Spirit Formed

The Book of Acts, written by Luke, a Greek convert to Christ as well as an adept historian and much-loved doctor, may at first seem to be just an interesting journal documenting the work of those first century apostles.

It is much more than that. Quite simply, the Book of Acts is a testimony to the work of the Holy Spirit. As such, it’s story is ongoing. Written as a letter some 2000 years ago, Acts give us amazing insights into those apostolic times, introduced with the ascension of Jesus to heaven and the beginning of the church era with the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

Faithful men and women were suddenly transformed and empowered from on High. They boldly proclaimed their faith in different languages. The sick were healed. Thousands were baptised. And, deceitful intent revealed. Their new hope and resulting message simply centred on Christ. Thus dawned the church era as we understand it.

The first time, however, where we encounter the work of the Holy Spirit in the scriptures is in the opening verses of Genesis. We read in Genesis chapter 1 and verse 2 that the “Spirit of God was moving…”

Something powerful happened at creation, resulting in all we know and experience today! Out of that which is not visible, by the power and word of God, time, matter and space were brought into existence. “In the beginning [time] God created the heavens [space] and the earth [matter]” (Genesis 1:1).

Central to creation was the presence and work of the Holy Spirit.

Throughout the scriptures we gain additional glimpses of the Holy Spirit in the anointing and equipping of faithful people throughout history, especially in the priests and kingly leadership of ancient Israel. One of Israel’s greatest leaders, King David, at a time of sore repentance and reconciliation, cried out in prayer, “Take not your Holy Spirit from me!” (Psalm 51:11)

Confronted by his shortcomings against the Holiness of God, at that moment David knew what mattered most. From that point onwards, we see a man further shaped into the righteousness and heart of God.

Perhaps the most intriguing account of the Holy Spirit was in the extraordinary announcement made by the angel Gabriel to the young Jewish woman Mary. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

Joseph, her betrothed, was similarly told the same: “Do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20)

Thus, the Holy Spirit, introduced to us at creation and existing outside of time, space and matter, entered the created and earthly (our domain framed by time, space and matter), and in the birth of Jesus Christ we witness the two natures of divine and human united. In Christ alone we find heaven and earth intersecting!

No wonder Jesus during his ministry often repeated, “The Kingdom of God is near!” And therein lies our hope—in Jesus—and via the transformational journey we experience today. It is this very Holy Spirit, given to those who believe, upon repentance and baptism, that begins in earnest the work of the Kingdom of God, that is, the daily forming of Christ in us.

The apostle Paul expressed his desire for the Holy Spirit’s work in his letter to the faithful in Galatia, when he penned, “until Christ is formed in you!” (Galatians 4:19)

The Holy Spirit illuminates, guides, leads, comforts, and teaches. The Holy Spirit also regenerates, prompts, discerns and empowers. Thus, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God’s good work as the “Master Potter” is being wrought in each of our lives. As a result, the gifts, talents and resources He’s given us are not for our own glory. Rather, in the context of living this dynamic within Church community, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the benefit of everyone.

The work of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts (chapter 10) perhaps illustrates no better than elsewhere God’s reconciling work between heaven and earth as experienced in the lives of Peter and Cornelius. Peter was a Jew, and Cornelius a Roman, regarded by the Jews as an “unclean” Gentile and therefore treated with contempt. Thus, the two contemporaries lived in a society that regarded them as totally irreconcilable; one represented the promises of God to His people, the other those excluded on the outside.

Then, both separately experienced a vision from God. Both initially were perplexed, but expectant. When they met, Cornelius was overwhelmed, but Peter instantly elevated him as his own. Just like heaven and earth intersecting and uniting in Jesus because of the Holy Spirit, the reconciling work of the Holy Spirit brought these two men, although regarded as opposites in their society, not only to meet, but also embrace each other as brothers.

Where before there was division, now there was peace. Prior to Christ coming, a vast chasm caused by evil and sin existed between heaven and earth. But Jesus, conceived of the Holy Spirit and formed in Mary’s womb, set in motion the bridging of that chasm.

That which was beyond time, space and matter, entered in a visible way—the express image of the Father as seen and witnessed in Jesus Christ. Thus in Jesus and Jesus alone, we are reconciled to our Heavenly Father.

The power and personal presence of God via the Holy Spirit not only reconciles us to God but also, importantly, to each other. The forming and gifting of the Holy Spirit then empowers and equips us in the context of community—the body of Christ.

The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to form in us the very image and stature of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. For all humanity, this was typified in Peter and Cornelius’ experience. The irreconcilable became reconciled. The broken became healed. And the Kingdom of God established in the hearts of men. In the words of scripture, we thus become “a new creation”. To this Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

To be Spirit-formed is to be part of the ongoing work of creation. Without the Holy Spirit, we’re subject to sin, decay and death. But to live in the Spirit, as scripture says, is life and joy. May the good work of the Holy Spirit continue to transform our lives until that day of resurrection and glory, for which all of creation yearns.

And although our names are written in the “Book of Life”, the account as told in the Book of Acts, at that day of glory, will also have written our story of being Spirit-formed and reconciled to God and to each other into its final chapter.


By John Klassek

On behalf of our children

On behalf of our children

Surely someone will speak up on behalf of our children! Acquiescing to a popularist, media-driven agenda is nothing less than dangerous – if not fatal.

The definition of marriage and family life is one father, one mother, married for life, providing both emotional and spiritual nurture for their children. Anything else, like homosexuality, paedophilia, adultery, fornication, incest, bestiality and the like are an aberration. In other words, these deviations are plainly sinful and wrong.

Who says so? Why, Jesus, of course! And so do His followers – or at least they should by their example.

When entire countries, supported by their judiciaries and driven by the media, begin “voting in” and incrementing what become sweeping immoral changes, then perhaps we ought to spare a thought, first, for our grandparents who would shudder to think that such immoral antics are undermining the very society they pioneered, and secondly, for our children whose minds and hearts become irreparably damaged because they’ve never known the true love and identity that only a loving father and mother in marriage can provide.

The greatest of civilisations rapidly declined when their morals also waned. Babylon, Persia, Greece and then Rome were once thought invincible. The writing is again on the wall.

Violence today is generally accepted to be on the rise, whether highlighted in other countries or in our own suburbs. Mental illness is a growing scourge, with suicide dramatically increasing. And when our children become the pawns because of our immorality (deprived of a father and mother combination), when we kill the unborn with abandoned wanton (and call it “pro-choice”), when our sophisticated, immersive entertainment becomes more violent and pornographic – then it isn’t long before the law of natural consequences catch up.

Political correctness is dangerous as it is deceitful. We label a baby in his or her mothers’ womb as an “embryo” or “foetus” as the underlying notion is that they are not human. They are. They’re our children. And yet we so easily succumb to a politically correct violence that dissects their little bodies before they gain their first breath of air. And we proudly call it “pro-choice”.

We’ve thrown “God” out of our society. “Hooray”, you say! We no longer introduce children to the Bible. “Ditto”. We no longer believe in absolutes, that right is right, and wrong is wrong. And so, if this God has anything to say about this, it’s in the law of natural consequences that He designed.

Jesus said, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet and show my people their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)

He said the defiantly rebellious would be “pursued with the sword, with famine, with pestilence; they’ll be delivered into trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth – to be a curse, an astonishment, a hissing, a reproach among all the nations… because they have not heeded My words…” (Jeremiah 29:18)

“The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head and you shall be the tail. All these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 28:43-45)

And so, accordingly, history is beset to repeat itself. Nations of strange language and customs seem to assert their power as never before. The Islamic State, for example, defined by their throat-cutting brutality and an ominous black flag seem uncannily unstoppable – perhaps because our will-power and weakened response has become one of containment. Their goal is to raise the black flag of Sharia law on the entire world, and they begin by enticing our gullible youth.

Another example is the increasing Chinese influence through trade and expansionism. It isn’t all that it seems, as this economic juggernaut sponsor the construction of military bases well beyond their recognised international borders. Our policies of acquiescence, appeasement and containment will not work. No need to reiterate the details of the Ukraine crisis at the moment.

The days of western dominance and economic might are over.

Hope for a return to basic morality might seem distant. Revival and right relationships, according to history, do however return, but only it seems after a time of suffering – a time of suffering when our enemies are victors, when perhaps Sharia law displaces democracy, and when the entire world is at war. That is, in effect, what Jesus says. That’s what the Christian Bible echoes in both old and new testaments. And that’s what we need to understand.

War is coming. We have the nuclear missiles, the warships, tanks and planes, as well as the protagonists. And in this war, be it outright conflict or through years of attrition, because of our immorality, it will quickly become apparent who is the weaker side.

Now the “politically correct” might describe our embrace of Jesus’ teachings as “homophobic”. They also commonly tout the term of “marriage equality”. Such trendy buzzwords are subtle inventions designed to linguistically sound appealing to the voting public. And yet marriage historically and culturally has always been defined as the covenant lifetime relationship between one man and one woman to the exclusion of any others. Homosexuality isn’t marriage.

Followers of Jesus cannot remain silent; we’re called to shine the light in both our life example and in the things we speak out for. And as our words find momentum and authorship in the Holy Spirit, then we would have committed the greater sin by remaining silent.

So, cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and allow Jesus’ words to again echo across this country. Someone has to speak up!

Written by John Klassek

John and Rebecca have been married for 26 years and have six children. He serves in ministry in the Church of God (Seventh Day) in Australia, and works as a film producer for MessageWeek Ministries.

Radical Commitment to Christ

George was 17 years old when he was dismissed from his dream job. His employer demanded that he work Friday nights, but George wasn’t willing to compromise Sabbath rest. Though devastated at the time, this young man could not have known that embracing such a decision would in time set him on a path that would lead closer to Christ and deeper into His will. It was a defining moment.

Years later, as George experienced a greater distinct call to discipleship, a sceptical friend in the Christian community quizzed him about his understanding of Matthew 6:33. It seemed to George that believers were to “seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness, and God will provide for all those physical needs” [my paraphrase].

“Get a job that pays well,” chided his friend, further quoting the national minimal wage. What he was saying, really, in his opinion, was that you can’t rely on a literal understanding of Jesus’ words that God would provide all our needs.

But George saw it differently. That’s what Jesus had said. Surely He meant it, especially in the light of His pre-incarnate words of, “Put me to the test and see if I will not bless you”. (Malachi 3:10) [my paraphrase].

God desires that we are generous with all our resources. This is particularly true with our increase, our time, talents and desires. Echoes of this generous giving appears in the book of Acts where faithful believers, wanting to step up in service to Christ, donated their land and valuables for the sake of the Kingdom. Those who feigned generosity, who lied to the Holy Spirit, paid the ultimate price.

God’s model for generosity begins at ten percent, but a willingness to give under the terms of the New Covenant knows no bounds. That’s where, for many people, the challenge exists in the words of Jesus as recorded in the gospel of Matthew. Do we trust God with our entire lives? Can we trust Him, for example, with a greater portion of our increase? That’s a radical reliance and an extraordinary step faith. For the sake and call of the Kingdom, these are important commitments to consider.

Most of our prayers are spoken in secret, so perhaps it’s reasonable that most of our alms ought also be done in secret. Have you ever considered putting aside, for example, seventy percent of your time and resources in deployment for Christ? Of course, make sure your heart is right – there’s no room for pretenders. Start a ministry. Join an existing ministry. (In his mid-thirties, that’s exactly what George did). Do what you’re naturally gifted with, and live every moment prayerfully. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide, counsel, comfort and help.

And don’t bother trying to do the maths, for such calculations would not have helped the widow with the abundant flow of olive oil from her one small jar during those days of trial and drought (2 Kings 4). Such small steps of faith begin to reveal a powerful truth in Jesus’ words. More than we can perhaps know or understand, this is our Father’s world. He calls us to trust Him.

George may have lost a promising job early in his career, but through the experience gained his life in Christ. His initial loss was, in reality, a divine calling-card that led to a radical reliance and trust in his Heavenly Father!

By John Klassek