New Apostolic Church

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.

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Sunday School Christmas Choral

The Sunday School children from Midrand Congregation in Johannesburg held a Christmas Choral on Saturday, 3 December 2016.

Below are some images from the afternoon’s festivities.

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.

Jesus Christ: The fulfillment of promise (First Sunday of Advent)

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. — 2 Corinthians 1:20

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Message

Together with the Apostles we profess that the divine promises have been fulfilled in Christ.

Today we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent and remem­ber that God already promised the Messiah in the time of the old covenant. Advent, however, is also a season in which we intensively occupy our­selves with our future. After all, we are a people of the future.

Christ is the Yes

Jesus Christ is the Yes of the divine promises, because the promises given by God have been fulfilled in Christ.

  • God promised that He will send a Man who will bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). On the cross, Jesus gained the victory over evil.
  • Isaiah announced the coming of the Saviour (Isaiah 62:11). Thanks to the merit acquired by Jesus, man can be freed from sin and delivered from evil.
  • Jeremiah announced that God would make a new covenant with His people by writing His law into their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). The sermon of Jesus ignited the hearts of His listeners. It is His love that urges us to love Him and to follow His commandments.
  • Jesus Himself will return to fulfil the promise He gave and take His own unto Himself (John 14:3).
  • The Lord will come to earth again in order to establish His kingdom of peace and offer salvation to all nations on earth, perfectly fulfilling the promise given to Abram (Genesis 12:3; 22:18).

Apostles pronounce the Amen

Apostles proclaim the Amen, which means that they profess that Christ fulfils God’s prom­ises.

  • They profess Jesus’ victory over evil.
  • By the authority vested in them, they proclaim forgiveness of sins to repentant believers.
  • They dispense the sacraments, the signs of the new covenant.
  • They proclaim the return of Christ.
  • Sent to all nations, they prepare the royal priest­hood, who, together with Jesus, will be active in the kingdom of peace.

We profess the fulfilment of the promise

We have been called to pro­fess the fulfilment of the prom­ises of Jesus.

  • Our trust in Christ proves that we believe in His victory.
  • Our willingness to forgive proceeds from the grace that He gives us.
  • Our love testifies of the effectiveness of the sac­raments: the love of God was poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).
  • Our joy in Christ is a fruit of our hope in the Lord’s return.
  • We are patient with our neighbour and offer him hospitality, because we know that God wants to save him.

Jesus announced that salva­tion is to be offered to all—and we say amen to this.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on 27 November 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.

Justified by faith

Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. — Malachi 3:18

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Message

We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

Today is the last Sunday of the church year, which refers to the return of Jesus Christ at the end of time for judgement.

God had sent the prophet Malachi to comfort the people. The devout Jews had seen how well things were going for the wicked and had started to wonder and ask why things were not going better for them, seeing that they kept the law. We can understand this! The prophet encouraged them and gave them the following prom­ise of God: in the end there will be a difference between the righteous and the wicked.

Righteous through faith

One cannot become righteous by performing works of the law. The justification of the sinner is an act of God: God grants him the grace to have fellowship with Him. Through faith in Jesus Christ, the sinner can participate in this grace. That is why Apostle Paul was able to say that sinners are justified by faith (Romans 3:28; Catechism-QA 278).

Righteous – wicked

The fact that we are faithful to Christ does not protect us from adversity. This could cause us to call our faith into question. Is it all for nothing that I follow Jesus Christ? No, it is not, because the Apostles show me through word and sacrament how to prepare myself for the return of Christ.

At the return of Christ, the bridal congregation will be accepted into eternal fellow­ship with the triune God. She will not have to appear at the Last Judgement.

Those who refuse to fol­low Christ will ultimately be separated from God at the Last Judgement (Matthew 25:46).

The faith of the righteous

Justification occurs through faith (Romans 5:1). Character­istics of this faith are:

  • Obedience to the will of God, which reveals itself in the Ten Command­ments, for example (Exodus 20:2–17).
  • Trust in God, our Father in heaven (Matthew 6:9).
  • Our willingness to forgive, which proceeds from the forgiveness that God has already given us.

Serving the Lord

Let us serve Christ by:

  • professing our faith and proclaiming the name of Christ,
  • modelling our lives on the gospel and practising Christian love, and
  • helping our neighbour as though he were Christ (Matthew 25:40).

Justified by faith, let us enter eternal fellowship with the tri­une God on the day of Christ’s return.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on 20 November 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.

Steadfastness

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And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. — Acts 2: 42

Message

Let us continue steadfastly in our congregation.

With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and the spread of the gospel by the Apostles of the early time, the first church began to develop and grow.

The Bible text mentions four characteristic aspects which were of decisive importance for the development and the steadfastness of this congregation.

  • The Apostles’ doctrine. Important tenets of this doctrine are the activity of Jesus and His sacrificial death, His resurrection, and the promise of His The acceptance of this doctrine by the congregation contributed to unity in faith of the congregation.
  • It says of this congregation: “All who believed were together, and had all things in common.” They divided their possessions among all and “ate their food with gladness” (Acts 2: 44–46).
  • The breaking of bread. This is a reference to the meal of remembrance and fellowship in the congregation and with the risen Lord.
  • Filled with the Holy Spirit the Christians prayed together right from the start. Their attitude was characterized by childlike trust, humbleness, and fear of God.

Continuing steadfastly today

We live in a world that is shaped more and more by various ideologies, excessive materialism, and exaggerated individualism—all things that attribute less and less significance to Christian values.

Some are wanting to make us believe that the gospel no longer fits into today’s world. Others want to adapt the gospel to the circumstances of our time.

But the way to salvation is set; it cannot be changed. As in the time of the first Christians, the Apostles today proclaim the gospel, administer the sacraments, and prepare the bride of Christ for the Lord’s return.

Let us continue steadfastly in our congregation in the biblically attested characteristics of the first congregation.

The Apostles’ doctrine. The proper teaching of Jesus Christ’s doctrine occurred through the early Christian Apostles. This is being continued today by the present apostolate. Today’s congregation orientates itself on this teaching and is, therefore, a testimony for steadfastness.

Fellowship. The fellowship in our congregation— one of the characteristic aspects of the Lord’s church—acts as a stabilizing element especially today; a time marked by individualization, loneliness, and isolation. This is how the commandment of Jesus is fulfilled to love one another (John 15: 12).

The breaking of bread. In fellowship with the Apostle—the ministry which has been authorized for this—we can celebrate Holy Communion. It is not only a meal of remembrance, of fellowship, and of thanksgiving, but the real presence of the body and blood of Jesus is manifest in it. This is how we experience His presence in the congregation today. This sacrament prepares us for the marriage feast in heaven.

Prayers. The prayers of the congregation are also a sign of oneness with God and of trust in Him. In prayer the believer experiences in his congregation: God is present, God hears, God responds.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for the divine service held on 05 June 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.

June 2016: Blessing—enough for each and every day

Blessings

Again and again our minds drift back to the question of how the blessing of God manifests itself—especially when we feel we have not received enough and think to ourselves, “Well, the dear God could actually bless me a little more. After all, I do so much for Him…!” Some wish for their health conditions to improve, others could really do with a little more money in their bank accounts, and still others hope to find a decent job or wish their sons or daughters could find an internship or apprenticeship of some kind.

These ideas and wishes associated with blessing are as diverse as life itself. And all too often we forget that blessing already shows itself in a completely different way, namely in that we have enough for each and every day. Let us recall the account of the widow of Zarephath: after the promise of the prophet, she had as much flour in her barrel and oil in her jar as she needed to provide for herself and her child—until the time of the famine had passed. God did not fill her house from floor to ceiling with flour and oil, but rather gave her what she needed for herself and her child each and every day.

That is true blessing, namely to have enough strength every day to pursue the path of faith and life, to have enough strength every day to do the will of God, to have enough strength every day in order to overcome evil with goodness, to have enough strength every day to gain a victory with Christ, and to rejoice every day over the fact that our Saviour provides for us, each and every day anew!

* 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.