The 2nd Reformation

Jesus has called us to share his good news to the people of this 21st century. It’s a task that apparently needs further defining, given Christianity’s varied and mixed history.

To initiate this mission some 2000 years ago, Jesus chose twelve young men, probably not much older than twenty years of age, nurtured and mentored them, before commissioning and empowering them with, “Go, and make disciples of all nations!” They then healed the sick, preached the gospel, cast out demons, and baptised in Jesus’ name. Thus they were instrumental in perpetuating and deploying more disciples in Jesus’ image.

Since then, the followers of Jesus have both survived and thrived. Christianity  across the Western world steadily grew. Its significance was felt to the “ends of the earth”. That is, until now, because followers of Jesus largely in the West find themselves living in what is now called the “post-Christian era”. How times have changed.

For hundreds of years, Christianity significantly influenced the thinking and ethos throughout the rise of the Western world. Great cathedrals dominated its skyline. The clergy were held in high esteem. Churches yielded power and influence, often consisting of two classes – priests and laity. But, now, the demographics are rapidly changing. The previous model of ministry doesn’t any longer seem to be working. In fact, our focus will require rethinking and recalibrating if we’ve any chance of continuing past momentum, as the fruits of our current marginalisation is increasingly evident – at least here in the largely secularised West. (It is worth noting that Christianity’s redemptive message, however, is still taking root in other parts of the world, such as in Africa and Asia).

Thus, given the challenges we face in a generally suspicious if not hostile environment, we must explore being part of a new, second Reformation, a journey initiated by the first but which largely remained unfinished. We must follow Christ’s leadership through what portends to be absolutely unprecedented times. The bygone age of grand cathedrals, of Christianised ethos and law, of the “Lord’s Prayer” recited in schools and government, and of respected clergy, can and will never be revisited in this age. From high esteem, many clergy are now, for example, under cross-examination by Royal Commissions for institutionalised paedophilia! Modern Christianity seems irretrievably tarnished!

Nonetheless, Jesus is still building his church. And, we need to embrace and align our energies with his vision of the future. It seems we need a different paradigm to what was manifest in previous centuries – one that was, of course, that Jesus himself modelled.

Today, however, old practices die hard. Still too many pastors are operating under an outdated paradigm, acting as chaplains and care-givers, and often rushing off to meet the needs of the bleating sheep. Thus, they inadvertently perpetuate a model of dependency. God, however, has called us not to remain infants in the faith, but as his followers become empowered by Jesus to be equipping leaders of other leaders. We are not called to passivity, but to an active faith!

The dynamic of the second Reformation is emerging and evident not only throughout parts of Christendom, but also in greater clarity in the Church of God Sabbatarian community. Twenty or so years ago, at least in my personal journey, the prevailing church paradigm I was accustomed to began to crumble. Its exclusivity and significant awkwardness with the person of Jesus had reached the end of its course. Did Jesus step in and “remove the lampstand”? It certainly sounds like it. But that’s another story.

Today, we increasingly see different parts of the Body of Christ, albeit under different administrations, but sharing a common faith and heritage, working and worshipping together in unity and grace, extending to each other the right-hand of fellowship. Thus, we’re experiencing a revived model of Jesus leading the church. This is manifesting in some refreshing changes. Pastoral care is changing from “one size fits all” exclusively doing corporate ministry, to equipping and empowering others for ministry, utilising their spiritual God-given gifts.

The momentum for this “new” ministry model finds its roots and authenticity in the first century. The old Pharisaically-driven paradigms would never allow the equipping of all to discipleship and ministry according to their spiritual gifts. Pastors must continue to shift from fostering dependency to an equipping model.

The old covenant with the hierarchal Levitical priesthood ceased when Jesus was crucified, evidenced with the tearing of the temple veil of separation. Access to the Holy of Holies, symbolic of our direct access to our heavenly Father, became freely available. Jesus is now our High Priest. The new covenant accordingly ushered with it the priesthood of all believers, something that must be understood and embraced in the new reformation!

Pastors begin “teaching” the word of God, and then continue equipping and coaching all believers to ministry. While Jesus said “Feed my sheep”, he also expanded it with, “Make disciples”. This is the model Jesus commissioned his disciples.

The church no longer consists of two classes, ministers and members. We’re all saints. We’re all brothers. We’re all children of God. All are called to ministry. And we’re all encouraged to develop and utilise those spiritual gifts.

Jesus reminded his disciples, against the model backdrop of the Pharisees, “Don’t be called Rabbi, for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.” (Matthew 23:8) We are called to grow up in Christ’s fullness and stature, and less dependent on human leaders.

Paul further developed this in his letter to those at Ephesus, when he said, “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service [ministry], so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach the unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

The dependence model doesn’t any longer work under the terms of the new covenant! The lament in letter to the Hebrews bears this out: “By now you ought to be teachers, but you’re still in infancy, dependent on the milk of the word”. (Hebrews 5:11-14)

A baby is dependent on his or her mother’s milk. Given that’s where we all started, it’s not a state we want to stay with. We’re called to spiritually grow beyond infancy.

That’s where Jesus’ gentle and humble words beckon us to empowerment, if we’re only willing to listen. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened [from the Pharisaical-modelled version of old covenant ministry], and I will give you rest,” says Jesus. (Matthew 11:28-30) Jesus wants us to take his yoke upon us – something that fits us right, matches our spiritual gifts, and is really as we’re meant to be.

Someone once said that, “A man makes the dream, and then the dream makes the man.” Therein lies a powerful truism. Love and passion can drive us to great heights. The seeds of God’s kingdom have been sewn in our hearts. “Seek first His kingdom,” says Jesus.

So you have a passion, a gift, a skill? Follow that dream. Develop your gifts. Grow your ministry – to the glory of God and in the name of Jesus. Remember the wisdom from an old proverb: “A man’s heart [his God-given gifts] plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

God bless you in your service in the body of Christ.


By John Klassek


Mystery of Glory

The wonder and mystery of the central gospel message, salvation in Christ, is conveyed throughout the pages of the Bible using poetry, prophecy, prose, preaching, praise and parable.

When perusing the scriptures, we may find ourselves wondering about the heavenly dimension where Jesus has, for the time being, returned. How do we then grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ while he is in heaven? How do we comprehend all that Jesus asks us to believe? Why are there only a few glimpses into the heavenly dimension by so few prophets? Like a well-written story, we hunger for more details about this promised “glory”.

Unlike those in ages past who mostly accepted the mystery of life, our era of scientific rationalism wants to dissect everything into manageable bytes. However, the lesson that we must learn is finding satisfaction in the “mystery” element – being content that ultimately, in due course, we will understand and experience our awaiting hope of glory. We cannot begin to comprehend the details of what exists beyond time, space and matter! We also learn from the parable that we’re not the “potter” but rather the “clay”.

Thus, as hard as we often try, we simply fail to comprehend the depth and height and greatness of the glory revealed in the heavenly – past, present and future – even when such glimpses are generously made available. A good example that comes to mind is found in Matthew’s gospel account.

Of the twelve, Jesus took just three of his closest disciples, Peter, John and James, into the wilderness and atop a remote mountain. And there, in the isolation of that pristine environment, Jesus allowed them, suddenly in vision, to gain a glimpse of a heavenly dimension. Known as the Transfiguration, the disciples momentarily saw Jesus glorified shining “brighter than the sun”, and with him in conversation were two others whom they immediately recognised as Moses and Elijah – prophets from antiquity who were deceased long ago!

Yes, these were two of greatest men in Hebrew history: Moses who was instrumental in the giving of the Law, and yes, there was Elijah, the quintessential and epitome of all the prophets! So, what was this vision all about? Just as the disciples were grappling with and trying to comprehend what they were experiencing, a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5)

How would you have responded to such a heavenly, other-dimensional experience? Would you have fared any better than Peter who, for example, as the most outspoken of the disciples, without hesitating suggested that they build three cubby houses to accommodate Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Of course, this definitely wasn’t what the vision demanded – we immediately sense the folly of trying to create booths to “accommodate” the heavenly. Peter profoundly misread this situation and as a result profoundly misspoke!

What about John and James? We don’t know much about their reaction from this account except that they either fell down in great fear or simply fainted. Many years later, however, in the Revelation vision that Jesus gave to John, John became so overwhelmed by what he saw and heard that he inappropriately prostrated in worship before the angelic messenger – an idolatrous act for which he was promptly rebuked. Most prophets, including Isaiah, Daniel and Ezekiel, trembled and often fainted when confronted with a glimpse into the heavenly dimension.

Thankfully and understandably today, we are largely shielded from such other-dimensional experiences, partly because we cannot cope with them, and, as Jesus taught, even if someone were to miraculously rise from the dead it still would be insufficient to convince an unbelieving heart. (Luke 16:31)

God wants us to remember, however, that like an unborn baby, we’re still not yet equipped to embrace the resurrected, fully-glorified rebirth splendour promised to us, when we will see our Heavenly Father face to face!

This explains why, when God came as the incarnate Jesus, he mostly taught using basic, easy-to-understand parables rooted in first century fishing, domestic livelihood and agriculture that local villagers could understand. Today, God continues to convey his will and purpose throughout the scriptures, telling of this glory through: Poetry using rhythm and rhyme; Prophecy foretelling and forth-telling; Prose given letter by letter, word by word; Preaching sermons long and short; Praise in the Psalms and glimpses of angelic worship; and only as Jesus could, Parables that are metaphors of a greater reality.

Thus, somehow engrossed in awe and wonder, we too must become content in the mystery that words in this life simply fail to accommodate. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans (8:23, 26 paraphrased): “All creation yearns for the revealing of the sons of God… and the Spirit in us affirms this in ‘groans’ that words cannot express.”

Cherish the mystery, be content in the wonder, and believe in Jesus and all that he tells us.

By John Klassek

House Church echos

All through history God has preserved and encouraged faithful people. The organic presence and growth of the first century Churches of God did not manifest in great cathedrals or elaborate liturgy, but in a variety of simple, family, house churches scattered throughout the known world!

The apostles of yesteryear would marvel at the communication and collaboration between the churches of today. Big churches. Small churches. Worship in hundreds of languages and dialects. And size doesn’t matter either, for if grace and truth exist in a fellowship, there you’ll find Jesus.

The four most recent sermons echo, via media streaming on this website, from a small House Church in the world’s most isolated capital city: Perth, Western Australia. If the messages sound familiar to you, it’s probably because you have a heart for words of Jesus: His Word personified, His written Word, and His Word emboldened on your heart.

john2015thumbaaaYours for Grace and Truth,

John Klassek

The Gift of Disillusionment

Occasionally you’ll discover someone’s insightful observations that reflect hard-earned experience of having a travelled a long, often rough road of faith.

It’s not only a good read; it really “nails it”!

Let’s join that growing band of believers, and triumph just as those (ditto Peter, for example) who have travelled before us.

Judgment is Coming

The title of “Judgment is Coming”, I fear, is too hopeful. It may be that we are already judged!

…the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” (15) And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. (Revelation 9:14-15 NIV)

Sometime in the future, perhaps nearer than we think, the forces of retribution and bloodshed will be unleashed.

It may just be a humorous poster in a New York subway, but it may also be fiercely prophetic (without the humour).

The Euphrates River runs through the geographic heart of the Islamic world, and it is from there that those demonic forces, apparently bound and restricted throughout the centuries, will be released to “kill a third of mankind”.

Shocking? Yes.

Why? Because this generation has descended into wickedness. Just one example will suffice! We have killed the most vulnerable, our own children. An entire generation of humans, before or at birth, have silently screamed. We call it abortion. We’ve justified it, legalised it, and smugly sanitised our crime – which compounds our guilt!

And one day we’ll be held to account for those sins.

But, even then, with a third of humanity killed in less than a year, it seems, in the words of the prophet John, we’ll still be reluctant to confess our guilt.

Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:21 NIV)

It will take a far greater Judgment to teach us what is right. God hasten that day.

Time to Celebrate

Two trips to the Blue Mountains invoking lots of old memories, a variety of shoots at several locations, with the subject matter all based on conversations I’ve had at various times. Thus, we hope this short gospel film inspires you to re-examine the veracity of these annual end-of-year celebrations.

Filmed and produced by John Klassek

Lillico Beach

The filming of a new, short gospel film went remarkably well last week. Lillico Beach is located on Tasmania’s North West Coast, and it proved to be the perfect venue for filming “Time Alone With God”. Apart from the gentle, lapping waves and occasional bird sounds in the distance, it was perfectly conducive to this topic.

Contrasting this place of perfect peace, I’m in the frenetic hum of Sydney at the moment, with plans for filming in the Blue Mountains later this week. I look forward to editing the Lillico Beach footage as soon as I’m back in the film studio.

Filming at Lillico Beach
Filming at Lillico Beach

See final short film here:

I’m Free

Having founded MessageWeek film ministry some 18 years ago, I recently produced our 499th short gospel film. The question then arose: what short film might mark our 500th milestone? Fortunately, a greater providence was soon evident. When we were in Adelaide last weekend for the Australian Church of God (Seventh Day) Super Sabbath, pastor Phil asked me to film an item of special worship music. Accompanied by his daughter Louisa on keyboard, brother Carlo sang “I’m Free”. The song blessed and inspired everyone, lifting us to again remember the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Despite being filmed on a rickety tripod, as well as footage from a hand-held mobile phone, the song was so inspiring that there was no question that this would become our 500th short gospel film. Thus, we hope and pray that “I’m Free”, as shared by brother Carlo, inspire and bless you and yours.