Month: December 2016

Jesus Christ: son of God and Prophet

The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear. — Deuteronomy 18:15

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Message

God announces a Prophet greater than Moses, namely Jesus Christ, in whom God promises salvation to all man­kind.

The Old Testament contains numerous references to the arrival of the Messiah. The Bible word for this second Sunday of Advent can also be understood as one such refer­ence. Moses not only led the people, but was also a proph­et, because He proclaimed the divine will.

The gospel of John brings to expression both the com­monalities and the differences between Moses and Jesus Christ: “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Moses brought the law, and Jesus Christ brought grace and truth.

Grace and truth

Jesus Christ refers to the truth, namely by explaining who makes it possible to attain sal­vation and the means by which one can obtain salvation.

Jesus Christ Himself makes it clear that He is the way, the truth, and the life. Perfect fel­lowship with God is only pos­sible in Him. If we recognize the truth in the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6) we will not follow any other god or idol.

Jesus Christ reveals the will of God. In the Sermon on the Mount, He shows us how we are to conduct ourselves, but at the same time He makes it clear that we must commit ourselves to the grace of God if we desire to receive salva­tion.

Jesus’ prophetic predictions about the future

In the gospels, Jesus speaks about the future in prophetic fashion. He foretells the end of the splendid temple in Jeru­salem (Matthew 24:1–2), but He also promises the Holy Spirit (John 15:26), and speaks of His return (Matthew 24:29–31).

If we acknowledge the pro­phetic activity of Jesus, we will recognize Him as

  • The One who clearly expresses the will of God. Jesus calls upon us to lead a life of love for God and our neighbour.
  • The Lawgiver of love, namely of love for God, our neighbour, and one another.
  • The One in whom we encounter the grace of God. Let us not depend upon our own accom­plishments or works, but rather on Him alone.
  • The One who promises us a future with Him: eternal fellowship with the triune God! We can already experience this fellowship to some degree in word and sacrament, but also in our fellowship with one another. Let us make every effort to ensure that this is indeed the case among one another!

Those who follow Jesus will also share in Jesus’ prophetic ability. When we prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:1–3), we speak of the will of God, point out to others that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, explain that we depend on the grace of God—and not our own works—and that Jesus will return as He has promised!

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on 04 December 2016 at Midrand Congregation.

 We would love to hear from you on any of these topics. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

December 2016: Sharing with others

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Before the people of Israel entered into the Promised Land, God gave them a special instruction as to how they were to express their gratitude: they were to share. Out of thankfulness toward Him they were to give the poor and the stranger something of theirs. God gave them the commandment: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest, and you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger.”

This notion of sharing can also be found in the gospel. The Apostles picked up on it and spread it further. Because we have ourselves received gifts from God, we share with the poor and the stranger.

Sharing is a firm component of Christian faith and it fits very well into our time. With it we Christians offer a counterweight to the ever-present motto of maximizing profit: in all things one must extract as much as humanly possible—as much money, as much time, as much advantage, as much utility, as much esteem, and as much prestige as possible. Everyone wants the maximum for himself. That applies to the individual, it applies to society, to the economy, to the country, and so on. And in the process, one often forgets one’s neighbour, the poor, and the stranger.

We are aware that everything we have comes from God. And God expects us not only to give Him His portion, but rather also that we have something to spare for our neighbour, for those who are in need. Because we have received so much from Him, the dear God tells us, “I want you to also share that which I give you with others. Share your time, share your strength, share your money, share your gifts. Take a moment to care for the poor, your neighbour, those who are in need.”

That is the Christian faith put into practice.

Food for thought from a divine service by the Chief Apostle

— We would love to hear from you on any of these topics. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Devotions: December

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The first Sunday in the month of December brings Jesus Christ into focus as the promised and expected Prophet and Messiah. Even greater than Moses, He proclaims God’s future plan of sal­vation and preaches about the outstanding importance of the grace of God.

The second Sunday of Advent is the second Sunday in the new church year. According to the motto of our theme series, we are living in the time of fulfilment.

The divine service on the third Sunday of Advent revolves around the practical applications of our preparation for the return of Christ. It endeavours to illustrate this unique event by using the image of the approaching morning after the darkness of the night.

Praise and thanks for the King of all kings—who already reigns in our midst today, and who will also rule as King in the kingdom of peace—is the core content of the divine service on the fourth Sunday of Advent.

With a view to the perspective and believing attitude of Mary, the mother of Jesus, this year’s celebration of Christmas features some new and enriching facets for our life of faith today, and confirms the truth of the fundamental statement: “Nothing that God has resolved to do is ever impossible.”

The divine service that marks the closing of the year makes ref­erence to this year’s motto of “Victory with Christ” and calls upon us to be introspective and give thanks.

— We would love to hear from you on any of these topics. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.