On Sunday 05 July 2020, District Apostle J Kriel conducted the divine service for the departed at Silvertown congregation.
He was accompanied by Apostles P Thompson, P Lambert and R Worship, a small NACTV crew and a musical ensemble. 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. 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: Whosoever heareth (EH: 308)
Bible word: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
My dear brothers and sisters, on whichever platform you are connected to us, we bid you all a hearty welcome. We’ve heard the hymn ‘Father, we come to thee’, and that’s what we all do, and we come with our pleadings and thanks. While the brother was singing, I thought of some who are, not scared, but shy to come and ask again, and they cannot get out the words so that their father can hear them. But what does the loving father do? He picks the little one up and he says, ‘come here my boy, come here my girl, tell me, what do you want to say to me?’ And that is the feeling I have today, that our God, as powerful and as mighty as He is, no matter how insignificant we are. He picks us all up and says, ‘tell Me, my child, what can I do for you?’ And so, we want to experience Him because He is in our midst. Today, as New Apostolic Christians, we celebrate one of the holiest times - a divine service for the departed. And I must say, it is a little bit different because the altar is not adorned with the communion chalices. There is no baptism bowl. The sacraments will not take place today because it is just not possible. But, remember, our God is the God of the living and the dead and His grace will cover us. In the time preparing for this divine service, I thought of the many parents who wait for their children to be baptised, but we cannot do it now. There are many who say, they believe, they want to be sealed, they want to be a child of God; but for them too, it is not possible. Together, we all must wait. Together, we are one congregation. And then we say Father we come to you and ask, ‘when is it possible?’ But that we leave in His hands, over that we have no control. But what we do have control over is our faith, our belief, and our patience. So, together with our loved ones in yonder world, we place ourselves into the hands of our Father and say - we will wait!
Often, the talk of those in yonder world becomes controversial in many circles. But, it is a fundamental belief of all Christians that there is life after death. As we heard and experienced on Easter, we know that death is not the end of the story because God made man to spend eternity with Him – that’s His purpose; that is what He wants – and that’s what He wants to give to all. And like, when those who crucified Jesus thought that was the end, it was far from the truth because so much more was still to come. Even in Holy Scripture, we have proof that there is life after death. We read in the book of Revelation about the souls and the spirits who sit under the altar. We also read about happened with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah – they had died, but they were there. Man is created to have a body, a soul, and a spirit. But the body is for the earth. People say that they have a soul, but maybe it is correct to say that I am a soul and spirit and I have a body for a period on the earth because that body goes back to the earth. Hence, we hear ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust, earth to earth’, soul and spirit is commended to the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is what happens and that is what is said at funerals. And that is correct because soul and spirit carries on. And the plan is that when the Lord comes, that soul and spirit that exists will receive a new body – the resurrected body – the body that Jesus received. Jesus received that body because the Kingdom of God is not made for flesh and blood – it cannot enter there. We need this new body – the resurrected body. And when that is ready and the time is right, soul and spirit take on that new body to exist with Jesus and God our Father for time and all eternity. That is our goal.
Remember, Jesus conquered death, so death does not prevent one from attaining salvation that is offered through Jesus Christ. That is available to all. So, whether we are alive, or if we have passed on, that remains, and that opportunity for salvation remains because our God wants all mankind to be saved. He wants all to come to the knowledge of the truth. No one is disqualified for any reason for the Kingdom of God is available for the soul and spirit of all.
Many denominations remember the departed in one way or the other. Some have celebrations where they remember the Christian fellowship. Some celebrate All Saints Day where they pray for their loved ones in yonder world, the Christians, and there is a fellowship. Others intercede for those in the beyond. Others even offer a Eucharist for those in the beyond. The New Apostolic Church, in that way, we are very similar because we remember our loved ones in yonder world – in fact, we never forget them. We are one congregation, and we know and read that when the Lord comes, the dead in Christ will rise first and then He takes those who are alive. So, we are one congregation, with one longing, one desire: Lord, come complete your work. And we can fulfil that desire. So, in that way, the New Apostolic Church is similar. But also, a little different because we do not stop there. We pray for all who enter yonder world. We pray for all who enter the beyond no matter what their condition is because that is not for us to decide. Because the condition of the souls in the beyond is decided by God and by God alone. And that often depends on the proximity to Jesus: how close and remote you were to Him. And, the ‘percentage’ of guilt you experience. And that, if you are close to God and close to Jesus, will stand you in good stead. But that we cannot judge; that is God’s business and He decides that. Those who entered the beyond were all not in the same space, in other words. We know that in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus when they entered into the beyond; the one was in the bosom of Father Abraham and the other was
in torment. The conditions vary. But it does not have to stay like that. Just like man, our proximity to Jesus need not remain remote for there is opportunity, there is grace. This Father of love wants to give salvation through Christ to all. And it is grace when we can come into fellowship with Jesus. And God offers this grace when He wants it and to whom He wants to give it – that is His choice – He elects. Some of us are born into a Christian family, and from a young age, we already learn of God’s and Jesus’ existence. Others, as adults. In fact, I remember baptising someone who was 100 years old; and that is in God’s hands. Some come into contact here on the earth, others in yonder world. But that is also up to God. And so, this proclamation goes out to all in yonder world, and the condition for salvation remains the same for those upon the earth and those in the beyond.
Our Bible word speaks about when Peter was summoned to appear before the clergy of the time. He had healed someone, and they were most upset because they were becoming a little bit popular and the clergy and rulers of the synagogue were not too happy, and they summoned him to appear. And here was Peter. But from the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was active, and Jesus promised the Apostles that; ‘The Holy Spirit will be with you; He will give of Mine and He will give it to you.’ He also said: ‘don’t worry too much about what you are going to say because the Holy Spirit will speak through you, and at the right time the Father will reveal that which you have to say.’ And that was the power of the spirit with which the Apostles and early Christians were filled. And when Peter appeared before the clergy, he could say with confidence our Bible word: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” He also said that he healed someone, but he healed the person by the name of Jesus Christ, the same Man who they crucified, the same, and they did not accept. But He was the Messiah, and it is in His name, and so they preached the Gospel.
The early Apostles fulfilled their mission, they preached the gospel. No other name: Jesus Christ is how we can be saved. If there was no activity, or the path to the opportunity of salvation was not given to those in the beyond, many would be excluded from the grace of God and that’s not our Father who listens to everyone, and He wants to give what everyone deserves. Because, if Jesus were the only name by which you could be saved, what about those who lived before Jesus? Are they excluded? What about those today who are somewhere remote and have never heard the gospel, they have no access to a Bible, no access to the Apostles of Christ, no access to the sacraments. Are they excluded? Before the Lord God returns, before the judgement day comes, each one, the unique being that God made them, will have the opportunity to decide for or against Jesus. And in His righteousness, He will provide that. And when He does that is up to Him. We read about the thousand-year kingdom of peace; we read about the activity. In the beyond, Jesus used images. He spoke about those who were disobedient in the time of Noah, they were found in prisons. Now the prisons are not literal prisons, but the prison is that which binds. And many entered the beyond bound by sin. Death does not remove sin. Forgiveness through Jesus removes sin. Death does not bring about baptism. No. that is done by those who Jesus sent to baptise. That does not change. In the book of John, we read about him saying: ‘In my Father’s house there are many mansions.’ Here and there some people interpret that there is a mansion for the liars and a mansion for the murderers etc. No, Jesus does not group anybody in that way. We are all individual persons and beings. We often hear that salvation is a personal affair so each one has that opportunity. And so, the Apostles then already spread the gospel through the activity of the Holy Spirit – The Holy Spirit revealing to them that which they should do – and they did. And proclaiming to them the gospel to all men as we read in the book of Matthew: “Go and baptise all nations in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.” And that they did. But the work of God did not end there. He said: “I will be with you until the end of the ages.” So, this opportunity to attain and go upon the path of salvation is available to all mankind until He comes. He has not stopped. The Apostles of today do exactly as the early church did: they go, and they proclaim the Gospel unto all. Again, wherever it may be, here and in yonder world. Whoever believes, are invited to come, and go upon the path that Jesus determined for us to experience salvation.
We have come, and we hopefully understand God’s love for all mankind. Again, whether you have a body or not – does not matter to God. He offers salvation! And the path for salvation is the same for those who are alive as for those who have departed this life. Jesus Himself said: “If you are not born out of water and spirit you cannot enter the kingdom.” And that needs to be done like it would have happened today if it were possible. Jesus makes free with baptism. Baptism creates a relationship with Jesus Christ and washes away original sin, thus bringing you out of a certain prison already I want to say here and in yonder world. Then also, the sacrament of Holy Sealing where we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit which gives us the opportunity to spend eternity with God – the Holy Spirit provides for us and also gives us the opportunity to enter into God’s kingdom as firstlings. And then, also, Holy Communion, when we celebrate that worthily, we can celebrate fellowship with Jesus and His Father and take on the likeness of Jesus when we do so worthily. Those are the sacraments, and it is necessary. And then, we must follow Christ as He has commissioned when He sent His Apostles and said to them that they must go and teach them everything He has taught them. We have to teach; we have to listen, and we have to follow. And that will bring us onto the path of salvation which eventually will be by grace. Grace for all of us. We all want to attain that grace. We all want to be with the Father. We never want to lose sight of this goal. That is where we want to be. Again, we cannot limit the love of God to those who are alive because, when I think of so many who did not even have the opportunity to be born, what happens to them? Are they condemned? Our Father, our God thought of them too, so grace is available to all. No one is denied access. Our God is so great; our God is so beautiful that He can give that and to allow each man the opportunity to decide if they want to follow Jesus or not. And if we follow Jesus, we can be with Him forever. And so, we invite everyone, here and in the beyond to come follow Jesus and walk in the ways that He has proclaimed so that we too can spend eternity with Him. As we find ourselves in these circumstances – this will change – our God is able to do everything. But at the end of it all, we want to be with Him; we want to be with our Father; we want to be with our loved ones who have gone before us. And so, we remember them with love and we plead with them: have patience as we have patience; the time will come when we can receive that which we need and long for, and we can then follow that path of salvation. As we heard, death does not change anything. Death does not automatically give you baptism or Holy Sealing or Holy Communion, or that immediately your sins are forgiven.
Now we will experience forgiveness of sins and that comes about by the merit of Jesus. That comes about because He will give it to us, by His merit, by removing the barrier of death. He gives us all access to the forgiveness of sins. We all need that. I want to say. Here and in yonder world, we all need forgiveness, we all have failed, and we all have come short, and this is now available to us. As we celebrate, albeit in a special way, this service for the departed with no acts as we are unable to do so, but we, together with them, can experience the forgives sins. The Lord our God will certainly do that. Amen.
A virtual choir, including 119 choir members and 21 orchestra members, concluded the divine service with the hymn 'Be consoled, ye redeemed.'
Thoughts from District Apostle JL Kriel