God the Father sent His Son into the world to save all who believe in Him. And Jesus Christ still sends His disciples into the world today to help along. The Chief Apostle recently explained how this works.
The divine service on 24 September 2023 in Buffalo, New York, (USA) was transmitted to the entire working area of District Apostle Leonard Kolb. The District Apostle, who is also the president of the New Apostolic Church USA, retired on that day. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider appointed District Apostle Helper John Schnabel as his successor.
The Son of God was sent into the world
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The Chief Apostle based his sermon on this passage from John 3: 17. He explained that the “world” in this Bible text is a reference to the sinful human beings who have rejected God, who are hostile towards God, or at least indifferent to God. God has also sent His Son to them, the Chief Apostle said.
And then comes this great message: “God loves these people. He loves them even though they have rejected Him, left Him, and distanced themselves from Him—and do not accept Him.” But God sent Jesus to them, who told them: “God loves you.”
God wants to save humankind
“And that was something quite new,” the Chief Apostle pointed out. “Because in the Old Testament, God was seen in a different way.” He was seen as a judge who was kind to the righteous, but punished sinners with calamities such as the flood, droughts, or famine. This was also how the contemporaries of Jesus would have perceived God. “But Jesus said, ‘No, I have not come to punish them. I love the world. I love the people who have rejected God, who are indifferent to Him, who are hostile to Him. I have come to save them.”
The Chief Apostle went on to describe how God wants to redeem human beings. Through
- forgiveness of sins: “When God saves human beings, He forgives their sins, He cleanses them.”
- sanctification: “The work of the Holy Spirit is to transform people into the image of Jesus Christ step by step.”
- glorification: “The entire human being—body, soul and spirit—can enter the kingdom of God and can have fellowship with God and one another.”
Faith leads to salvation
Salvation will be bestowed upon those who believe in Jesus. And that means
- one must believe in His divine sonship: He is truly the Son of God, not just a prophet, not just a preacher. He has been sent by God and He is the Son of God.
- one must believe in His teaching. He tells the truth. He can do more than bring about miracles.
- one must believe in His person, in all that He has been through.
- having true faith in Jesus which results in deeds motivated by love.
- one must believe in His Apostles whom He has sent, in the church which He has established, and believe in the sacraments which He announced and instituted.
Jesus sent His disciples into the world
“Allow me to go one step further,” the Chief Apostle said. “Now we come to ourselves.” God has sent us, His children and disciples, into the world. We have been sent into a world dominated by sin and evil. And we have to suffer and deal with the consequences of the fall into sin like all other human beings. In this context, Christians are called to contribute to the salvation of others.
God is aware of the rejection, indifference, and hostility towards Him, but He says, “You have to deal with all of these things. I have sent you into these conditions on purpose. Now, here, I want you to serve Me. I want you to proclaim My true will. I want you to help others experience My love and tell them that God wants to save them. I want you to commit yourself to make sure that forgiveness and sanctification remain possible and accessible for humankind.”
In conclusion, the Chief Apostle addressed the congregation as follows: “You have been sent into this world, into these conditions, to serve the Lord and to contribute to the work of salvation so that human beings can continue to have access to forgiveness and sanctification and be glorified.”