At a Spirit-filled weekend at City Harvest Church, advisory chairman, Dr AR Bernard taught the Church an important lesson on dealing with offenses.
“When you embrace a leader, you don't just embrace his spirituality but also his humanity. It comes in one package,” said Dr A R Bernard as he addressed the congregation at City Harvest Church on the weekend of Sep. 21 and 22.
The founder and CEO of the 33,000-member Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York, Bernard, who also serves as CHC’s advisory chairman, told the congregants that he had met a few individuals last week, who said they had come to him in the spirit of reconciliation. They had requested the meeting because they had an offense with a fellow brother and, following the pattern of Matthew 18:15, wanted Bernard to be their witness.
“I want you to know that just because I sat down and listened to what they had to say, and told them that I will pray about it and get back to them with next steps, it does not mean in any way that I endorse their agenda, endorse their position, or endorse anything that they’re trying to accomplish,” stated Bernard.
He went on to say that, Scripture is very clear about how issues are supposed to be dealt with in the house of God—honor and respect must be given to the leaders anointed by God. David understood this very well. In spite of their conflicts and the opportunities he had to hurt Saul, David let God deal with Saul because he was anointed by God to be king.
Reading from James 3:1-2, 17, Bernard reminded the Church the spirit they should have when they are trying to resolve any issues between brothers and sisters, between leadership at any level, and within the church of Jesus Christ.
“You're in a very interesting place,” said Bernard. “God did not rise up CHC or bring you this far to leave you. He has a reason, a purpose for your existence.”
When God called Kong Hee, senior pastor of CHC, and his wife Sun to lead this church, He would likely know their strength and weakness, Bernard established. And unlike human beings, God will remain faithful even when His people make mistakes.
Bernard then invited Kong up on stage and expressed his support of him, to resounding applause from the congregation.
A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
Bernard went on the Church a message out of Revelation 1:6 and 1 Peter 2:9 which say that Christians are a chosen generations, a royal priesthood.
Before Moses came into covenant with God, the head of each family was the priest of the household. He would lead the family spiritually and offer sacrifices on the behalf of his family.
Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the heads of their household and they gave sacrifices on behalf of their families. When God came into covenant with Moses, He removed priesthood from the head of family and appointed Aaron and his family to be priests—this was the birth of the tribe of Levities.
In the New Testament, believers are now priests to God. They are to be holy, set aside for the things of God.
The primary purpose of the priest is to avail access to God. When Jesus died on the Cross, the veil in the temple was torn apart. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, believers now have access to the Holy of Holies, the presence of God.
Bernard reminded the congregation that, as a royal priesthood, Christians are also responsible for sacrifices. He then presented to them the four-fold sacrifice a Christian should make:
1) The Sacrifice Of The Body
Rom 12:1-2 says “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
This is how Christians should offer their bodies as sacrifice, Bernard said. In the past, animals that are offered on the altar are kept pristine and without blemish. Thus as priests, a Christian’s body must also be without blemish.
2) The Sacrifice Of Praise
A sacrifice of praise is the fruit of the lip, Bernard said. To have gone through a tough week and still praise God is the sacrifice.
3) The Sacrifice Of Substance
This relates to the tithes and offerings brought to the church each week.
4) The Sacrifice Of Service
“Service to the church, to one another, to humanity as large,” Bernard explained.
“The Church, unfortunately, has turned the congregants into people who come to get,” he continued. “To get a word, an anointing, a feeling of God. Priests don’t come to get, they come to give, and while they're giving, they come to get.”
The priest loves the church, which means that he would not live a weak Christian life in the week and come to church waiting to be recharged. He takes responsibility for his spiritual life and comes to church expecting to lift up the atmosphere in church.
“Walk as a priest!” Bernard urges the Church. “You come strengthened because you've been ‘training’ the whole week.
“Your greatest privilege as a believer is your direct access to God. It is thus your responsibility to have intercession instead of needing others to pray for you all the time. You as a priest must keep the spiritual disciplines so that you can intercede for others.”
At Sunday's service, Bernard chose to screen a video playback of Saturday's service; he explained that sometimes when the Holy Spirit moved in a service, it was wiser to simply play the video. The Sunday gathering, like the Saturday congregation, burst into applause.
Bernard closed with a promise: “As long I am alive, I will be here for you.”