Over the weekend of Sep 5 to 6, 2015, respected preacher and teacher of Biblicial economics, Dr John Avanzini ministered to City Harvest congregation about bringing one’s tithe to God to enjoy an open heaven and for release from any unfulfilled tithes.
Avanzini is the co-founder of John Avanzini Ministries in Texas. He has been a spiritual grandfather to City Harvest Church since its early days.
Upon taking the stage that weekend, Avanzini spoke a prophetic word out of Deut 32:13: “He made him ride in the heights of the earth, That he might eat the produce of the fields; He made him draw honey from the rock, And oil from the flinty rock.”
Avanzini proclaimed: “For the past five years, you’ve been thrown many rocks. But Jesus said there’s honey in the rock! Draw them out! A tsunami of honey is flowing through City Harvest Church, and this church is going to be filled with milk and honey!”
Throughout its history, CHC has been the “poster child” for Arise & Build, an annual building fund campaign in which the congregation gives towards the building of the church. Arise & Build began when the church needed a permanent place of worship, and the first building fund paid for the rental and renovation of Hollywood Theatre along Tanjong Katong Road. The second campaign raised money for CHC’s wholly-owned Jurong West Church building. And the current campaign goes towards the payment for the church’s current Suntec premises.
Avanzini had come to preach to the congregration, to remind them of living under an open heaven through tithing. He expounded on three truths of tithing:
1. TITHING DID NOT BEGIN WITH THE MOSAIC LAW
In some Christian communities it has been taught that tithing no longer is needed in present day, Avanzini noted, but pointed out that in Gen 2:15-17, God specifically told Adam that the fruit of all the trees were suitable for consumption except for one tree, the tree of good and evil . God’s law is consistent throughout the Bible, he said, and the origin of tithing started with this tree of good and evil. It had been set aside, dedicated to God. Avanzini explained that this was the first time in the Bible that tithing was featured.
Using Gen 4:3-4, Avanzini talked about the first violation of the tithe. Cain had brought God an offering of fruit that meant nothing to him, and God did not respect his offering.
“Tithing comes with a principle that derives from a proper relationship with God,” Avanzini explained. The act of tithing reflects on the state of one’s closeness to God.
To illustrate the principle of “seed time and harvest”, the preacher taught that God created the garden in the beginning. He planted the first apple seed in the earth and from then on, apples start growing out of trees. That is the Biblical principle of seed time and harvest, and it never changes.
2.TITHING BEGAN IN THE EARLY CHURCH IN 69AD
As detailed in Heb 7:8, Avanzini emphasized on the word “here” which speaks of the current, present moment where tithes are still being received and is part of a relationship and agreement between God, the one who planted the first seed.
3. THE RELEASE FROM UNPAID TITHES
Mal 3: 10, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house” is a common verse preachers use to talk about bringing offerings and tithes to the house of God. Avanzini told the congregation that this verse is more than that: it has the power to release people from unpaid tithes.
Speaking out of fatherly love, Avanzini reminded the people that CHC was one of the first church to have a congregation of 97 percent tithers. It was at CHC that he first heard the term “Arise and Build”. Out of this, many churches around the world saw the abundance of God that fell upon CHC, and since then many have followed suit to arise and to build.
“God has no intention of us being poor and He wants to set all of us free, so that we can live under an open heaven,” said Avanzini.
He brought his sermon to a close by leading the congregation with a prayer that released everyone from any unpaid tithes to the house of God.