22 February 2023 at 14:51:00 JST

Jesus promised: “I am with you always.” Then He went back to God. So is He still here after all? And what does that mean for our life as Christians? Answers were given in a divine service by the Chief Apostle.

“And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This promise from Matthew 28: 20 was read to the congregation by Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider at the beginning of the divine service in Lodwar in Kenya on 6 January. “That was the great message,” the Chief Apostle then said, “that God was with His people despite their behaviour.” The Israelites were not always faithful. But God sent them the Saviour and that proved to them that even though they were not so obedient and faithful, God loved them and was with them.

God does not change

“There are so many changes in society, in the Church, in our lives,” the Chief Apostle said. “What a blessing to know that God does not change. His plan does not change, and He will fulfil His plan until the end.”

“Throughout His life on earth Jesus showed that God was with human beings.” The Chief Apostle said that Jesus was close to the poor and the suffering and experienced similar things. He was even treated like a criminal and was killed.

God is here today too

Jesus did not leave this earth without first making a promise. He told the Apostles what I read as our Bible text today: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” That means: “Even if Jesus is now in heaven with His Father, He is still active on earth and He is still with us human beings,” the Chief Apostle explained. “The message of Jesus Christ is still valid.”

The purpose of His presence on earth was: “He gave the Apostles the mission to go and fulfil the work He had begun.” Jesus’ promise and His commission are still valid. “He continues His work of salvation and nobody—no matter what happens on earth—can stop Him. And He will be with human beings until the end of the age.”

“I have no idea what is going to happen this year. But I am absolutely convinced that each and every day of this year will be part of God’s plan of salvation.”

What that means

Referring to the Bible text, Chief Apostle Schneider asked what its significance is for our time, and immediately gave the answer. “That means that Jesus always listens to us. No matter what you have done, no matter what has happened in your life, you can be sure that Jesus is listening to you and wants to talk to you.” The Bible text contains the wonderful promise: “He is on your side. He will intercede for you and defend you.”

What we have to do for it

In order to benefit from the presence of Jesus Christ, all we really need to do is believe. Considered in detail, this means

  • obedience: “If you believe, you are obedient and do the will of God.”
  • trust: “If you want to experience the presence of God, you have to trust in His word and wait for its fulfilment.”
  • patience: “Sometimes it takes a few hours, other times a few years, and in some cases even a whole life. But you must trust in God and be patient.”
  • contentment: “We are content with what we can have while respecting the laws and commandments of God. And if we have to sin to get something then we do not need it.”
  • steadfastness: “If you follow the Apostles you will be prepared for the return of Christ.”
  • fellowship: “Jesus said, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.’”

God loves all human beings

The Chief Apostle warned against misinterpreting Jesus’ promise: “I am with you always.” Jesus did not mean to say

  • “I agree with you. Not at all. He wants you to change. Nobody is perfect.”
  • “That He is against our enemies. Jesus is with you, yes definitely. But He is also with your neighbour. He is also with your enemies. You cannot expect Jesus to punish anyone just because he or she is against you.”
  • “That our work will be successful. He will fulfil His work of salvation, not our work.”

But Jesus’ promise is valid for this new year too: “Jesus will be with you every day in this new year. The more faithful you are, the more involved you are in God’s plan of salvation, the more you will experience His presence, His help, and His grace.”

Author: Katrin Löwen

nac.today: New Apostolic Church International

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