On Sunday 1 November 2020, Apostle Robert Worship conducted the divine service for the departed at Vredehoek congregation. This divine service was conducted in English and interpreted into South African Sign Language at the altar by Beryl Botha.
He was accompanied by Community Evangelist Lance Bowers, the ministers from the congregation, a musical ensemble and a small NACTV crew. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng, Infinity FM 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: Hark! The gospel bells are ringing (EH:283)
Bible word: “For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Romans 14:9)
My dear brothers and sisters, a special welcome to those who connect via internet radio and radio – I want to paint a little picture for you. At the moment, we are gathered in a church building that is at the foot of the world-famous Table Mountain. It is the congregation which is the closest to Table Mountain and I was planning to be here in July this year when we were going to celebrate the 70th anniversary of this building. So, to the members in Vredehoek, here is my 70th birthday anniversary gift to you, and sorry that I bring the whole country with me. So, we are thankful to be together and thankful that our Heavenly Father has made it possible to be in His house. At the last service for the departed we know that it was not possible for us to gather in any form. Now we are able to gather, and we are able to celebrate Holy Communion. So, it is a step in the right direction, and we pray that the situation improves so that soon we can have the full expression of our Christian belief and our following.
For the New Apostolic Christians, I just want to remind our guests of the significance of this divine service. For us as New Apostolic Christians, the link between the death and resurrection of Christ and salvation to the dead is an important part of our gospel. We also believe that the love of Christ and His salvation plan is not linked to those who find themselves on the earth, but also those who leave this earth. And so, today, we have a special focus which we call the service for the departed, and it is also a service for all of us.
The Bible word which I have read to you comes from a portion where Paul speaks to a congregation, and I want to say that Paul summarises our full profession of faith. It’s as if he takes all the church creeds – the old church creeds and the current church creeds that we have and gives expression to this – where he says we believe that Jesus is the Son of God; we believe that He came to earth; we believe that He died through the crucifixion; He resurrected and He is with God at the moment. In a nutshell, and in one verse in the Bible word, he gives that to us. And it is good to be reminded of that Christ’s coming to the earth was significant in that He needed to show the people of that time that God is not the person in the sky, in the heavens or far from here who judges and who punishes. Jesus came and said, “If you see Me, you see My Father.” He showed that God is among human beings. He came and was a man like you and me. He came and felt like us, He breathed like us, He ate like us. And that was an important expression of God’s love for mankind. So, He showed that He doesn’t live in the heavens, He lives here with us. And beloved, those of us on earth and those of us in yonder world, our path to salvation requires that we believe in Jesus Christ and that we know who He is.
Here, it is always good to pause for a moment and think to ourselves ‘how do we know Jesus? What do we know about Him? How do we understand who He is?’ Jesus, some people call Him a prophet, some people call Him a teacher, some people call Him a miracle worker, some people call Him a teacher of universal truths. He goes by names other than what we know by our own conviction. For today, it is good to be reminded of it in the divine service. I believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the One through whom salvation is there for all mankind. Didn’t Jesus say that whoever wants to come to the Father must come through Him? And we want to make sure that we know that on our own that we understand – and that is, I almost want to say message number one for today. But, for us to experience salvation, unfortunately, that is not enough – the theory is not enough – we need to go to the next level. I hear the children playing games at home and I often hear them talking about levelling up. We need to go to the next level as far as this is concerned.
The next step is, we know Christ, we have to believe in Christ. And now you might say that this is old stuff, we know that. Believing in Christ means that I commit fully to all aspects of the gospel which He has introduced. When we believe in Christ then we believe in the fact that He loves us – we believe in His love. How does that come to expression? Christ gave His life. He died on the cross for us. He died; I want to say, when He should not have died. He died and was trialled, and all was a hoax, and all were under false accusations. He allowed Himself to go through all of that so He could die for you and me. We believe in His love, and we also have to believe in His teaching. Here, for us and those in yonder world - when one says you have to believe in Christ, He loves you and His teaching is good for you – it is not so easy when somebody has been suffering all their life. There are those in yonder world who have aligned their lives to Jesus Christ with no benefit – I think sometimes we experience that too. I go to church; I believe and am a fully-fledged Christian, but my life is worse than the person next door who doesn’t align his life to God and to Christ. Today we must come back to that reality again; the truth and the gospel – we have to believe in the teaching of Christ.
Beloved, we also have to believe in the power of Christ. In these days one could say that we are told to believe in the power of Christ, but He could be seen as a weak God because we cannot see that He has changed things. Again, even if we look at this Corona situation, people can make those comments, one can draw those conclusions. But to be able to be saved, we have to be able to believe in the power of Christ which often works so differently to how we would see how He expresses His power.
Another thing we have to believe – we have to believe in the return of Christ. And now, one may say yes that happened over 2000 years ago. He walked on the earth; He made the promise that He would come to fetch us – 2000 years later nothing has happened. It is easy to draw that conclusion. For us to experience salvation, we have to cling to that promise dear brothers and sisters. When I think of the senior members, they could also say that they are 80 years old and I have been waiting for the Lord and waiting for the return of Christ. Beloved, it is one of those things that we have to keep our belief about it alive. And when one believes that Christ will come, then it does allow for us to make adjustments in our lives. When you live as if the Lord is coming tomorrow, then we live our lives a little bit differently – our priorities reflect the near-coming of the Saviour. And that is when we believe in His return, and that is what we need to do. I am sorry to say that this is also not enough – we need an added measure if we are to be saved and experience the salvation of Jesus Christ. We also have to become a follower of Christ. Once again, maybe this isn’t news to us. And it is exactly that. Today, the Lord wants us to examine in specific terms our following of Christ Jesus. We say that we commit our lives to Him; we say that we have given ourselves over to Him fully; we say that He is the One whom we follow. Then, beloved, it needs to be reflected in our lives. The first thing that we do is we respond to everything in our lives the way Christ would want us to respond. Do you remember the four-letter acronym we taught the youth? WWCD – What would Christ do? That needs to be in all of our lives. And not occasionally. If something happens, one needs to be able to say, ‘how would Christ expect me to respond in these moments?’ That is when we follow Christ. When we follow Christ, it is a full-on following. It does not include or exclude certain things according to our fancy. When we follow Christ - and here, sometimes this is where the difficulty comes in – we have to go against our own nature sometimes. We have to say to ourselves that Christ expects this of me, but it doesn’t come naturally to me and I need to make an adjustment in my life. In some of our instances, we can say that we belong to a certain tribe, we believe in a certain way, we have ancestors, we have beliefs where we grew up and where we come from, we see Christ’s following in tandem with other beliefs. Beloved, when we become a follower of Christ, we have to get to a point which Paul came to. Paul came and he said to the Philippians, “Whatever I knew before, I count for nothing because Christ is the way.” And that is going to take some time for us because we have a level of sophistication, we have a level of education, we have a level of expertise, and sometimes, that is the filter through which we put the gospel. Sometimes it is about the logic of it. Jesus was concerned about whether He would find faith on His return And so, we have to employ those gifts and say I have to follow Christ. And beloved, that is not always so easy.
When we follow Christ, we are also an engaged member of the congregation. Now I know some people might get uncomfortable, but I have to go there. An engaged member is someone who contributes their offerings and their sacrifices in the congregation. The Lord has given to all of us gifts for the congregation. And when we say we follow Him, then I employ my gifts in the congregation and church which Christ has established. We enrich the congregation when we use that which the Lord has given to us. And you may be surprised with what the Lord has invested in you for the benefit of the congregation.
In summary of the divine service, we remain with the gospel, we remain with the understanding and the teaching that Christ is the God of the living and those who have passed on. Those from the yonder world have to know Jesus Christ, and we have to know Jesus Christ – and we have to know Him as the Son of God – the One who is gracious, the One who gives mercy, the One who is close to us. The second point of the divine service: we have to believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in His promise; we believe in His teaching; we believe in His love that He sacrificed His life. And then, we become followers of Jesus Christ; more than what we have done in the past. I am reminded now of the account of the miracle after Jesus had fed the thousands. The following day, He had some fans because wherever He was, they were all around Him. And Jesus, at one point had to say to them that they weren’t there because of His teaching, they were there because they ate yesterday. And then He taught them about discipleship. Discipleship means that you have to suffer for Him, that you have to go through tribulation. And beloved, I must tell you that not many remained after that, but a small number remained. And that is what our Heavenly Father wants for us – to make us followers, to make us disciples of His and then we can truly say that we live this attribute which allows that we can experience salvation. May the Lord grant us the ability to do that, that it is not just the theory of the Church. Wherever we go, this word must play itself out in our lives – I heard that in the divine service – what would Christ do? And I promise you that is not so easy when things don’t go our way. It is not so easy when we find out a situation is not what we asked for. That is where it will count the most. Come, dear brothers and sisters, here and those in yonder world, let us reconnect with the fundamentals of the salvation plan of God. Jesus wants to save all, but there are requirements. We have to believe in Him, and we want to strengthen that belief. Amen.
Thoughts from Apostle Robert Worship