Month: June 2014

Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you: Youth Service: June 2014

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” — Romans 8: 14–15

Message

Let us allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit in order to be perfected on the day of the Lord.Through the rebirth we have attained childhood in God and have been given the prerequisite for becoming a firstling. It is our goal to be numbered among the bridal congregation, that is to say,among the firstlings, at the return of Christ. To this end let us align our lives by Christ.In our words and actions it isto become clear that we are children of God.

Core Points

Through the rebirth we have been granted childhood in God and have received the prerequisites for becoming a firstling. The spirit of bondage seeks salvation in the fulfilment of the Mosaic Law. The gospel teaches us that this is a fallacy. Children of God bear the Spirit of adoption, who has the following effects:

  • He makes us peacemakers.
  • He teaches us to love our enemies.
  • He teaches us to distance ourselves from that which is unclean.
  • He prompts us to proclaim the gospel.

Helping others through our holy conduct: 29 June 2014

But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. — 1 Peter 1: 15

Message

Let us align our lives with the will of God and intercede in prayer for the departed. In its introduction (1 Peter 1: 1–12), the first epistle of Petermakes reference to the greatimportance of the rebirth. Thisis followed by the main topicof the epistle: it appeals to itsreaders to live a new life thatis to correspond to the holinessof God (1 Peter 1: 13 to 2: 10), always in reference tothe Old Testament. This isfollowed by admonitions andwords of comfort (1 Peter 2: 11 to 4: 19).

Core Points

Let us ensure that our conduct is holy in the sense that we

  • allow ourselves to be led by God.
  • do battle against sin.
  • act as a willing instrument in the hand of God.

If we conduct ourselves in this manner, our intercessions for those in need of help in yonder world will be worthy and genuine.

Knowing ourselves: 25 June 2014

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. — Revelation 3: 6

Message

Let us hear what the Lord has to tell us and adhere to it. Revelation 3: 6 is part of the letter written to the church in the small yet wealthy town of Sardis in Asia Minor. It is a letter of admonition and expresses disapproval of the various conditions in the congregation.

Core Points

  • The admonition of the Lord—out of the power of the Holy Spirit—brings to light our shortcomings so we can improve.
  • We are asked to fulfil the com missions the Lord has given us.
  • Let us take his admonitions seriously.

Touching the Lord: 22 June 2014

But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” — Luke 8: 46

Message

Divine power can take effect when we seek the nearness of Jesus.

Core Points

  • Those who touch the Lord in faith will receive divine power.
  • We touch the Lord in prayer by absorbing His word, by partaking in Holy Communion, and through our believing offerings and sacrifices.
  • The divine powers help us to be firm in trust, filled with peace and joy, and to overcome things that do not please God.

Gifts of the Spirit: 18 June 2014

When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. — Acts 19: 5–6

Message

Receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit should cause effects. The Bible text is taken from the story of Paul’s encounter with the disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus. John’s disciples had left him for Jesus, but they had not yet been baptised in the name of Christ. They also did not know that there is a Holy Spirit.

Core Points

The Holy Spirit causes effects in the life of the believer. These are manifest when we

  • give room to the Holy Spirit.
  • avoid ungodly influences.
  • endeavour to be vigilant, and recognise God’s help and support in everyday life.
  • discover our spiritual gifts.

Let us use our spiritual gifts and serve our family, congregation, and community and promote spiritual development.

Knowing the triune God: 15 June 2014

[I make] mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. — Ephesians 1: 16, 17

Message

Knowing the triune God has concrete effects in our life of faith.

Verse 17 suggests a Trinitarian structure: “God, the Father”, “our Lord Jesus Christ”, and the “spirit of wisdom and revelation”. In verses 16 and 17 Paul asks God that the congregation may recognise and know Him through the Holy Spirit. Knowledge of God is thus not a human capability or accomplishment, but rather a gift of God. The Holy Spirit is the source of wisdom and the knowledge of God. What is more, the true nature of God is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

Core Points

God, who is invisible, reveals Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We profess this in the first three Articles of Faith.

  • Knowledge of the Father gives us certainty.
  • Knowledge of the Son shows us that glory follows after our sufferings.
  • Knowledge of the Holy Spirit allows us to absorb the sermon in faith and serves to prepare the bride of Christ.

Video from Pentecost 2014 in Munich, Germany

Millions of New Apostolic Church members on all continents experienced the Divine Service of Pentecost with their Church leader, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider. The chief apostle addressed his brothers and sisters with the thought to become stronger in the love for God and for the neighbour: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Click here to watch a few parts of the divine service.

video

Pentecost 2014: “It is more blessed to give than to receive”

Pentecost 2014 2A divine service from Munich transmitted around the world by satellite—millions of New Apostolic Christians on all continents witnessed the Pentecost service conducted by their Church leader, Jean-Luc Schneider. In the Olympia Stadium in the Bavarian capital alone there were 50,000 believers. In his Pentecost message, the Chief Apostle called upon the believers to become even more active in love for God and their neighbour, emphasising that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

The thermometer was holding steady at approximately 30 degrees Celsius when the closing divine service of the first International Church Convention began at 10:00 AM on Pentecost Sunday, 8 June 2014. Despite the high temperatures, the Olympia Stadium was filled with over 50,000 participants. The divine service was transmitted live via satellite to more than 100 countries around the world.

“Labour in love”

At the start of the divine service, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider recalled the motto for the year 2014: “Labour in love”. His appeal: “This is not merely a motto for a single year. To labour in love must be a firm component of our life of faith! Love is indispensable for our preparation to reach the goal of our faith as New Apostolic Christians, namely the return of Jesus.

The Church leader chose a Bible passage from Romans 5: 5 as the basis for the divine service and his sermon: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

“Your hope will not be disappointed”

In reference to the first part of the Bible passage, the Chief Apostle stressed that our hope in God will not be disappointed. “We hope in His return. We hope for salvation. We hope for His help. This hope is predicated upon the love of God. And Jesus promised mankind that no one would ever be able to separate them from the love of God.” Again the Chief Apostle repeated this promise: “Your hope will not be disappointed!”

In his sermon, he also illuminated the effects of God’s love. “Love has been poured out in our hearts, and it must continually grow.” For us as individuals, this means that we must always examine our hearts to see whether they are defined by love for God and our neighbour. “Our entire being must be permeated by our love for God and our neighbour.”

Pentecost 2014 1“Giving—without calculation”

God is our example: He gives without calculation, without condition, and without expecting anything in return. The Chief Apostle recalled that “God allows the sun to shine upon both the good and the bad. God is the great Giver who loves us. Let us also give—without calculation, without expecting anything in return.” He went on to point out that Jesus called upon His disciples to invite the poor—namely those who could not pay back the favour—to a meal. “Those who love will also give without expecting anything in return, and without calculation.”

“It is more blessed to give than to receive”

On the subject of love, the Chief Apostle gave the believers a well-known Bible passage to take home with them: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20: 35). “After all, giving brings us nearer to God and into fellowship with Jesus Christ. Wherever the love of God is active, people are prompted to give—without the expectation of anything in return.”

As an example, the Chief Apostle referred to matrimony and family life. “Quite frequently in our time,” he pointed out, “marriage is nothing more than a fellowship of interests. Today it is often the case that couples only stay together for as long as each party still has an interest in doing so. Each one is expecting to receive as much as he or she gives. This is an unpleasant development.” Beyond that, he pointed out that it is the responsibility of parents to raise their children to have love for God and to help them understand, already in young years, that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Pentecost 2014 3Consumeristic behaviour has no place in church!

The Chief Apostle went on to mention another specific example: “Here and there in congregational life there is also a tendency to adopt the consumerism that is often prominent in society, but consumeristic behaviour has no place in church!” It is the wrong approach, he pointed out, to look for results after every investment, and to expect that something will come back to us. “It is not a question of attaining a tangible result, but rather a matter of active love—without the expectation of anything in return,” he explained.

He also applied this message to the congregations in Africa and overseas countries in other continents. Often there is an expectation there that the Church must provide one thing or another, but what counts more than such an attitude of entitlement is the endeavour to give rather than take.

Thanks to all the helpers

At the end of the divine service, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider thanked all the helpers who had made the Church Convention possible in this form. With great applause, the 50,000 participants in the stadium paid tribute to the many volunteer workers who had helped along with the event. Even retired Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber, who had stepped down on Pentecost 2013, took to the stage amid thunderous applause, and addressed a few words to listeners around the world.

The Pentecost service then concluded with the singing of the official song of the International Church Convention: “Singt ein Lied von Gott” [Sing a song of God”].

The Church Convention will go on until Sunday evening. At 6:00 PM, the booths of the various District Churches in Coubertin Square will close their doors. After that, the very first International Church Convention of the New Apostolic Church will become history.

* Article from New Apostolic Church International

 

NAC Chief Apostle addresses homosexuality and ordination of women ministers

Addressing questions on homosexuality and ordination of women ministers, amongst others, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider spoke at the International Church Convention of the New Apostolic Church in Munich on 7 June 2014. Before he addressed some of these topics at a panel discussion at the fully occupied Olympia Hall, he said: “Let love—mutual love—prevail.”

“The kingdom of God is among you”—what does this motto of the International Church Convention mean for our daily lives? The endeavour to answer this question was the actual motivation behind this event in the Olympia Hall. Also seated on the panel were District Apostle Michael Ehrich, the host of the Church Convention, Professor Hans-Jörg Bullinger, former president of the Fraunhofer Society, and Monika Bleutgen, who volunteers within the Church in the areas of teaching, music, and congregational life. Friederike Gottschalk from Munich moderated the discussion.

In response to the question of the Church’s position on homosexuality, Chief Apostle Schneider referred to the commandment of love and specified that one should love one’s neighbour “as he is”. All members are to feel comfortable in the Church! This also applies to those who live in countries where homosexuality is punishable by arrest or even death. These people would be threatened by persecution if the Church were to attempt to insist on certain positions.

The Chief Apostle stated that it was too soon, at present, to answer the question of whether women should be ordained to ministry. “Before that can happen, our conception of ministry must first be made clear: what is a ministry? What is a service? What actually happens during the ordination? Only once there is agreement on the answers to these questions will we be in a position to discuss the question of who can bear such a ministry.” This is not only a matter of theological consideration, he said, but also a societal issue. After all, we must ask: what will the congregation accept? What will work in the various regions? At the same time, the Chief Apostle expressed that the argument “we do not have enough men, therefore you women should preach” is not a good basis for answering this question.

Loving one's neighbour

Questions from three subject areas

Also on the discussion table were questions from the three subject areas of family, society, and congregation. So it was that the “kingdom of God”—for example in the context of respectful relationships within the family or in the endeavour to “never close the door of our hearts” in conflict situations—featured prominently in the conversation.

The audience grew quiet in suspense when the Chief Apostle was confronted with controversial questions, for example, whether one can be a soldier as a Christian in consideration of the commandment: “You shall not murder”. “There are situations when it is even part of one’s duty to protect life, be it one’s own or those of one’s family,” noted the Church leader. “Even though it remains a sin to kill, there are varying degrees of guilt. These are dependent on the respective motivations in each situation and can only be judged by God.”

“Shouldn’t the Church take a stronger position in society?” asked the moderator. “This is not necessarily up to us,” replied Chief Apostle Schneider. “We do not have the competency to say something useful on every subject.” Beyond that he stated that the members are to decide things for themselves. “It is not our task to prescribe to them what they are to think.”

Shouldn’t the Church be more socially active? The Chief Apostle countered this question with another question: “Who is the Church? It is not an institution with a chief by the name of Schneider who sits in Zurich! We are the Church!”

Article from New Apostolic Church International

 

Ecumenism – not a controversial topic for New Apostolic Christians after all?

Ecumenism – not a controversial topic for New Apostolic Christians after all? That was certainly the impression that emerged during an important panel discussion at the International Church Convention in Munich on the subject of the one-year anniversary of the New Apostolic Catechism.

Several thousand listeners had assembled in the Olympia Hall to listen to the discussion. The participants in the discussion—ecumenical experts of various denominations were Dr Reinhard Hempelmann (Director of the Evangelische Zentralstelle für Weltanschauungsfragen: Protestant Agency for Religious and Ideological Issues, Berlin), Apostle Volker Kühnle (Work Group Contacts with other Denominations and Religions), Dr Burkhard Neumann (Director of the Johann-Adam-Möhler Institute für Ecumenism, Paderborn), Professor Helmut Obst (Halle/Saale), and Dr Maria Stettner (Managing Director of the Association of Christian Churches in Bavaria, Munich). Bishop Peter Johanning, Church spokesman for the New Apostolic Church International, served as moderator on the stage.

Professor Obst outlined the basic theme of the panel discussion: the author conceded that he would no longer caption his standard work on the New Apostolic Church with the words: “The exclusive church of the end time?” He noted that “ecumenism does not entail the creation of a ‘unity stew’”, however he did go on to express one particular wish, namely that the New Apostolic Church would also regard other Christians as “children of God”. “Otherwise we could not really pray the Lord’s Prayer to a common Father in heaven,” he noted.

Professor Helmut Obst, and Dr Reinhard Hempelmann

Professor Helmut Obst, and Dr Reinhard Hempelmann

Catechism – the standard reference work

“The objective of the Catechism is not to create an improved state of affairs for moving closer to other churches,” emphasised Apostle Kühnle. Rather it is an endeavour to document, compile, and reinforce the basic principles of the New Apostolic faith. “Anyone who believes that our Church would lose its identity as a consequence of ecumenical dialogue has not read the Catechism.”

“To be sure, however, the Catechism has given new impetus for other denominations to reflect upon the New Apostolic Church,” explained Dr Hempelmann. “And to some degree, this reference work might even give occasion to other churches to reflect upon their own faith,” said Dr Stettner with a reference to the eschatology—that is, the doctrine of future things—of the New Apostolic Church.

Reticence versus trust

Both Protestant and Catholic delegates agreed that there is still a certain amount of reticence. “We are waiting to determine the degree to which these theological ideas are also put into practice within the congregations,” explained Dr Neumann. Beyond that, observers would certainly need time to move away from long-accepted views on our Church. “Please be patient,” was their appeal. They went on to recommend: “Seek opportunities for personal dialogue. After all, the trust that is required can best come into being on an interpersonal level.”

Following the panel discussion on the large stage in the Olympia Hall, the ecumenical guests went on to talk to some 100 interested visitors at the My Church booth. Patiently and very competently, they answered numerous questions and even made themselves available for individual inquiries.

* Article from New Apostolic Church International