“Trust in the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This was the appeal made by Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider in the central Pentecost service he conducted in Cape Town in South Africa. For in this way, believers are equipped with everything they need to reach their goal.
What is this goal? Eternal fellowship with God, the Chief Apostle made clear. In order to make this goal accessible, God came to earth as a human being and brought the sacrifice. Since the events of the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has continued this work—“in the church”.
To reach the goal, he continued, believers would have to become like Jesus Christ. “And who is Jesus Christ? He is the one who loves and serves. And that is why we have been called to love and serve. Not because God needs our help. No, He does not need help. But because we want to become like Jesus Christ.”
A spirit of fear
Indeed, many are struggling with serving, with proclaiming the gospel, and making sure that sins can be forgiven and the sacraments dispensed. The reason that is often given for this is that people today are no longer interested in God and faith. And others maintain that they are too weak to carry out such a task.
Chief Apostle Schneider countered this with the threefold answer given in the Bible text he used for this divine service: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1: 7).
A spirit of power
Timidity, fear, cowardice: these are the terms other Bible translations use instead of “fear”. They all want to express: “Don’t shy away from your mission. Believe that God has enabled you to serve as Jesus Christ did. Trust in the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the Chief Apostle said with reference to the sacrament of Holy Sealing.
“The Holy Spirit is the spirit of power. Remember, the church is not the work of man. The church is the work of the Holy Spirit. Nothing can hinder the Holy Spirit from fulfilling His mission. If this Spirit dwells in you, lives in your heart, you can do what is impossible for human beings. The work done in the Holy Spirit will never be in vain.”
A spirit of love
“The love of God is much more than emotions and feelings. It is a strong commitment and a self-sacrificial energy. This love was poured out into our hearts when we received the sacrament of Holy Sealing,” the Chief Apostle said. “Poured out,” the Chief Apostle said “does not just mean a few drops.” Rather: “It fills our whole being. God has given us the maximum of love we can receive.”
He said, “That makes us strong.” Because when we recognise this, we respond with gratitude. “We do not serve because we are forced to, but out of love and gratitude.” And thus our self-conception is no longer dependent on people’s reactions, on their recognition, or our success. “We serve simply because we desire to contribute to the salvation of others.”
A spirit of a sound mind
Sound mind, wisdom, self-control. The Chief Apostle said that this is how various Bibles translated the third attribute of the Spirit. “This helps us not to think too highly of ourselves,” he explained. “It is not about me. We are just tools. Actually, the work is done by God.”
Here, self-control means: “Do to your neighbour what you want others to do to you.” And wisdom means the wisdom to discern the spirits: “If something comes from the Holy Spirit, it produces peace, love, and joy.”
In conclusion the Chief Apostle said: “Let me put it in a nutshell: our goal is to enter eternal fellowship with God. To do this, we must become like Jesus Christ. And He is the one who loves and serves. We can also do this because we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is just a question of really wanting it.”