Grace leads into the kingdom of God

God grants grace to those who believe in Jesus Christ, trust Him, and love Him. It was with this statement that the Chief Apostle summarised his sermon. And he made it clear what faith and trust really mean.

At the beginning of the year, namely Sunday, 26 January 2020—still before the corona pandemic broke out—Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider visited the congregation of Amnéville in the north-east of France. There he preached about divine grace and our love for the Lord: “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity” (Ephesians 6: 24).

“Grace is a gift which God gives us, and which only He can grant us,” the Chief Apostle said at the beginning of his sermon. He went on to explain that the grace of the Lord encompasses all the gifts that are necessary for salvation. The Chief Apostle cited Acts 16: 31, which states that one must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

First and foremost, this faith constitutes the firm conviction that ,

  • Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, who loves us and seeks to deliver us.
  • one must adhere to His doctrine in order to attain salvation.
  • Jesus dispenses salvation in the church that He has established, through the Apostles whom He has sent, and through the sacraments that He has instituted.

Faith is more than conviction

However, faith transcends mere conviction: “Believing in Jesus Christ also means deciding for Him, and trusting Him, no matter what,” stressed the Chief Apostle. True faith consists of trusting in the love of Christ, even when the reality we perceive causes us to have doubts; in His word, even if it does not seem to come to pass; in the church, the ministry, and the sacraments, even though their holiness and redeeming effect are at times overshadowed by human imperfections.

A faith that is shaped in this manner leads us to

  • reciprocate the love of God: “Those who love the Lord will not follow Him in order to be spared misfortune, but rather because they have the longing—and feel the need—to be with Him.”
  • appreciate the teaching of God and take joy in it: “Those who love the Lord will respect His law, not for fear of punishment, but because they are opposed to evil and take joy in doing good works.”
  • love those whom He loves, and take joy in contributing to their well-being in the congregation.

Faith and love produce grace

In response to this strong faith and this sincere love, God grants His grace, preached the Chief Apostle. He forgives those who are genuinely remorseful, because they suffer from being separated from Jesus through their sins. Jesus Christ reveals Himself to those who keep His commandments. His presence at their side makes them happy.

The grace of God also strengthens them in adversities. Those who love Jesus have the assurance that nothing can separate them from the love of God, and that all things will serve to their best. “They are humble and merciful toward others. Their words are permeated by grace.”

God responds to them with His special care, summarised the Chief Apostle: “Because they believe in Christ and are rooted in love, God can do infinitely more for them that they could ever ask or could even imagine. He purifies them through and through, and grants them access to eternal fellowship with Him in His kingdom.”

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Peter Johanning
France, Chief Apostle, Divine service