The Terrifying Truth

Bloodied, bruised, beaten, nailed and speared. It was hard to believe that Jesus, the Son of God, the Word (Logos) was dead. After all, He was the Messiah – the promised, long-awaited Anointed Saviour! Ancient prophecies told of his rulership, might and power. During his ministry, he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead and forgave their sins, and if you knew those ancient scriptures, then only God can lay claim to that. And now the lifeless body of the Son of God hung, bloodied, pierced and expired.

The brutality of Roman rule seemed to triumph once again. The King of the Jews was dead.  Those who had hoped in a different outcome now cowered in a mixture of fear, contempt and brewing anger.

The turn of events, unpredictable at best, was not what any of Jesus’ disciples anticipated. Earlier in the ordeal, when the soldiers came with clubs, swords and lanterns to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, they fell over when Jesus asked them who they were looking for. “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

The power of “I am,” conveyed in Jesus’ response caused even battle-hardened warriors to collapse in helplessness. But, then, Jesus let them arrest Him. That’s when Peter, seeing “events seemingly go so wrong” clumsily wielded his sword, but failed to decapitate the high priest’s servant.

Now, hours later, Jesus was dead. Darkness and terror lay in the hearts of the living, most of all his followers. It just wasn’t meant to happen that way! Or was it?

The gospel narratives clearly show that on several occasions Jesus predicted his death to be followed by his resurrection three days and three nights later. But it didn’t really register even to his closest disciples. Jesus’ detractors, however, the Jewish religious rulers namely the Pharisees, did remember Jesus’ prophetic assurances, and so added security was enforced around the tomb, ensuring no unpredicted outcome.

The belief in the literal resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man, is at the heart of the Christian message, hope and doctrine. There is no other central teaching, no other matching doctrine. Jesus died on a Wednesday afternoon, was buried before sunset prior to the high day of Unleavened Bread, and rose from the dead sometime after sunset that following Saturday night. When Mary arrived at the tomb early on the Sunday morning, Jesus was gone.

The angelic messenger questioned her, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He’s not here. He is risen!”

Today, we stand on the testimonies of those first century eye witnesses. We see their despair, and feel their darkness. And then, just as Jesus predicted, we too exult in their exceedingly great joy at seeing their Lord and Saviour again. Such joy and gladness continues to echo across the millennia in the endearing and enduring faith of those who would follow.

Many years later, one of Jesus’ closest disciples again saw the now glorified Son of God in a powerful and terrifying vision. Jesus said to John, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive for evermore…”

If it is true that Jesus, the Logos, the Son of God, died and rose again, then this narrative seriously needs our attention. It’s otherwise foolishness to relegate such compelling evidence as fables to be discarded to the realm of fantasy. As verifiable, factual recording of events, Jesus’ resurrection then however must be the most terrifying truth we could ever encounter, because it suddenly condemns our society’s atheistic suppositions as deceptively and dangerously wrong, just as it also opens up the realms of possibility and hope.

Without “resurrection” there is no hope; human life is otherwise just a random accident, neither good or bad, with no meaning or purpose. But, if the Logos who spoke everything into existence, then entered our reality of time, matter and space to demonstrate complete redemption and forgiveness by his own blood, and he is in fact who he says he is, then you and I have a responsibility to dare to ask: “What does it mean for me, and everyone else who has ever lived?”

Are we willing to explore the compelling reasons to believe and hope in the power and promise of glorious resurrection life?

Written by John Classic
Written by John Classic

Orthodox Fallacy

Are we sure Christianity has “gotten it right” in all its core faith essentials? What about those historical pagan practices now embedded within church culture? This short message may shock a few and is certain to make many uncomfortable, but doesn’t Jesus want us to make those necessary course corrections?

I share this video by way of a deep and lingering concern that we sometimes allow apathy and disregard to prevail when it comes to the accuracy of what we believe and celebrate. Have we not simply taken convenient shortcuts on truth? It’s not that we’ve intended to pave a path other than what the scriptures reveal, but our adherence to long-held traditions can easily veil and limit the truth of Christ. Oh that the reformation of 500 years ago had moved us further out of darkness and deeper into the truth!

Some churches develop their core essentials from a mix including the Bible, their tradition and their unique “apostle” or “prophet” (either living or long deceased). Others denominations give equal equity to the Bible as well as tradition. And yet others testify to adhering to the Bible and the Bible alone; that is, no prophets, apostles or popes, and no tradition that exists outside of the Biblical narrative!

The assertion in this video is really quite confronting as it claims that Christian orthodoxy has lapsed in its ability in basic mathematics. Jesus was dead in the grave for three days and three nights. No more and no less. And this then creates a problem for traditionalists and theologians alike.

As a sincere apologist, let us know whether you think it’s time for an honest rethink, some theological honesty followed by some significant recalibration?

John Classic
By John Classic

Standing Up. Standing Out.

While some may lament the marginalisation of Christianity within mainstream society, it really is a good thing.

Those saints who stand in the name of Jesus, instead of becoming marginalised and invisible, will instead rock the very world that is trying to silence and suppress them. The saints have a testimony based on their undying faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Spoken by the Holy Spirit, their witness is indisputable and no one can objectively argue against their testimony. They speak the truth. They stand for morality, righteousness, the dignity of human life, monogamous marriage, the protection of the pre-born and the call for all sinners to repent, be they murderers, thieves, adulterers, sexually immoral including the LGBT, those involved in the occult, liars and all cowards.

The unique characteristic of these saints is that they’re ahead of their time, knowing Who is in control of the future and how it turns out in the end. It is good news. Absolute victory and total redemption.

The questions for you and me are: what side of history are we on? Are we courageous enough to stand our ground in faith, and wisely choose our words? Or will we acquiesce into mediocrity, afraid of the wicked crowd?

John Classic
By John Classic

Seven Love Letters

Have you ever received a love letter, an endearingly crafted message that was also genuinely honest? Jesus sent seven such letters.

Seven Love Letters

Jesus asked: “When the Son of Man returns, shall He find faith on the earth?”

What insight does the Son of God have that might counsel us today? His thinking out aloud was intentional. Will faith in the end times be on short supply? How does that speak into my journey and my life? Am I faithful, awake, listening, holy and true?

Moreover, what about the church I attend? How much does my local church community factor into my enduring faith? Does church life affect personal growth, the ability to serve and including my capacity to repent? These are all good questions.

Some years after He ascended to heaven, Jesus dictated to John in vision, when exiled on the island of Patmos, seven letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor, where Turkey is today.

What Jesus thought about His Body, the church as the Bride of Christ, is of utmost importance. The relationship between Jesus and the church is compared to that of a groom and his bride. This is not only brought out in many of Jesus’ parables, but also emphasised throughout Paul’s writings, as well as in Revelation.

Christians look forward to the “marriage supper of the Lamb” – a direct continuation of the covenant symbols as instituted at the Lord’s Supper. Marriage between a man and a woman is a type of metaphor for the spiritual reality between the faithful saints on this earth, likened to the Bride of Christ, and Jesus our LORD and Saviour. Jesus is coming for His Bride, who by then has made herself “white” – signifying purity and righteousness.

The analogy of marriage covenant is a powerful illustration. It can help us understand the nuances and realities of living a faith life amidst church community today. We might ask about our own faith community as it has grown around the world? What do we look like in Jesus’ eyes? What would He have to say to us?

Revelation chapters 2 and 3 is almost like reading someone else’s mail, in that we gain important and compelling insight into Jesus’ will and purpose. We also clearly see various risk factors that can easily beset the very nature of church life, even to the point when Jesus regards “church” as almost inauthentic or barely recognisable.

We might better appreciate Jesus’ exhortations as he reached out to those in the early emerging first-century churches of God. Equally today, may we too take on-board his timeless admonitions as they reach and speak to us.

Let’s ask: What endearing similarities do we bear to those who pioneered in faith so long ago. What were they commended for – their strengths and assets? What about their weaknesses and liabilities? What might we learn from those, and therefore benefit?

Let’s briefly look at those seven churches. Could it be that we’re looking a broad brush-stroke mirror-like synopsis of church life even today?

Those at Ephesus were known for their toil and patience; they cannot bear evil, and they hated the false teachings of the Nicolaitans. But they had abandoned first their love. And thus, they’re sadly remembered as being the loveless church. Imagine, for a moment, that in Jesus’ love for His Bride, He had to content with apathy and “lovelessness”! Yet, despite this, for those who overcame, Jesus promised the tree of life.

Smyrna was known for their tribulation and poverty, slander by false religion, suffering, prison, and death. There’s no rebuke or correction, but aware of their suffering, Jesus promised they would not to be hurt by the second death.

The church at Pergamum apparently existed in a climate akin to where Satan’s throne was. They are commended for holding fast to Jesus’ name, and keeping the faith. Ironically, embedded into much of the church were the teachings of Balaam, inferring idolatry and sexual immorality, as well as the teaching of false Nicolaitan doctrine. (Those at Ephesus decried such false teaching, but those at Pergamum embraced them. Imagine the conflicts that arose between these two sister churches!) To those who overcome, Jesus promised a new name.

Those saints in Thyatira were commended for their works, love, faith, service, and patient endurance. Yet, they tolerated a prophetess with a Jezebel spirit leading to seduction, idolatry, and the deep things of Satan. Yet, even to these who overcame, Jesus promised authority over the nations, and “the bright morning star”.

Sardis church had a reputation of being alive, but were dead. Image a part of the Body of Christ dying, or about to die! Surely a groom wants to marry a bride alive, vibrant, and responsive! Thus, again, the call to repent. A few of them, however, inherit a promise of white garments, and their names forever in the book of Life. Moreover, Jesus promises to confess their names before Father and his angels.

The brethren at Philadelphia were known for their works. Theirs was an open door (open for the gospel and open for Jesus). Noted for their “little power” is either a reflection on the lack of the Holy Spirit, or perhaps the oppressive society they lived in. However, they had not denied Jesus’ name. They patiently endured, and apparently had trouble with false religion. Jesus promised to keep from world tribulation. They would be pillars in the temple of God, with the name of Jesus written on them.

Sadly those at Laodicea were known for being lukewarm! Thinking they were rich and having prospered, Jesus described them as “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked”. What damning appraisal for the bride of Christ! Jesus thus invited them to find riches in Him, to dress in “white”, and be healed so they can “see”. Here we see Jesus knocking and calling – from outside church environment! Is anyone listening? Will anyone open the door to fellowship with Jesus? Those in Philadelphia had an open door; here the door was closed to Jesus. Yet, to those who overcome, Jesus promised them to share His throne.

All seven churches receive the reoccurring admonition, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Many theologians have given differing views not only on the entirety of Revelation, but also significant commentary about the seven churches. Were they historical eras over some 1900 years? Hardly. Other theologians have seen Revelation chapters two and three as as apt assessments of Christianity at any given time throughout history.

Of course, within any Christian community there are those who pray and those who don’t; those who read their Bibles and those who don’t. There are those who know Jesus in a deep, personal way and others who live quite happily without Him. There are those who are judgmental, and others who extend grace and mercy. In other words, Jesus’ parable about the wheat and tares easily comes to mind. Some look like Christians; other are identified as being in Christ.

The commendations and corrections directed to these first century churches should be a clarion call for us today. What are our strengths for which Jesus would commend us? In what area would he correct us? What specific promise might he make to us, now, collectively?

Are we a loving people? Do we love the LORD with all our heart, mind, soul, strength? Are we alive, full of “first love”? Or do we just put on a good act? Are we faithful? Is our door to Jesus always open, or conspicuously closed? Do we have genuine fellowship with Him? Are we hot and alive, or lukewarm and dead? Do we tolerate false, unbiblical teachings?

The marriage supper of the Lamb will bring Christ and His Bride together as ONE forever. How is His bride doing? How are you doing? Is the church beautiful, radiant and dressed in white? Or, is she still stained by sin, self, the world and Satan?

When we reread Jesus’ letters to the seven churches, they’re not incomparable to a Groom’s love letter to his Bride. The good news is that it ends well. The outcome is powerfully reassuring:

Revelation 19:7-9 ESV Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; (8) it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (9) And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

Thus, Jesus’ words for the church bears his heartfelt, honest, eye to eye conviction, designed to move every heart and soul to repentance and renewed faith.

Notice the three elements of Jesus’ appraisal, firstly consisting of encouragement, then correction and finally promises, all underlined with a call to really, really listen.

The past 70 or so years have provided fertile ground for broader Christianity to flourish. In many places the church has bloomed and grown to reflect her Lord and Saviour Jesus. But in other places, Christianity has become known for its lukewarm nature, its tolerance of evil, its complicit silence in the face of wickedness, as well as the very public idolatry and sexual sin that has added to unbelievers’ distaste.

Whatever “community” has become, much of “church” must become like her Lord Jesus Christ. The call is to repent, to change.

Thankfully, in almost every faith community, now as well as 2000 years ago, there were always holy and faithful people, enduring terrible times, and triumphing in the name of Jesus. “You have not denied my name,” is Jesus’ powerful affirmation as to His Bride’s identity and testimony.

So, when Jesus returns in His glory, will he find faith on earth? Will he find a faithful bride, dressed in white, resplendent and radiant? Will she be ready to stand before the Son of Man?

The love letters of millennia ago have served their purpose. Will you be invited to the next great covenantal event? “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

John Classic
By John Classic

You’re celebrating what?

“You’re celebrating what?”

“Isn’t that old covenant stuff?”

“I’m confused. I thought those were ancient Israelite harvest festivals, and therefore bear no relevance to Christians today!”

Here’s the short answer! You’ll love it if you love Jesus.

Last year our family again revelled in the Christ-centred celebration of the “Feast of Tabernacles” with almost 1000 fellow Christians gathered in Florida, USA. The previous year, we were in Caloundra, QLD, with a 100 faithful believers. And, consecutively, for more than five decades, it began for me as a nine year old boy in 1969 worshipping during the feast in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales.

Let me explain why I believe that this celebration particularly is relevant under the new covenant, and therefore powerfully resonant with all Christians.

But I digress first and confess a little of my journey.

In those early decades, our family kept the feast with a very much old covenant overlay. I recall frequent readings of:

Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: (Deuteronomy 16:16 KJV)

This was a commanded assembly for males. But, my sisters, mother and grandmother were there as well! And as a boy, of course, I loved the travel, the motel accommodation, carrying my dad’s old camera, and visiting places of interest. I recall the protracted morning and afternoon church services. I also recall on occasion a fiery preacher eliciting our attention from the pulpit.

From today’s vantage and hindsight, all those formative years truly felt like old covenant edict. Many songs and songs related to ancient experiences in Egypt, Israel or Babylon!

I’m thankful, however, that it provided a foundation to fast track to today.

Rather than old covenant or ancient harvest anchorage, these biblical annual Sabbaths/festivals (as detailed in Leviticus chapter 23) are powerfully symbolic of salvation narrative that centres on Jesus Christ. From the Passover Lamb to the Great White Throne Judgment, it’s all about Jesus! As the weekly Sabbath foreshadows rest in Christ, so too the annual Sabbaths reflect a depth of Christo-centric meaning.

These festivals are all about Jesus Christ! Let me say that again. These festivals are all about Jesus!

But not all churches actually get it.

Many think they are old covenant history, with little relevance today. Others celebrate them by command, where sadly the grace and Lordship of Jesus is absent.

So, in exploring this together, let’s ask, when was Jesus born?

No, he wasn’t born at Xmas time.

Although orthodox Christianity celebrates the birth of Jesus in December (historically chosen to align with the pagan sun god Mithras’ birth on December 25), we know that Jesus was born in late September or early October – around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.

So, why not honour Jesus’ birth then? The particular festival is an ideal framework to turn our attention to the divine miracle of Jesus’ virgin birth and all that it means for everyone.

Of course, John’s testimony compels us further when he wrote:

And the Word became flesh and [tabernacled] among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 ESV)

So Jesus “tented” or sojourned among us for some 33 years.

And, what’s more, He’s coming back again as “KING of Kings and LORD of Lords”, where “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord!” Jesus then reigns for a 1000 years. And finally on the Last Great Day, we celebrate the great resurrection of humanity to a time of judgment.

Everything about the Feast of Tabernacles has to do with Jesus, the Son of God and our Advocate with our Father.

So let’s celebrate Christ, in the spirit of the new covenant, compelled by love for our Lord and Saviour.

This year’s festival theme in Western Australia is “Jesus, Saviour, Lord and King”.

We welcome you to join us at the Mary Davis Library and Community Centre in Baldivis, Western Australia, 3-10 October 2020.

Come for one day or come for eight – but do come!

Free registration is now open at https://www.message7.org/festival/

Pandemic Fear or Prolific Faith

After more than a month of quarantine, social distancing and ongoing political and international narrative over the COVID-19 virus, with churches closed, businesses struggling, a major airline collapse amidst a general air of uncertainty, we’ve seen the remarkable response of church communities coming together in the digital universe for livestreaming of weekly church services, Bible studies, devotionals and online fellowship.

When we began livestreaming Sabbath worship services in Mundaring, WA, some 15 months ago in order to cater for our family in Christ living in remote areas, little did we realise that livestreaming would soon become an essential service. Now with three cameras, lights, microphones and other streaming equipment, the back part of our home has been turned into a mini television studio. Take a look!

And so, every Sabbath at 11:00am we “go live”, ministering in the lives of our faith community, not only throughout Australia, but overseas as well. Last week was our most successful and riveting online service, benefiting from the contributions of many more people. This week via Zoom we started a Tuesday night Bible study. And this next Sabbath’s behind-the-scenes work is again almost complete.

We’re grateful to Hannah and Emma, who significantly contribute to our team’s work. Hannah arrived here just before the coronavirus lock-down, and then being unable to return to Sydney, has been an invaluable help in our work here. Emma adeptly manages the livestreaming console. And Rebecca, as vocalist with keyboard as well as facilitating children’s church completes the onsite team.

When Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it,” I think he was also thinking about the difficult times we’re now entering. For when the church is under pressure, it is then that she is at her best! Pandemic fear gives way to prolific faith.

John Klassek
By John Klassek

Say it how it is

In this day and age, it is more important than ever to be able give a honest answer from the depths of our convictions to clearly, intelligently and patiently articulate our unambiguous and uncompromising Biblical position on any given subject.

What do you believe about abortion? Sexuality? The LGBT movement? Marriage? Evolution versus faith?

In our busy and often distracted world, many simply do not have the time or impetus to carefully think through the big issues of life. Who am I? What do I believe and why? Is there any purpose to life? Might my current position be wrong, and why? Do I have a testimony that stands the test of time – and scrutiny? It is much easier to dismiss such questions than genuinely probe them further.

For many, who I suspect are in the majority, it is also increasingly difficult thing to freely speak our convictions in a current politically-correct charged world. Subjects such as marriage, sexuality, divorce and abortion. Freedom of thought and speech are increasingly offset by leftist, anti-faith ideologies. The mainstream media today selectively tells only part of the story. Higher education dismisses faith and traditional values as generally irrelevant. Politicians expediently balance incorporating popular but misguided sentiment against their chances of re-election.

It is our hope and prayer that given the challenges we all face, be it fire, flood, pestilence, or an ongoing distrustful narrative, may we still give voice to the testimony of Jesus Christ in important matters. For example, are you able to clearly articulate what marriage is and what it isn’t? We hope this recent video helps you form a reliable and informed testimony about the subject of marriage, based on the timeless words of wisdom passed down through the ages.

By John Klassek

Fire and Flood!

Another devastating fire season has come and gone in Australia, leaving in its path thousands of hectares of burnt out landscape, houses turned to ash, 129 deaths, massive loss of livestock and innumerable endemic animals gone. The very faint wisp of smoke on a 45 Celsius degree day is enough to send panicked phone calls to emergency services.

Vast tracts of farm land still smoulder. Bush land is eerily blackened. For a few weeks, the Eyre Highway was closed, isolating Western Australia from its usual conveyance of trucks laden with essential supplies. Caravans (RVs), trucks and cars were stranded in hot conditions near the Nullarbor Plain, prevented from driving because of the relentless thick smoke.

International news media beamed images around the world of the unfolding tragedy. The United States generously sent teams of skilled firefighters to help, and loaned large water bomber aircraft, only to sadly lose one fire-fighting aircraft and their dedicated pilots in the thick smoke near the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.

As the fires abate, the recovery process is now underway. Insurance assessors are hard at work responding to claims. Convoys of semi-trailer trucks are carting hay to fodder-starved farms half way across the country. Stunned residents are slowly trying to recover their lives, searching for mementos among the charcoal ruins of what was once their home.

Yet, through all this, there have been amazing moments. State Emergency Services personnel, the Fire services, the Police and other emergency services, worked tirelessly in exhausting conditions. Charities collected and distributed funds to the needy. There were notable people who rescued and cared for traumatised animals. In some cases, smaller animals survived the heat by hiding in wombat caves, dug deep into the ground. And, in a few reported cases where farmers prayed, houses were miraculously spared as the firestorm swept by, leaving a blackened, smouldering landscape.

In some parts of Australia, smoke haze still lingers, a reminder that this great dry southern continent has a history of boom and bust, fire and flood, life and death.

Throughout all this, the media, more equipped than ever before, shared a narrative that these fires were essentially caused by a lack of assertive action towards solving the “climate change” issue. The unfolding tragedy of loss and death became thus somewhat politicalised as leftist political parties attributed generous blame against more conservative voices. Notably, also, those same sources of dissent didn’t refer to the records that reveal 186 people over the past year throughout Australia where formally charged with arson-related offences.

Historically, however, this year’s fires were in some ways comparable to those fires that have been recorded since the 1800s. Records show that, to varying degrees, there has been even greater loss of life, land and property in previous seasons.

Sometimes, with such catastrophic events, we also hear a narrative that’s likened to the “end of the world”. And, for some emotionally and physically, it is. The death of a young fire brigade volunteer, whose young wife and baby are left behind, grieving. The loss of 5000 sheep was too much for one farmer and his wife. Or, an entire enterprise turned to nothing more than uninsured ashes.

In an earlier Australia that had a distinct Christian ethos, the suffering and traumatised could somehow see their vulnerability within the context of a greater transcendent reality. God would provide. God would comfort. God would restore – according to His riches. God allows these things to happen. God is with us, no matter what.

Today, we’ve evolved into a different generation whose values have changed. We’ve become a secularised country that possesses an unspoken public disdain, almost a hatred, of anything that reflects Jesus’ name. God is no longer in the nation’s psyche. Politics, education and media now speak in unison with a nuanced, “politically-correct” voice. And as a result, our way of dealing with disaster has also changed. Funding for mental health services has increased, in many cases to meet the significant rise in suicide and post-traumatic stress. No longer do we pray; in fact, when our Christian prime minister offered “thoughts and prayers” for those dispossessed by the fires, he was immediately ridiculed and taunted by a leftist media.

Another fire season has passed. Next year there’ll almost certainly be another season of flood, hail, fire or drought. There’ll be those who pray, and those who don’t. There’ll be lives lost and lessons learned. Will there also be a similar “climate change urgency” narrative, we may ask, next year?

As followers of Jesus Christ, amidst the precedent of Biblical narrative, we can wonder what does it take for a nation’s heart to turn back to God? Prosperity and material abundance (blessing) have certainly moved us further away from faith. Would a losing of all we take for granted somehow speak deeper into our pain, and cause us to seek those transcendent values our forebears held onto? It’s an interesting question as we spare a thought for those who have suffered and braved so much.

By John Klassek

John Klassek
By John Klassek