666

Thanking God for His providence over many decades, slowly heading along the path Christ is leading. As a result, and I trust that this is true for most of us sojourners, the desired outcome is that we all have a testimony – our own unique story of joy and sadness, struggle and gain, even temptation and courage! What’s your story? Do you have one?

We’ve been telling the same story by video for some 22 years now. The chief protagonist is Jesus. The scene is corruption, decay, wickedness amidst smoldering promise and hope. It’s a battle between good and evil, truth and compromise, light and dark.

This week we uploaded our 666th gospel film. Like those streets that don’t have a number 13 (preferring instead a 11B letterbox number), the number 666 has it’s own connotations and symbolism. So, how might we manage this conundrum? Number the video as 665B, or plunge right in and tell it like it is?

Presented by Pastor John Klassek

Conversations

This week we uploaded out 655th gospel film. As Secretary of the International Ministerial Congress of the Church of God (Seventh Day) I discuss with Joshua Anderson my experience in this service role.

A visual generation requires a visual gospel. To that end we’ve been trying new things in film, even creating a short film from B-roll footage.

Filmed at Nulla Nulla Farmhouse Stay, near Moorine Rock, WA.

Last week we filmed in the state forest in Mundaring, WA. The lighting was great, and the surrounds uniquely Australian.

IMC Annual Sabbath introduction.

Our goal is simply to share the good news of Jesus Christ using film media. If you would like to join our efforts on any level, be it script writing, video editing, film work, or by donation, then we welcome your partnership in Christ. https://www.message7.org:7777/

John Klassek, Producer

Why all this effort?

We are currently refurbishing our film studio in Western Australia, adding another cinema camera, as well as working on better lighting. By God’s grace and providence, we’ve just uploaded our 631st gospel video.

The cameras we’ve been using in our more recent films has been the Canon EOS 80D, the BMCC 2.5k, and we now have a new BMCC4K on order. This will allow us to film each clip from multiple angles. Over the past 22 years, we’ve used a variety of cameras, including some old VHS cameras, various prosumer cameras including Canon and Sony, as well as a range of DSLRs. But, whether originally written on parchment, or conveyed by digital film, it?s the same timeless message that centres on Jesus Christ.

We?re all aware of the role that media plays in our lives. With the continual roll-out of better and faster technologies throughout the world, and the windows of opportunity that still exist in the free world, whether written on parchment or conveyed in bytes and bits, the follower of Christ has a commission and mandate to share the good news everywhere – to the ends of the earth.

We invite you to partner with us in this labour. Please pray that the LORD of the harvest would call and commission many more disciples, who with fervent vision and Christ-centred identity, embrace with diligence the work of supporting this and other ministries. We need capable media producers, presenters, researchers and those skilled in apologetics who can speak into this generation. We need those who are prepared to sacrifice in the name of Jesus that one more person may hear the good news. More than that, Jesus wants you to step up into his vision.

Someone once asked me, ?Why all this effort into sharing the gospel?? I suppose it?s a fair question, considering the apathy and lack of scriptural integrity that exists in parts of the Christian community. How would you answer? Perhaps mine would be: “Taste and see that the LORD is good!” After all, he is the Bread of Life!

John Klassek,
Producer

Leadership Fails Accelerated

John and James were two of Jesus’ disciples, brothers who were young with idealist aspirations, called to ministry with an awesome promised destiny of glory. Their questions often reflected an anticipation for Jesus to setup His Kingdom then, asking, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 ESV)

Rightly, their sense of destiny and promised leadership was given to them by the Lord. But how they understood their leadership journey differed greatly to what the Lord had intended.

Conspiring together, one day their mother approached Jesus, asking, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” (Matthew 20:21)

Young and naively exuberant, their request soon upset the rest of the disciples who were indignant that these two brothers would ask for the “best seats”. This was also against the background of Jesus chiding the Pharisees for loving the best seats in the synagogues. Jesus also taught the same in a parable: “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honour, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him…” (Luke 14:8 ESV)

John and James both had a sense of destiny, but in that instance, were trying to accelerate God?s leadership intentions for them. The lesson for us, as children of God with awesome and great promises of glory reigning with Christ, we must never try to pre-empt God?s purpose and plan.

An excellent example of living on God’s timing was set by the young David who was anointed to be the next king in Israel. However, instead of being catapulted into the top seat, the throne of ancient Israel, David spent many years as a wrongly-accused fugitive, vigorously pursued by the incumbent king Saul.

In one of those pursuits where David’s life was being sought, as chance would have it, Saul entered a cave not knowing that David and his men were hiding in the innermost parts of the cave. There, David had the opportune moment to end his troubles; his men in fact encouraged him to kill king Saul.

Despite being prompted by his loyal men, David said, “I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.” (1 Samuel 24:10)

David waited on God?s timing and purpose rather than his own understanding of events, and in a stunning act of faith, trusted the righteousness of God above his own rights. David did not try to accelerate God?s purpose for him.

Likewise, today, in our calling and ministry, we also have an awesome identity in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We too are offered glory, power, and life eternal. For the work we’re called to do in this life, the Holy Spirit conveys to us not only just how special we are in our Father’s eyes, but also often a clear and prevailing sense of destiny and purpose. But like David who trusted in God’s timing, and as John and James quickly learned, we must never try to accelerate God’s plan for us. Christian leaders always wait on God?s timing.

John Klassek

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, its 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 Israels 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 holythe 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 hopein Jesusand 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 Spirits 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, Gods good work as the Master Potter is being wrought in each of our lives. As a result, the gifts, talents and resources Hes 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 Gods 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 Marys womb, set in motion the bridging of that chasm.

That which was beyond time, space and matter, entered in a visible waythe 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 communitythe 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, were 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

Love, Desire and Lust

Is there any difference between love, desire and lust? If were listening to the conversation in todays circles, not much! Tolerance and equality, it seems, can also be ported to mean acceptance and legitimising that which isnt moral or good.

Allow me to explain. A friend, well call him George, dearly loved three young women. They too apparently loved him, and quickly became more than good friends. Thats when things got complicated. Georges desire was torn between them all. Society dictated that he could only legally marry one. But, the foursome wasnt dissuaded by such mores. They assumed suburban family life and over time worked to legalise their relationships. In effect, he was husband to three women, which isnt uncommon in some countries. In terms of Western law, however, the merits of consent and love between a union of more than one man and one woman was not seen as eligible criteria for the historical, religious, legal and widely-accepteddefinition of marriage.

So, legally they werent married. Civil law defines marriage as the monogamous, lifelong union between one man and one woman, the origins of which lie at the heart of Christianity. So, George and his wives sought a compromise. A civil union of sorts was attempted in order to give some legitimacy to their family status. By that time, several children had been born. Soon, various government departments began investigating. The news media quickly picked up the story, and of course it made sensational weekend reading.

Were they not consenting adults who chose their relationships? Werent they in love? They seemed happy! Isnt it all about love, and the freedom to choose? The vexing question is who dictates then how they should live their lives, or deny them their equal rights? Its an ongoing and topical narrative that seems to reverberate within todays media and politics. There are those who uphold traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and those who espouse other models, such as homosexuality, lesbianism, union with under-age children, transgenderism, as well as polygamy.

Governed by higher law, civil laws generally adopted and accepted what was understood to form the basis for strong, peaceful and enduring societies based on the healthy, stable family unit constituting a paternal father and a maternal mother, united for life, and including the nurture of any children born to that union. After all, thats a foundational premise which Christianity espouses to be the God-ordained mandate for human life as reflected in the pages of its Constitution, the Holy Bible and thus reflected in the marriage vows of: A natural union but a Divine institution.

Today, unfortunately, were hearing a vocal minority attempting to redefine the family unit without knowing or assessing what future complications and consequences might be legally or societally. The Christo-centric values that Western society grew from, it seems,have all but been abandoned. Recognised historically, as is woven throughout our legal system, is the understanding that a loving and responsible father and mother together provide the best environment for a stable, nurturing home for the next generation. Marriage also provides that children have a right to life, a right to be protected, as well as a right to know who their biological father and mother are, and benefit from that nurture. Traditional marriage preserves the family as no other unit can, and therefore society depends on its strength. The covenant relationship within marriage between a man and a woman reflects a higher relationship of what God desires of us of holiness, fidelity and covenant. Interestingly, most gays dont want traditional marriage for the sanctity, holiness and Godliness it represents; its said that their desire rather is to malign and ultimately destroy marriage. It is widely known that unions such as those generally outside of marriage contribute to higher than normal rates of depression, dysfunction as well as suicide. Homosexual cultures historically are recorded as being more violent, and generally short-lived.

In terms of defining what healthy desire is, theres a vastly big chasm between love and lust. It is here that society seems to have blurred the lines. Genuine love leads to covenant, lifelong union between a man and a woman. This nurture in turn is extended to the children which in turn benefits society as a whole. Lust, as a base desire, is a powerful and dangerous agent, parading as love but seeking unhealthy sexual fulfilment as it chooses. Lust is not love. Its an aberration, a fanciful, unfettered and unhealthy selfish orientation. It may parade as virtue. But it isnt love not historically, legally or morally. Lust, a lack of self-control, is the very opposite of what God intended in the tenth commandment when he said, You shall not covet. If not remediated, this kind of self-centredness can be also diagnosed as a form of mental illness.

The conversation were currently having regarding the definition of marriage is one of foundational challengeswe face today. Like a ship without a compass, blown with every uneasy wind, a noisy minority is actively and avidly working to simultaneously erase historys other virtues and bastions beyond traditional marriage, especially those with Christian origins.

An example of this might help. We no longer count the years as from AD, a Latin term meaning Year of our Lord (a reference to Christs birth), in recent times having subtly changed AD for CE (meaning Common Era). Why the change? Perhaps its a subtle assault on faith history! Another example: Today we call babies in utero as foetuses” or “embryos which seem to be an additional attempt to further dehumanise them, and thus giving abortion the appearance of greater legitimacy. Family and faith values seem to have been progressively eroded in more ways than one.

Of course, although traditional marriage is generally upheld within the faith community as it ought, the virtues and blessing of marriage are generally poorly argued. The Christian community has failed to connect marriage to Jesus Christ, the Lamb and His Bride, and it is on this platform that the Christian voice must be united. Ordained at creation, traditional marriage has proven its value. The alternatives of anti-human and anti-family thinking will result in consequences to those of similar past histories remembered for escalated violence and vanishing. Sadly, the assault today on traditional marriage is accompanied by concerted efforts to remove it from its past faith history, and repaint it within the context of a purely secularist and evolutionary-modelled society a model too many have blindly accepted.

Western society, it seems, is progressively stripping away traditional and historical connections with the past, especially faith-oriented belief, in a subtle attempt to promote its new, moral-less agenda. Changes to legislation are sometimes slow and barely noticeable, other times accompanied by vocal andpersuasive politics, but either way progressively swaying the morality and opinion of greater numbers of people.

Yet, the fact remains that lust and uncontrolled desire is not love. It has no place in marriage. It has no place in relationships. It has no place in society. For some it is an illness; for others it is an obsession and perversion.

Concerned followers of Jesus need to know that now is the time to be accounted for. Now is the time to speak for Jesus. Our neighbours, friends, workmates, parents and grandparents, as well as the Georges of society, need to know of the healing and new life offered them in Christ alone, as well the consequences of any alternate legacy theyre leaving the next generation. Its time for the church community not only to voice genuine concern in its reformist voice for the brokenness of society, but also be able to articulate solid, immovable reasons in Jesus Christ as to why their belief in traditional family values as modelled over thousands of years and as ordained at creation, is the only way forward.

John Klassek

John Klassek

Mardi Gras

It seems that more sectors of Australian society isvisibly getting sickerwith apronounced depravity,aided bya news mediathat touts the notion homosexuality as something tocelebrate and revel in. Terms like “equality” and “rights” mask their agenda to destroy marriage.

TheSydney annual Mardi Gras is simply “depravity” at its flamboyantworst, demonstrated by the broken, lost and wicked celebrating their idolatry as “liberating and wonderful”. Sadly, with few dissenting voicesdecrying thisimmorality and plague, we have every reason to worry. Those who express deep concern for this abandonmentfrom traditional marriage and family values are frequently labelledas homophobic, racistor bigoted.

So what does the future hold? At the heart of every Christ believeris the surety that history repeats itself.The natural laws of consequencesareinevitable.Thus, as society descends furtherinto the abyss of immorality, another is already on the rise. Many of our middle eastern immigrants, for example,already have itin their hearts and ideology what their future holds. And, if we’re honest,such histories are too bloody to document here!

Enas Andras

Visit to northern India and Myanmar

Together we give praise, honour and glory to our Heavenly Father, who in Christ Jesus is building and strengthening the church.

In the past two weeks, I have been honoured and blessed to have witnessed and shared first-hand in Gods wonderful work amidst faithful and humble people in both Mizoram (in northern India) and in neighbouring Myanmar. My visit was voluntary, somewhat “unofficial”, although I am well aware of my service as Secretary for the International Ministerial Congress. I was simply encouraged by a growing friendship, fellowship and further prompted by written invitations to the Golden Jubilee in Mizoram, as well as to the graduation of nine theology students in Myanmar. My intention was simply to bear an open heart of encouragement with the right hand of fellowship.

Arriving in Aizawl, Mizoram, northern India, on February 3, 2017, I was warmly welcomed at the airport by a delegation of Church of God (Seventh Day) leaders and youth. It was good to again see old friends. What was surprising was to see a large white cross at the airport with the words in red, “Thy Kingdom Come”. On enquiring, I learned that the population of Mizoram is estimated to be over 90 percent Christian whereas the rest of India differs as being estimated at about two or three percent.

I immediately experienced the great love and faithfulness of Gods good and long-time work in this remote part of the world, meeting brothers and sisters in Christ, many of whom had travelled significant distances and who warmly welcomed me with repeated affirmations of gladness and joy.

Further welcomed into the Golden Jubilee celebrations, over the next few days I met elders and leaders of various church ministries, as well as a vibrant, energetic youth group. I was delighted to further affirm a beautiful understanding among the youth of Gods grace extended to us through Christ.

After discussing the aims, goals and efforts to serve our growing church community throughout the IMC, I presented the conference with the churchs ten statements of “Who We Are In Christ”, as handcrafted by my wife Rebecca from selected fine cloth. It was then hung from their main podium. The message I shared on the second day of the Jubilee was titled “The Word of God” as spoken, written, codified, personified in Christ, internalised, never returning empty and ultimately transformed into glory.

The church bell was tolled 50 times by 50 different people, each representing the past 50 years of church life. This was followed by the unveiling of a commemorative Golden Jubilee 50 year stone. Another highlight of the event was the baptism of a young woman.

The Jubilee celebrations reflected an encouraging and wide variety of roles and services, equally shared by men, women and youth. Worship was vibrant, joyous and wholehearted, reflecting enriching local cultural traditions with newer, contemporary forms of music. The love of God, and a willingness to listen to the practical living of the gospel of Jesus Christ was reflected by leaders, elders and members from near and far and from what I experienced and could see, the organic and grass-roots efforts for reconciliation between two conferences that operate separately there, has, in my opinion, already begun.

Following the Jubilee, together with a group of elders, we visited two remote village churches and again I was delighted to share in their enduring love and faith. Many expressed a great joy as we shared in fellowship. With prayers and affirmations, our brothers and sisters were gladdened to hear that they are loved by Christ and throughout our international church family, as reflected in the IMCs heart and mission.

One gracious and gifted young man from Aizawl, stepping up into youth leadership and service, said that he had prayed for something like this catalyst visit since he was eight years old. For him, his answered prayer meant more than he could have anticipated.

In the fellowship activities that followed the Jubilee, through various meals and opportunities, I was able spend occasion in earnest and brotherly conversation with elders and leaders. By Gods grace, it was a time for heart to heart, eye to eye, side by side, with occasional arm on shoulder conversations.

It is a blessing to share in strong, mature and genuine fellowship for which we can praise our God for the great favour He has granted and sustained us with. The Jubilee symbolises grace, forgiveness and release from debt and slavery, and in discussing the unique issues facing the church there, we noted that Gods grace can be defined as, “God treating us better than we deserve”.

Throughout the Jubilee, I was delighted that two or three other Churches of God, local and remote, were represented. This resulted in several behind-the-scenes conversations building bridges, with affirmations of Christian love for each other with the added mutual urgency for reconciliation. Leaders of other conferences joined in the joy of worship, community dance, and finally speeches further affirming the seeds of reconciliation. Speeches and acknowledgments expressed a desire for more cross-pollination of speakers, events and fellowship anytime and always.

Thanks to various contacts and fellowship on Sabbath, as well as a phone call or two, I was blessed to spend an entire day with another part of the Church of God (Seventh Day) family and their conference leaders, meeting first of all in a hotel lobby and later in their churches. Again, with the right-hand of fellowship and brotherly love, we spent many hours together sharing and listening. All their ten or so leaders asked sincere questions, requesting clarity on a number of issues.

In the afternoon, with the conference leader and their pastors, I enjoyed spending time in their two church buildings. We prayed together, took numerous photos, and I was again asked to share a few words of encouragement to their leadership and pastors. We also laid hands on those requesting healing. Throughout the day, there were many joyous and memorable moments of deep and shared fellowship.

On February 8th, 2017, several car loads of Church family from Aizawl joined the convoy as we travelled the winding, narrow road to the airport to wave our final and affectionate goodbyes. I will always cherish their the great love, hospitality, faithfulness, and love for the Lord (LALPA) many of whom travelled significant distances on arduous roads to be at the Jubilee. Of course, they would all now like to meet my wife Rebecca.

Flying from there via Kolkata and Bangkok, I was met at the Yangon International Airport in Myanmar by the conference leader there and dear brother in the faith.

I thoroughly enjoyed our time together with brothers, including two friends who had flown in from Cambodia, sharing many occasions for fellowship and reflection over the next few days. The worship and fellowship was again tremendous. On the Friday, we baptised seven people, and after Sabbath worship in the morning, the afternoon was spent at the graduation ceremony of nine young men into church service from the Asian Christian Theological Seminary. The planning and dignity of the graduation service was impressive, with speeches, prayers, presentations and the level of protocol and excellence one might expect to see at a major university.

Again it was delightful to witness and affirm Gods good work among His faithful and loving people living in Yangon, Myanmar.

The following day, after seeing our brothers off at the airport on their return to Cambodia, we boarded an overnight bus for the eight hour ride to Mandalay, from where we caught a flight to the Kalay Valley. There, several faithful, thriving congregations live and work, and who abundantly reflect the love of God and an overwhelming gladness that theyd been visited again. Many in Myanmar remember with appreciation previous visits by representatives from the International Ministerial Congress.

It was enjoyable being “among family”, sharing in mealtimes, worship, and warm brotherly conversation, with several opportunities to share greetings from the churches in Australia, from the international Church of God (Seventh Day) as well as personally from every IMC Officer. I again shared the message “The Word of God”.

On our final day together, a group of us travelled by motor scooter to a mountainside lookout giving picturesque and sweeping views over the Kalay Valley, before we concluded our time together at a huge dam water reservoir.

I really enjoyed time spent in Myanmar. Their conference Secretary provides gifted and warm leadership throughout Myanmar, as well as continued visionary investment in training and growing the church there.

I came to Mizoram and Myanmar on the basis of fellowship, friendship and by invitation. What a great joy to have witnessed Gods good work in these two countries enriched with similar cultures and traditions but of one Spirit and faith. We have much to be thankful for in the grace and fellowship we share in Christ. Thus, so much more do I look forward to, by Gods grace and providence as He wills, to one day return (with my wife Rebecca) perhaps at the close of the Jubilee in a years time, and again affirm and share in the blessings of Christ-centred faith, fellowship and family.

A special thanks to so many people (you know who you are) who gave so generously in order to make this trip at all possible.

In the next few weeks I plan to begin work on two short documentary films, retelling in song, narration and events of Gods abundant grace and truth growing in both Mizoram and Myanmar.

John Klassek
Secretary 2016-2020, International Ministerial Congress

International Ministerial Congress

We’ve just returned from the International Ministerial Congress, of the Church of God (Seventh Day), hosted in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Represented by 100 delegates from 45 countries, the congress met to continue it’s Christ-led mandate of sharing “The Whole Word for the Whole World”.

What a wonderful time of inspiring worship, powerful preaching, great fellowship amidst the business of the Congress.

Thus, since we’ve returned, we’ve been busy editing and uploading a series of videos, not only in time for the IMC’s annual Sabbath on Nov 5th, but also with a bigger vision of utilising media for the sake of the gospel.

The above short clip was spontaneously filmed by Jamin Trujillo, promoting the annual IMC Sabbath event.

The 2nd Reformation

Jesus has called us to share his good news to the people of this 21st century. Its a task that apparently needsfurther defining, given Christianitys 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 Westfind 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 doesnt any longer seem to be working. In fact,our focuswill require rethinking and recalibrating if we’ve any chance of continuingpast momentum,as the fruits of our current marginalisationis increasingly evident at least here in the largely secularised West. (It is worth noting that Christianitys 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 Christs leadership through whatportends to be absolutely unprecedented times. The bygone age of grand cathedrals, of Christianised ethos and law, of the “Lords 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, hascalled 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 thats 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, were experiencing a revived model of Jesus leading the church. Thisis 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. Were all saints. Were all brothers. Were all children of God. All are called to ministry. And were all encouraged to develop and utilise those spiritual gifts.

Jesus reminded his disciples, against the model backdrop of the Pharisees, “Dont 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 doesnt 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 youre still in infancy, dependent on the milk of the word”. (Hebrews 5:11-14)

A baby is dependent onhis or hermothers milk. Given thats where we all started, it’s not a state we want to stay with. Were called to spiritually grow beyond infancy.

Thats where Jesus gentle and humble words beckon us to empowerment, if were 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 were 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 Gods 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 mans 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