Again, the subject of the resurrection is central to everything we believe and everything we’re becoming.
That’s quite a statement! There is no alternative hope, no other guarantee, and thankfully no other option.
One of the conversations I’ve had with many well intentioned Christians is about their cherished belief of “going to heaven” when they die. Upon pressing them further about the details, they also assert that Jesus was fully conscious when he died and was in the grave for three days.
Sadly, they are terribly misinformed. This is not what the Bible teaches. My book Hope of the Resurrection contends that death is like sleep, and we challenge the authenticity of reported NDEs (Near Death Experiences) based simply on what Jesus taught.
Now a short video has emerged that sheds some much needed light on this subject. Can you guess which book is rated as the current best-seller in Christian bookstores?
What did Jesus exactly mean? He said:
“But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:24 NKJV)
According to Jesus, all the dead, will be raised back to life.
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of [lit. judgment]. (John 5:28-29)
Awaiting those who never knew God – the wicked and all unrepentant sinners – is the second resurrection when God will judge them.
Today, when we think of Sodom, we think of wickedness and depravity. Sodom is synonymous with heinous acts of treachery, homosexuality, and mob rule. God passed judgment on those wicked people, and they perished in a fiery blaze.
But, one day, those same people will rise from their graves to face their ultimate judgment. So why will it be “more tolerable” for the Sodomites that it will be for the peoples of Jesus’ day?
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24 NKJV)
Those in Sodom, going on what Jesus is saying, perhaps have never heard of the true God. They never had the opportunity to believe in the One who became Jesus, and so how can they be accused of refusing the Son of God? But to the Jews of Jesus’ day who opposed Him, according to Jesus – well, it seems they’ll be judged with a less than a favourable outcome.
The Sodomites faced their punishment a long time ago. And yet, it would appear from Jesus’ own words, that it will be “more tolerable” for them on the day of judgment. That is, will it be slightly less hot in hell for them than it is for others? Of course not. Does it mean that they may ultimately be given the opportunity for salvation in Jesus Christ? Think about it.
God is a righteous Judge. He is a God of mercy, and according to Jesus’ own brother, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13)
We must be very careful at how we interpret the scriptures. If you think that the second resurrection is an automatic condemnation to an eternal and fiery obliteration, think again. That’s not what Jesus said.
This week we took delivery of 5000 copies of the third edition of my book Hope of the Resurrection.
With a completely new cover, an additional new closing chapter, and hundreds of edits and revisions, we’re looking forward to continuing sharing the best news we could ever hear.
As funds allow, we’re planning on advertising in a variety of newspapers and journals. The advert we’ve developed is simple, clean and gives a short introduction to the book.
While working on this edition, several people suggested that perhaps it’s time to leave this book alone, and write a completely new book. However, I am glad to have persisted.
I received the following encouragement in an email earlier this week:
My point of all this – I see a great parallel to John’s motivation to write the book.
- Only a MINORITY understands the 2nd resurrection
- This truth has been held CHAINED for far too long
- It needs to be set free – it’s time to SPEAK UP in whatever “way or language”
- So that it may be PRESERVED and passed on to the next generation… by word or by film!
Keep on (re)writing this theme, John
If you would like an updated copy, or know of someone who would benefit from “the warm and hope-filled words of Jesus”, simply write, email, call or complete our online request, and we’ll post a copy to you straight away.
I’m struggling with the perspective by some that our evangelical brothers, including Phil Robertson (of Duck Dynasty fame), aren’t genuine followers of Jesus Christ. If that is the case, then are we not running the risk of replicating the work of the Pharisees – creating burdens and judgemental standards we’re not entitled to? For example, I’ve heard the assertion that “keeping certain laws under the alias of Biblical tradition”, for example, are used as a test of fellowship and a requirement for salvation. If that is the case, then we have perhaps failed to discern where and how God is working.
There are many brothers in the faith, across a spectrum of denominations, and like the demographics in the Churches of God, wheat and tares seem to equally exist across most if not all fellowships. We are all sinners. The “old man” still exists in degrees in all of us. We all fall short of God’s righteousness, but the bill has been paid in Jesus’ blood. We are responsible, of course, to what God has revealed to us.
Phil Robertson’s words and warning originate from his love for Jesus, his repentance and conversion, and clearly motivated by God’s Holy Spirit, exhibits a willingness to carry his cross in this evil world. Most of the prophets of old God sent to his people were either killed or chased out of town. Phil seems, today, to have also entered their ranks!
So let’s not be too harsh or judgemental towards our evangelical brothers. Their following of Jesus must never be brought into question.
The Australian General Conference 2014 of the Church of God (Seventh Day) was held on January 15-20, 2014 at the city of Swan Hill in rural Victoria. The theme of the conference was “Let Your Light Shine”. The conference was a great success, with attendees from right across Australia, and while attendance was lower than expected because of an extreme heat wave that resulted in dozens of bush fires (wild fires) right across Australia, those who were able to get there really enjoyed the worship, fellowship and time spent planning and sharing the vision for outreach in the years ahead.
Sermons were shared by Phil Kordahi, David Kidd and John Klassek. Sightseeing included a visit to a local aviation museum, a planetarium and a river cruise on the mighty Murray River. Other activities included a games night, family barbeque, Sabbath evening dinner, as well as several Bible studies. Calvin Burrell sent greetings via a pre-recorded video message which was played on Sabbath. During the Sabbath service, John Klassek was ordained as an elder. All who attended remarked at the warmth and friendliness of our time together at Swan Hill.
Galvin Burrell’s video greetings played on the Sabbath during the Conference.
We know at death, the body returns to the ground, and the spirit returns to God. As Stephen was being murdered, he cried out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59)
This spirit, probably entering with our first breath, enlivens body and soul, imparts higher intelligence, reasoning ability, an aesthetic sense and a God-consciousness, and somehow returns to God at death. The process of disengagement from the natural body may account for reports of near-death experiences. If the patient is resuscitated, the spirit may indeed have “recorded” environmental events that can be recalled.1
One of the questions we have to ask: has the Bible anything to say about “out of body experiences?” Are there any tangible examples we can learn from? And if so, what insight might we gain?
In an overall reading of the Bible you will soon encounter numerous testimonies that find their origins from beyond this physical world. You will read of men who experienced various visions and directly attributed them as having come from God: Jacob saw a stairway leading to heaven. Ezekiel saw a stunning vision of a future resurrection. Daniel saw a vision detailing successive world empires. And John also saw Jesus in vision amidst apocalyptic end-time prophecies.
Then there is a curious passage in Paul’s second letter to the faithful at Corinth. He wrote:
It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2 Corinthians 12:1-4)
It seems here Paul is writing, in the third-person, about himself. It’s an experience that has stayed with him for some 14 years, and he doesn’t really know how to fully describe it. We are not privy to how and why this happened to Paul, but we do know that there were times in his life where he was almost killed. An example of one such event happened at Lystra.
Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. (Acts 14:19)
Stoning was a brutal form of execution. We read then where the disciples gathered around Paul, presumably praying and anointing his lifeless body, and then we’re told that Paul somehow survived.
Perhaps Paul’s life, on one of those cruel encounters, teetered on the edge, where his spirit experienced some level of “disengagement” from his body! We don’t know. We do know, however, that his experience hearing “inexpressible words… not lawful for a man to utter” was also mirrored in John’s Revelation vision when he was told not to write what he had heard from the “seven thunders”. (Revelation 10:4) John’s experience, in his own words, was:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day,… (Revelation 1:10)
From our physical and limited perspective, there are questions that we’ll never adequately answer in this lifetime. Nor do we need to. Our only resource are the Holy Scriptures, what “is written”, the very words of Jesus, and from the lives of those faithful to him.
(Excerpt from 3rd newly revised edition of “Hope of the Resurrection”, by John T Klassek)
1. Alive in the Spirit, James McBride, Bible Advocate, page 12, Nov-Dec 2013 baonline.org
When I read in scripture the Lord’s words, “the feasts of the Lord… these are my feasts” I have to re-evaluate them in light of the ongoing discussion for and against their meaning for Christians today.
Did Jesus and the early church find meaning in those annual feasts? Do these “appointed times” or “moeds” have something to tell us, or can they be relegated to history? Did the Passover lamb, for example, symbolise something the ancient Israelites could have never known or understood, the Lamb of God in Christ? Could the first-fruit wave sheaf offering have pointed to Christ’s resurrection? Why did the Holy Spirit come on the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost? These are not convenient Christo-centric overlays but, I believe, worthy of serious consideration.
I am encouraged today by many who, without judging others understanding, quietly acknowledge the Christo-centric values of these appointed annual seasons that find their meaning and value centring on their love for Jesus and his word.
I am therefore delighted by the NAMC’s resolution reminding the faithful that these matters should not be a test of fellowship or a requirement for salvation. Amen!
And, I am equally glad and thankful that the happiest times of my life has been celebrating (for example) Jesus and His Kingdom rest for all people at the Feast of Tabernacles, with brothers and sisters in the faith. (It also deeply saddens me that for some their memories, understanding or experiences of the feasts has been fraught with legalism, controversy and cultish mentality).
To celebrate these “shadows” or reminders of salvation history in the spirit of the new covenant, understanding their prophetic nature pointing to Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension, as well as his return, his millennial rule and final judgment, affirmed by the Holy Spirit, should not be such a contentious issue among brethren.
Forget the legalism. Forget the negative chit-chat you might have overheard. Dismiss any preconceived ideas, and next year, come to the Feast. As one of my friends has said, “Come for one day, or come for eight. But do come.” You may be pleasantly surprised!
And, if you choose not to come, that’s okay too. The Kingdom of God is bigger than the issues that sometimes cloud our view: to eat meat or only eat vegetables; to drink wine or not to drink; to marry or stay celibate, and so forth. May God strengthen the good work he has begun in us, and may we all be united in His love.
Are you a budding film maker, script writer, or enjoy animation? We’re looking for helpers for a film we plan to shoot next year, titled (we think) The Ezekiel Vision. Much of the film will be filmed from the air. We’ll be filming at airports, cemeteries and over sweeping valleys. We will need actors, young and old. There’s a great story to tell that involves you, yes you, your family, your loved ones, your grand and great grand parents. So, what is going to happen?
We can only tell the future from what is already determined! To know the future we must understand the past. And we must also understand how the past was written and by whom.
The Ezekiel Vision will be a film like no other, and already in gearing up for production, we believe we have a story to tell.
The accident featured below happened quite unexpectedly. For me it was a great disappointment. Thinking about it now, the setback perhaps might be nothing less than the price paid (we pray) for what will be one of our best films yet.
Over the past year, apart from work on the film script, we have bought various props and equipment for the Ezekiel film. Six months ago I bought an AR Drone 2 quadrocopter and have enjoyed learning to fly it. The film quality from the inbuilt camera, however, wasn’t good enough. Besides, the AR Drone really couldn’t successfully lift the GoPro Hero3 action camera. So more recently I bought a hexacopter with a camera gimbal – and the quality of aerial footage is absolutely brilliant.
So here’s the story:
28 December 2013
There’s more to the story. After weeks of waiting for components to arrive by courier, rebuilding, testing and fine-tuning, tonight we finally took the Storm 6 for its maiden test flight.
I had waited for days for it to become perfectly calm. (I am learning what it means to spend a whole lot more time preparing and doing pre-flight checks and tests than actual flight time). This difference with this rebuild was that we upgraded to the NAZA-M V2 GPS system, giving greater stability in both take-offs and landings.
I think we’ll be able to film the Ezekiel scenes with the GoPro Hero 3 camera and without having to upgrade further. Of course, I would have liked to have filmed it with a BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera, but that together with the ZenMuse Gimbal on a pro-grade UAV is still dependent on prices stabilising, and thus will have to wait.
We’ll keep you posted as we work on each individual film shoot. There’s some really exciting as well as challenging work ahead.
1 January 2014
Welcome to the new civil year. Here’s hoping that it is a good one. We’re edging closer to the filming of the Ezekiel Vision film, with more practise flights testing stability, manoeuvrability and the capacity to control in adverse conditions, such as unexpected wind gusts/shifts.
Battery time still remains an issue, and this it appears depends on the health of each individual battery. Note also, if you have a heart for this kind of ministry, as well as skills you would like to contribute to this film project, then we would love to hear from you.
January 7, 2014
We’ve finally started filming the Ezekiel Vision film. Today’s shot comes from the little old cemetery on the York-Quairading Road in Western Australia. Whether this particular shot makes it into the final film we don’t know yet as we’ll be shooting the same shot again over the next few days.