Heinrich Arnold was no typical pastor. He rarely prepared a sermon but spoke freely, without notes. He shied from dispensing general advice but took each person as he or she was. He preferred bluntness to politeness, yet knew how to listen. He was known to be silent rather than offer a quick answer. He encouraged those who sought his help to listen to their own hearts, and nudged them to act on their own recognitions. No wonder his writings are still turning lives upside down...
Your listening to God's Word in order to be exalted, instead of to be judged and given new life is completely opposed to the way of Jesus. Give up your religious vanity. It leads to death.
The Gift of Faith
The only answer to inner torment is faith in God. If we believe that faith is a gift from God, it follows that for this gift to become ours, we must willingly receive it.
Only if one experiences that God is good - and that he alone is good - is it possible to surrender to him unconditionally one's whole heart, soul, and being.
"One day is enough," he said, "for a man to know all happiness. And yet we quarrel, we try to outshine each other, we hold grudges against each other? Why don’t we forgive one another, and love and live?”
Simply sharing goods does not necessarily lead to Christ. But when it is the result of overflowing love, it can lead to him. This is what Christ offers - a new life where love rules everything, in deed and in truth.
We must believe and trust that Jesus is the answer to all our perplexities, problems, and anxieties. I have not always trusted Jesus enough, but I recognize my lack of trust as sin.
The Power of Suggestion
There is no doubt that many things enter our minds as undeveloped thought-seeds which continue to work in our subconscious long after we have dismissed them from our attention.
The Kingdom of God
What a mighty thing it is to live for God's kingdom! Do not shrink back. Live for it; look for it, and you will find that it is so powerful it will completely overwhelm you - it will solve every problem on earth.
You may be the most gifted person, but if you lack humility, if your heart is not moved by the spirit of Jesus, your life will be unfruitful.
Healing the Heart
Jesus can heal anyone. He came to restore humankind to its original freedom, happiness and wholeness, and through him every person, however tormented, can find comfort and healing.
Illness and Death
The fight of any individual against sickness or death shows us the struggle in which we all are placed - the struggle against darkness. When an attack of darkness comes upon us, we must put ourselves completely on the side of the light of Jesus.
At the Cross
Each of us must find the cross and Christ. We can search the whole world, but we will find forgiveness of sins and freedom from torment nowhere except there.
True forgiveness of sins is possible only in Jesus. People forgive one another's sins, but without Jesus, which is no help. Unless Jesus lives in us and we in him, our efforts are all in vain.
From the Stable to the Cross
Jesus' life began in a stable and ended on the cross between two criminals. We must ask ourselves again and again: Are we willing to go his way, from the stable to the cross?
It is God's will that all men should be redeemed and that none should be lost. Yet the Gospels also say very clearly that none of us will be saved unless we experience rebirth through the Holy Spirit, unless we go through repentance and conversion and find faith.
If we speak of the true church, we certainly do not mean the Bruderhof. We simply mean all those who live their lives in full unity with Christ.
Jesus calls each of us to be humble. Humility is a virtue that one can decide for. It softens the heart and makes a person open for God.
There is enough preaching in the world; so many people go out of their own accord and preach. I am all for mission, but only if it is God's will that moves us, and not our own egos.
Prayer is a Weapon
Prayer is the best weapon in spiritual warfare. But too often we pray only for what we desire and forget to ask God what he wants of us at a particular moment.
May They All Be One
Nothing binds or unites people more deeply than having the same hope, the same faith, the same joy and expectation. Where there is true expectation, people are usually drawn together; their common faith leads to community.
Confession of Sins
Confession - the act of unburdening our sins to someone else in order to be freed of their weight - is simple enough to define, but never easy to practice.
We don't talk about them, but all of us have them - private jealousies, resentments, fantasies, and temptations. Arnold assures us that tempting thoughts are not sinful in and of themselves. It's what we do with them that matters. He offers concrete steps we can take to turn away from them and toward God.
If we look at world suffering honestly, we will see how closely it is connected with our own guilt and the guilt of all people today. We will also recognize that since this suffering is all one, we are part of it and must suffer with all others who suffer.
If we grasp in our hearts the fact that Jesus died for us, it will change us completely: it will mean revolution; it will make something new out of us to the destruction of our sinful self so that we will no longer be slaves to it.
Most people have experienced the frustration of simply not being able to escape a thought. When it is an evil idea, our inability to throw it off, no matter what we do, may drive us into great inner need.
The Inner Life
Very few people today have any idea of the riches of the human heart. Our hearts are created to experience great things; most of us have no idea of what could happen in our lives if we would overcome our stupidity and dullness.
Any religious life that does not change life in the flesh and the economic sphere that is dogmatic and dangerous for the inner man.
The innocence of a child is an enormous blessing. However, there is an inclination to sin in every child, and therefore we must lead children in the right way so that they do not lose their childlikeness - that is, their purity of heart. It is a terrible crime to lead a child to sin.
It is one thing to be tormented by ideas or images we do not want, but quite another to pursue them intentionally. When we willingly entertain an evil thought, we are playing with forces of darkness whose power we may be unaware of.
Commitment to Christ
Throughout history people have been killed for their convictions. We should also be ready to suffer for our faith.
Who is God?
God comes to the heart of every person who has faith that he will come, to everyone who seeks him. But we must look for him and wait for him to come to us. If we live our lives in dullness it will not happen. We must first seek; only then will we find.
Living for the Kingdom
What a mighty thing it is to live for God's kingdom! Do not shrink back. Live for it look for it, and you will find that it is so powerful it will completely overwhelm you - it will solve every problem in your life, and every problem on earth.
The Service of Leadership
Any true service done for the church - including the service of leadership - is done as by an organ of the body, and it must therefore be done lovingly, sincerely, honestly, and in a childlike way.
In the boxing ring or on the street, the strong-willed man may be the winner; yet in the struggle of the human heart, will power may have nothing to do with the outcome of a battle.
Anyone who doubts that Jesus can help him binds himself to the devil. He doubts the victory of the cross, and he hinders the Holy Spirit from entering his heart. This doubt must be rejected.
It is important to be straightforward and honest about your true feelings. Rather be too rude than too smooth, too blunt than too kind. You can always be sorry for an unkind word, but hypocrisy causes permanent harm unless special grace is given.
Evil and Darkness
We are living in a time when many people either belittle evil or don't believe it exists at all. If evil is seen as nothing especially serious, then there is no need to put up a serious fight against it.
We believe - and have experienced it - that through church discipline people who have sinned can find full repentance and full forgiveness and can become true brothers and sisters again.
The Call to Repentance
Repentance means that everything must be changed. What was up must go down, and what was down must come up. Everything must be seen as God sees it.
The Fear of God
We should fear God, and we should fear hurting or offending anything created, but we should not be afraid of God. Our fear should be born of love and reverence.
Purity of Heart
Purity of heart comes as a gift from God, and the church must fight to protect it. We oppose lust just as much as we oppose private property and the spirit of murder.
Repentance and Rebirth
Repentance is not an easy thing: it demands hard struggle. Which of us takes our struggles with sin so seriously that we fight with loud cries and tears? Jesus did.
Our fight is not against flesh and blood, not against people; it is a fight for the atmosphere of the true church - for the atmosphere of God in each of our communities and in the heart of each brother and sister.
The Suffering Servant
Jesus was the suffering servant. He was crucified in weakness, and that is a deep mystery. He became weak for our sake, for the sins of the world, and to bring reconciliation and the victory of God into earth and heaven. This is why we love him.
Love and Marriage
If you are thinking of binding another soul to your life through marriage, learn to love, learn to be open-hearted, and learn to consider the other person first.
The Lord's Supper
By celebrating the Lord's Supper we testify to the love of our Lord Jesus, whose death made it possible for us to find forgiveness of sins, love, and unity with one another. It is actually a very simple meal, but Jesus asked his disciples to hold it in memory of him, and so we celebrate it in that sense.
The Mystery of the Cross
When I think of Jesus, I see his cross rooted in the earth, towering to the heights, with arms stretched wide to embrace all who come to him. The cross is the only place where there is complete victory over temptation, sin, and the devil. There is no other place.
Purification depends on our readiness to dedicate our lives to God; and when we stumble or fall, to get up and dedicate ourselves anew. We will never be perfect, but we will always remain focused on our goal.
In baptism three things are of utmost importance: faith in Jesus Christ, assurance of the forgiveness of sins through repentance, and incorporation into the Body, which is the church.
For more exerpts by Heinrich Arnold, see Discipleship.