How does a renewed mind reflect the Kingdom of Heaven and what is the true significance of taking Holy Communion? Guest preacher Bill Johnson gave City Harvest Church a fresh perspective this past weekend.
City Harvest Church welcomed Bill Johnson, senior leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California this past weekend (Feb 16-17). Pastor Bill challenged the church to renew their mind and taught them the significance of Holy Communion.
THE NEED FOR A RENEWED MIND
On Saturday, Pastor Bill opened his message with Romans 12:2, “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.”
He explained how a transformed mind leads to a transformed life, and a transformed person leads to a transformed city. “Many people experience miracles. They pray, they see great things happen in their lives, but they never adjust their thinking to accommodate the miraculous as a lifestyle,” he added.
Pastor Bill went on to say that if a Christian fails to see from a divine perspective, it will always be an uphill battle to get breakthroughs.
When Jesus said “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” He meant that the Kingdom of God is within reach and unless believers change the way they think, they will miss it.
He defined repentance as heartfelt sorrow over sin that takes a believer into a place where they change their perspective on reality.
“Most Christians repent enough to get forgiven, but not enough to see the Kingdom,” Pastor Bill said. The renewed mind is one that repents continualy.
This renewed mind that Jesus spoke of is proof to the will of God. The will of God can be found in the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples. In the Lord’s Prayer it says, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The renewed mind demonstrates that the reality of God’s world is superior to this world.
When Christians pray “on earth as it is in heaven,” it is not simply confessing that, because there is no poverty in heaven, therefore there should not be poverty here.
“That’s a very legitimate expression of that prayer, but it’s much bigger than that,” asserted Pastor Bill. “When believers pray ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,’ they are essentially praying for the culture of heaven to affect the culture of this world. Heaven is a place where people are celebrated and no one is lost about who he is in God.
“If you discover who God made you to be, you will never want to be anyone else. You are perfectly designed to represent Him uniquely.”
WHAT THE RENEWED MIND LOOKS LIKE
In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus and His disciples and Jesus was asleep when a storm struck. The disciples woke Jesus up petitioning for Him to save them. He rebuked the storm and then asked the disciples why they had no faith.
“It’s not that the petition, or the prayer was wrong,” noted Pastor Bill. “It’s that when the Lord trains you to live in authority and to work in His name, representing His purpose on the earth, it’s not right to ask Him to do what He asked you to do.”
Jesus spoke peace to a storm that He slept in. He could do that because the reality in Him was greater than the reality—the storm—outside of Him. The renewed mind understands that the internal reality will always redefine the external reality. Believers need to first obtain victory on the inside.
In Mark 6, Jesus fed the five thousand before with five loaves and two fish. The miracle was repeated later on when Jesus fed four thousand with seven loaves and a few small fish (Mark 8:13-21). The disciples witnessed both miracles and yet they failed to view it with divine perspective. Pastor Bill emphasised that the disciples fed more people with fewer provisions and yet had more leftovers in Mark 6 than they did with fewer people and more provisions in Mark 8. Jesus was pointing out to them that if they started with less and fed more, it was obvious that in Kingdom reality, the amount they had was unimportant.
Pastor Bill asked the congregation if they had ever experienced a miracle of provision. Then he asked those that raised their hands if any of them had faced a second, similar experience and still felt the same fear as before they had their first miracle. A number of hands went up. Similarly, the disciples witnessed two great miracles of multiplication, yet their minds were still fixed on what they didn’t have.
“When you are exposed to the supernatural activities of God, it is for the purpose of how we see reality,” the pastor said. “When you have seen supernatural provision, you have lost the right to start any thought process with what you don’t have.”
A renewed mind understands that miracles are supposed to become the lenses through which believers see present situations.
Pastor Bill closed his sermon by praying for groups of people with particular ailments and corporate healing. The healing power of Jesus was evident in the auditorium as the congregation laid hands on those who were sick or experiencing pain. Executive pastor Sun Ho gave testimony that the sharp pain in her left hip had left her during the prayer session.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HOLY COMMUNION
At Sunday morning’s bilingual service, Pastor Bill shared with the church his personal practice of taking Holy Communion regularly. He taught that taking of the Holy Communion should not be reduced to a tradition—every believer needs to experience the full extent of this practice.
Communion speaks of the broken body of Jesus Christ, and the blood that was shed for the sake of all mankind. Though it remains a theological mystery, Pastor Bill encouraged the church to view it with childlike faith.
“I don’t understand that, but I don’t need to understand to obey,” he said. “I just try to join my faith with whatever Jesus says.”
Isaiah 53 says that “By the stripes of Jesus, we are healed.” In the book of Peter, the apostle quoted the same Scripture. “In other words,” said the preacher, “what Jesus suffered two thousand years ago was His payment for our miracle.”
Pastor Bill gave an analogy. “Let’s say I went down to the local dealership, and I said I wanted to buy a car for a person. I’m going to pay for it in cash, call them and tell them the car is here. It’s paid for, taxes are paid for. How many of you would leave it at the car lot and never pick it up?”
He went on to say that even if it was a car that they could never afford, that didn’t matter because it belonged to them. Similarly, Christians don’t have to afford a miracle today as Jesus has already paid for it all on the Cross.
Pastor Bill proceeded to teach the congregation what he and his wife Beni do during daily communion. They begin with praying for his family. He shared that he prays for each family member specifically by name and encouraged the church to do the same.
“Nothing happens in the Kingdom until there is a declaration,” he stated. “Declare, ‘By your stripes, I was healed!’ This is how I pray, ‘Jesus, what you paid for is more than enough for their miracle. By the stripes of Jesus, [so-and-so] is healed of [whatever sickness they have].”
Secondly, he would pray for divine health for his household. Holding the cup, he would pray two things: “The blood of Jesus sets me free. There is no freedom from sin apart from the blood of Jesus” and “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
“Stand before the Lord with total confidence that He has already designed a future for every family member,” said Pastor Bill. “But this is not to be assumed, but contended for in prayer. Pray for each family member.”
Finally, he would pray for people who are against him and his church. He shares that he prays for them just as he does for his family and for their family as well.
“It’s hard to be mad at someone that you love in prayer,” he explained. “It doesn’t ever mean that I have to agree. Agreement is never necessary for love.”
He notes that often, Christians would pray against other Christians. “Anytime I point my finger at another believer, and I accuse them before God, God must come to their defence, because I am misusing my authority. Authority is given not to accuse, but to defend the brethren.”
At the end of the service, Pastor Bill led the church through Holy Communion, asking them to apply what he had just taught, not mistaking it for a magic formula, but knowing truth in what Jesus intended.
Pastor Bill said in closing that he encouraged taking communion often, but even if it is something Christians do every now and then, it is important to receive fully the Spirit behind every act of obedience, and not just to go through the motions.
He ended the session with prayer and an altar call for salvation.