3 January 2024

Fulfilling the law was supposed to be the path to salvation in the old covenant. In the new covenant it is different: true discipleship, true faith, and charity. The Chief Apostle recently explained what this means.

Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider conducted a service in Bad Sassendorf, Germany, on 29 October 2023, based on Galatians 5: 6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”

In his sermon, Chief Apostle Schneider addressed the dispute in the church in Galatia and explained that some believed that they had to adhere to the tenets of the Mosaic Law. Paul argued that salvation does not come from the fulfilment of the law, but from true faith and love: “Circumcision is the mark of the covenant of the Old Testament; but we are in the new covenant, where only one thing counts in order to obtain salvation: faith that works through love.” Although receiving the sacraments is crucial, neither this nor the observance of rules is enough to be saved. The Chief Apostle once again emphasised the importance of faith working through love: “Sometimes I worry a little. There is so much preaching about faith and love in our divine services that I sometimes worry that it will become meaningless.” He then went on to emphasise just how important faith and love are for salvation.

Faith in Jesus Christ

Those who truly believe in Jesus Christ consider His gospel to be true and will align their lives in accordance with His teaching. “We believe that Jesus Christ is the truth. And to be precise that means: we believe that God is exactly as He has revealed Himself through Jesus Christ.” And: “God is love.” Every stage of God’s plan of salvation is characterised by love. The Chief Apostle explained that God continued to love the first human beings even after they had fallen into sin. God the Son left the divine glory to suffer and die so that humankind could be saved. In addition to this, Jesus offers human beings the possibility to share in His merit.

The love of God

Faith leads to love, the Chief Apostle said. This is how the followers of Jesus seek fellowship with Him. This is the meaning of their lives. “We believe that eternal life, fellowship with God, is the greatest thing a person can attain. We are convinced of this! That is what I have been created for! That is the greatest happiness I can obtain: eternal life!”

This desire for closeness to God drives us to become active in love.

Active Christian love

The commandment to love one’s neighbour is not about human love: “The love that is meant here is not the love that we know as human beings: for our wife or our husband, for our children and grandchildren, or for our friends. This kind of love is born of faith. Jesus made this very clear: the love for our neighbour is connected with our love for God, that is, with faith in God.” It is a question of becoming active on the basis of this love for God AND for our neighbour.

To love as Jesus loved

Jesus says, “Love one another; as I have loved you.” This becomes possible when we see our neighbour as God sees her or him. “Jesus loves us, regardless of who we are. Whether we are young or old, beautiful or not, clever or not so clever, whether we are this colour or that, whether we are very devout or evil, Jesus loves us unconditionally and loves all of us equally—regardless of who we are.” God has the proper perspective here. He sees a person who lives under the dominion of sin and whom He wants to save.

Contributing to the salvation of others

This divine perspective in turn leads to all Christians wanting to contribute to the salvation of their neighbour, the Chief Apostle said. This also applies to everyday life. It is important that we make it possible for others to experience the closeness and love of God through us and show them that God shares in their cares and their suffering, and that He is patient and merciful, and forgives.

The desire to share

Finally, Chief Apostle Schneider spoke about the importance of sharing. Jesus Christ gives us access to the fullness of His merits, he said. It certainly is His victory, but He shares it with us out of love.

This is a subject with which everyone still struggles. “Our focus is still on the idea performance.” And addressing the congregation he said, “You have achieved something special, and now you would like others not to get it because they did not perform as good? But you did it out of love.” Those who serve out of love can give up this focus on performance and be assured: “If my neighbour obtains the same thing, he or she takes nothing away from me. On the contrary, this enhances my joy because I love my neighbour and he or she has also obtained salvation,” the Chief Apostle said.