On Sunday 15 August 2021, Apostle Peter Thompson conducted the central AVT divine service at Silvertown congregation. The divine service was conducted in English and translated into South African Sign Language (SASL) at the altar by Beryl Botha.
He was accompanied by Bishop Gerhard Kotze, a small music ensemble and the NACTV crew. This divine service was made available on NACTV, Cape Town TV on DSTV channel 263, as well as Radio KC, Radio Teemaneng and SABIE stereo. 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: Of service be to Jesus (EH: 144)
Bible word: “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.” (John 12:26)
My dear brothers and sisters, we are very thankful that we can once again gather here, not all physically, but that we can gather together and enjoy this fellowship in Christ. We gather in His name, and we are here to listen to the word of God, to receive instruction, and be informed about what our God desires from us into the future. Moments in God's house are absolutely crucial for our salvation. We need to receive the word, the bread of life. We need to be nourished so that we can make progress upon the path which leads to our future that is everlasting life with our God.
I have read our Bible word today, the words of Jesus Christ, where once again, He informs us about what He expects from us. I read again, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.” This is part of the good news. The good news that leads to salvation. And we want to open our hearts to understand what our Lord requires of us, what He expects from us. We have been chosen by the Lord to be part of His work of salvation and chosen to one day be with Him in His kingdom forever. That's our destiny. But there is a condition. If we want to enter God's glory, we must first believe in Jesus Christ. That is an absolute condition, a prerequisite. We must believe in Jesus Christ, believe in Him as our Saviour, as the one who is the way, the truth and the life. We must believe in His Gospel, the plan of salvation that He has given for mankind. And then, importantly, not only must we believe, but we must follow Jesus Christ. That is part of the crux of our message today that we follow Jesus Christ. But what does that mean? Following Jesus is more than just remaining faithful. It's more than just believing in God. It’s more than just attending divine services, or bringing offerings, and praying every day. To follow Jesus Christ means to follow His example. And He gave us a most beautiful example. And in the context of our Bible word today, the example that Jesus sets for us today, He introduced Himself as one who serves. That's the example we want to take today. The example we want to follow. Jesus is the one who serves. He was a servant to His Father. He obeyed His Father's will in word by proclaiming God’s will and in deed. He proclaimed the will of His Father to everybody. He did the will of God in word by proclaiming God’s will, and in deed, by fulfilling the mission that His Father had given Him. That's how He served His Father. But then Jesus was also a servant to all of humanity. He served mankind. He sacrificed His life for the redemption of mankind. In His own words, He said, “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” So, He served God, His Father, and He served all of mankind. Following Jesus Christ means to serve in accordance with His example. We serve God and we serve man. That's the example that He set. And that is the example that we want to follow. And every single child of God has been called to serve. Nobody is exempted. We all have the duty, the mission to serve. We have all been called to contribute to God's plan of redemption. So that's our task. It is part of who we are. It is part of our spiritual DNA. We have been called to serve, serve God, serve man, and contribute to God’s plan of salvation.
And so, Jesus is our Master, and we are His servants. That's the relationship. And as servants of the Master, brothers and sisters, at the end of this phase of the salvation plan of God, we must give an account to Him of what we have done, how we have served, and what we've omitted to do. That is part of our relationship. We've got to give an account to the Lord at the end. How have we served? How have we fulfilled our mission that He has given us? And The Parable of the Talents that Jesus Christ gave, is very instructive in this regard. We all know He said, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.” At the end, he required them to give an account. What have you done? How have you served me? We all know this particular parable. To those who have served well, he was pleased. The words were, “Enter into the joy of your lord.” And to those who have not served well, the one who did not serve in the manner that he was expected to serve, the master wasn't pleased with him. He was rejected. And so, we must remember that we have to give an account as servants to the Master. And let us be mindful of the fact that we have been called also to a future task. After Jesus Christ returned to the kingdom of peace, we have been called to serve alongside Jesus Christ in the kingdom of peace. And dear brothers and sisters, if we are not able to serve now, how can we then serve with a Master in the kingdom of peace? We are practising for our future tasks and responsibility. And so, it is an absolute requirement for us to serve and to give an account of how we serve.
And then dear brothers and sisters, we must be entirely devoted to God's service. We have to live our daily lives. We have various priorities in our lives. That is good. We must live our daily lives. We must address and attend to things which are important in our lives. But the top priority for us is to remain in the service of the Master. To serve in the manner that He expects from us. To serve God and to serve our neighbour. Even our concerns, even our problems in our daily lives should not prevent us from serving. We cannot use our concerns, our challenges in life, not to serve the Lord. No, our priority remains, I want to serve the Master in the manner that He expects from me.
So, as the Master, Jesus tells us what to do. He tells us where to do it. And He tells us when we are to do it. When you are a servant, then you must learn to follow instructions. And the Master gives us instructions. He tells us what to do, where to do it and when we are to do it. So, let us then address the first question, what is our task? Our task is to proclaim the gospel in word and in deed. To proclaim the gospel in word and in deed, that part of our service is incumbent upon every single one of us. We must profess our faith. I don't mean we must go to the mall and tell everybody who walks by and tell them about the gospel. No, but you know brothers and sisters, opportunities come our way where we can say something, where we can share our faith, where we can tell others about the good news of salvation. Let us be mindful of the fact that our task is to profess the gospel, to tell others about God's work of salvation, to tell them about our experience of faith, to share with them the wonderful and great things that God has done for us. But we also profess the gospel in deed. We align our lives to God's will. We live the gospel. We abide by the values and the principles of the gospel every single day. In fact, to live the gospel is in a way more important than to profess the gospel. We want to live the gospel every day, and through our example we can be true testimonies of the great things that God has done for us. When we are inspired and motivated by the values and the principles of the gospel, we do good works in line with the will of our God. And when we do good works in line with the gospel, then others can discover and experience the love that Jesus has for them through us. Those that exude the love of Christ, others can then be drawn to Him and His work.
Another part of our task is that we must support and believe in the mission of the Apostles. What is the mission of the Apostles? They proclaim the imminent return of Jesus Christ. And they are preparing us for that day. We must support that. We show our support to the mission of the apostolate and our belief in the return of Jesus Christ by showing an urgency in carrying out the word that we receive. Show an urgency in following the path that Jesus Christ has set there for us, the path that leads from sin to salvation. May it be seen in us. That's how we support the mission of the Apostles. There is an urgency in how we live our lives, how we live a life of faith. Carry out the word daily, and walk the path that leads to salvation.
And then another part of our task is that we do not judge or condemn, but rather show a willingness to forgive. Jesus Christ Himself said, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” That's our relationship with our fellow man. We live in a world today where judgment and condemnation are very in vogue. People actually think they have a responsibility to call out people, judge them, condemn them, and show their faults and their failings. Here we are taught that our task is not to judge, not to condemn, but show love, show forgiveness. Let us fulfil this beautiful task that we have received.
And then the following question is where must we serve? Firstly, we serve in the church. The Lord has asked us as His people to serve one another. And I think the most beautiful symbol of service is given by Jesus Christ. We remember that He is the example. The time when He washed the feet of His disciples. What a wonderful example. And He said at that occasion, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” Let us do that. Let us serve one another. Let us help one another. Let us support one another. Let us pray for one another. Let us help one another to reach the goal of our faith. Let us rejoice with those who rejoice. Let us weep with those who weep. Let us show empathy. And in the church, let us serve one another as per the example of Jesus Christ. And then, we also serve in society. We fulfil our social responsibility as members of society, as law-abiding citizens. That we do. That is also what we have to be an example of. But, above all, it is our task to show that it is possible to live the gospel in all circumstances. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every one of us live the gospel in good days and bad days? Brothers and sisters, we will have such a wonderful and positive effect on our environment. Every single one of us can make a difference. In one of our hymns, we sing ‟Brighten every corner where you are”. That we can do. Wherever we are, we show it is possible to live the gospel, even in the most difficult times of our lives, and we make this positive impact in the society where we live. Let us also do this and not forget, wherever we find ourselves, be it at our home, in our neighbourhood, at our work, in our circle of friends, let us show we can live the gospel in all circumstances.
And then, where must we serve? Like Jesus, we serve among those in need. We serve among the forgotten. We serve among strangers, the outcasts, those who are on the fringes of society, we reach out to them also. We serve them also. The value of every soul is not determined by their social circumstances or condition. When we look at our neighbour, be they in what condition, let us see a soul that God loves and wants to save. And that love of Christ must exude from us and we thus reach out to all. We serve those who are in need.
And then the final question is when must we serve? We serve in the happy moments of our lives. And let me add, let's enjoy our lives. The Lord did not call us to be miserable and to walk with this heavy burden of being a child of God. No, we must enjoy our lives. Jesus also enjoyed His life. He liked to spend time with His friends. He enjoyed fellowship with them. But Jesus never forgot His mission. And there was a time when He was at a wedding feast in Cana. When you are at a wedding, I think you are having quite a good time. And there, it was time to serve. And in that time, it was going well, and He did not forget His mission. He served there and performed the first miracle when He turned the water into wine. We heard that we must enjoy our lives. But let us not allow our enjoyment to make us forget, that even in those good times, I must serve. Where the opportunity arises to serve, I will serve it. Let us do that. So, we serve in the good times of our lives, but we also serve in times of trials, in times of hardship. Let us remain aware of our mission even in those difficult times. We can't make an excuse and say well you know it's going so badly with me, I'm struggling, I'm really going through a tough time, so now I can suspend my duty, my calling to serve. We cannot do that. Let’s look once again at the example of Jesus Christ, He was hanging on the cross in extreme pain, on the verge of death. And even in that condition, He was still concerned about the well-being of His neighbour. Even in that condition, He could say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Even in those circumstances, He cared about His mother, her future welfare. In fact, He entrusted her into the care of the disciple that He loved. He said, ‘“Woman, behold your son!”. Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!”’ Even in that condition, He was serving. And let us do the same, no matter what comes our way. Let us fulfil our calling to serve the Master. And then finally, when one asks the question, when must we serve? The simple answer is until the Lord Jesus returns. It is our life's mission to serve. We don't have a time of retirement. We don't have time off. We serve until the Lord Jesus comes. It is a lifelong mission. And so, let us serve until the end.
And then finally, our Bible word concludes and says, “If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honour.” If we heed the call of the Lord to serve in the manner that we have heard, then our God will honour us by accepting us at His return. When Jesus Christ returns, He will accept us and we will be with Him in His kingdom forever. And it is my wish that all of us hear those final words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.” That is the reward of the faith. That's the reward of those that will serve the Lord until the end. He will honour us by accepting us into His kingdom.
So, that is a few thoughts on this Bible word, and the take-home message for us today is the Lord calls us to serve Him. If we want to be saved, we must follow the example of Jesus Christ. And we must serve God and serve our neighbour. Our service is to profess the gospel in word and in deed, and to proclaim the imminent return of Jesus Christ. We do it wherever we find ourselves, and we do it all the time, until the end. God bless us and help us, that we are able to fulfil this duty that we have. That for us it is a joyful duty, a life of service, a service to God, and a service to our neighbour. Amen.
Thoughts from Apostle Peter Thompson