Dr A R Bernard tells City Harvest Church to always have a macro perspective of its purpose, reminds members that facts and truth are not synonymous and that in all their getting, they must get spiritual understanding.
When you were last here, you showed us a panoramic view of the Church over the last few thousand years. Where do we stand now in that timeline?
We are in the Church Age. The purpose of the Church Age is the propagation of the message. To preach, teach, to make disciples, to be salt and light in the world.
Why did you share such a macro view of the role of the Church?
Because it puts things in perspective, in terms of one’s own personal issues. So when you say you’re part of something bigger than yourself, sometimes you don’t know what that is till you’re given a panoramic view. So the objective [of the timeline] was to lay it out. And [to show] that we are in league with some great individuals who lived throughout the last 6,000 years who are part of this whole revelation, this whole plan and purpose. In fact, Scripture says upon us, the end of it all comes. It rests on our shoulders, so we’re kind of the anchor crew.
You preached about a “crisis of faith”. Can you elaborate?
Every crisis we have is a crisis of faith. Faith is trusting what God has revealed in His Scriptures. It says to us what He promises and has covenanted. So every crisis—doesn’t matter if it concerns money, relationships, social issues, political issues, experiences—every crisis for the believer is a crisis of faith.
Faith is also an attitude. An attitude is your frame of mind. Attitude determines approach. Approach determines success or failure. So if you have a faith attitude, faith goes beyond what is seen, trusting that God will be there working out His will and His purpose. Faith exalts His sovereignty, especially in the face of what we don’t know, what we don’t understand. Many of the [Bible] characters throughout that panoramic view, some were delivered in various ways, they all had struggles and challenges. Faith makes things possible, not easy.
Some are encouraged by family and friends to leave the church. How should they cope?
They need to turn to their family and friends and say, “I pray that if ever I am in a crisis, you won’t abandon me they way you’re asking me to abandon my church.”
What is your prayer for the ones standing trial?
That they would be steadfast in their faith. Let the promises of God be an anchor emotionally, so they are not easily stirred by what they’ll see, what they’ll hear. And Jesus’ attitude was He endured the Cross—the Cross symbolizes suffering, persecution—and He said to those who were crucifying Him that they were ignorant of what they were doing. And he prayed for them for forgiveness, that the Father would forgive them. Not that He was looking for their forgiveness. He prayed and he moved with understanding for the audience, the circumstances, the players. But He knew there was a bigger picture. So for the joy that was set before him, He endured.
Faith sees the outcome of trusting God. The principle is: for every death in Christ, there’s a resurrection. Whether it’s financial death, death to a relationship, death to a reputation, there is always a resurrection.
That they will be strengthened in the knowledge of the plans and purposes of God, and all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
What are some practical ways to gain this spiritual understanding?
Spiritual understanding is the ability to discern. It comes from the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. The Word and the Spirit come together, and they give spiritual understanding. It comes from the ability to discern how events, circumstances, people, information, situations relate to each other and to a bigger picture.
That’s spiritual understanding.
Things may surface that may shock the members. How should they understand and manage this?
The government launches an investigation. All the books and records are surrendered. They have to do an audit. And they’ll make a determination based upon that audit. Do not be sidetracked by issues that are irrelevant. We can get sidetracked into what he ate in 2005, what he shouldn’t have eaten. But what does that have to do with it? Allow the case to look at the facts, to look at the evidence presented by the investigation, and on that basis, determine the merits of that case.
You can’t let the public take you there (to the issues that are irrelevant). That’s chaos. It’s all rooted in personal opinions, prejudices.
Be wise as a serpent. This calls for the wisdom of the serpent: to be shrewd to be sagacious. Understanding and regaling within a system; and the system of the world does not work necessarily in our favor.
Choose your words carefully. Whoever controls the language controls the conversation.
What happens if there are conflicts between the members in question?
Facts and truth are not synonymous. Each person is presenting the facts from their perspective, so that the truth can be discovered. We need to let the process take place.
This interview was conducted on May 11, 2013.