On Sunday 07 November 2021, Apostle Abraham Page conducted the central AVT divine service for the departed at Dinwiddie congregation. The divine service was conducted in English and interpreted into South African Sign Language (SASL) at the altar by sister Natasha Parkins-Maliko.
He was accompanied by Priest Brian Basson, 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: The Comforter has come (EH:477)
Bible word: ‘The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever!’ (Psalm 22:26)
My dear brothers and sisters, here and those who are connected. I want to take this opportunity to welcome you to this divine service today. It is a special divine service where we celebrate the festive divine service for the departed, where we remember our loved ones who have gone into yonder world. But we also remember those who went into yonder world whom we do not know. And many had no relationship with God or with His Son, Jesus Christ. And we remember them as well.
The Bible word speaks about the psalmist and it says, ‘The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever!’ That is the wish for this divine service, for all of us, and for those in yonder world. When we listen to the opening hymn, it says, The Comforter has come. So many have lost loved ones. So many have lost a family member, a friend, a colleague. And comfort is needed. When we lose a loved one, our hearts are broken. It feels like the world has come to an end. The hymn says, the Comforter has come. And what does the Comforter do? The Comforter comforts. Jesus said come to Me, those who are burdened and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. I will comfort you. And therefore, we need to approach Him, as He comes to us to comfort us. Let us come now to Jesus so that He can comfort us as well. Let us come to the Holy Spirit who is referred to in this hymn so that we are comforted, because we need comfort. There are those who have lost loved ones in the last hours, during the night, yesterday. Those who had to bury their loved ones yesterday. Come to the Comforter. He wants to comfort us. And the same applies to those in yonder world. Christ also wants to comfort you. He also wants to help you. Come to Him.
Our message for this divine service today is that the living and the dead need to seek the nearness of God, in order to obtain salvation. When we read Psalm 22, then many of the situations that are explained here by the psalmist David, a lot of it is still happening today. A lot of the suffering of mankind still takes place today. And I won't read the entire Psalm. But when we have time today, please go and read the whole Psalm. But I will take certain situations out of the Psalm that we can relate to today. I refer to verse one and verse two. ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent.’ The psalmist expresses how he cried out to the Lord. Many went into yonder world and before they left, they cried out to the Lord, please help me. Please save me. The Lord did not answer their prayers. How many were well the one moment and they were infected with the Coronavirus? From the one moment to the next moment, they were no longer here. Many have gone into the yonder world and before that, they said My Lord, My Lord, please help me. The Lord did not answer their prayers. How many parents cried out, please for the sake of my children, save me. My children are too young, do not take me yet. The Lord did not answer that prayer. They went into the yonder world with that knowledge that God did not save them. They have seen how God has saved others. How He helped others. How He protected others. But He did not help them. They go into the yonder world with that knowledge and that emotion attached that God did not help them. And we can relate to that. How we felt when God also did not answer our prayers. We know how we felt. And maybe one or the other still feels resentment. Maybe he is angry with God. Why did You not answer my prayer? My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Let's be honest about it. And when we are honest about how we felt, then we can understand the condition of the soul of those who went into the beyond. There was no relationship with God anymore. They do not want to come to church anymore if I can use the reference. They do not want to partake of Holy Communion anymore, because God has abandoned them. We know what it feels like because we also cried out Lord, please save them. Save my wife. Save my husband. Save my mother, my father. Save my child, my brother, my sister. He heard the prayer. I am 100% sure about that. But God didn't answer what we asked for. That was His decision. But do you understand the condition of the soul in the beyond? Yes, because we know what it feels like when our prayers are not answered upon the face of the earth.
Another situation that we can take out of this specific Psalm. Hundreds of thousands of people are victims because of war, terrorism and crime. And they go into the beyond, and before they have gone into the beyond, they pray to God, please save us. Please help us. And the situation just escalated. Those who are innocent have been killed and they have gone into yonder world. There was no need for them to lose their lives upon the face of the earth. They live in the condition that God was not there for them. God left them alone in their plight. Sometimes, we also suffer because of crime. We are not a country that is at war. We are not a country that is exposed to terrorism. But we also know when we have the crime situations of how we feel and those whom we have lost because of crime, where they have gone too soon. We can relate to those in the yonder world who have passed on. They find themselves that they have been abandoned according to their soul’s condition. And then there are women and children who are victims of their own families. Of society. They are victims. They suffer. There are those who are no longer victims upon the face of the earth because of what has happened in the family or society. There are women and children who have suffered and have gone in the yonder world at the hand of a family member. They come and their soul’s condition is the same as it was before they left this earth. They knew what was going to happen to them. They went through the experience of dying before death. My God, my God why have you forsaken me? These are all the situations that's a reality for them in the yonder world that they experienced upon the face of the earth, that we can relate to because we go through many of these situations ourselves. Therefore, we develop an understanding of the condition of the soul when it enters the beyond.
The psalmist speaks of the bones that become visible. When someone’s bones become visible, there is no meat on him. There's no fat on him. It resembles poverty, hunger, that the person has nothing to eat or to drink. According to the statistics, approximately 9 million people die every year because of hunger or hunger-related diseases. A child dies of hunger every 10 seconds in this world. Innocent. Yet God said the harvest shall not cease. Yet Jesus taught us in prayer, give us this day our daily bread. And many of them must have prayed this prayer, give us this day our daily bread and they did not have bread for a very long time to come to the point that they died of hunger. They entered the beyond with the attitude that God did not make provision for me. God did not give me my daily needs. Why should I come to Him? Why should I accept His Son, Jesus Christ?
There are those who have taken their own lives. There are those who have gone into yonder world because here upon the face of the earth, as the psalmist expressed here, that their dignity was taken away from them. Their dignity has become the grounds on which people, families, society walk on, and they could no longer live with themselves. And they took their own lives and went into yonder world and thought that is the easy way out for them. They come into the yonder world realizing that was not the easy way out. Now they seek the forgiveness of God as well. Dear brothers and sisters, the purpose of highlighting all of this is not to highlight the work of the evil one or to make us despondent. But firstly, to realize the condition of the soul when it leaves this earth and enters the beyond. How we live upon the face of the earth, that is the condition of our souls when we enter the beyond.
When the soul goes into the beyond under these few examples, these are only a few, then there is a need for redemption. There is a need for restoration. There is a need for recovery. When we look at our situations here upon the face of the earth, which is very similar to those who have gone into the yonder world. And we know what we are going through. And we come to God for help. We come to Christ to save us. How can we deny them the opportunity? Therefore, God comes and does His work and brings salvation to them. ‘The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever!’
Dear brothers and sisters, the words of that hymn are, ‘I see in spirit’. What we have heard until now, is what we have seen and experienced with our natural eye. That brings sadness, sorrow, pain, anger, hatred. All those negative emotions. Sometimes we feel that towards God because we do not understand everything that He does. And now this hymn says, ‘I see in spirit’. The spirit understands that which is spiritual. The natural understands that which is natural. The message for us today, as I've mentioned earlier, is that the living and the dead, they must seek the nearness of God to obtain salvation. This is for us here on the face of the earth and also for those in yonder world. So, what needs to be done? For us, but more specifically focusing now on those in yonder world. What needs to be done? Firstly, they have to listen to the Lord. Last week we had the word where Apostle Paul writes and he speaks of Jesus, that when He died, He went into the yonder world and He went to speak to those who died in the time of Noah. He went to preach to them. Why did the Apostle Paul write that down? Who told him that? Only the one who has gone there could have told him that and that was Jesus Christ Himself. That's why Paul wrote it down that Jesus went into the realms of the dead to speak to those who died in the time of Noah so that they could listen to Him. So that they could change. Change needed to take place. That's why He went there. Not to condemn them. To help them. Therefore, it's important for those in yonder world even today to listen to the voice of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, they need to believe and trust the Triune God. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They need to believe and trust in Him. Maybe they lost their trust in Him here on the face of the earth. Now to come near to God, they need to trust Him.
Thirdly, they need to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour. What did God the Father say at the baptism of Jesus? This is my beloved Son. Hear Him. It means to accept Him. Jesus said, I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me. To obtain salvation, the living and the dead need to accept Jesus Christ as the Saviour. Then more out of that, to accept His divine instructions. Those in yonder world also need to accept the divine instructions of Jesus Christ. That is to be baptized with water and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through the act of Holy Sealing. That's a divine instruction from Jesus Christ. In John 3:5 we read, ‘Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”’ That's what Jesus said. Not the New Apostolic Church. That's what Jesus said. And therefore, where the altar is erected today, those from the yonder world who have never been baptized, who have never been sealed with the Holy Spirit, who accept Jesus Christ, who believe in Him, they come. And the opportunity here on earth already is there for them to be baptized with water, to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through the act of Holy Sealing where the altar is erected today. There they can go.
Maybe that sounds a bit controversial for the one or the other who attends the divine service for the departed for the first time. This was already done amongst the first Christians. In first Corinthians 15:29. Apostle Paul referred here to, ‘Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?’ Then already upon the face of the earth, there were those upon the face of the earth who were baptized on behalf of those who are in the yonder world. Therefore, this is important. This is the work of God. This is what He places upon the face of the earth. And that is the message for those in yonder world. God allows that. And this act that takes place, it's not dependent on our belief, on your belief, on my belief. This is the work of God. This is what God does. We can argue about it. We can debate about it. But it is not going to stop the work that God will give to the souls in the yonder world and for those upon the face of the earth. Because Jesus came to die for each and every one. Disbelief, scientific proof that is wanted. All of this cannot stop what God is doing. Jesus proved it when He went to preach to those in yonder world that there is an opportunity for change. There is an opportunity to be saved. There is an opportunity for eternal life.
But you have to you come to Me and accept the sacraments. Those who are baptized with water and receive the Holy Spirit through the act of Holy Sealing have to accept the body and the blood of Jesus. In John 6:53 it says, ‘Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”’ We understand it today as Holy Communion. The body and blood of Jesus. He said if you don't partake of it, if you don't eat, let me read it again. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”’ For all those who are baptized with water and received the Holy Spirit, life needs to be sustained. And for the spiritual life to be sustained in us and for those in yonder world, we need to eat the body of Jesus and we have to drink His blood. That means we have to celebrate and partake of Holy Communion. Otherwise, we have no life in us. So, for life to be sustained, they also need Holy Communion. Those who are baptized with water and received the Holy Spirit. Those who follow Jesus Christ. Those who accept His invitation. They come to the altar every Sunday. Holy Communion is also dispensed for those in yonder world where the Apostle ministry is active and designated to bestow the sacrament. And they come so that the spiritual life in them is sustained. Therefore, we cannot live as those who do not have this understanding of our faith, of the work of God. We cannot live as those who have no hope. Or those in yonder world to have no hope when they come to the altar, when the invitation goes, and they receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
As for us, their life is sustained. And therefore, we pray for them. Therefore, we pray to God to help them. To sustain them. We cannot judge. We cannot condemn because Jesus showed the way of salvation to them. And therefore, this Bible word, ‘The poor shall eat and be satisfied;’ God will not leave them alone, and God will not leave us alone. ‘Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.’ Those in the yonder world will come to accept and understand. Accepting Jesus Christ in the understanding that there is life. ‘Let your heart live forever!’ It means may you obtain eternal life. So that's why we pray for those in the yonder world. We don't call upon the dead. We call upon God, the powerful, the merciful, the gracious One. The One who sees the living and the dead. The One who can come to earth and into the beyond. The Omnipresent. We ask Him to help them. That is His power. That is His work. But the knowledge that we have is enough for us to know that there is salvation for them. We praise God for His mercy upon all those souls in the yonder world, whatever their condition may be, that it can change like our condition upon the face of the earth when God helps us. We come to Him, and we thank Him. God is able to help you and He wants to help you. God is able to comfort you and He wants to comfort you. Do not reject this comfort. He understands your suffering and your pain. He is a God of love. He knows what it is to lose a son. He knows what it feels like when His Son suffered. He was there. He knows how it feels for us. Jesus knows what we are going through. Do not reject the comfort of our heavenly Father. Do not, because the Comforter has come. And dear brothers and sisters, when we see in spirit, then we see the power of God's hand and we feel it. And for those in the yonder world, God will extend His help. Then one day when we are with God and we see them in spirit, then we will understand that they have moved on far ahead of us, faster than we expected. Therefore, let us move forward to the day of the Lord, to meet our God, and to meet our loved ones, those in yonder world. As the Apostle Paul writes, they will be resurrected first. We will be changed, be taken and meet the Lord and be together for time and all eternity. Amen.
Thoughts from Apostle Abraham Page