Month: November 2015

Salvation in Jesus Christ

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. — John 1: 17

Message

God accepts all human beings without reservation in Jesus Christ.

This Sunday marks the beginning of Advent; a time of expectation, a time of arrival. Our Bible text can also be understood in view of the Old Testament’s anticipation of the Messiah, which came to fulfilment in the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth. A turn in the tide is addressed here, namely the transition from the Mosaic Law to the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. And this always reminds us of His promise to return. With this, His renewed arrival, our hope will be fulfilled!

The law of love

The Mosaic Law had an abundance of individual provisions that were intended to regulate the relationship between human beings and God, as well as their relationships among one another. Often people failed to live up to this law, as it was impossible for them to keep all the prescriptions of the law. However, there was one Man who managed to keep them all, namely Jesus Christ. He thus succeeded in doing something no other human being has ever been capable of.

When one of the scribes asked Him which was the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12: 29–31).

Jesus

  • made it clear that He had not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it (Matthew 5: 17).
  • made the Old Testament commandment of love for God and one’s neighbour the focal point of His teaching and actions (Leviticus 19: 18).

Jesus made it clear that the commandments of God can only be fulfilled if there is a corresponding attitude. It was on the foundation of love that God gave mankind the commandments in the first place. Human beings should therefore also fulfil them out of love for Him and their neighbour (John 14: 21).

An advent mindset

Advent gives us the opportunity to once again expressly think about that which God has done upon us. We feel His love through Jesus Christ, who has come to us—and will come again. This is the foundation of our hope and confidence, even in dark days. Let us testify of this hope and confidence to others, and tell them about the following.

  • The great value our fellowship among the believers holds for us! Let us also remember those who feel alone and abandoned, who would gladly share our joy but cannot find anyone with whom to do so. Let us go to them!
  • The comfort we draw from the certainty that God is with us despite our weaknesses, and that Jesus Christ intercedes with Him on our behalf! Let us tolerate and forgive one another within the congregation (Colossians 3: 13). Let us never tire of approaching one another!
  • There are many who feel as though they might break under the weight of their guilt. We can uplift and comfort them!
  • Advent reminds us about what we are waiting for: the return of Christ! There are so many people who are afraid of the future! They feel helpless when they see what is coming. Let us continue to tell them that Jesus Christ will return!

 

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on Sunday, 29 November 2015 at Midrand Congregation.

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Sunday school kids stage take centre stage

Many of us know the story of apostle Peter’s miraculous escape from prison but this weekend we were again reminded that God is certainly the God of the impossible when the Sunday school children of the New Apostolic Church in Gauteng staged a play on this event for its members.

Taking place at the St Stithians School in Bryanston, Johannesburg on Saturday, 28 November 2015, the Sunday school children brought to life this miraculous event together with various musical and orchestral items. Capturing the essence of this important Biblical story they explained how King Herod (King of the Jewish people) persecuted Christians and ordered the arrest of Peter. Because members of the church were afraid, they gathered together in a house to pray, and while they were praying, an angel visited Peter’s prison cell. Even though he was heavily guarded, the angel miraculously released Peter. He then found his way to the house where the church was praying. The children then explained the importance of this story for the 21st century.

The play, which was staged twice in the morning, also formed part of a family picnic day where families spent quality time together and with other NAC members. Fires were provided for braais and there were jumping castles, water slides, as well as organised fun activities for the children.

District Apostle Patrick Mkhwanazi thanked everyone involved for making the play and the day a success. He especially thanked the children for their dedication, highlighting that such dedication is important for the future of the church. Plays will also be staged in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Free State, said the District Apostle.

Below is a gallery of the Gauteng staging of the Sunday school children’s play, Peter’s miraculous escape from prison.

* By Rivonia Naidu-Hoffmeester

Hope in the resurrection

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. — 1 Corinthians 15: 20

Message

We believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and hope in our own resurrection and the moment when death will be overcome.

On this last Sunday of the church year we will deal with things that will occur in the future: the return of Christ, our own resurrection, and the overcoming of death.

Countering those who denied the resurrection

At the time of the early Apostles, only a few people believed in the resurrection of the dead. Concerning this, Apostle Paul writes that those who do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ will not be able to find salvation (1 Corinthians 15: 12, 14). If Christ did not resurrect, our faith would be futile (1 Corinthians 15: 17).

Hope in the resurrection

Hope is a sure and steadfast “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6: 19). The early Christians in Jerusalem were persecuted, were forced to flee, and were scattered. But in spite of everything they continued to preach the gospel. The hope that lived in them gave them the strength to do this (Acts 8: 1, 4).

We put all our hope in Christ, “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”. He has overcome death, and death has lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15: 20, 55).

If we live in hope of the resurrection, and want to prepare ourselves for the resurrection, this means that we must remain firm in faith and follow the Lord.

Implication of the resurrection

We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we hope for our own resurrection and the moment when death will be overcome. What are the implications of the resurrection?

  • After the resurrection we will be liberated from all suffering, and from death.
  • After the resurrection we will be like the firstfruits of the resurrection, namely Jesus Christ, and will receive a “spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15: 44).
  • After the resurrection the church of Christ will be perfectly visible.
  • Thereafter, death will be overcome once and for all (Revelation 21: 4).

Because we harbour this hope, we prepare ourselves for the resurrection. Today already, let us be perfect in the unity of the Spirit and reveal the perfect church through faith, profession, and following.

To this end, may God grant us His help and His comfort! Let us pray daily that the Lord may come soon and that death may be overcome once and for all.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on Sunday, 22 November 2015 at Midrand Congregation.

NAC South East Africa 2016 Funeral Scheme

Dear Brothers and Sisters

This is a communique from head office regarding the burial scheme for 2016.

We wish to announce that the burial scheme rates for 2016 will be increased by approximately 6% due to an upward trend in burial claims over the last three years.

In taking this decision, we wish to inform our members that we have also compared the rates with four alternative service providers and have found that the NACSEA burial scheme remains competitive and we strongly encourage all to consider it.

If you have any enquiries, please speak to Priest Brent van Rooi after service. Payment has to be made directly into the church’s burial account. All completed forms and proof of payment must be returned to Priest Van Rooi as he needs to reconcile and ensure receipts are issued to all who paid.

Click here for the rates.

Click here for the 2016 application and update form.

Click here for the banking details.

2016 NACSEA Funeral Scheme Poster_Page_1

Proclaiming the praises of God

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. — 2 Corinthians 1: 21–22

Message

We are God’s property as well as His messengers.

God has established us in Christ through the rebirth out of water and the Spirit.

We belong to God

The Holy Spirit makes us firm in faith by reminding us that we have received the seal of God, which is a clear sign that we belong to God.

  • God is not only our Creator, but also our Father, who loves us and watches over us.
  • We belong to Christ (John 17: 6). He is our Advocate and intercedes on our behalf, no matter what. No one can tear us from His hand.
  • We belong to the community of God’s children. Even though it consists of sinners, it is nevertheless a source of strength, joy, and comfort for us.
  • The seal is also an image for the fellowship of the faithful with the apostolate, which imparts to them all the elements of salvation they need in order to prepare themselves for the return of the Lord.

Messengers of the Lord

Through the rebirth out of water and the Spirit, we were anointed by God. Also associated with this is that we have been sent in order to serve Him.

In a certain sense, God even sends us out as prophets, as it were, in order to

  • Proclaim His will. When basic principles of the gospel go unfulfilled, we show our disapproval and endeavour to prove, through our conduct, that it is indeed possible to fulfil the law of Christ.
  • Proclaim the future. We are certain that Christ will always have the last word!

A royal priesthood

As those who have been reborn out of water and the Spirit, we belong to the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2: 5, 9), who have been called in order to

  • Proclaim the praises of God. These fill us with joy and thankfulness. His grace moves us to also practise forgiveness in our own right.
  • Bring spiritual sacrifices (that is, sacrifices produced by the Spirit). Humbleness is a sacrifice that is pleasing to God, as is a life that is completely dedicated to God, in other words, a life that is led in the mind and spirit of the gospel. (Catechism 13.2.1).
  • Do good and to share with our neighbour (Hebrews 13: 16), because all of these are sacrifices that please

God has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. Thanks to the gift of the Holy Spirit we can already today enjoy fellowship with God and have a foretaste of His kingdom (Hebrews 6: 5).

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on Sunday, 15 November 2015 at Midrand Congregation.

Come watch the Sunday School kids stage Peter’s miraculous escape from prison

You are invited to attend a play that will be staged by the Sunday School children of the New Apostolic Church in Gauteng. The play, Peter’s Miraculous Escape from Prison, will take place at the St Stithians School in Bryanston, Johannesburg on Saturday, 28 November 2015. Supporting this play are various musical and orchestral items which will be rendered by our young children.

The play also forms part of a family picnic day so that families may spend quality time together and with other NAC members. A demarcated area will be reserved for us from 09:30 to 17:00 at the school. Fires will be provided so that you may be able to braai. There will also be jumping castles, water slides, as well as organised fun activities for the enjoyment of our young ones. You are requested to bring your own picnic baskets, utensils, crockery, umbrellas, gazebos, camping chairs, picnic blankets and other picnic items you may need.

Unfortunately because of the limited seating capacity of the hall, entry to the play will be by ticket only. Tickets are available for sale now on the church’s website. However, if you wish to join the family picnic day, entry to the venue is free and members who do not wish to attend the play are still welcome to participate in the picnic.

Click here to buy your tickets.

Click here to read a letter from DA Patrick Mkhwanazi.

Picnic Poster

The return of Christ

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. — John 14: 2–3

Message

Jesus makes it possible for us to have fellowship with God.

The statement of Jesus that there are many mansions in the house of His Father indicates that there is a great deal of room with the Father: God wants all human beings to be saved. He has room for each and every one!

When Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them, He did so in direct reference to His immediate future. Through His sacrifice, resurrection, and ascension, He created the opportunity for us to enter into eternal fellowship with God.

Fellowship with God today

On several occasions, Jesus explained how human beings can enter into this fellowship, namely through

  • faith. The nature of God will reveal itself—in the person and love of Jesus—to those who believe in Jesus Christ (John 14: 9).
  • active love. Jesus promises to reveal Himself to, and make His abode with, those who love Him (verses 21–23). This love goes beyond feelings and emotions. It reveals itself specifically in obedience. God helps those who obey Him. He fills their heart with peace, joy, and cheerful equanimity.
  • collective prayer. The Lord is in the midst of those who become one in His name in prayer (Matthew 18: 19–20). This promise applies to each collective prayer uttered in the name of Jesus—both during and outside of the divine service. Let us also remember that the prayers of Jesus were always simple, albeit intensive!

Preparing ourselves for the return of Christ

In our Bible text, Jesus speaks of our eternal fellowship with God. He announces that He will come again in order to take His own unto Himself. He grants us the opportunity to prepare ourselves for His return by

sending His Apostles. When we accept the messengers of the Lord, we accept the Lord (John 13: 20).

sealing us with His Spirit. Through Him, God makes His permanent abode within us, and we are thus in close fellowship with Him (Catechism 8.3.9).

instituting Holy Communion. This guarantees us fellowship with Him (John 6: 56). Let us celebrate it worthily, with the firm resolution to follow the Lord and become like Him.

Eternal fellowship with God

The rapture of the bride does not mark the end of the plan of salvation! Even after the marriage of the Lamb, there will still be a great deal of room in the Father’s house! Jesus Christ will come once again, this time in power and great glory. He will see to it that all human beings of all time periods have access to salvation: all those who believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him will be permitted to live with God in eternal fellowship in the new creation.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on Sunday, 08 November 2015 at Midrand Congregation.

Recognising the gift of God

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” — John 4: 10

Message

In order to attain salvation, human beings must ask for it and recognise the gift of God. The love of God for all human beings comes to expression in the sending of His Son (John 3: 16).

The Lord speaks to us…

From the moment He appeared on this earth Christ has implored mankind to accept the offer of salvation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Revelation 3: 20). Here it becomes clear that the initiative often comes from the Lord. This was the case with Zacchaeus (Luke 19: 5) as well as with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. The Lord said to her, “Give Me a drink!” He did not pay any attention to the reservations that the people around Him harboured: He called a despised sinner to Himself, and even addressed a Samaritan woman. In the minds of His Jewish contemporaries, both broke societal taboos; it was unthinkable.

After His sacrificial death, the Lord proclaimed the gospel in the realm of the dead (1 Peter 3: 19–20). Once again, God’s universal will to save (1 Timothy 2: 4–5), which also includes the departed, is clearly revealed here. This also applies in the present, even if it may seem inconceivable to many people.

… and those who recognise Him and ask, will receive.

Salvation is not imparted automatically. It requires that human beings realize that they need help. When the Lord turns to someone, the person He addresses must react positively, “If you knew the gift of God …, you would have asked Him.” For their part, human beings must recognise the Redeemer and then also humbly turn to Christ with the plea for help and living water. Also the souls in the beyond must recognise their need for help. This is a prerequisite to receive salvation.

Prayers for insight

Scripture speaks of various instances where people interceded for the necessary insight on the part of others.

  • Elisha prayed that God would open the eyes of his servant so that the man could recognise the help of God (2 Kings 6:17).
  • Apostle Paul interceded on behalf of the believers, asking God to enlighten the “eyes of [their] understanding” so that they might recognise their calling (Ephesians 1: 16, 18).

Thus one of the points of emphasis of our prayers might include the plea that the departed may recognise the salvation that is being offered to them. Jesus made it clear that no one was to be excluded from salvation. In linewith His example, we do not exclude anyone either when we pray. Let us ask that the departed

  • may recognise Jesus Christ as the gift of God for salvation.
  • may recognise the Apostles as those who today dispense the sacraments—which can be compared with living water—to those who ask for them.

Thus the imploring call of the ambassadors for Christ also resounds in the beyond today, “Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22: 17).

The events that will transpire on this day are supported by the firm belief that all those who truly long, and sincerely plead, will receive the help they need in accordance with the promise of the Lord, “For everyone who asks receives …” (Matthew 7: 8).

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service for the Departed held on Sunday, 01 November 2015 at Midrand Congregation.

November 2015: Oneness

Whenever I return home from my travels, I often bring an especially beautiful impression back with me: how colourful and diverse our Church is! However, it is not always easy to live in such diversity. We can find New Apostolic believers in almost all countries of the world. They speak hundreds of languages, and come from the most widely varied of cultural circles.

Now, Jesus Christ considers it important for all of us to be one. He even prayed for this at a very special moment, namely just prior to His arrest. But how is this supposed to work? By our own strength we would not be able to manage this, but with God it is possible. The best example of oneness is the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The three divine persons have a single will, and testify of one another. They work together for the salvation of mankind. To emphasize this the Lord Jesus stated, “I and My Father are one” (John 10: 30).

But how are we human beings ever to attain such a degree of oneness? The first step to this end has already been taken by Jesus Christ: He became Man in order to share all things with us. He gave us His life. Through baptism with water and the Spirit, He lives in us, and Holy Communion enables this new life to develop. Our task is to see to it that God truly lives in us. The more we are one with Jesus Christ, the easier it is to be one with each other. For this reason, let us work on wanting the same things He wants: He wants us to enter into eternal fellowship with Him, such that we will then share everything with Him. His thoughts are to stimulate our thoughts. His friends are our friends. His enemy is our enemy. He wants us to testify of Him: let us stop talking so much about our own deeds, and instead tell others of His deeds, of His love, and of His sacrifice. And He also wants us to help along in His work and commit ourselves to His cause.

Oneness does not mean that we all need to be the same. We do not need to give up our personality, nor our tradition, nor our culture. We are all different, but we have one and the same will: we follow Jesus Christ.

Let us remain together in both joy and suffering. Let us unite in the worship of God, instead of criticizing one another, and let us bundle our strengths in order to serve the Lord.

Jean-Luc Schneider

Devotions: November

The divine services in November focus on “the last things”, namely salvation for the departed and our hope for the future: the return of Christ, the royal priesthood, the overcoming of death, and the resurrection of the dead. The new church year begins with the last Sunday of the month.

The first Sunday in November is dedicated to the departed. The article is based on the account of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. The Samaritans were rejected by devout Jews, who avoided all contact with them. Jesus transcended these prejudices and made it clear that salvation does not know any barriers. No human being—and no nation—is excluded from salvation. However, attaining salvation is not automatic either. For their part, human beings must have the necessary insight, namely that salvation can never be earned or deserved, but that all are dependent on the gift of salvation. This knowledge is just as necessary for the living as for the dead. In our prayers for the departed we ask God to help them recognize their need for salvation.

The divine service on 8 November centres on the topic of Christ’s return, which is one of the central elements of Christian faith. Among other things, the congregation is being prepared for the return of the Lord by the Apostles, and through Holy Sealing and Holy Communion. For the bridal congregation, the return of Christ marks the start of everlasting fellowship with the triune God. At the same time, it is brought to expression that the return of Christ and the rapture of the bridal congregation does not signify the end of salvation history, but rather that salvation history continues on toward its goal, namely to lead as many human beings as possible into eternal fellowship with God. It is important that the rapture of the bridal congregation be clearly described as an act of advanced salvation. God’s work of salvation comes to its conclusion in the new creation, in which God will be all in all.

In the third divine service of November we occupy ourselves with the royal priesthood, which is that group of people who will proclaim the gospel to all human beings, both living and dead, in the kingdom of peace. The royal priesthood, which is referenced in 1 Peter 2: 9, not only refers to a future condition, but rather also describes a present state, namely that of belonging to God and of having been called to proclaim the gospel to others in word and deed already today.

The 22nd of November is the last Sunday in the church year. On this day we profess the resurrection of the dead. This includes, first and foremost, our profession of the resurrection of Jesus, because it is on this that the hope of our own resurrection and the general resurrection of the dead is founded. For the bridal congregation, this resurrection will take place at the first return of Christ, when the firstfruits of the dead and the living will receive a new body. This spiritual body is of the same composition as the resurrection body of Jesus Christ, the firstfruits of the resurrection.

On 29 November we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, which marks the beginning of the new church year. The Advent season is a reference to the expectation of the birth of Jesus Christ, which marked the start of a new era within the history of salvation. The Bible passage for this divine service is taken from John 1: 17, which makes reference to Moses and Jesus Christ. Moses is the representative of the old covenant, and this covenant was defined by the law. Jesus Christ is the founder of the new covenant, which is characterized by grace and truth. Jesus is grace and truth personified. Here it becomes evident that nothing Jesus brings, says, or does can be dissociated from His person. Therefore Jesus Christ is not only the example for all Christians, but also an object of faith and worship. At the same time He is an example for the Christian in His active love and devotion to His neighbour