On Wednesday 14 July 2021, Bishop Bradley Adonis conducted the midweek divine service at Silvertown congregation.
He was accompanied by Evangelist District Elder Deon Dry, the NACTV crew and a small musical team. This divine service was made available on NACTV, YouTube and 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: O where is Jesus? (EH:297)
Bible word: ‘But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.’ (Luke 10:33)
My dear brothers and sisters, we welcome you here to our divine service tonight. And when our dear sister sings the hymn Jesus through Apostles leads us, then I'm reminded of our divine service on Sunday when our Chief Apostle served us. And we were comforted with the words from the Psalms that the Lord will be with us. He will hold us by His right hand, and He will not let us go. And He will support us, and He will lead us. And that served as a source of great comfort to you and me, not knowing that we would be going through difficult times. And this is what we experienced today and in the days that have passed. But we haven't come to the house of the Lord only because we have trying times. We haven't come only because we have challenges. And there are many challenges. There are health issues, there are financial issues, there are relationship issues. We have many challenges, but we also have the challenge that we want to be worthy when our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ comes. We want to ensure that we follow the gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to live this gospel because this gospel will lead to eternal life. This gospel will lead to you and me spending eternity with God, our heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. And therefore, we have come into His house, yes, because we are burdened. And Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” That's what He will do, but He will also teach us.
And today, He wants to teach you and me, by using an extract of what happened when He spoke to some people. And one of them was a lawyer who asked Him a few questions. And one of the questions that he asked Him, and I will read it to you, he asked, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And then, as a follow-up question, one can almost say to try and trick the Lord, he asked again, he said, “And who is my neighbour?” And our Bible word comes out of the explanation that Jesus gave this man who questioned Him. And He spoke about, and I think our children will know, the story of the Good Samaritan and the man who travelled and got beaten up by robbers. Now, that doesn't only happen in our areas today. It happened already in the time of Jesus. So, we don't have to feel that we are the only ones. It happened long ago already, so that spirit is still around. And he was beaten up and he was left for dead. And then, people came around. They speak about two people, the one was a Priest, and the other one was a Levite. And when we look at those two, they were people who knew the law, they knew what to do. And okay, maybe we make an excuse for them and say there is the chance that they were afraid, like maybe in our time. Some people are reluctant to help because they feel maybe they will be attacked. Maybe that's what they thought, we make an excuse for them. But they had the knowledge of the law. But dear brothers and sisters, they didn't act. And this is what the Lord wants to give to you and me. This is the message that He wants to give to you and me, dear brothers and sisters, that despite what happened to this man, he, the Samaritan who maybe did not know the law, had a compassionate heart. And that compassion, that love for his neighbour, made him move to pick up the man, put him in an inn, asked the innkeeper to heal him, bandage him, take care of him. And then he also said that he must travel on, but when he came back, he would pay for whatever expenses he incurred with this man. When we think of it, he had the gospel. And he implemented it practically. And that's what we want to do. We know what is good. The Levite and the Priest knew what to do, but they didn't do it. We don't condemn them. But let us take the lesson today for ourselves.
What is the lesson? What moved the Samaritan? It was his love for his neighbour. Now we can say to ourselves, look, it is difficult to do it. But we have this love in our souls. Because this love has been shared abroad in our hearts, as we read in Romans 5:5, ‘Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.’ This love has been poured out into our hearts. And so, dear brothers and sisters, if we make the gospel practical, then the love that was given to us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we must reciprocate that. That means we must give it back to others. And this is what God wants to give to us, that we give it to others. The love that was given to us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The message is clear for us tonight, that if we help those who are suffering, it will be an expression of our love for our neighbour, and also our love for God. And what does this mean? It will lead to eternal life. Our love for God, our love for our neighbour, will lead to eternal life.
What does it mean also to us? It also means that we cannot just receive what we have received from our heavenly Father. He has given us everything. Because we know that our faith and our works must work together. So, what happened from God's side? He has given us everything. The gospel says that God said that He will send someone to bruise the head of the serpent. He sent Jesus Christ who died for us, who sacrificed His life, who spread the gospel amongst man, and then ascended to heaven and He promised that He will come again. And He never left us alone. He sent us the Holy Spirit, and He also sent us the Apostle ministry. And through that, what did we receive? We received the Holy Baptism. We received the Holy Sealing. We received the sacrament of Holy Communion and the forgiveness of sins. So that is what God has given unto us. So now we have received everything. What do we do? Are we just going to receive? No, that's not what the Lord wants. That's what these men did. They received everything, they had the law, they knew about it, but when it came to practically implementing it, they didn't do it. The Lord says to us, let's practically implement the gospel by loving God above all with your whole heart, with your whole soul. And what does that mean for us? That everything that we do is geared at loving God. One of our Chief Apostle’s said, “I have decided for the Lord, and that is final.” That encompasses our whole being dear brothers and sisters. We live for God, our heavenly Father. Yes, we can live our life because it says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and ‘your neighbour as yourself.’” So, that means there is room to love myself. There is room to love and take care of myself. But according to the Good Samaritan, not at the expense of my neighbour, because then I exercise the gospel in a practical manner. If I only look at myself, then it is egoism. That's not what the Lord wants. That's not what the gospel expects of you and me, because the gospel is about love. It is about compassion. That is what the Samaritan had, and this is what God wants to give to us also, because helping those who are suffering is an expression of our love for our neighbour, and this will lead to eternal life.
When Jesus answered this man, He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and ‘your neighbour as yourself.’” And then He said to him, this is Jesus answering him, “You have answered rightly; do this, and you will live.” So, there is the side that is spiritual, but then there is the practical side. And if we do the practical side, then we will live. Live eternally, live with Jesus Christ, with God our heavenly Father, and those who have preceded us into the beyond. Dear brothers and sisters, we have everything that was given to us. The childhood in Christ. We have the promise of eternal life. But what do we do? We want to do that which our heavenly Father asks us to do today, that we have compassion for our neighbour. You know, when we look at what is happening today in our country, I saw a video clip of taxis. And we know what reputation our taxi drivers have. But I saw a video clip where our taxi drivers are protecting a mall, as an example. They are doing a neighbourly job. That is an example. We want to do everything in our power to do that which our heavenly Father asks us to do. And what is He asking us? He is saying help your neighbour, have compassion towards your neighbour. Now in the time that we live in, we are curtailed, we cannot move around freely. But we can still help our neighbours. We can still send them an SMS; we can still give them a call. How many of our brothers and sisters have gone through difficult times where they've lost a loved one? We can still reach out to them. How many have lost a loved one, maybe a few days ago, a few months ago? We can check up on them. The other day, our District Apostle had a meeting, and he said the Deacons can also come and reach out. There’s help. Helping our neighbour. And this is what the Lord also wants from us. You don't have to be a minister. The Samaritan was not part of the Jewish community, but he knew what to do. Why dear brothers and sisters? Because his heart was moved. He had love, he had compassion, and that made him love and help his neighbour. And this is what we want to do tonight. We want to take this and exercise the gospel in a practical way. We want to do that which Jesus commands us to do, love God above all, and our neighbour as ourselves, then dear brothers and sisters, God has done His share. He has given us the Holy Spirit. He has given us access to the sacraments. That's the one part. Now we must do the rest. And what is the part that God wants us to do? He says, love your neighbour as you love Me, love your neighbour as you love God. And we want to do this practically. We want to reach out, we want to make contact. And we are not only speaking about those who belong to our community, because that's what the Samaritan did, not only to his community. He reached out to everyone. We cannot only say that I do good things because if I have the gift of the Holy Spirit, I partake of Holy Communion and the forgiveness of sins, then I can say okay I've got everything. It's almost like people, or those who would say, I do good things, I give to the poor and my salvation is secured. That's not it. There is a combination of that which God has given and what we need to do, and that must be combined. And that's why God could say to this man, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and ‘your neighbour as yourself.’” And what do we want to do? And I want to end off with this message, helping those who are suffering is part of our expression of loving God, and this will lead to eternal life, because at the end, Jesus said to this man, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” Do that which our heavenly Father asks of us tonight, and you and I will live, not live here on the earth, but live for eternal life.
And dear brothers and sisters, if we summarize our divine service, we say that the love for our neighbour is also the love for God and for our neighbour. That's what our heavenly Father wants to give to us tonight. We have received the gift of the acts of grace, that we have received. That's the one side. And what we want to do, dear brothers and sisters, we want to extend that also to others, knowing that the gifts are not enough for you and me to attain eternal life. There is a practical side to it, and that side is to love God above all and love ‘your neighbour as yourself’. Amen.
Thoughts from Bishop Bradley Adonis