe in Him and who orient themselves to His image,” Chief Apostle Schneider said in summing up the divine service. And he added, “We are responsible for the proclamation of the gospel. Our behaviour must reflect the godly life that God has placed in us.”
Liberty, not supremacy
“It is important that we know why we come to Jesus,” Chief Apostle Schneider said with reference to the miracle of feeding. Five thousand people had been fed at the time with five loaves of bread and two fish. They were convinced that Jesus was the successor of Moses or a prophet and wanted to make Him king in the hope of freeing them from the yoke of the Romans. There are similar ideas today, the Chief Apostle said. People imagine that if they go to church, are faithful and believe, and pray in the right manner Jesus will help them in life. Jesus does help sometimes, but that is not the point of the gospel. “If we only come to Jesus for help, we come for the wrong reasons.” After all, Jesus wants to deliver man from the bondage of the evil one.
Fellowship with God, not a moralising lecture
People look at the Bible as a code of ethics, the Chief Apostle said, and maintain that if society as a whole were to follow its teachings and principles then life would be better. “Maybe,” he conceded. Even if everybody were to live according to the Bible, he said, it will not solve the root cause of the problem. “Jesus came to offer eternal life. He wants to solve the whole problem and He says, ‘The reason for your problems is the dominance of sin. I have defeated the devil and evil, and I want to deliver you from this evil. I want to lead you into eternal fellowship with God.’”
Believing and focusing on Christ is important, not works
Some people are convinced that good works are necessary in order to attain eternal life. But it is Jesus Himself who offers eternal life. No one can earn it. “It is a gift and remains a gift of grace,” the Chief Apostle said. “And to receive this gift you have to believe in Jesus Christ.” This includes belief in the incarnation of Jesus, His sacrifice, His resurrection, and His return. And then it is important that we take what Jesus said seriously, “To attain eternal life, you must be reborn out of water and the Spirit, and you must receive My body and My blood. You must celebrate Holy Communion.” Jesus went even further and said, “If you want eternal life, you must renounce yourself and follow Me.” So it is not just a question of attending the divine services and receiving the sacraments. It is not only about works or even good works. We must make sure that our thoughts and feelings coincide with those of Jesus.
Proclaiming the gospel, not converting people
“All of us have the mission to profess our faith, to proclaim the gospel, and to help our neighbour in finding the way to Jesus so that he or she can be saved.” How can this be done? By promising our neighbour great sermons, nice services, and answers to prayers? “Yes, sometimes that happens, but sometimes it doesn’t, and people are disappointed.” Referring to the time of Jesus, the Chief Apostle said, “The disciples stayed with Jesus because they were convinced that He is the Son of God.” Today too, believers will stay if they see that our goal, the purpose of our faith, is to be one with Jesus. “Let us bring our thoughts into line with those of Jesus. Let us have a close relationship with Him,” the Chief Apostle said. And for this to happen it is necessary that we keep the commandments and do the will of God, regardless of whether we are successful or not, or whether we receive earthly blessing or not. We do what we do because we are convinced of it. It is only because we are one with Jesus that His opinion and His will is our opinion and our will.”
“We are not responsible for the success, for the number of people who come. That is God’s task. Those who are drawn by God will come to Jesus. We are only there to act as an instrument. And we do it because it is our nature.”
Background: Apostle meeting and divine service in the USA
In mid-February, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider travelled to the USA. He met with the Apostles and Bishops of the working area of District Apostle Leonard R. Kolb and conducted a divine service on Sunday, 10 February 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Seven hundred people attended the service on location, while several thousand others in the USA, in Central and South America watched a video transmission in congregations. In this service, the Chief Apostle retired Apostle Reinhard Hecht after over 42 years of ministerial activity, 17 of these as an Apostle. District Evangelist Robert C. Ferguson was ordained an Apostle.
The Chief Apostle based his sermon on John 6: 26–27: “Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”