On Sunday 14 June 2020, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider conducted a divine service in Strasbourg, France.
He conducted the divine service for members in Zambia, and the broadcast was also made available to Southern Africa.
Members could view the service on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng and SABIE stereo. Members could also listen to the divine service by calling in from either a mobile phone or landline. This divine service was also streamed live on the NACTV Facebook page.
For members who were unable to watch the divine service, please find a detailed summary of the sermon:
Opening Hymn: I’ve found a place I love so well (EH-325)
Bible word: “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.” (Ephesians 3:16)
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider:
My dear brothers and sisters, in all the connected congregations and homes. As you know, according to the programme, I should have been in Zimbabwe today with plenty of brothers and sisters, but because of the pandemic it’s not possible to organize big gatherings and it wouldn’t be possible for me to travel. So, the District Apostle Soko had a great idea and suggested that I conduct the service in Strasbourg and video transmit it so that members in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and even South Africa can attend this service; and that was a great idea and I thank him for having organized that.
I am aware that many of our brothers and sisters have to suffer hardships in this special period, and I know that the situation is very difficult in many countries and in many families - life became very difficult. And I must say that I am deeply concerned by the difficulties that are reported to me that I am aware of – and I know, that I am aware of only a small part of what’s going on around the world – and especially in your countries. All I can do is to pray with you and to pray for you – and I tell you, I do it. I hope and pray that God changes the situation as soon as possible. May our heavenly Father intervene as soon as possible. May He let you experience His help; and He will help! I tell you that He won’t forget you. He wants to strengthen us.
I do with all the Apostles what Paul said here for this reason because we know you are going through hardships. We bow our knees to the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man; that is our main prayer. All of us are aware that the devil wants to take advantage of this situation, of our sufferings, to weaken our faith and to have us lose our relationship with God. That is the big danger, and that is why it is the prayer of all of us; please strengthen us. The purpose of God, of the Holy Spirit, is not to make us so strong that we can solve all the problems. Paul says that God wants to strengthen our inner man – not for us to solve all the problems, but in order for us to remain faithful and steadfast despite everything that’s going on. The Holy Spirit wants to strengthen us – and he says here “with might”. This is not just a poor word of consolation. No. the Holy Spirit wants to strengthen us with might. How can it do that? It takes from what belongs to Jesus and He gives it to us – that was the promise of Jesus – He will take from Himself and give it to us. Today too, the Holy Spirit through words and blessing wants to strengthen our inner man and provide us the strength of Jesus Christ so that in our inner self we are as strong as Jesus was when He was man.
What was the source of strength, what was the might of Jesus Christ? The first source of strength was His love for His Father – that was a wonderful source of strength – Jesus loved the Father – and that helped Him a lot. He wanted to be connected and remain connected with His Father. He wanted to maintain the fellowship with the Father. Even when He was weak in the desert and the devil came and tempted Him, He thought about the relationship He had with His Father and He overcame the temptation because He didn’t want to damage the relationship with the Father because He loved the Father. His love for His Father was the motivation. He wanted to go back to His Father. That was His goal. That was priority number one. He wanted to go to the Father. And that’s why He never stopped. For sure, when He realized that was a failure, I wanted to gather them together in Jerusalem, and they did not want to. He was not successful. He was deceived by His own disciples – His friends – He could have given up. But He did not, because His motivation was not affected by the failure and the deception. His motivation was the He wanted to go to His Father. And that was His power, might and strength - the love for His Father. He went on being motivated; He wanted to be connected to the Father and to go back to Him. That is the way the Holy Spirit wants to strengthen us – the love of God has been poured out by the Holy Spirit into our hearts. And the Holy Spirit always tells us that we are children of God – God loves you. And it tells us what God did for us; what He does for us and what He will do for us. And it shows us the love of God. We always want God to know how we are suffering; how we are feeling, what we have done and what we are going through – and that is ok. But it’s much more useful to listen to the Holy Spirit. It’s nice to talk to the Father, but it’s also nice to talk to God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit tells us that God loves us; it tells us what God as done for us and what He is going to do for us – and that increases our love for Jesus and God – and that is a huge source of power, energy and comfort; the love of God.
The second strength of Jesus; we can get through the Holy Spirit, He trusted God – He had the full trust in God. In the end, He couldn’t understand God’s deeds; He wanted to know why God wouldn’t help Him - but He trusted God and said: “I commit My Spirit into Your hands.” Even if He didn’t understand, Jesus knew that God would provide, and this was so great that even the devil couldn’t destroy it. He trusted God and told His disciples that His Father is greater than all and that no one is able to snatch My sheep from My hands. That was His confidence: “My Father is greater than all, no one is able to snatch my sheep out of His hands.” In other words, God will fulfil His work and no one can hinder Him. That is also the way the Holy Spirit wants to strengthen our inner man. The task of the Holy Spirit is to tell us what is going on in heaven. Jesus said He would tell us what He heard at the throne of God. If we listen to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit tells us that even if we don’t understand what’s going on; I tell you what’s going on in heaven: God is at work for your salvation – that is what’s really going on – in heaven and on earth. God is working for your salvation and for my salvation. And He is quite busy; He is working, He wants to save His people, He wants them to enter His kingdom and that is a great comfort – let us trust God. No one is greater than Him; no one is able to hinder Him in His plan of salvation. So, the Holy Spirit wants to strengthen us as it strengthened Jesus Christ.
Jesus was also strong because He was humble – His humility was a source of strength – the might of humility. Jesus knew that He came to serve; He was just a servant sent by the Father – He was perfectly aware of His mission, and He kept to His mission. And that was His strength. He always said that He didn’t come to teach His doctrine; He told the people the words of His Father. He didn’t do His work; He did the work of the Father. He was aware of His mission, and He knew exactly what the Father expected Him to do. He knew that His mission didn’t include solving all the problems on earth. His mission was not to rule the country. His mission was not to punish the sinner. His mission was not to eliminate all the bad people. He knew exactly what His mission consisted of and He kept to it. That made Him strong because He knew that God would fulfil His word. Nobody could hinder Him; so He kept on the way of the mission that He was entrusted with. Dear brothers and sisters that is also a way that we can be strengthened by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit tells us that we have been elected as a child a God and we have a mission to fulfil. We have to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in words and deeds – that is our mission. And as long as we are motivated to fulfil this mission, we can be sure that God will fulfil it – we can count on God. He will help us to fulfil the mission we’ve got. But, if we change, and if we want to fulfil the mission with our methods, then we cannot count on the help of God; we would have to count on our gifts and talents, and then maybe we are not that successful. If we want to eliminate all the sinners; if we want to punish them; if we want to rule our country as New Apostolic Christians; if we want to do some politics because we are New Apostolic Christians and not as citizens, then we will probably fail. And that leads to irritation, difficulties, frustration and to deception. As New Apostolic Christians we are aware that we have a mission to spread the gospel and to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. Whatever happens in our life, our first mission is to be witnesses of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As long as we are motivated to fulfil this mission – just as servants sent by God, as long as we do God’s work and not our work – we can count on the Almighty God; He will fulfil His word. This is a wonderful source of strength; let us be humble – the power of Jesus Christ reveals itself in weakness – we know that.
The fourth source of power in Jesus Christ - He had great knowledge and great wisdom. That was something very important for Him. Remember, as a child He went to the temple. He was very interested in the scripture, and He asked many questions and had many discussions. That didn’t come from the Holy Spirit. He had to learn about the scripture; that was not given by God. By learning, He gained a good knowledge of scripture. And then came the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; He allowed it to inspire Him. This combination of His human knowledge of the scripture and the Holy Spirit gave Him a special power and a special mind. The Pharisees and the Scribes probably had a better knowledge of the scripture and the Law of Moses, but I am not sure that they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Obviously, this was not the case because they spent their time establishing new rules and discussing how the sinner who doesn’t respect the Law of Moses should be punished. That was a concern – they wanted to know how they could punish people who did not respect the law. And they had invented a lot of rules on how to respect the Law of Moses. They worked with their knowledge. Jesus knew the scripture, but He was inspired by the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, He got the essence of the scripture and He could summarize it: love God and love your neighbour. He had the best understanding of the Holy Spirit and He found out that’s the important point. And this made Him so strong. He could say: “You heard that, but I tell you.” And then He came with His interpretation of the scripture, and He could tell them what the true will of God was. Dear brothers and sisters, we too have to know the Bible, we have to know the doctrine – that is important – but on the other side, let us be inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of love. Many Christians discuss what people should do and how people should be punished if they do not do and act according to the will of God. That is not our business. When we are inspired by the Holy Spirit, we focus on the essence of the scripture: love God and love your neighbour. If one doesn’t respect this rule, the other laws and rules of the scripture become totally useless for His salvation. Let us focus on the main rule that summarizes the whole scripture: love God and love our neighbour – that makes us strong and helps us to avoid a lot of problems, irritations and disappointments. Jesus had this special wisdom. His disciples and the people around Him always focus on the present, but Jesus always looked ahead and said they must not forget about the future. Let us think about the future, let us think about eternal life – that is more important. The present is what it is, but the more important thing is the future – eternal life. And when you read the Gospel you will become aware that Jesus always focused on the future. He was inspired by the Holy Spirit. For sure, we have to deal with the present and the trials, and we are concerned by what is going on. But the Holy Spirit reminds us not to forget about the most important thing: the future. Think about eternal life – that is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
May I add the last point: Jesus also had special wisdom – He knew exactly when it was the right time to speak and when it was best to remain silent. When He was arrested, king Herod came and asked Him many questions. And it says in the Bible that Jesus kept silent. He did not answer the questions of Herod. Why? Because He knew that it wasn’t possible to convince this man. Our human understanding has many questions: “why does God do this?”; “Why does God act in this manner?”. Our neighbours, they have so many questions, and it’s just impossible to answer all of them. Let us have the wisdom given by the Holy Spirit and understand that human wisdom cannot grasp God’s deed. We cannot understand what God is doing, but let us trust Him. Sometimes it is fine to say that we cannot answer this question, or that we are not interested in answering the question. Our answer is that we believe in God and that we trust Him. Sometimes it’s also useless to have endless discussions with other people. Some young people want to convince their friends that the New Apostolic faith is the only true one. And then, there are endless discussions. But one cannot prove faith. We cannot prove that the New Apostolic faith is the good one. We cannot prove that the Apostles are true Apostles – it is totally useless to try because you have no chance to convince somebody. We want to convince with our deeds and lives, but not with speeches. So don’t waste your time with useless discussions trying to prove that the New Apostolic faith is the true doctrine – forget it. Live your life according to your faith and be an example, but stop the useless discussions about my religion and other religions. Jesus said: “Don’t cast your pearls before swine because they will trample them with their feet.” A very rough manner to express Himself, but the understanding is quite clear – it’s a waste of time and energy. Let us be inspired by the Holy Spirit. We cannot answer all the questions. Let us tell the devil, our own spirit and our neighbour that we do not want to answer all the questions, I just believe and trust. Let us be aware and remain aware that the future is more important than the present. We are preparing for our eternal life. Let us be aware that we cannot prove our faith; we want to convince and attract people with our behaviour – and not with speeches.
And the last source of strength for Jesus was the love for His neighbour; His love for us; His love for man. And that was a wonderful source of power. On the cross, while He suffered a lot, He took care of Mary and John – of their normal life – that was a concern to Him even while He was on the cross. It was important for Him to ensure that they take care of one another. He didn’t forget the robber on the cross who wanted to be saved. He took care and promised him salvation. He was even able to forgive the people who killed Him – He forgave them out of love for His neighbour. Through the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to love our neighbour. Sure, our love for our neighbour cannot be as perfect as Jesus was. But nevertheless, it enables us to do things that other people think are impossible. We can do it because the Lord has given us His love and it enables us to love our neighbour.
My dear brothers and sisters, these are just a few thoughts of how the Holy Spirit wants to strengthen our inner man with might. In order for us to remain faithful, to remain steadfast in the present situation, let us be inspired by the Holy Spirit, and with God, we will be delivered from every evil. Amen.
Thoughts from Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider